Weekly Dispatch: Oct. 7, 2021

October 7, 2021

News

PIA elects Savino as vice president/treasurer, awards LG Insurance Agency for social media excellence

PIA National announced last week that it has elected PIANY past President Richard A. Savino, CIC, CPIA, of Warwick, N.Y., as the vice president/treasurer for the 2021-22 administrative year. Additionally, PIA National announced that PIANJ member agency LG Insurance Agency of West Long Branch, N.J., has received the 2021 Excellence in Social Media Award for its excellent and engaging presence on social media platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Northeast states accepting applications for FEMA hazard mitigation assistance

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced last Friday that President Joseph R. Biden approved his request for a major disaster declaration for Cheshire County, following storms in July that caused severe damage to the area. As a result of the declaration, the county now is eligible for federal aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide, and through the Public Assistance Program. Additionally, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that state agencies, cities, towns and Indian Tribal governments now can apply for federal funding through the Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities, and Flood Mitigation Assistance grant programs to assist with mitigation projects designed to strengthen resiliency against future national disasters such as severe floods, wildfires and hurricanes. The application period is open through Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, to apply for funds using FEMA’s online system, FEMA GO. For state-specific updates following the recent tropical storms and recent flooding, PIA members can access PIA Northeast’s Hurricane Info Central. Do you have a question about the recent storms? PIA members can email the Industry Resource Center, or call (800) 424-4244.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy signs legislation to combat age discrimination in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday that he signed A-681 into law, which expands the scope of the Law Against Discrimination by providing protections against age discrimination by employers. The LAD prohibits discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability and other protected characteristics, including age. A-681 extends protections against age by implementing a higher standard for a government employer in terms of setting a mandatory retirement age; by eliminating the provision within the law that allows employers not to hire or promote workers over 70 years old; by removing the provision within the law that permits higher education institutions to require tenured employees to retire at 70 years old; and by expanding the remedies available to an employee required to retire as a result of age to include all remedies available under the LAD, and not just reinstatement of employment with back pay.

N.Y.: Disaster recovery center open in Rockland County

Gov. Hochul announced last week that a new disaster recovery center is open in Rockland County, which will provide information, assistance and help for New Yorkers who were impacted by the storms and flooding caused by Hurricane Ida. The new, in-person location will feature disaster recovery specialists from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration. They will be able to answer questions and provide information about the types of federal assistance for which homeowners, renters and business owners can qualify following the major disaster declaration that was signed by President Biden last month.

Advocacy

President Biden signs NFIP and federal funding extension

President Biden signed H.R.5305 last week, which extends federal funding and the statutory authority of the National Flood Insurance Program until Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. The bill was amended after the U.S. Senate failed to pass it last week, days before the Sept. 30 deadline. The amendment stripped out a provision that would have extended the debt ceiling. Following the amendment, the U.S. House and U.S. Senate both passed the bill on Sept. 30. PIA continues to advocate for a longer extension of the NFIP, beyond its annual Sept. 30 expiration. For more information on the extension of the NFIP and to learn more about PIA’s efforts to extend the NFIP past its annual expiration, watch the NFIP page on the PIA Advocacy Blog and watch your PIA Northeast publications.

PIA introduces FAQ series on RR2.0

The NFIP’s new rating methodology program, Risk Rating 2.0, went into effect last Friday for existing flood policies with renewal dates between Oct. 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022. PIA announced an ongoing series of frequently asked questions and answers that will help inform agents and guide their decisions making as they familiarize themselves with RR2.0. Currently, agents can use this series to learn more about what RR2.0 is, how it’s different from the NFIP’s previous methodology program and how to consult FEMA’s flood insurance manuals. As PIA learns more about RR2.0, the series will be updated. For more information about RR 2.0, watch the RR2.0 page on the PIA Advocacy Blog and watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Conn.: Legislature extends governor’s emergency powers

The Connecticut Legislature last month extended Gov. Ned Lamont’s emergency powers in a special session. Per the extension, Lamont is allowed to mandate the wearing of masks in Connecticut schools; mandate vaccinations for state employees, school employees, and health care workers; and it keeps the UniteCT program in place, which provides relief to renters who fall behind on payments to their landlords. Other updates from the Legislature include the beginning of sports betting and increased health insurance rates.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition gets a new chair

