Weekly Dispatch: July 15, 2021

July 15, 2021

News

Conn.: COVID-19 emergency declarations renewed

Gov. Lamont announced Tuesday that he signed a declaration renewing the public health and civil preparedness emergencies enacted in response to the ongoing pandemic. The Connecticut General Assembly approved the declaration yesterday, and it remains in effect through Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. 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 signs legislation to protect workers, employers from unlawful misclassification

Gov. Phil Murphy last week signed a four-bill legislative package to further the state’s efforts to stop employee misclassification. Misclassification—the practice of illegally and improperly classifying employees as independent contractors—deprives workers of the right to earn minimum wage and overtime, workers’ compensation, unemployment, earned sick leave, job-protected family leave, temporary disability, and equal pay, and leaves them unprotected against discrimination. The legislative action will create a new Office of Strategic Enforcement and Compliance within the state’s Department of Labor, and DOL will create a database to track payroll projects, critical steps to tracking and eliminating misclassification. The package will simplify the process for identifying misclassified workers and implement stop-work orders at worksites where misclassification is identified. Are you classifying your employees correctly? PIANJ has resources to help, see Employee vs. independent contractor—ABC test and control and Insurance producers: independent contractors or employees? in the PIA QuickSource library.

N.Y.: New legislation protects people from telemarketing via text messaging

On Tuesday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation (S.3941/A.6040) to expand the state’s definition of telemarketing to include marketing by text message. Under state law, New Yorkers have protection against unwanted robocalls, but texting was not previously defined as telemarketing, exempting it from those protections. This legislation closes that loophole. What this means for agents: Agent-client communications should not be impacted by this new law, since sales calls or texts made in connection with an established business relationship are specifically excluded from this law.

Compliance

N.Y.: The HERO Act: Employer requirements

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed chapter amendments for the New York Health and Essential Rights Act—also known as the NY HERO Act—last month, which will require employers to take certain steps to prevent the spread of airborne infectious diseases in the workplace. The law has two main sections: The first requires all employers to adopt an airborne infectious disease prevention plan. The second permits employees to establish a joint labor-management workplace safety committee. Make sure you understand your agency’s responsibilities regarding the NY HERO Act, including the New York Department of Labor’s prevention standards; the Airborne Infectious Disease Exposure Prevention Standard; exposure controls; and more.

Advocacy

N.H.: A look at the latest legislative session in the Granite State

The 2021 legislative session wrapped up in New Hampshire at the end of June. The state House of Representatives and state Senate passed H.B.1 and H.B.2—the two budget bills—on June 24, and Gov. Chris Sununu signed them into law the following day. The new budget was effective July 1, 2021. Before the session ended, the state’s legislators took action on a number of issues, including: unfair insurance practices; the residency requirement; safe harbor for businesses for COVID-19; the Paycheck Protection Program; paid family medical leave insurance; and a number of employee/employer issues (unused vacation time; minimum wage; interest and dividends tax; and business taxes).

N.Y.: Helping agents develop their political voice

PIANY could not be successful in its legislative and public policy efforts without the Agents Advocacy Coalition, the Official PAC of PIANY. Agents Advocacy Coalition gives professional independent agents across the state a voice in the political arena by supporting the election of sensible leaders who will listen to agent and industry concerns. Agents Advocacy Coalition helps the agent voice compete with big-money interests in the New York legislative arena. While agents may not all share the same political views, they do share the same underlying values and common cause of protecting the independent agency system, so that customers can be served with choices of coverages to meet their unique insurance needs.

Technical

N.Y.: DFS released CE proposal for public comment

Back in May, the New York State Department of Financial Services took the first step in making amendments to insurance agent continuing-education requirements. The DFS just took the next step, publishing a revised proposal in the New York State Register. Not much has changed from the proposal the DFS circulated as part of the pre-approval process. The only change of note is to the effective date of the regulation, which was changed to April 1, 2022 (from Jan. 1, 2022). By publishing the proposal in the Register—a necessary legal step—a 60-day public period comment begins. During this time, the DFS will receive any public comment on the proposal. The public will have until Monday, Sept. 6, 2021, to submit comment, which gives people an extra day to comment because the 60-day period ends on a Sunday.

Educating insurance agents

A guide to Risk Rating 2.0 for independent agents

PIA has scheduled an agent-specific training session entitled Balancing Risk and Opportunity: An Independent Agent’s Guide to Risk Rating 2.0 for Thursday, July 22, at 1 p.m. During the session, PIACT and PIA National past President Tim Russell, CPCU, who is the current chair of the Flood Insurance Producers National Committee, will discuss: what Risk Rating 2.0 is; how Risk Rating 2.0 differs from current NFIP pricing; how independent agents’ responsibilities will change in the Risk Rating 2.0 environment; and when Risk Rating 2.0 goes into effect. Register for this webinar, and look for Russell’s related article in the September issue of PIA Magazine.

Register now

July 16: NJYIP Summer Twilight Reception

Aug. 2: NY-YIP Golf Open

Sept. 14: CTYIP Golf Open

Berkshire Hathaway Guard Insurance Companies protecting your business and employees with their Workers' Compensation.
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