April 2024 Member News

From the President...


The PIA of VA/DC Annual Convention will be here before you know it.

The dates are June 19th & 20th  at the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA.

Why should you attend?  Here are a few good reasons:

  1. The expanded Trade Fair on Wednesday, June 19th is a great opportunity to network with your existing carrier representatives and meet some possible new carrier partners.
  2. The Great Wolf Lodge, Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, Water Country, Jamestown, and Yorktown are fantastic destinations and great fun for the entire family.
  3. We have a special guest speaker – Tim NeCastro, CEO of Erie Insurance. How often do you hear an address by the CEO of a Fortune 500 Company?? It should be very interesting!
  4. Family Karaoke and Sundae Bar. Who doesn’t love ice cream?!
  5. The convention provides an opportunity to meet and network with your fellow independent agents. We can learn from each other.

These are just a few reasons to attend this year’s convention. So, Save that Date and registration will be open in a week!

See you in Williamsburg in June!

John Potthast

John Potthast, PIA VA/DC President

Sheryl's Snippet

Spring has sprung and PIA has some exciting events for you:

As John mentioned, our largest event will be our Annual Convention.  We have a new format this year and a focus on family; this will be a convention you don't want to miss!

May 2: Our Young Professional Council will be hosting a networking meeting at Top Golf, so get your club, and let’s hit some balls!  Young and Young at heart are welcome. Registration is open now.

May 13: Our annual Kimberley W. Harwood Memorial Golf Tournament will be held at Hanover Golf Club in Ashland, VA.  This annual event benefits Special Olympics Virginia.  Registration is now open!

We would love to see our PIA family at all or any of these events; if you're not family yet, we can let you know how you can become a family member!



Sheryl Chasse, PIA VA/DC Association Executive

April Member Spotlight: James Simpson, HAWK Advisers

How did you get into the insurance business?

It started at VCU when I did an externship with a Chartered Financial Planner.  My aspirations at the time were to be an investment banker or a financial planner.  His advice to me was to take as many insurance classes as possible.  I graduated from VCU with a degree in Insurance and Financial Security.  I played around after graduation by trying to sell life insurance to my bulletproof, young friends.  Hated it!  I then moved on to a P&C position with State Farm, moved to Travelers, to Alfa, and to State Auto.  I am happy to do insurance from the agency side now and love the leadership role I currently occupy.


How has your career benefited from being a member of PIA?

Immensely would sum it up.  As an independent insurance carrier representative, networking at association events helped me to find engaging partners to be appointed.  I achieved my CIC and CPIA which helped to develop a richer understanding of insurance products enabling smarter conversations with agents.

As an agent, participating in the Education Committee ensures the association keeps classrooms informative and current.  The CE classes and my CIC/CPIA updates have been taught by some of the best in the industry bringing real-life examples to the topics being discussed with other agents.  HAWK’s E&O exposure (exposure that has increased for HAWK by hiring me) is insured through the PIA.

Lobbying efforts by PIA have served to represent the interests of agents in the state of VA and countrywide.  With the leverage of our large constituency, they collectively provide a powerful voice for us who individually have little strength.


What would be the theme song of your life right now?

Because He Lives!  It’s a hymn that helps us get up in the morning and helps us to get to sleep at night.  You might say that this article is not intended to be “church-related.”  I cannot divide my work life from my faith.  It has worked for 30 years.  But, I will tell you how it became my favorite.  I was on the road like I did for 30 years, and I was in a hotel breakfast area, and the man maintaining the breakfast nook was humming the words to that hymn.  I heard them and recognized them, but I couldn’t tell what the song was.  When I went back for seconds, he was now singing the song, and I joined him!  It was an inspiring way to start my journey through the territory that day.  How could you have a bad day after that interaction?  One of the spillover benefits to my traveling lifestyle was meeting great people along the way that impacted me in small, but powerful ways.


Who/what inspires you?

