Weekly Dispatch: Aug. 26, 2021

August 26, 2021

News

Check out a library of digital content, only on the Virtual Conference 2021 platform

Did you know that you can access Virtual Conference 2021 on demand? PIA’s Virtual Conference 2021 platform makes it easy to reach its exhibitors and sponsors virtually. And, you can use the platform to access all content, which is streaming on-demand in the theater. Virtual Conference 2021 content includes education and professional development sessions, lifestyle seminars, featured speakers, C-Suite and InsurTech demonstrations. Don’t miss Cannabis Unplugged: Thought Leaders Share How to Target a Growing Industry, sponsored by CannGen Insurance Services. Note: You won’t be able to earn continuing-education credits for viewing the education sessions on-demand. Log in today. Not already registered? Access all content for just $29.

Tropical Storm Henri makes landfall in the Northeast

Tropical Storm Henri made landfall in the Northeast on Sunday, which led to states of emergency in Connecticut and New York. Luckily, in Connecticut, damage from the storm was limited. The same is true in both New Hampshire and Vermont. However, parts of New York City accumulated more than six inches of rain, which is the most rain the city has accumulated from one storm since 2014. And, parts of New Jersey—Monroe Township, specifically—accumulated nearly 10 inches of rain. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy toured Monroe Township on Monday, surveying the damage that the storm caused. As the aftermath of Tropical Storm Henri unfolds, PIA Northeast wants members to know that their association is here for them. For questions and state-specific updates following Tropical Storm Henri, you can email PIA Northeast’s Industry Resource Center, or call (800) 424-4244. And, if you haven’t already, it’s important to start the conversation with your clients about flood insurance. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. As you know, it takes 30 days for a flood policy to go into effect. To help you start the conversation, PIA offers resources through its Hurricane Info Central and PIA Design & Print. Hurricane Info Central is a one-stop shop for all your hurricane-related tools, including state-specific insurance department information, and pertinent QuickSource and Ask PIA resources on topics such as hurricane deductibles, flood policies and more. PIA’s Design & Print can help agents order materials to help their clients prepare for hurricane season, too. For more information, email Calley Rupp.

Conn.: All insured residents are eligible for ‘no-cost’ COVID-19 booster shot

Connecticut Insurance Department Commissioner Andrew N. Mais reminded consumers last Friday that there should not be any out-of-pocket costs for the COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for those covered by fully insured and self-funded health insurance plans. While the booster shot still is pending authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CDC has announced that fully vaccinated individuals with the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine will need a booster shot to keep their immunity against COVID-19. Once the booster shot is available to Connecticut residents, it will be covered fully by their health insurance plans.

N.J.: USACE, NJDEP release study of coastal storm resilience measures, seek public comment

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection announced last week that they released draft study results and a tentative plan for coastal storm resilience measures that are intended to protect the New Jersey shore from extreme weather and rising sea levels. The study—called the New Jersey Back Bays Coastal Storm Risk Management Study—includes a tentatively selected plan for reducing the risk of storm surge barriers, cross-bay barriers and building elevations in the region that spans 950 square miles from Neptune to Cape May. The USACE and NJDEP have been collaborating on this study since 2016, and they need to measure the feasibility of the plan for these resilience measures. To that end, they are seeking public comment on the New Jersey Back Bays Integrated Feasibility Report and Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement. Following the receipt of public feedback on the feasibility of their tentative plan, the USACE and NJDEP will consider potential revisions to the plan. The public and stakeholders are invited to provide their feedback by Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, via email at PDPA-NAP@usace.army.mil, or via mail at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Planning Division; Attn.: NJBB Study; Wanamaker Building; 100 Penn Square E.; Philadelphia, Pa., 19107.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy appoints CRC director

Gov. Murphy announced last week that he has appointed Wesley McWhite III as the director of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. The appointment comes a day after the commission unanimously voted to approve its first set of regulations to govern the new industry, and is another step toward the Murphy Administration’s commitment to establish an adult-use cannabis marketplace that prioritizes equity. The initial regulations that the CRC set last week guide the cultivation, manufacture and sale of recreational cannabis in New Jersey. And, they address barriers to entry into the marketplace that have adversely affected cannabis markets across the U.S. The components that address these barriers include prioritizing applications from certified minority-, women-, and disabled veteran-owned businesses, and applications from applicants who live and will operate in one of several designated economically disadvantaged areas; flexible application requirements for microbusinesses and those applying for conditional licenses; and application fees as low as $100.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy establishes school and small business efficiency fund

Gov. Murphy signed legislation on Tuesday that establishes a fund administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, which will provide grants to schools and small businesses for the assessment, repair, upgrading and replacement of heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and plumbing fixtures and appliances that fail to meet efficiency and health standards. The program is backed by the $180 million in American Rescue Plan funds appropriated in the Fiscal Year 2022 Appropriations Act. The legislation requires the BPU to begin to solicit applications for grants by Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, and begin to approve applications for grants by Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, subject to the availability of funds.

