Archives for General

Merry Christmas Y'all!

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Texas, thank God,
Had made it through hail and wind and flood.
Our claims were all settled and roofs well-repaired
And insureds were thrilled that their agents were there.

With Vacant and Renters and Homes of all types,
Clients knew they had coverage wherever they abide.
Coverage for pets and mold and foundations
Gave even more reason for their joyful celebrations.

From Muleshoe and Alpine, to Freer and Llano,
In Waco and Midland, to Boerne and Conroe,
From North to South to East to West,
There is no doubt our agents are best.

So we work to provide service that is second to none,
With clear communications mixed with some fun,
And we gladly exclaim as Christmas draws near,
“Merry Christmas to all, and to all a great year!”

NYC 9/11 Smoke and Hurricane Harvey Flood DamageHurricane Irma has just ravaged the Virgin Islands and caused significant damage in Puerto Rico and Florida as well. Closer to home we’ve just begun the hard work of recovering from Hurricane Harvey’s damage in Texas.

On this particular date – 9/11 – we think not only of those current events, but also of the clear September morning when it felt like the world changed forever.

There’s an amazing video recap of the news as it unfolded. One that should help more people remember and share the shock, the horror, and the chaotic confusion of the day.

We remember the irreplaceable losses:

  • 2,606 in the World Trade Centers
  • 125 in the Pentagon
  • 87 on American flight 11
  • 60 on United flight 175
  • 59 on American flight 77
  • 40 on United flight 93

While we continue to remember those losses, we also remember the resolve, the spirit of cooperation and the outpouring of support that followed. We see that same spirit at work in relief and recovery efforts in and around Texas today. We see the same already happening with the Virgin Islands, and it undoubtedly will in Puerto Rico and Florida also.

Please take a moment today to remember and pray for the fallen victims and heroes from 9/11/2001 and the loved ones they left behind.

Please also do what you can to support those freshly hurting.

Together we can – and do – make a difference. That’s something very good to remember.

In the legislative session that ended in May 2017, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1774, which finally prevented abusive lawsuits that dramatically increased the cost of home insurance for all Texans. Unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas to spread false stories about what HB 1774 did and did not change.

Fortunately the organization Texans for Lawsuit Reform has released a solid factual statement with the truth, the short answer of which is a resounding NO!:

Statement Regarding Hurricane Harvey and HB 1774

AUSTIN – Texans for Lawsuit Reform today issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Harvey:

“TLR was founded in Houston and continues to have strong roots in the community. We are devastated to see the damage that has been unleashed on the city, and on our friends, family and neighbors,” TLR President Dick Trabulsi said. “The Texans affected by this historic disaster deserve our full support as they begin to pick up the pieces. To assist with disaster relief efforts across the impacted area, TLR has made a donation to the American Red Cross, and we ask all Texans to join us supporting the relief efforts and in praying for all who have been impacted.”

As with any evolving situation of this nature, misinformation can spread quickly. Texans should have the facts about insurance claims following Hurricane Harvey:

The normal insurance claims process has not changed. Reform legislation passed in the last legislative session (HB 1774) goes into effect on September 1, 2017, and applies to lawsuitsfiled after that date. A person making a claim with her insurance company after September 1, 2017 will go through the same process as a person making a claim before September 1, 2017. Texans should contact their insurance companies directly to file claims.

Lawsuits are the exception – not the rule, and the vast majority of Texans will resolve their claims without needing to file a lawsuit.

Beware of anyone—lawyer, adjuster, contractor, or anyone else—claiming to help you get more money from your insurance company.

If your insurer does improperly deny or delay paying your claim, Texas has the strongest consumer protections in the nation for you, which will continue to be the case after September 1, 2017. Texans can receive full damages for unpaid claims, can recover attorney fees for legal action taken to recover those damages, and can also recover penalty interest. If an insurer acts fraudulently or in bad faith, additional remedies, including the recovery of triple damages, are available to Texans. This is true today, and it will be true after the reform legislation HB 1774 goes into effect on September 1, 2017.

The primary purpose of the new statute is to require written notice of a dispute before a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit is filed, it would happen months or years after the initial claim was made with the insurance company. Nothing in the new law passed by the Legislature earlier this year requires that the initial insurance claim be made in writing or by a specific date.