When I reminisce about where God has taken me on my 30-year career journey, I think of all of the people who have made an impact on me.  I have been fortunate to have been exposed to so many talented, smart, and inspiring leaders in my time with Travelers, Alfa, and State Auto.  Having paid attention to them all and practicing what they taught, I am inspired to pass it along.  Some members of my team “jokingly” lament, that when they come to my office with a 5-minute question, they leave with a 30-minute answer.  They leave with not just the answer, but they also leave with the “why.”


What do you love the most about your job?

I love being in a position to make a difference.  HAWK Advisers has a great team of agents with varying tenures in the business from one member having 40 years in insurance to another member just graduating from college and passing the state exam.  I enjoy being a sounding board, a sort of coach, for the more tenured group, and being a mentor for the less tenured agents.  Having seen so much in my career, I can relate stories and relay advice to the entire group.  I have been given much latitude in how this is done, and that is liberating!


What are you reading or listening to?

I listen to classic rock, blues, and country.  Maybe you can tell by now, that I do allow the past to influence what I do today.  At this latter point in my career and life, I have picked up a new habit of reading.  I used to hate it.  I did make a New Year's resolution to read for 30 minutes a day, and I have stuck with it this year.  I have read 3 books this year on leadership and am hungry for more content to enrich my leadership ability.  So, if you are reading this and are effective in leadership, please send me your go-to readings and listenings to help teach this old dog new tricks.  I love all of you who have shaped me and who have shared time with me in this economically essential business.

James Simpson, HAWK Advisers



Consider These “Best Practices” when Navigating the Hard Market


Agencies around the country are reporting a wide range of issues due to the hard market – including increased premiums, reduced capacity, restrictive policy terms, and stricter underwriting from the carriers.



{click to read the full article}

April is PVA Recognition Month:

"PVA was founded by a band of service members who came home from World War II with spinal cord injuries. These wounded heroes made a decision not just to live, but to live with dignity as contributors to society.

Since 1946, Paralyzed Veterans of America has been on a mission to change lives and build brighter futures for our seriously injured heroes. We’ve had a single-minded mission—to empower our brave men and women to regain what they fought for: their freedom and independence."

"April is National Minority Health Month (NMHM), a time to raise awareness about the importance of improving the health of racial and ethnic minority communities and reducing health disparities. Learn more about NMHM.

Join NIMHD, our partners across NIH, and the HHS Office of Minority Health (OMH) to Be the Source for Better Health as we share resources to improve health outcomes through our cultures, communities, and connections."

  • Long-term sponsors: Email Carol: Carol@piavadc.com to reserve your booth.
  • Long-term sponsors will receive sponsorship opportunities on Monday, April 8th
  • Sponsorship will open for all on Monday, April 15th.
  • Attendee registration will open on Monday, April 8th.

Thank You Long-Term Sponsors

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2024 Course Schedules

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CE Shorties

From PIA National

Cyber Security Insurance
PIA Propeller

PIA Partners with Ascend

From billing to premium financing to distribution of commissions and carrier payables -- PIA and Ascend have you covered! 

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Introducing Winning@Customer Retention

Demonstrating the value of working with an agency is key. That’s where Winning@Customer Retention comes in. It's a new program from the PIA Partnership designed to help agencies improve customer service and retention. We’ve pulled together resources to help track client retention rates, segment, and communicate with customers.

The program puts spotlight on technology and solutions that play a big part in improving customer communications, referrals, and enabling agencies to select the right solutions and be proactive. Winning@Customer Retention includes a mix of online materials and tools and in-person and virtual sessions and events.

PIA Winning at Customer Retention

In the event of cyber business interruption, insurance covers loss and costs in excess of normal operating expenses required to maintain the business and restore operations.

PIA National is happy to introduce the PIA 401(k) Program. It is a turn-key, low-cost solution for agency owners and their employees and performs over 90% of administrative tasks by becoming your retirement department support team.

The PIA 401(k) Plan provides what employees want and what independent agents need to deliver it, in an efficient and cost-effective way.


In an increasingly virtual world, it’s critical that you know how to build relationships online. That’s why PIA National has launched its latest member benefit, The Agent Experience.

"We’ve built this tool to expand your views about building relationships in a virtual world—and to provide access to resources that will help."