Weekly Dispatch: March 25, 2021

March 25, 2021

News

PIA launches new blog and weekly publication

Starting next week, PIA Northeast members will see a new look to their weekly publication. Your PIA Northeast Weekly or Extra Edition newsletter is evolving into the PIA Northeast Weekly Dispatch, which will be distributed each week on Thursdays, and focus on the issues that are important to PIA members in Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. Divided into easy-to-review sections (News, Compliance, Technical, Educating insurance agents, Advocacy, ICYMI and Events), this publication will be part of PIA Northeast’s new blog site, which will allow you easy access to information, infographics, videos, the PIA Magazine and more. You will receive the email to the first PIA Northeast Weekly Dispatch on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Please share the email with your co-workers, and encourage them to sign up for this PIA Northeast member benefit. If you have email addresses you’d like us to include on the distribution list send them to publications@pia.org and be sure to include your PIA member number or phone number.

PIA supports cannabis safe harbor legislation

PIA advocates protecting insurance agents from federal prosecution for doing business with cannabis-related enterprises in states in which such businesses are legal. Nearly every state has legalized cannabis to some degree. That said, PIA does not take a position on the legalization of cannabis and views this issue strictly a matter of respecting state insurance laws. In addition, given the evolving landscape of state law on this issue, agents that engage in insurance business with businesses that comply with state laws must be protected from prosecution by the federal government. To that end, PIA helped develop and supports two bills, both of which were reintroduced in the 117th Congress recently. The bills would provide protection for those engaging in insurance-related transactions associated with cannabis businesses that are otherwise legal under state law—the Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act and the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act.

An order of liquidation for Bedivere Insurance Co.

An Order of Liquidation for Bedivere Insurance Co. (formerly One Beacon Insurance Co.) was entered on March 11, 2021, by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. The company is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and Guam. The liquidation order states that all Bedivere Insurance policies will be canceled at their normal expiration date of the policy, upon replacement or effective Saturday, April 10, 2021, at 12:01 a.m.—whichever is earlier. The bar date set for the receipt of claims and supporting evidence is Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, at 5 p.m. EST. The proof of claim form can be accessed here. Any claims received after this date will not be considered for payment. All persons who have first-party policyholder claims are enjoined and restrained from presenting and filing claims with the liquidator for a period of 90 days from the date the order is signed. A policyholder FAQ is available.

The Hartford rejects proposal from Chubb

The Hartford today announced that its board of directors, after consultation with its financial and legal advisers, has unanimously rejected Chubb Ltd.’s March 11, 2021, unsolicited proposal to acquire The Hartford. The board reaffirmed its commitment and resolve in the continued execution of The Hartford’s strategic business plan.

Conn.: Lamont urges state to modernize services

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last Friday that he is urging the Connecticut General Assembly to approve legislation (H.B.6444) that takes a number of important steps to improve and modernize state government for residents and provide more support to the state’s businesses. According to Lamont’s office, “This bill will help move Connecticut’s government into the 21st century and reduce unnecessary paperwork, giving time back to our residents, businesses and employees.” The legislation follows several optimization efforts already underway, which include information technology and human resources centralizations, the launch of business.ct.gov, the new tax portal at the Department of Revenue Services and new online services at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Conn.: Travel advisory canceled; tax deadline extended

Gov. Lamont announced last Friday that the mandatory requirements for people who travel outside of Connecticut—including those related to self-quarantining after traveling—no longer are in effect. However, the Connecticut Department of Public Health continues to urge the state’s residents and those are traveling to the state to be cautious and follow the latest travel-related guidance from the state and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additionally, Lamont announced that the DRS extended the deadline for Connecticut individual income tax returns to Monday, May 17, 2021. This extension is meant to help taxpayers navigate unusual circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To keep you updated on the latest COVID-19-related news, see the PIACT COVID-19 resource page and be sure to read your PIA Northeast publications.