• The requirement for a written pre-lawsuit notice (not pre-claim notice) to the insurance company ensures the company is aware of its policyholder’s complaint and has had an opportunity to adequately address that complaint before being sued. It is a part of existing Texas law and does not disadvantage policyholders.

Furthermore, the new law will not apply to most claims or lawsuits arising from Harvey, because most of the policyholders’ claims will be for damage caused by flooding. These claims will be made under the federal flood insurance program and governed by federal law.

Similarly, the new law will not apply to lawsuits pursued against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), which is subject to an entirely different statute governing post-disaster lawsuits. TWIA provides insurance for many people affected by Harvey in our coastal counties.

The law that will become effective on September 1, 2017, is designed to do two important things:

1. Discourage the feeding frenzy by lawyers and contractors following natural events occurring in Texas over the past several years. These unscrupulous actors have taken advantage of thousands of hard-working Texans over the past several years.

2. Encourage out-of-state insurance adjusters to come work in Texas following a massive disaster like Harvey. In the following days and weeks, it will be critically important for out-of-state adjusters to work in Texas to ensure that insurance claims are evaluated and paid in a timely manner.

In sum, the new law does not affect the claims process. Instead, it affects only the lawsuits that sometimes follow the claims process. Furthermore, it does not create a new deadline for action by policyholders.

Celebrating Cinco de MayoTexas and Mexico have a long history together, from Spanish colonies in both places in the late 1600s, through the Texas Revolutionary War against Mexico, to the current $41 billion per year in Texas exports to Mexico.

So it’s no surprise that in Texas any major “celebration of Mexican heritage and pride” is celebrated widely.

It may be a surprise to you, though, that while Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle of Puebla in 1862, it’s NOT Mexico’s Independence Day, which is September 16. Given the long and rich history Texas and Mexico share, though, it probably should not be surprising that the victorious commander of The Battle of Puebla, Gen. Ignacio Zaragoza, was born in Goliad in 1829.

Cinco de Mayo is primarily a regional holiday celebrated only in the city and state of Puebla, and “is a holiday that is virtually ignored in Mexico”.

You Never Know What Will Catch Fire

The Battle of Puebla was a relatively insignificant event. The French forces were beaten back, but they did capture Puebla only a year later. It’s not even a national holiday in Mexico. Yet on this day each year millions of people, of Mexican heritage and not, will celebrate the day in the United States.

What has caught fire with your clients? Are you trying different ideas? The only way to know what will work is to test many options. When one does catch fire – run with it! Next thing you know you may have a surprise holiday of your own.

What has surprised you? What has resonated with your clients that you didn’t really expect? Share your experience in the comments.

Texas Flag with BuildingOn March 2, 1836, Texas earned its freedom from Mexico – becoming an independent nation.

The independence came after the Battle of San Jacinto, thanks to the victory of General Sam Houston and his men. That battle followed the stand at the Alamo, where Colonel William Barret Travis and his men valiantly tried to hold off a force many times their size.

Before his death at the Alamo, Colonel Travis sent one last letter, that read in part:

I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch … If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country— Victory or Death.

Because of that spirit the words “Remember the Alamo” still carry enormous weight for millions of Texans. What we do matters, the end result matters, but why we do it and how we do it matters too.

At iMGA we’re proud to be Texans, proud of our heritage and independence, and proud to work with great independent agents across the state. Especially today we wanted to take just a moment to say so.


image courtesy of imagesbywestfall

The new year brings an opportunity to think about the kind of environment we’d like to create for ourselves and those we impact.

For many that means New Years Resolutions. At iMGA we’d prefer to focus on goals – goals we’ll take concrete steps to accomplish. Here’s some of what we have under way for our agents in 2017:

Improved Competitiveness

For the first time since our Non-Admitted Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome, Renters and Vacantprograms were introduced, we’ve been able to avoid broad rate increases for the coming year. As our competitors raise their rates, therefore, you should see iMGA’s quotes providing the best solution for your clients even more than usual. Plus, we’ve just introduced our Admitted products, providing a real alternative in terms of coverage and pricing, for your personal lines Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome and Vacant customers.

New Product Features

One of the advantages of Non-Admitted products is the ability to provide coverage for items, like mold and slab, that are not provided in the standard market. We have been testing a significant new product enhancement that is the first of its kind and truly unique in the market. As soon as it’s ready to introduce, we’ll have much more to say on that front. In the meantime we’re hard at work and looking forward to bringing it to you and your clients.

