Independent agents’ employment status jeopardized
The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.842—the Protecting the Right to Organize Act—on March 9, 2021. If it is signed into law, the bill would expand the definition of independent contractor by replacing the existing definition with an ABC test to define an employee. According to the bill, in order to be classified as an independent contractor, an individual must be free from control and direction in connection with the performance of the service, both under the contract for the performance of service, it must be performed outside the usual course of the business of the employer and the individual must be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed. All of these conditions would need to be met for an individual to be considered an independent contractor, and this could force independent agents to work as employees, regardless of their preferences. Currently, whether an individual is classified as an employee or an independent contractor is regulated by each state. You can access these regulations for Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont.
N.H.: State of emergency extended 21 days
Gov. Chris Sununu announced last Friday that he is extending the state of emergency for New Hampshire for 21 days until Friday, April 16, 2021. This extension is in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, Sununu extended Emergency Order 87, which requires the use of face coverings to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, and Emergency Order 88, which extends the state’s travel advisory.
N.J.: Gov. Murphy nominates insurance fraud prosecutor
Gov. Phil Murphy announced last Friday that he has nominated Tracy Thompson as New Jersey’s insurance fraud prosecutor. Thompson has been the acting insurance fraud prosecutor since 2018. According to Murphy’s office, “For the last three years, [Thompson] has relentlessly protected New Jersey residents from insurance fraud schemes … she will continue to serve our state honorably and [Murphy looks] forward to her confirmation by the Senate.” Thompson’s nomination will be submitted to the state Senate formally at the next Senate quorum.
N.Y.: Gov. Cuomo legalizes adult-use, recreational cannabis
Yesterday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to legalize adult-use, recreational cannabis. Since this legislation will affect various facets of the insurance industry—including the New York Labor Law and workers’ compensation—PIANY is working together with various trade and professional organizations to address the impact this legislation will have on agents and their clients. For more information, read your PIA Northeast Weekly Dispatch and monitor PIA Northeast News & Media.
N.Y.: DFS proposes climate-change guidance for insurers
Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell announced last Thursday that the New York State Department of Financial Services has issued proposed detailed guidance for New York-regulated, domestic insurers regarding financial risks from climate change. The proposed guidance builds on the circular letter that DFS issued on Sept. 22, 2020. In the proposed guidance, DFS outlines its expectations that all New York insurers begin integrating the consideration of the financial risks from climate change into their governance frameworks, management processes and business strategies, and developing their approach to climate-related financial disclosure. DFS provides more information about the financial risks of climate change, and how this affects insurers on its website.
N.Y.: Program launched to fast-track reopening of businesses
Gov. Cuomo announced the launch of Excelsior Pass last Friday. The pass is a free, voluntary platform that utilizes proven, secure technology to confirm an individual’s recent negative COVID-19 test result or proof of vaccination. The Excelsior Pass will help businesses and venues reopen sooner because the app will give individuals a secure and confidential way to prove that they have tested negative for COVID-19 recently, or that they have been vaccinated. A participating business would be able to use a companion app to scan an individual’s Excelsior Pass QR code and confirm that the individual has tested negative recently or has been vaccinated—without ever knowing the individual’s confidential, personal information. Interested in opting-in your agency to New York’s Excelsior Pass program? Sign up here. Do you have employees who aren’t keen on returning to work? The PIA Industry Resource Center has fielded a number of calls from members who want to know what they can do (legally) if an employee resists returning to the office. To address this issue, PIA Northeast Director of Government & Industry Affairs Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., wrote an article: The virus and the long-distance relationship, which originally was featured in the November 2020 issue of PIA Magazine. 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.
N.Y.: The return of workers’ compensation self-insured trusts
Several decades ago, New York employers that were in similar industries set up group self-insured trusts as a cheap alternative to workers’ compensation insurance. As part of the process of joining a GSIT, an employer assumed joint and several liability for the funding of the GSIT. However, the GSITs were not adequately funded, and they created issues for funding workers’ compensation claims (e.g., massive costs to employers that belonged to the GSITs, and the employers shared joint and several liability for funding the claims). Many insurance agents thought the days of GSITs were a thing of the past. However, their clients are calling them because they have received information regarding default judgments in GSITs. For more information about this resurging issue, see the post on PIA Northeast News & Media.
Vt.: Addison County recovers from recent storm damage
You might be getting calls from your clients in Addison County regarding the recent storm. The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation recently issued a press release to remind those people who were affected by the storm to notify their insurance agents and carriers about any possible claims. Do you have clients who have been affected by the storm? PIA’s Flood Insurance Tool Kit provides members with helpful information that agents can use to advise prospective and current clients properly. The tool kit includes state-specific insurance department information, guidance on the National Flood Insurance Program and information on how to or PIA Design & Print consumer material for your agency to use in pre- and post-disaster communication with your insureds.
PPP extended to May 31
President Joseph R. Biden signed H.R.1799—the Payment Protection Program Extension Act of 2021—on Tuesday. The legislation extends the PPP until Monday, May 31, 2021. Additionally, it provides an additional 30 days (beyond May 31) for the Small Business Administration to process loans that were submitted before the new deadline. For more information on the PPP, read your PIA Northeast Weekly Dispatch and monitor PIA Northeast News & Media.
N.H.: PIANH opposes legislation to repeal auto statement-of-residency requirement
Legislation (S.B.36) is moving through the state Legislature that would repeal the requirement for insureds to sign a statement of residency confirming that they live in New Hampshire. PIANH submitted testimony opposing this legislation to the New Hampshire House Commerce Committee at a public hearing on Tuesday, during which the bill was addressed. A decision about the legislation was not made at the public hearing. Earlier this month, the PIANH board of directors voted to oppose this legislation because the statement of residency makes the legal consequences clear to insureds if they misrepresent that they live in New Hampshire to obtain auto insurance. The board deemed the statement of residency necessary to ensure that nonresidents don’t misrepresent where they live in order to access New Hampshire’s auto insurance market.
N.J.: MSO develops new optional BOP program
The Mutual Service Office Inc., has developed a new business-owners classification, rating manual and loss-costs program, which goes into effect in New Jersey today. Designed as a separate, optional manual, it does not replace the current filed and approved rate manual. Since it has not been filed on behalf of the member companies, any company that wants to adopt this manual must prepare its loss-cost multipliers and make appropriate filings with the DOBI.
Educating insurance agents
Contractors and general liability
Contractors face myriad liability exposures—and the commercial general liability policy is unique in how it handles those exposures. It is important for agents to understand the different ISO endorsements that may be added to a contractor’s policy and to be aware of the nonstandard endorsements that insurance companies use. Did you know that residential exclusions can cause problems on a CGL policy? Or that cross-liability exclusions can create many issues? And, let’s not forget about how subcontractors can affect general contractors’ coverage. You can learn about all of these issues (and more) when you attend Contractors: Commercial General Liability Coverage Issues, taught by Cathy Trischan, CPCU, CIC, CRM, AU, AAI, CRIS, ARM, MLIS, TRIP, on Wednesday, April 7, 2021, from 9 a.m.-noon. This class has been approved for continuing-education credits. More information on this class can be found on PIA Northeast News & Media. To register for this class, log on to the PIA Northeast education schedule.
Register for the CTYIP Insurance Game Night
Do you know everything about insurance trivia? Want a chance to win a free one-hour PIA webinar? CTYIP is hosting Insurance Game Night on Thursday, April 8, 2021, via Zoom, at 6:15 p.m. The event is free for all attendees. The individual with the highest score will win a free one-hour PIA webinar of his or her choice. Register today. If you have questions, email CTYIP Coordinator Ashleigh Adams.