Weekly Dispatch: June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

News

PIA opposes narrowing ‘independent contractor’ definition

PIA announced Monday that it signed an industry letter that raises concerns over the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ronald Lee Wyden, D-Ore., the Senate Finance Committee chair. The proposed bill would require states to use the ABC test to determine whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee. Per the ABC test, 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.

Risk Rating 2.0 discussed at second NFIP hearing

The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs held a second hearing last week on the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program. At the hearing, Deputy Associate Administrator David I. Maurstad testified on the NFIP’s new premium rating methodology, Risk Rating 2.0. According to his testimony, Maurstad said that Risk Rating 2.0 will go into effect Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, for all new policies, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency said in April 2021 that existing policyholders with renewal dates between Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, and April 1, 2022, also will gain access to Risk Rating 2.0 rates, if it would be financially beneficial for them to do so. Also according to FEMA, Risk Rating 2.0 will cause about 80% of premiums to increase and 20% to decrease, and will provide policyholders with a greater understanding of their risk. PIA is working closely with FEMA, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to ensure that Risk Rating 2.0 is rolled out smoothly this fall, and the association believes that the new Risk Rating 2.0 methodology will improve the NFIP’s financial stability and provide policyholders with a more accurate understanding of their risk. And, PIA wants to ensure that FEMA implements the new rating system in a way that is workable for both agents and consumers.

New federal holiday: Juneteenth

President Joseph R. Biden signed S.475 into law last Thursday, which establishes June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day. The new, U.S. federal holiday is the traditional commemoration date of the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.

N.H.: Gov. Sununu implements State to State Verification Service and improvements at the DMV

Gov. Chris Sununu announced last week that New Hampshire has become the 34th state to implement State to State Verification Service—which is designed to facilitate the exchange of convictions with other states— at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Other system and process improvements have been implemented at the DMV, including staff cross-training to handle all aspects of motor-vehicle records, authorization for the DMV to initiate immediate disqualification of commercial drivers and/or commercial motor carriers; the ability for New Hampshire and Massachusetts to exchange inbound and outbound notifications related to convictions and withdrawals; authorization for New Hampshire DMV customers to pay for their motor-vehicle tickets online instead of visiting the DMV; and the authorization of DMV customers to file not-guilty pleas for motor-vehicle violations online instead of visiting the DMV, to name a few. These changes are in response to the 2019 DMV Review, which Sununu ordered after a backlog within the Massachusetts DMV system had failed to suspend the license of a truck driver, who killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire two years ago.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy signs legislation for small-business relief

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Tuesday that he signed six bills—A-5704, A-5705, A-5706, A-5707, A-5708 and A-5709—which provide additional aid to small businesses that continue to suffer from the economic effects of the pandemic. Together, the package of bills provides $235 million to small businesses throughout the state, which allows the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to fulfill all eligible applications for aid submitted during Phase IV of the NJEDA’s Small Business Emergency Grant Program. 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.J.: Gov. Murphy announces budget agreement on tax relief

Gov. Murphy; Sen. President Stephen Sweeney, D-3; Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin, D-19; Senate Budget Chair Paul A. Sarlo, D-36; and Assembly Budget Chair Eliana Pintor Marin, D-29, announced Monday that there has been a Fiscal Year 2022 budget agreement on some key tax relief measures that will help more than 760,000 middle-class families in New Jersey, senior and disabled homeowners in New Jersey and veterans who are residents of New Jersey.

N.Y.: State disaster emergency ends today

Yesterday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York will end its state disaster emergency today. The state disaster emergency was declared on March 7, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will remain in effect, which includes masks for unvaccinated individuals, as well as all riders on public transit and in certain settings, such as health care, nursing homes, correctional facilities and homeless shelters.

Vt.: Gov. Scott acts to ensure continuity in critical services

Gov. Phil Scott announced last week that he is making sure that federal funding for certain programs continues, even though he has lifted all state COVID-19 restrictions and the State of Emergency has expired. To ensure this continuity, Scott signed Executive Order No. 06-21, which maintains the National Guard’s Active Services status to allow—and ensures continued state agency coordination for—ongoing support and management of the COVID-19 response; extends Vermont’s access to federal funding for expanded emergency noncongregate housing and feeding programs; and allows bars and restaurants to continue the pick-up and delivery of alcoholic beverages for the two-week period between June 16, 2021, and Thursday, July 1, 2021, when recently enacted legislation make the expiration of the State of Emergency permanent. 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.

Compliance

N.Y.: Chapter amendments were added to the NY HERO Act—Does your agency know how to comply?

Last week, Gov. Cuomo signed into law the chapter amendments to the New York Health and Essential Rights Act—also known as the NY HERO Act.  Do you know what you need to do to ensure that your agency is in compliance? Join PIA Northeast Government & Industry Affairs Director Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., and PIA Northeast Government Affairs Counsel Clare Irvine, Esq., as they discuss what businesses in New York state will be required to do to comply with this new law.

Advocacy

Conn.: Gov. Lamont signs bill legalizing recreational cannabis

Gov. Ned Lamont announced on Tuesday that he has signed legislation that legalizes and safely regulates recreational, adult-use cannabis. PIACT has watched this bill closely during Connecticut’s 2021 legislative session. It passed the state House of Representatives and state Senate last week during a special session.

N.Y.: PIANY opposes insurance-disclosure bill

New legislation (S.7052) that would require complete disclosure of a defendant’s insurance documents in a personal-injury court case passed the state Senate and state Assembly on the last day of New York’s 2021 legislative session. PIANY opposes this bill because it would require sensitive, private and personal data to be disclosed—some of which might not have anything to do with the court case in the first place. Plus, the bill would require personal-injury defendants to disclose this data within 60 days of answering a complaint filed by a plaintiff—a time frame that PIANY does not believe is a fair amount of time for a defendant to produce all of this information. PIANY is advocating against this bill, in hopes that the association—in tandem with other agent and carrier associations—can educate Gov. Cuomo about the dangers of this bill before he signs it into law.

N.Y.: Your political action committee makes all the difference

Agents Advocacy Coalition opens doors for PIANY to advocate on behalf of independent insurance agents in New York. The PAC supports the election of state legislators who understand and represent the insurance industry, and gives independent agents a voice in the state Capitol. Learn more about Agents Advocacy Coalition, the office PAC of PIANY, today.

Technical

Learn more about the ISO 2022 HO Program

The ISO 2022 HO Program will go into effect March 1, 2022. Changes that ISO has implemented include broadening certain parts of the HO policy including host liquor liability and the business income threshold; restricting other parts of the HO policy including coverages for model aircraft and model watercraft, credit cards and home sharing. The new program also includes broadening certain endorsements including theft for dwelling under construction and water backup. Endorsements that have been restricted included other structures (e.g., a dilapidated garage).

N.J.: CCPAP premium credit basis revised

Commissioner of Banking and Insurance Marlene Caride has approved an amendment to the New Jersey Workers Compensation and Employers Liability Insurance Manual, which increases the minimum eligible hourly wage from $28 to $30, in order to receive a Construction Classification Premium Adjustment Program premium credit. This change goes into effect Jan 1, 2022, for both new and existing policies.

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July 16: NJYIP Summer Twilight Reception

Sept. 14: CTYIP Golf Open (The date has changed.)

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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