Weekly Dispatch: Oct. 14, 2021

October 14, 2021

News

Launched: The Agent Experience and Be Independent

PIA National has launched its latest member benefit, The Agent Experience. The Agent Experience will help independent agents use digital technologies to strengthen and grow their customer relationships—especially when agents need to rely on technology to foster and care for their relationships with their clients. It includes resources such as agent videos, tip sheets and curated content that agents can use to learn about how technology can be helpful when building and maintaining these relationships. Additionally, PIA National has provided marketing materials from the Be Independent campaign, which independent agents can use to educate the public via social media about the benefits of working with an independent agent. The campaign features a wide selection of videos, graphics and prewritten stories that agents can use to design social-media marketing campaigns for their own social media channels specifically.

‘Charmed’ actor wins case against State Farm

Last week, Shannen Doherty—known for her roles in “Charmed,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” and “The Secret of NIMH”—won $6.3 million in a case against State Farm after the insurance company refused to adequately cover damages sustained to her California home during a 2018 wildfire. Doherty was able to win such a large reward because her attorney argued successfully that State Farm violated California’s Unfair Claims Practice Act. Most states have some sort of an Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act, agents need to be aware of these types of conflicts between insureds and carriers. Ultimately, even if an insured’s relationship with his or her carrier is damaged beyond repair, effective communication can help an agent salvage his or her relationship with the insured.

Northeast states continue to recover during hurricane season

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced last Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Cape May County. The declaration will allow government agencies and certain nonprofit organizations in the county to apply for FEMA’s Public Assistance program for reimbursement of costs to respond to and recover from Hurricane Ida. Additionally, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last Friday that President Joseph R. Biden approved her request for a Major Disaster Declaration for eight counties to help provide federal financial relief for local governments recovering from the flood damage caused by Tropical Storm Fred in August. The declaration will provide public assistance to municipalities in Allegany, Cayuga, Cortland, Lewis, Oneida, Steuben, Tioga and Yates counties, where more than $36.2 million in total damages were reported for publicly owned infrastructure and facilities. 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.: $10.2 million in CARES Act funding to be allocated to small-business emergency grant program

Gov. Murphy announced last week that an additional $10.2 million in support has been allocated to the Small Business Lease Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The additional funding will be used to provide grants of up to $10,000 to businesses currently in the pipeline for the program. The grant program—managed by the New Jersey Redevelopment Authority and paid for with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding—supports small businesses located in the NJRA’s 68 eligible municipalities that have been impacted adversely by the COVID-19 pandemic. This new allocation of funding will support those businesses that did not receive funding in Round 2 of this initiative.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy signs executive order to address duplications of American Rescue Plan benefits

Gov. Murphy announced last week that he signed Executive Order No. 267, which proactively addresses the risks associated with duplication benefits among state, county and local programs funded with the American Rescue Plan State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. The executive order directs the Governor’s Disaster Recovery Office to work closely with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs and the Office of the State Comptroller—as well as with all 21 counties and 565 municipalities that received funding—to ensure that the state fully maximizes the $6.2 billion in American Rescue Plan State & Local Fiscal Recovery Funds and complies with U.S. Treasury rules to guard against fraud, waste and abuse.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces grants for nonprofits

Gov. Hochul announced last week that an additional $25 million is available to help nonprofit organizations improve the security of their facilities to better protect those at risk of hate crimes or attacks because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Specifically, this allocation of funds is available to nonprofits that have not received state funding for this purpose previously.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announced landlord rent relief

Gov. Hochul announced last week that $125 million in state funding now is available to help landlords who couldn’t participate in the New York State Emergency Rental Assistance Program because of a federal requirement that tenants participate in the application process. The Landlord Rental Assistance Program—administered by the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance—provides up to 12 months of past-due rent to landlords who are ineligible for the federally funded program because their tenants either declined to complete an application, or vacated the residence before paying everything they owed to the landlord. Applications for assistance became available last Thursday. Priority will be given to landlords who own small- to medium-sized properties.

