Weekly Dispatch: Feb. 25, 2021

February 25, 2021


Resurgent PPP prompts executive changes and regulatory action

The White House announced changes to the Paycheck Protection Program that went into effect Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, which should ease the loan process to small and large minority-owned businesses. For a 14-day period, only businesses with fewer than 20 employees will be eligible to apply for loans to allow lenders to focus on these businesses. Restrictions for businesses owned in part by someone with either a nonfraud felony conviction in the last year and owners who defaulted on federal student loan payments have been lifted. The program also was expanded to noncitizen business owners with valid green cards and visas. Lastly, the White House announced that the formula for calculating loans for sole proprietorships, independent contractors, and the self-employed will be revised to better calculate the needs of businesses without employees. Further information on these changes is available here. These changes supplement the changes made by the December 2020 COVID relief package—formally known as the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits and Venues Act—and the subsequent interim regulations issued by the Small Business Association. See some of the highlights of the new rules here.

N.J.: Order extends public health emergency in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy last week signed Executive Order No. 222, which extends the Public Health Emergency that was declared on March 9, 2020, through Executive Order No. 103, which previously was extended on April 7, 2020, and was renewed roughly every 30 days through Jan. 19, 2021. More … Under the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days unless renewed. To keep you updated on the latest COVID-19-related news, see the PIANJ COVID-19 resource page and be sure to read your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Rapid-test program available for businesses and caterers

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last Friday the launch of the New York Forward Rapid Test Program to help businesses reopen safely. This public-private partnership—first announced in the 2021 State of the State address—will make low-cost rapid testing available to the public to support enhanced economic activity as New York continues to reopen sectors of the economy. Eleven sites opened in New York City last Friday with the capacity to conduct more than 5,000 tests per day. You can find a testing site near you here. To keep you updated on the latest COVID-19-related news, see the PIANY COVID-19 resource page and be sure to read your PIA Northeast publications. Recent updates include: Cuomo announced additional reopening guidance for several industries as New York’s hospitalization and COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline.


N.J.: Cannabis legalization is here—safe harbor needed

Gov. Murphy this week signed adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, including a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A-21); and a bill to decriminalize marijuana and hashish possession (A-1897). The governor also signed a bill to clarify marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old (S-3454). PIA National and PIA Northeast have pushed for federal and state safe harbor legislation, respectively. To review PIA’s efforts, see the PIA Northeast Director of Government & Industry Affairs Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.’s related article—The cannabis Carnac—in the June 2020 issue of PIA Magazine.

N.Y.: PIANY-priority E&S, windstorm legislation advance in state Legislature

The New York state Senate on Monday passed legislation (S.498) that would improve the process to place commercial policies in the excess-lines market. To make the process more efficient, the bill would eliminate the diligent-effort requirement for commercial risks when a retail broker places the risks through an unaffiliated, licensed wholesaler. Additionally, the bill would remove the unnecessary requirement to report diligent-effort declinations when brokers file with the Excess Line Association of New York. At the January Regional Advisory Council meetings, PIANY members identified the complexities of placing policies in the excess-lines market as a growing problem. The association—along with the Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association—has been advocating for this legislation through virtual office visits. PIANY also plans to push the state Assembly to pass the Assembly version of this bill, A.5241. The association thanks Sen. Neil D. Breslin, D-44, for his sponsorship of this legislation and for his continued support of the independent agent channel. More … In addition to the excess-lines bill, another bill (A.950)—which would require the superintendent of financial services to standardize the triggering and operation of windstorm deductibles—was reported out of the Assembly Insurance Committee yesterday. The standardization of these triggering events would promote a clear understanding for policyholders on how their policies would cover them if their houses were damaged by windstorms. More … These bills are two of PIANY’s 2021 legislative priorities. You can track these and other bills with the PIAdvocacy bill tracker.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition offers club perks

The Agents Advocacy Coalition is thanking donors in new ways this year. Depending on your club level, you will receive Agents Advocacy-branded gifts, or access to events and personal calls—only for donors. It is Agents Advocacy Coalition’s way of saying thank you for donations that allow us to donate to legislators who understand the insurance industry, and support or sponsor PIANY’s legislative priorities. These legislators help ensure that the agent voice is heard in Albany. Ensure you become a 2021 Agency Advocacy Coalition donor today.


N.J.: NJEDA gathers feedback on implementation of Economic Recovery Act

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority announced last week that it has launched a website to provide information on the recently signed New Jersey Economic Recovery Act of 2020. This will collect data from the public on the implementation of the package of tax incentive, financing, and grant programs that will be created under the act.

N.Y.: For-hire vehicle passenger and seating capacity IIES rules

Recently, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles published Passenger Seating Capacity–For Hire Vehicles. The guide reviews passenger and seating capacity definitions and rules, and capacity requirements for buses and school cars, taxis and liveries, and rental vehicles. Additionally, the guide provides information on insurance liability limits, vehicle capacity as it relates to vehicle inspections for for-hire vehicles and registration applications for for-hire vehicles.

Educating insurance agents

PIA Northeast CIC- and CISR-designation programs available online

PIA’s Certified Insurance Counselor and Certified Insurance Service Representative designation programs continue to be available online. These continuing-education credit-approved, nationally recognized designation programs take a practical, hands-on approach to learning. These designations are recognized nationwide as important credentials—ones that benefit individuals, their agencies, and their customers. To earn the CIC or CISR designation, participants must attend class and pass exams for five of the seven courses, or for five of the nine courses, respectively. You can view upcoming CIC and CISR classes for your state on the PIA Northeast CIC designation page and the PIA Northeast CISR designation page, respectively. For more offerings, see your state’s complete education schedule.

Register now

Conn.: PIACT to meet with insurance commissioner

Do you want updates on the state of the Connecticut insurance industry? PIACT and CTYIP members are invited to a free virtual Q&A with Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais on Thursday, March 11, 2021, at 11:30 a.m. Attendees will get to ask the commissioner questions about the industry, and will learn about the current state of the industry. Register to attend the virtual Q&A here.

N.J.: Next week: Success through great service

Do you want to learn more about professionalism and customer service? NJYIP will host a webinar Achieving Success with Professionalism & Outstanding Customer Service, Tuesday, March 2, starting at 1 p.m., via Go To Webinar. During the webinar, Kim Martell, owner and founder, KM Associates, Insurance Management & Training Consultants will examine agency management and customer-service issues. You’ll learn about setting goals that focus on revenue, retention, servicing areas and ways to improve on existing methods. Additionally, Martell will explore errors-and-omissions exposures, and solutions to prevent, to reduce and to eliminate E&O exposures through agency management and customer-service techniques. Sign up today. This webinar has been submitted for New Jersey continuing-education credit. Special: Anyone who signs up for a new NJYIP membership can attend this class for free.

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