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  • 27 May 2021 2:29 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    OVERVIEW

    The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is leading a ransomware awareness campaign, Reduce the Risk of Ransomware, with information and resources for organizations and individuals to use. Also, CISA is emphasizing nine smart cyber habits individuals and organizations should implement to avoid falling victim to ransomware. 

    WHAT IS RANSOMWARE

    Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to infect computers and encrypt files until a sum of money or other form of ransom is paid. After the initial infection, ransomware will attempt to spread to connected systems, including shared storage drives and other accessible devices.

    Malicious cyber actors commonly distribute ransomware through phishing emails or “drive-by downloads.” Phishing emails are messages that appear to be from a legitimate organization or a contact familiar to the victim, which can entice the user to click on a corrupt link or open an infected attachment. A “drive-by download” is a program that automatically downloads from the internet without the user’s consent and often without their knowledge. It is possible the corrupt code may run after download, without user interaction. After the code has run, the computer becomes infected with ransomware. 

    SMART CYBER HABITS

    During this awareness campaign, CISA emphasizes nine key messages that promote smart cyber behaviors or actions that individuals and organizations should implement to help prevent and mitigate ransomware attacks. 

    1. Keep Calm and Patch On – Patching is essential for preventive maintenance that keeps machines up-to-date, stable, safe, and secure against malware and other cyber threats.
    2. Backing Up Is Your Best Bet – It is critical to set up offline, encrypted backups of data and to regularly test your backups. The more you automate your backup system, the more frequently you can back up your data. 
    3. Suspect Deceit? Hit Delete. – If an email looks suspicious, do not compromise your personal or professional information by responding or opening attachments. Delete junk email messages without opening them. 
    4. Always Authenticate – Implement multifactor authentication (MFA) to prevent data breaches and cyber-attacks. This includes a strong password and at least one other method of authentication. 
    5. Prepare and Practice Your Plan – Create, maintain, and exercise a basic cyber incident response plan and associated communications plan that includes response and notification procedures for a ransomware incident. 
    6. Your Data Will Be Fine If It’s Stored Offline – Local backups, stored on hard drives or media, provide a sense of security in case any issues occur. Keep your backup media in a safe and physically remote environment. 
    7. Secure Your Server Message Block (SMB) – SMB vulnerabilities allow their payloads to spread laterally through connected systems like a worm. CISA recommends all IT professionals disable their SMB protocols to prevent ransomware and other malware attacks. 
    8. Paying Ransoms Doesn't Pay Off – The U.S. government recommends against paying any ransom to cyber-crime organizations or malicious cyber actors. Paying a ransom only funds cybercriminals, and there is no guarantee that you will recover your data if you do pay. 
    9. Ransomware Rebuild and Recovery Recommendations – Identify the systems and accounts involved in the initial data breach and conduct an examination of existing detection or prevention systems. Once the environment is fully cleaned and rebuilt, issue password resets for all affected systems and address any associated vulnerabilities and gaps in security or visibility.
    Original Document HERE


  • 19 May 2021 12:35 PM | National Office (Administrator)


  • 18 May 2021 4:52 PM | National Office (Administrator)

    NAPAA Lawsuit Filed.pdf


    Click the link above to view the NAPAA lawsuit 


  • 12 May 2021 10:34 AM | National Office (Administrator)


  • 21 Apr 2021 5:00 PM | National Office (Administrator)

    The Los Angeles County Superior Court granted the motion to certify a class of current and former California Farmers agents in February 2021. The court also appointed the plaintiffs’ attorneys to represent the certified class and appointed the plaintiffs as class representatives.

    What does it mean? The case will proceed to trial as a class action. The claims are that Farmers must reimburse the California agents in the class for the expenses they have incurred running Farmers’ agencies because it has been treating them as employees and not independent contractors.

    Do Plaintiffs want to reclassify current agents as employees? No. They want Farmers to follow the law to treat the agents as independent contractors and they want Farmers to reimburse them (and the class) for the time during which Farmers failed to follow the law. Plaintiffs claim that, starting at least in 2013, Farmers adopted a new customer strategy that resulted in it treating the agents like employees. Plaintiffs’ class certification brief contains more detail about these allegations, and you can access a public copy at farmersinsurancelawsuit.com/court-filings (click on Plaintiffs’ Class Certification Brief). A copy of Jeff Dailey’s presentation to Zurich investors explaining Farmers’ new strategy is also available at zurich.com/en/investor-relations/presentations (year 2014, Investor Update 2014).

     

    To be clear, plaintiffs are not seeking an injunction forcing Farmers to reclassify current agents as employees. In fact, Farmers argued that plaintiffs cannot not obtain such an injunction and plaintiffs agreed.

    What do I have to do? Nothing. If you are in the class, you should receive a court-approved notice explaining your rights and options in the next two or three months. Also, the plaintiffs’ attorneys plan to arrange for an informational webinar to discuss the case. If you want more information about the webinar, or have questions in general, please email the plaintiffs’ attorneys or contact them through farmersinsurancelawsuit.com.