N.Y.: Limousine safety task force appointments announced

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she has appointed four new members to the Stretch Limousine Passenger Safety Task Force, and that she directed the task force to convene immediately to agree on a timeline for completing its comprehensive study of safety measures. The addition of these four members has enabled the task force—which was established three years ago, after the Schoharie limousine crash that killed 20 people—to begin the study. The study will be utilized to make recommendations for the improvement of the limousine industry in New York, and it will be presented to the governor and the state agencies that oversee limousine services in New York state.

Compliance

N.Y.: DFS finalizes new CE requirements for producers

Acting Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris announced yesterday that the New York State Department of Financial Services has finalized a regulation that mandates insurance producers to take continuing-education classes in flood insurance; insurance law, ethics and professionalism; and diversity, inclusion and the elimination of bias, respectively. For insurance law, ethics and professionalism, and diversity, inclusion and the elimination of bias, producers will be required to take at least one hour of instruction for each, per licensing period. For flood insurance, property/casualty producers will be required to take an hour of instruction per licensing period. Additionally, producers who sell flood insurance for the National Flood Insurance Program will have to take three additional hours of enhanced flood insurance training per licensing period. The regulation for these requirements goes into effect Friday, Nov. 12, 2021, and it applies to producers with licenses renewing on or after April 1, 2022. To comply with this regulation, watch your PIANY education schedule to register for classes that will satisfy these requirements.

Advocacy

NFIP reform bills introduced in U.S. Senate

Recently, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., introduced S.2915—also known as the Flood Insurance Consumer Choice Act—and S.2913—also known as the Removing Barriers to Private Flood Insurance Act—to the U.S. Senate. The Flood Insurance Consumer Choice Act would allow former NFIP policyholders who have left the program and purchased a private flood policy to return to the NFIP without penalty. In other words, if the policyholder left the NFIP, and then his or her private flood policy is canceled through no fault of his or her own, then the policyholder would be able to reinstate his or her NFIP policy at the same rate he or she paid before. Additionally, the Removing Barriers to Private Flood Insurance Act would permanently eliminate the NFIP’s Write-Your-Own noncompete clause—which has prohibited Write-Your-Owns from selling private flood insurance products that compete with the NFIP. FEMA removed this noncompete requirement in 2019, but this bill would ensure that the noncompete clause could not be reinstated. PIA has endorsed both of these bills to advocate against consumer obstacles in the private flood market. For more information on the NFIP, watch the NFIP page on the PIA Advocacy Blog and watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Tell PIANY about your auto photo inspection experiences

During the 2021 legislative session, PIANY advocated for S.6028/A.6877, which would allow carriers to waive the photo inspection requirement for private-passenger automobiles before providing physical damage coverage. In next year’s legislative session, these bills are PIANY’s biggest priority—and your state association needs your help to show the New York state Legislature how important they are. To do that, PIANY wants to hear from you about your experiences with photo inspections—including any issues you have had with the CARCO inspection app, or any issues your clients have had when trying to schedule photo inspections. You can send your testimonials about photo inspections—along with your first name, and your city/town/village—via email to PIANY’s Government & Industry Affairs.

N.J.: NJPIAPAC previews the upcoming state elections

The New Jersey state elections are taking place Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. This year, Gov. Murphy is up for reelection against former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, R-16—if Murphy is reelected, it will be the first time since 1977 that a Democratic governor in New Jersey had a second term. Additionally, state Senate and state Assembly seats are open in legislative districts two, eight and 16. The race in the second legislative district is expected to be the most expensive in the state this year—if not ever. There isn’t an organization monitoring this election closer than New Jersey PIAPAC. For more information about the election, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Register now

Oct. 26: PIANJ Golf Classic

Nov. 9: NJPIAPAC Trivia Night

CANCELED: NJYIP Halloween Spooktacular

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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