N.J.: PIANJ and Kingstone discuss recent rate filings and producer communications

Members of the PIANJ Business Issues Committee met with leaders of Kingstone Insurance to discuss the recent notices regarding the carrier’s rate filings, and the outlook for the company going forward. Meryl Golden, COO of Kingstone Insurance, provided a detailed explanation regarding the carrier’s expansion into New Jersey in 2016, and the lessons the company has learned in the New Jersey market. As a result of growing quickly along the East Coast, the company needs to increase rates to more accurately reflect the risks. State regulations required the company to distribute notices of the proposed rate increase to every policyholder in the state. Most of the language is prescribed by regulation and the Department of Banking and Insurance approved Kingstone’s contribution to the notice. Kingstone apologized and explained how internal miscommunications resulted in the notices being distributed to policyholders shortly after being distributed to producers. This was not the intent of the leadership at the company and they recognized the difficult position in which this puts many producers. Golden, Kingstone Vice President and Senior Product Manager Eva Paxhia, and Marketing Director Colleen Greig all acknowledged the importance of communicating further developments on this issue with producers. More …

N.Y.: Partnership announced to expand testing for employers

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced last Friday the establishment of the New York Forward COVID-Safe Offices partnership, which will expand access to COVID-19 testing for employers. The partnership is operating in conjunction with major commercial real estate partners, and 21 participating landlords have committed to provide space and facilitate access to testing services for tenants interested in conducting regular diagnostic testing for their employees. 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.

Vt.: Gov. Scott signs unemployment bill into law

Gov. Phil Scott announced last week that he signed S.110 into law. The bill extends the eligibility for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. According to Scott’s office, “As more Vermonters return to work, this bill supports those unable to do so through no fault of their own by extending federally funded benefits, retroactively to the beginning of this year.”

Advocacy

N.Y.: PIANY-priority anti-arson bill passes state Assembly

The New York state Assembly passed A.603—a PIANY legislative priority—on Tuesday, 149-0. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, D-27, would repeal the requirement for insureds to file an anti-arson application in order to obtain coverage for fire or explosion damage. Currently, if the insured fails to submit the form to the insurance carrier, the carrier is required to cancel the policy, which can lead to gaps in coverage. Legislation was enacted in the 1990s—which requires insurers to file fraud prevention plans with the New York State Department of Financial Services—and made the application irrelevant. The same-as Senate bill, S.2627—sponsored by Sen. James Sanders Jr., D-10—still is in the Senate Insurance Committee pending review. This is one of PIANY’s 2021 legislative priorities. You can track these and other bills with the PIAdvocacy bill tracker.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition raises people and money

The Agents Advocacy Coalition doesn’t just want to raise donations—it wants to raise people. In other words, it aims to increase its number of donors. A donation—no matter how big or small—makes a big impact when combined with all of the donations the PAC receives. The Agents Advocacy Coalition takes these funds and donates them to legislators who support the insurance industry and give independent agents in New York a louder voice in Albany. Your donations—even the smallest ones—make a huge difference. Don’t lose your voice. Donate today.

Technical

N.H.: Granite State auto premiums below national average

The New Hampshire Insurance Department issued a press release last Thursday stating that, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, New Hampshire drivers pay less in auto premiums than the vast majority of drivers in the country. The report provides validated data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Additional key findings in the report indicate that the national average annual premium per insured vehicle was $1,190 in 2018—a 21% increase from 2014—and the N.H. average annual premium per insured vehicle was $883 in 2018—only a 12% increase from 2014. According to NHID Property & Casualty Director James Fox, the state’s “historically vibrant and competitive auto insurance market is due to ongoing development of regulatory framework that is accessible and easily understood by insurers.”

N.Y.: NYSIF names acting executive director

The New York State Insurance Fund this week named Mary Beth Woods as its new acting executive director. Woods has been the executive director for the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board for five years, and has served as the director of administration and the director of licensing for the WCB. She succeeds Eric Madoff who served as the NYSIF executive director for the last seven years.

N.Y.: ELANY offers corrective guidance

The Excess Line Association of New York issued Bulletin No. 2021-09 last week, which addresses some problems in the processing of excess-line transactions involving affidavits, endorsements, policy terms, binders and the Notice of Excess Line Placement.

Vt.: DFR announces 2021 top investor threats

The Securities Division of the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation reminded investors on March 11, 2021, to be on the lookout for investment schemes pitched through the internet and social media, especially ones involving precious metals, cryptocurrencies, promissory notes and foreign-exchange markets. According to the North American Securities Administrators Association, schemes related to these products have been identified as the top threat to investors in 2021.

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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