PIANY’s MetroRAP a Huge Success

January 28, 2004

The Professional Insurance Agents of New York State Inc.’s MetroRAP 2004 shattered attendance records for the fifth year in a row, with more than 500 industry representatives gathering in Brooklyn. (See IJ Website Jan.26)

“Before the doors opened, we had a record for registrations,” stated Harvey A. Leff, PIANY vice president and 2004 MetroRAP chairman. The conference featured some exceptional participants. New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer gave the keynote luncheon address. Brooklyn President Marty Markowitz proclaimed it PIANY Insurance Day in Brooklyn, and Superintendent of Insurance Greg Serio, highlighted the NYSID’s “Get Smart About Insurance Week.”

Spitzer began the keynote presentation by recounting a conversation he had with a chief lobbyist in the mutual fund industry the day before announcements were made that the Attorney General’s Office would investigate his company in 2002. At the time, he said, the lobbyist told Spitzer he was pleased his industry was not under investigation. “Just wait,” Spitzer told him and both parties laughed. “I remember thinking, he shouldn’t be laughing,” Spitzer told the audience.

After the audience reacted to the story, Spitzer assured them that insurance is not on his agenda. “At least as far as you know,” he joked.

“We have a system kept in check by CEOs, boards of directors and shareholders. All have a role in maintaining this system of checks and balances,” Spitzer stated. He blamed recent problems in corporate governance, in part, on an imbalance of power based in the executive, or CEO, branch. In 1980, he said the ratio of CEO to worker compensation was 41 to one. From 1980 to 2002, it increased to 411 to one. “Nobody could reasonably argue that by a factor of 10, CEO compensation should have exploded that way,” Spitzer noted.

Switching to auto fraud, Spitzer said he was working with the NYSID and the insurance industry to combat the problem. As a former district attorney, Spitzer said he viewed auto fraud as he did organized crime 15 to 20 years ago, planning to use anti-crime techniques such as wire taps; informers; stings; computer-assisted data bank checks; and making cases against those at the center of the rings, including doctors and lawyers.

He sited reports that fraud costs about $177 per individual annually and said remedying the auto fraud problem would have a significant impact on everyone. “I’d like to gather here in the future to tell you we’ve beaten fraud,” he continued. He conceded, however, that there is uncertainty in how to attack the problem.

“What we don’t know is: Do you fight auto fraud as a drug model, where the problem is when you take out one (perpetrator) more appear like weeds in the garden; or is it like organized crime, when you get the main families, you can have a real impact on the problem?”

Four awards also were given at the keynote luncheon. PIANY past President Bob Pfeffer, whose membership with the association spans nearly 20 years, was honored with PIANY’s General Agent Executive of the Year award. Kay Giustiniani, vice president of marketing for Associated Mutual Insurance in Woodridge, received the Company Executive of the Year award. Faina Aynbinder of Prestige Insurance Brokerage Corp. received the Bernard I. Kozel Memorial Scholarship award and Nicole DeVito of Seigerman-Mulvey Co. was presented with the Arthur I. Moll Memorial Scholarship. Both scholarships provide recipients with tuition to two CISR seminars conducted by PIANY for their efforts and services to customers.

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