    Does Farmers represent current or former agents? No. Because the court has certified the class, Farmers’ interests are adverse to class members, with respect to this lawsuit. If you are class member, then plaintiffs’ attorneys are representing your interests in this case. (The class definition can be found at farmersinsurancelawsuit.com and will be further explained in the forthcoming class notice.) From this point until the case is resolved, Farmers (and its representatives including managers, district managers, and attorneys) should not be discussing the case with current or former agents or advising them about the case. Plaintiffs’ attorneys ask that you contact them if you become aware of such communications.

    You may contact plaintiffs’ attorneys at kkb@cruegerdickinson.com or contact them through farmersinsurancelawsuit.com.


  • 21 Apr 2021 10:31 AM | National Office (Administrator)

    In 1776, there were countless actions of bravery that helped shaped the future direction of America. The Boston Tea Party, The Boston Massacre, The American Revolution, etc.  Now you might be asking yourself why he is talking about the American Revolution in 1776. Let me explain, in 1776 the British were trying to exert control by using a series of repressive actions, such as “Taxation Without Representation” and behavioral modification by limiting or controlling the freedom of speech, ideas and movement. We are all students of history and know that in 1776 there was a movement to stand up as a united group and rebel against the unjust and unfair treatment of the day.

    I would contend that there are similar parallels between 1776 and 2021, if you are a captive Farmers Agent. One could argue that the “Taxation without Representation” still exists today, if the word taxation is replaced by commission reduction, contract value reduction and loss of agent equity.

    FGI inserted this ingenious little clause in the AAA that commissions are not guaranteed. FGI used to boast that was only in there because they wouldn’t ever be able to raise an agent’s commissions. Now color us stupid, as it hasn’t stopped them in lowering commissions, contract value or agent equity.

    Stop and ask yourself a couple of questions. Why are there approximately 4 times as many Independent Agents appointed and licensed by the Exchanges than there are captive agents? Why are the Exchanges reducing or eliminating the exclusive agents across the United States? Why do you continue to see your commission rate, contract value and agency equity dimmish?  Why does the new agent program exist where the new agent is a hunter with no office, staff, etc. If you really want an idea of where this is going just look at what is happening at Allstate. FGI won’t be too far behind. I strongly encourage everyone to read about Allstate’s actions towards their agency force. You will see what’s coming. But the Allstate Agent Association is being courageous and fighting back through a variety of options.

    Another question is why do Zurich/FGI use Exchange funds to purchase additional companies that do not benefit the agent, Exchanges, or the policyholder? Why don’t they try to grow the Exchanges organically? Could it be that because the Exchanges are losing PIF, year after year, that it provides an additional income stream for Zurich/FGI?

    Ladies and Gentlemen, if you ever hope to bring about change or make a difference then join the United Farmers Agents Association, because more voices are needed to effect change.  If you think sitting back, doing nothing, and watching it unfold, it will get better you are mistaken.  Some of you may not believe that greater numbers can change outcomes, but just look at the courageous individuals in 1776 and other periods of American history. 

    Tom Schrader
    President
  • 15 Apr 2021 3:36 PM | Paige (Administrator)

    Click here for full article from Claims Journal written by Jim Sams

  • 6 Apr 2021 1:25 PM | Paige (Administrator)

    Read the full article here

  • 1 Apr 2021 2:00 PM | National Office (Administrator)

    One agent’s personal experience

    I retired as a Farmers Agent effective December31, 2019, after twenty-eight years. I survived thru five CEO's, eight State or Regional Managers, and six District managers. I was at one time the longest consecutive profitable auto agent in the State of Michigan. I made Toppers four times. I was one of the first Agents to get my 6 and 63 licenses. I tried to always do right by Farmers Insurance....

     

    After much cajoling by my District Manager and his office, I signed the new Agency Contract with the caveat that I could sell my Agency myself for the best price possible. Of course, it made sense that Farmers had to approve who I sold it to. So in anticipation of retiring, I negotiated a sale of my agency to another long term agent for 50% more than my Contract Value. It was a one time payment instead of three payments over a year.

     

    I was told by my District Manager that Farmers in Michigan was only approving sales of agencies to new agents. Later I found that that was not true, agencies had recently been sold to existing agents. When I brought this to my state Marketing Manager's attention, I was told that my agency was too big to sell to an existing agent. So, I ended up selling my agency for Contract value and I understand that my District Manager's brother-in-law was able to buy it. Go Figure!

    -          Anonymous source

    **UFAA’s core mission is to inform and educate agents, so that they can make informed business decisions. It is not UFAA’s intention to make any implied or specific recommendation as to what decision any agent should make when it comes to their business. 

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United Farmers Agents Association

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1919 Oxmoor Rd # 243
Homewood, AL 35209
Phone: 1-314-631-7898
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