CIWA Conference Hit on Array of Topics

January 27, 2020

California has a big year of issues ahead, including passing a massive budget through the Legislature, dealing with the fallout from wildfires in recent years, homelessness, and tackling climate change.

Those were among the issues addressed by John Norwood, an industry lobbyist and owner of Norwood Associates, during the annual CIWA conference.

The conference covered a range of topics, including employee engagement, employment law and drones.

Norwood keyed in on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s 2020-21 state budget proposal of $220 billion, which calls for nearly $1 billion to enhance the state’s emergency response capabilities in order to address wildfires that have plagued the state in recent years.

Norwood said he also expects the Legislature to continue to introduce bills aimed at protecting homeowners in high-risk areas, but they are unlikely to help bring back insurers who have begun to pullback from these areas over losses.

“We’re worried about this group of Legislators putting in more bills that can only make it harder for the insurance industry,” he said.

He also blamed the state’s rate-setting law, Proposition 103, for making it harder for insurers to raise rates appropriately and thus continue to write policies in those areas.

Norwood talked about California’s new privacy law, the California Privacy Enforcement Act, and an upcoming ballot measure known as the California Privacy Enforcement Act.

“Privacy is going to be a big deal,” Norwood said.

Employee Engagement

John Donahue, formerly CEO and president of Topa Insurance Co. and incoming president of M.J. Hall & Company Inc., gave an extensive talk about employee engagement.

He also hosted a panel on that same topic with Devon Borisoff (Monarch E&S), Kristin Jones (AmWINS Access), and Bill Floros (RT Specialty).

Donahue discussed his use at Topa of Gallup’s Q12 survey, a popular measure of employee engagement, and improving employee performance and retaining employees.

“If you want to affect and retain them, you have to have employee engagement in my opinion,” Donahue said.

The panel keyed in on motivating employees.

Jones emphasized learning to read and understand employees better, while Floros said giving employees a voice is important.

“They do enjoy having a voice,” Floros said.

Borisoff agreed.

“You keep reminding them over and over that what they’re doing matters,” he said.

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