Weekly Dispatch: May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

News

PIA sets the record straight on agent commissions

PIA issued a press release yesterday setting the record straight after Director of Federal Affairs for the City of New York Rebecca Kagan Sternhell—in written and oral testimony before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee—stated incorrectly that agents receive a 30% commission each year on flood insurance policies backed by the National Flood Insurance Program. According to PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile, “This is just not true … Ms. Sternhell apparently conflated two different entities, both of which contribute to the value policyholders receive when they purchase an NFIP policy.” The two entities to which Gentile is referring are the Write-Your-Own insurance carrier and the independent agent. The WYO carrier receives a reimbursement payment of approximately 30% from the federal government for writing and servicing NFIP policies. Then, the independent agent receives his or her commission from the 30% the WYO carrier gets from the federal government. Neither the WYO carrier nor the independent agent gets to keep the full 30% commission. It is significant for this correction to be addressed, because independent agents who write and service NFIP policies are not compensated 30%—and PIA supports agents earning a higher commission than they do currently for these policies. But, that conversation can’t begin if voters believe that independent agents are earning more than what they currently earn.

Conn./N.J./N.Y.: Help a local charity receive $2,500

Want to make a difference to a local charity in your community? PIA is working with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation to let agencies know that the IICF is offering 10 grants—worth $2,500 each—to worthy charities in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. In order for the charity to receive one of the grants, it must be sponsored by an insurance entity—at no cost to you. Ask the charity you are sponsoring to complete an application. Applications are due Friday, May 28, 2021.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont amends mask requirements

Gov. Ned Lamont announced this week that he is amending the requirements regarding the use of masks to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The following amendments went into effect yesterday: the use of masks outdoors no longer is required. Indoors, individuals who are fully vaccinated are not required to wear a mask and individuals who are unvaccinated still must wear them. Businesses may choose whether they require patrons to wear masks. 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.: Gov. Murphy intends to lift public health emergency; lifts travel ban

Gov. Phil Murphy announced last Friday that he is working with Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin to establish legislation that would end the COVID-19 public health emergency in New Jersey. Murphy signed Executive Order No. 240 on Friday—which extends the public health emergency another 30 days, until mid-June. But, according to the Emergency Health Powers Act, a declared public health emergency expires after 30 days if it is not renewed. If the legislation to end the public health emergency is finalized in time for mid-June, then it will be allowed to expire. Additionally, Murphy announced on Monday that he has lifted the travel advisory for New Jersey. While residents and travelers to the state no longer are required to quarantine or get tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, Murphy advises them to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding traveling. 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.: New York state to adopt CDC guidelines for mask use and social distancing

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Monday that New York state will adopt the CDC’s Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. This adoption went into effect yesterday. Per the CDC guidance, fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks in most settings, but businesses are authorized to continue requiring them. Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks in all public settings. Additionally, businesses may eliminate the six feet of required social distancing and increase capacity, or create a designated space for vaccinated people—only if everyone seeking entry presents proof of full vaccination. Proof of full vaccination can be provided through paper form, digital application, or the state’s Excelsior Pass. 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 accelerates Vermont Forward Plan, lifts mask and social distancing mandates

Gov. Phil Scott announced last Friday that, because more than 60% of the population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the state will move into Step 3 of the Vermont Forward Plan—more than two weeks ahead of schedule. Additionally, per CDC guidance, Scott signed Executive Order No. 01-20, which lifts the state’s masking and social distancing mandates for individuals in Vermont who are fully vaccinated. Both the advancement of the Vermont Forward Plan and Executive Order No. 01-20 went into effect immediately. To keep you updated on the latest COVID-19-related news, see the PIAVT COVID-19 resource page and be sure to read your PIA Northeast publications.