New Products

Insurance needs grow and evolve as technology, the marketplace and the environment change. There’s been plenty of that kind of change over the past few years, and in response we’ve been working on three new product programs. We’ll roll each of those out during 2017 as they become available, along with the training and information to ensure you’re able to confidently offer them to your clients.


2017 promises to be an amazing year for iMGA and our agents, and we can’t wait. Happy New Year!


270 years after the birth of Christ, Christianity had spread throughout the Roman Empire. Part of that expansion included Lycia, on the Mediterranean coast of what is now Turkey.

A wealthy couple in the town had one son, Nicholas. He grew up devout, and after his parents died, was raised by his uncle, the local Bishop. As a young man he went on pilgrimage to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Shortly after he returned he was named Bishop of the region, and in 325 AD, he was one of a small group of Bishops who attended the First Council of Nicaea at the request of Emperor Constantine. Those bishops developed the Nicene Creed at that meeting, a statement of faith that is still used worldwide to this day.

Nicholas gained a reputation for helping others. The two most famous stories about that include one where in the middle of a severe famine he arranged to distribute desperately needed food to the entire community. In the other he changed three local girls’ lives by secretly arranging to provide the money for their dowries so they could marry and avoid being sold.

He died on December 6, and that day was commemorated for over a thousand years.

In medieval times nuns used that night to deposit baskets of food and clothes anonymously at the doorsteps of the needy. By the 1500s it was a common practice in Holland for children to put out their shoes on the 5th, to discover gifts that St. Nicholas had left for them on the morning of the 6th. Dutch immigrants brought the gift-giving ways of St. Nicholas, also known by his nickname Sinterklaas, to America in the 1700s.

Here St. Nicholas went through many transformations. Eventually Sinterklaas became Santa Claus, and the gift-giving tradition was merged into the Christmas holiday. His place in our holiday and our minds was cemented by the 1820 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas“, better known now by it’s beginning line: “Twas the Night before Christmas“.

We won’t all be remembered for millennia for the actions we take in this life. Even if he’d never been remembered by strangers, Nicholas did make life-changing differences to those around him. At Christmas, and as we plan for the new year, that’s a good thing to remember.

We too can change lives of those around us, one at a time. The opportunities are there.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year.


Uss Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Today is the 75th anniversary of the surprise raid at Pearl Harbor.

We were attacked because another country’s leaders were convinced that if they hit us hard enough first that we would either not have the ability or not have the will to respond.

After so much time it’s easy to forget, but it’s too important a lesson – and one that was too expensive to learn. May we always remember, and may we never lead another country to that same wrong conclusion.

Listen to the full audio of President Roosevelt’s speech:


Veterans Day Flag - honoring all who serveIt’s Veterans Day in the United States today. In other parts of the world it’s called Armistice day since it’s celebrated on November 11th – the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I.

Wherever you are and whatever you call it, take a moment today to thank a veteran. Freedom is not free, and those who have served have made payment on behalf of all of us who enjoy the benefits of that freedom every day.

For those of you who have served – you have our sincere gratitude.

Thank you.

Arlington Cemetery Sunburst

Arlington National Cemetery near sunset.

We had been walking for a while.

The July heat was as stifling as our disappointment that visiting hours had ended. The rapidly descending sun promised, but had not yet provided, any relief.

Neither of us knew exactly where to go, but we were compelled to continue moving. There was no mistaking the contrast between the cars fleeing D.C. on one side and the utter stillness of the cemetery that was both completely empty and far too full.

We turned a corner. Just over the low brownstone wall that separated us from the silence, the field appeared. The grass between the rows of white headstones made paths toward the setting sun. Individual rays of sunlight rested on some of the markers and pointed at others.

My daughter and I stood for a moment that lasted much longer. We couldn’t see their names, ranks, branch of service, or the too short range of birth to death. We could only see the stones memorializing their sacrifice.

We didn’t talk there, in that moment. Other than the rolling peel of commuters’ tires off the hot asphalt and the alternating whines and purrs of their engines, it was silent. Just before it was too late, I snapped a photo that somehow managed to capture a fraction of the tragically beautiful scene.

At iMGA we’ll close the office early today and remain closed on Monday in observance of Memorial Day.

Please take a moment this weekend to be silent, to remember those who have given their lives for us and our liberty. We will.

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