The Agents Advocacy Coalition (formerly PIANYPAC) committee elected Fred Holender, CLU, CPCU, ChFC, MSFS as the PAC’s new chair. Holender—whose term as chair began Oct. 1, 2021—is the director of administration at Lawley Insurance in Buffalo. He is a past president of PIANY and a longtime Agents Advocacy Coalition supporter and committee member. Holender’s goals for the 2021-22 administrative year include getting more people involved in discussions with state legislators, and supporting candidates in the upcoming 2022 election who represent the insurance industry.

Technical

Updated NFIP claims manual now available

The updated edition of the NFIP’s Claims Manual—which went into effect Oct. 1, 2021—now is available. Updates to the manual include the improvement of clarity in flood insurance claims guidance to NFIP Write-Your-Own companies, flood vendors, flood adjusters and examiners, so that policyholders experience consistency and reliability of service.

Conn.: CID seeks public comment on NCCI’s voluntary loss cost and assigned-risk rate filing

Recently, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais announced that there is a 30-day period of public comment on the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s voluntary loss cost and assigned-risk rate filing, which will go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. According to the filing, the NCCI has proposed that the CID approve an overall decrease of 14.1% to the current voluntary loss costs and an overall average of 8.2% to the current assigned risk rate level. The CID encourages interested parties to provide comments concerning the subject filing via email to Insurance Associate Examiner Cathleen Cirone or by mail at Insurance Associate Examiner, Property & Casualty Division, State of Connecticut, Insurance Department, P.O. Box 816, Hartford, CT 06142-0816. Comments from the public will be accepted until Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021.

N.J.: New ACORD form helps insurers comply with one-page summary law

Earlier this year, New Jersey adopted legislation that requires insurers issuing policies covering loss or damage to property—including the loss of use and occupancy, and business interruption—to provide insureds with a one-page summary of common insurance clauses in such commercial property policies. The summary was developed by the Department of Banking and Insurance and must be provided to all existing policyholders by Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021. Following these changes, ACORD has provided 124 NJ (2021/11), a new form that will help New Jersey insurers comply with this new law. The form also is required to be provided to any potential purchaser, or to any policyholder upon renewal of his or her commercial policies.

N.J.: COVID-19 premium and audit adjustments extended

The New Jersey Compensation and Inspection Rating Bureau announced last week in Advisory Bulletin #90, that the premium and audit adjustments identified in Manual Amendment Bulletin #500 will remain in effect through June 30, 2022. These adjustments address the use of Code 8810 for home clerical duties; the exclusion of payroll in which no related services have been rendered; an increase of the available Schedule Rating Plan credit to 35%; and a permitted reduction of the Plan Premium Adjustment Program factor by 10 points, respectively. Additionally, the suspension of the physical audit requirement addressed in Advisory Bulletin #72 will be withdrawn when the extension of the above premium-related items has ended.

Educating insurance agents

Do you know the ins and outs of personal- and commercial-lines policies?

There are nuances to personal- and commercial-lines insurance policies. Independent insurance agents need to know how each policy will respond to a claim. When you know the differences, you can better prepare your clients ahead of time, before they need to file a claim. For example, do you know if both types of policies provide flood coverage? Or, do you know how a commercial auto policy will respond to a claim involving an accident that happened on personal time? These types of questions are critical for agents to know—and you should make sure that your knowledge about these policies is up to date.

Conn.: Register for CPLA

Leadership skills are important to independent insurance agents. They help them to build relationships in professional settings and to create collaboration between communities. The Connecticut Professionals’ Leadership Academy—which starts Jan. 11, 2022—is a six-month program that encourages emerging leaders to develop and improve their professions, their professional association groups, their companies and their personal career growth. Applications for the program will be open from Oct. 18-Nov. 18, 2021, and the cost to attend is $500 per applicant.

Register now

Oct. 26: PIANJ Golf Classic

Oct. 28: NJYIP Halloween Spooktacular

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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