Advocacy

PIA Northeast meets with 28 congressional offices to advocate for federal priorities

Last week, PIACT, PIANH, PIANJ and PIANY leaders met via Zoom with delegates from 28 congressional offices—that represent their respective states—as part of PIA’s Virtual Advocacy Day. The state associations focused on PIA’s federal legislative priorities, which included the extension of the NFIP and the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2021. In addition to these issues, the state associations discussed extending the tax deduction for S corporations, the Federal Insurance Office, how the COVID-19 pandemic affected small businesses across the nation, crop insurance and more. Each of these meetings was an opportunity for PIA Northeast leaders to emphasize to federal legislators why each priority matters to insurance producers, policyholders and the insurance industry as a whole. Additionally, the legislators were able to ask questions about PIA’s federal priorities and the current state of the insurance industry in each state. You can see details about each specific PIA-state affiliate’s visit on PIA Northeast News & Media, or by clicking the specific states here: Connecticut, New Hampshire, New Jersey and New York.

N.J.: Some legislative districts are up for big change—Do you know who is running in this year’s election?

This year, New Jersey PIAPAC is watching the New Jersey state elections because all 120 of New Jersey’s state legislators are up for reelection in November. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 8, 2021, and the general election is Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. You can check your voter registration status on the New Jersey state website. This election year could bring big changes to some districts in the state. And, it’s important that independent agents are represented effectively. NJPIAPAC helps keep state legislators who represent the insurance industry in their seat—and helps new candidates who support agents get elected. To learn more about NJPIAPAC, visit its website or call PIANJ at (800) 424-4244.

Technical

U.S. DOL announces withdrawal of planned revision of independent contractor definition

Recently, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it is withdrawing a planned revision of the regulation governing the definition of an independent contractor. The Fair Labor Standards Act proposed to revise the definition of an independent contractor on Jan. 7, 2021, and PIA was part of a coalition that sent a letter to the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. DOL, asking it not to withdraw the proposal. The proposed revision addressed the difference between an employee and an independent contractor, and would have allowed employers not to apply federal minimum wage and overtime rules to independent contractors. Despite this decision, the independent contractor definition is far from settled. PIA will continue to monitor this issue, and you can stay updated by watching the PIAdvocacy blog.

N.Y.: DFS proposes changes to N.Y. CE requirements

The New York State Department of Financial Services has taken a first step to amend the continuing-education requirements for insurance producers. The amendments would require producers to take several new courses, including on insurance law, diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias. Currently, the proposed amendments are in pre-proposed outreach—during which interested parties may comment on the draft. Comments are due today.

N.Y.: NYCIRB files 6.4% WC decrease in loss costs

The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board filed its annual loss-cost indication with the New York State Department of Financial Services last Friday. NYCIRB is requesting a 6.4% decrease in the overall loss-cost level in New York state. The revisions are proposed to go into effect Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The DFS has until Thursday, July 15, 2021, to decide on its approval.

Events

N.J.: NJYIP Golf Open attracts more than 100 golfers and raises over $3,000

The New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals held its 30th annual Golf Open on May 3, 2021, at the Knob Hill Country Club in Manalapan. The sold-out event attracted more than 100 golfers for the 18-hole scramble tournament, and it raised over $3,000 to Michael’s Feat—a charity that supports the care of seriously ill newborns. Additionally, NJYIP announced NJYIP President Alyssa Delaney of Agency Network Exchange as the New Jersey Young Insurance Professional of the Year. And, NJYIP thanks every sponsor that supported the Golf Open this year.  

Register now

Last chance: Add on a mixology class and a chocolate tasting to your Virtual Conference 2021 experience

June 8-9: Join us for Virtual Conference 2021. When you sign up by tomorrow, you can add on a bonus mixology class and a delicious chocolate tasting. Learn how to make Whiskey Business and Personal Injury Punch, and then sample decadent chocolate with Chef Tova Sterling. You can’t go wrong with cocktails and chocolate with a side of networking, can you?

Get your entire agency in on the action! When you sign up, use the PIAMEMBER21 discount code and share it with colleagues so they can register for $50 off. That’s the full conference for just $149 per attendee when they register now!

More upcoming events:

May 18-28: PIANY’s Regional Advisory Councils’ Spring Into Advocacy

June 15: The CTYIP Golf Open

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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