N.Y.: Changes announced to accelerate rent relief program

Gov. Kathleen C. Hochul announced on Tuesday that she is implementing a series of changes to both attract more applications and accelerate payments within New York’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The state will invest an additional $1 million in marketing and outreach efforts to raise awareness about the rent relief program, the available funding and the strong tenant eviction protections in place for those who apply. The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance—which administered the program—will analyze application data to target areas of the state with relatively low numbers of applications. Additionally, Hochul is ordering a rapid review of the rent relief program’s workflow, and ordering the reassignment of 100 contracted staff to work solely with landlords to complete pending applications, which will accelerate payments. The staff will conduct direct outreach, work with landlords one-on-one, clarify and obtain missing information, and resolve outstanding issues so that more rent relief can be disbursed. And, new data that breaks down rent relief payments by county will be posted on OTDA’s website later this week to increase transparency.

Vt.: DFR warns of cryptocurrency risks

Over the last month, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation has received several complaints from consumers related to cryptocurrency scams that have totaled over $1 million in losses. In response to these complaints, DFR Commissioner Michael Pieciak issued a press release on Monday that urges Vermonters to fully understand the risks when using and investing in cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the DFR published an investor alert that investors can use to become more familiar with cryptocurrencies and their risks. Over the course of the pandemic, cryptocurrency transactions initiated in Vermont have increased over 400%—the total value of those Vermont-based transactions topped out at $83.7 million in 2020, compared to $15.1 million. If you or your clients are investing in cryptocurrency, it is critical that you are aware of the risks, including how to avoid these scams.

Compliance

N.Y.: NY HERO Act prevention plans due to employees soon

Under the New York Health and Essential Rights Act—which was enacted in June—all employers are required to make their airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plans available to their employees by Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. The prevention plan—which was due to be in place by Aug. 5, 2021—is not required to be implemented unless the New York state commissioner of health designates an airborne infectious disease as a highly contagious communicable disease that presents a serious risk to the public.

Advocacy

Implementation of RR2.0 proving complicated

Several Write-Your-Own carriers that expected to gain access to the National Flood Insurance Program’s Risk Rating 2.0 last week discovered that they still could not access it. In response to this issue, PIA contacted the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration and it assured PIA that the rating engine was live, and was permitting quoting and policy issuance for new policies with effective dates of Friday, Oct. 1, 2021, or later. However, at least 36 of 55 WYOs have not turned on the rating engine yet, because it lacks some of the functionality that it ultimately will have. So, it is unclear why or how WYOs were having difficulty using RR2.0 last week. There still is much to learn about RR2.0 as October gets closer. For more information on RR2.0 and for updates, visit the RR2.0 page on the PIA Advocacy Blog, and watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition Chair Savino to step down

PIA National Director and Agents Advocacy Coalition Chair Richard A. Savino, CIC, CPIA, is stepping down from chair next month. As part of his experience as the chair of the official PAC of PIANY, Savino is most proud of Agents Advocacy Coalition’s rebranding, and the PAC’s establishment of a perpetuation plan and standard operating procedures. PIANY past President Fred Holender, CLU, CPCU, ChFC, MSFS, will take Savino’s place starting Friday, Oct. 1, 2021.

Technical

N.Y.: Take a two-minute PIANY technology survey

PIANY is in the process of assessing the technology needs of independent agents throughout New York state. To help with that assessment, PIANY’s Agency Operations Committee has launched a member technology survey, which will help the association understand the level and type of automation the PIANY member agencies use. The information from the survey will be used to guide PIANY in supporting member automation needs and answering member questions about technology. The survey closes on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, and it will take you just two minutes to fill out.

Register now

Sept. 14: CTYIP Golf Open

Sept. 16: NH Symposium

Oct. 6: PIANJ Women’s Leadership Alliance Advocate to Win

Oct. 14: CTYIP Fall Brewery event

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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