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The PIA Partnership Launches Cyber 101, an Educational Website for Independent Agents

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National) and its carrier council, The PIA Partnership, have unveiled a new educational resource for PIA members and agents appointed by carriers participating in The PIA Partnership.

The PIA Partnership’s Cyber 101 website, available at, will help independent insurance agents gain practical knowledge about the cyber risks faced by businesses as well as the insurance coverages that have evolved to help protect those businesses. This knowledge will in turn help these agents determine what cyber coverages to recommend to their clients and prospects.

“As an agent, I know how difficult it can be to get one’s arms around complex new risks and the coverages that are created to help reduce exposure to those risks,” said PIA National President Timothy Russell, CPCU, of Southport, Connecticut. “These new tools simplify a complex topic, so agents can quickly and easily educate themselves and their clients.”

“Agents and carriers have tip-toed into the cyber arena for a number of years,” said the chair of The PIA Partnership, Nicole Carter, CIC, manager of agent/broker relations at Liberty Mutual Insurance. “The age of wading slowly is over. Agents need the same level of expertise and competence about cyber that they have with other areas of risk and insurance. Their clients increasingly expect it.”

In developing materials to help agents, The PIA Partnership has drawn upon the expertise of ABA Insurance Services Inc. (ABAIS), a thought leader in the world of cyber.

“Many small and mid-sized business owners and operators do not understand the many ways that their businesses can suffer a cyber related loss,” said ABAIS Senior Product Manager David Rupnow. “Because so many people are affected by the data breaches at very large companies, news reports often focus on these events. However, our experience shows us that small businesses are also at risk, and not just from data breaches.”

ABAIS and The PIA Partnership have identified seven key areas that may put small and mid-sized businesses at risk. These include:

  1. Fraudulent funds transfers.
  2. Extortion/ransomware.
  3. Social engineering.
  4. Business interruption.
  5. Data breach/privacy.
  6. Network security.
  7. Website media liability.

“PIA’s new Cyber 101 program includes information about losses that businesses may face due to data breaches,” said PIA National Executive Vice President & CEO Mike Becker. “However, data breaches are just one of the many cyber crimes affecting small and mid-sized businesses. We want agents to understand what all these crimes are, and how businesses can protect themselves.”

The PIA Partnership’s Cyber 101 program provides agents with both general knowledge of the cyber landscape as well as detailed information and claims examples for each of the seven key areas of focus. Agents can download materials to provide to their clients, after adding their agency contact information. Agents can also share interactive claims examples and other interactive elements with their clients and prospects.

“General cyber educational information is available on the Cyber 101 website now,” said Rick Pierce, CPCU, AAI, senior vice president of mid-Atlantic agency development for National General Insurance and incoming 2018 chair of The PIA Partnership. “This month, agents can also take a deeper dive into the topic of fraudulent funds transfers, an area that has cost many small businesses money as a result of cyber theft. We’ve created an interactive claims example on the topic as well as a very easy-to-understand, one-page PDF. We are also hosting an educational webinar about fraudulent funds transfers on December 12. That webinar will be recorded and subsequently made available through the Cyber 101 website for those who cannot attend the webinar live.”

“Because independent insurance agents and their clients have so much competition for their attention, the PIA Partnership is rolling out the Cyber 101 program over the course of seven months,” said 2019 PIA Partnership Chair Tom Hamilton, CLU, ChFC, from the Sales Division of Erie Insurance. “Each month we will introduce materials covering another one of the seven areas of focus. This program will enable agents to explore each topic and promote the accompanying materials to their current and prospective clientele in a steady, methodical fashion.”

Following the December 12 webinar about fraudulent funds transfers, live webinars will be held monthly. Each will cover one of the seven areas of focus and will be accompanied by additional materials agents can access about that topic. All webinars will be archived so that the result is a large body of cyber resources available to all PIA members and agents appointed by carriers participating in The PIA Partnership. Agents will be able to register for the monthly, live webinar series and access archived webinars directly through the Cyber 101 website.

“In addition to the many educational resources made available directly through the Cyber 101 website,” said Alexi Papandon, PIA National’s senior vice president of products and services, “agents can use the website to access additional cyber resources made available directly through the PIA Partnership companies. PIA Partnership companies have so much knowledge to share about cyber. We thank them for making so much helpful information available to PIA members and other independent agents.”

The PIA Partnership, established in 1996, is a group of insurance companies that work collaboratively with PIA agents and leadership to conduct research and develop tools and resources designed to benefit professional independent insurance agents. Learn more about The PIA Partnership at

Current PIA Partnership companies include: Central Insurance Company, Encompass Insurance, Erie Insurance, Liberty Mutual Insurance, MetLife Auto & Home, National General Insurance, Nationwide Independent, Progressive Insurance, Selective Insurance Group, State Auto Insurance Companies, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford and The Motorists Insurance Group.

Founded in 1931, PIA is a national trade association that represents member insurance agents and their employees who sell and service all kinds of insurance, but specialize in coverage of automobiles, homes and businesses. PIA members are Local Agents Serving Main Street America SM. PIA’s web address is

The PIA Partnership Presents: Cyber 101

This press release is online at:

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