Weekly Dispatch: Oct. 28, 2021

October 28, 2021

News

A message about PIA and ACORD

Once again, all qualifying PIA National-member agencies will be provided with a complimentary license to use ACORD forms in 2022, as long as they access these forms through a vendor such as AMS or AVYST eForms Wizard. To learn more about ACORD end user licenses for PIA National-member agencies, PIA has provided an informative video that will answer your questions about how to take advantage of this member benefit. To take advantage of this benefit, log on to the ACORD website to accept the 2022 end user license agreement. And, don’t forget PIA Northeast members receive free access to AVYST eForms Wizard bronze level as part of their membership.

Tragic accident highlights importance of regulation, insurance

Last week, cinematographer Halyna Hutchins—best known for her work on Archenemy, Darlin’, and Blindfire—was killed on the movie set of Rust, after a prop firearm was discharged during filming. The firearm—which was discharged by actor Alec Baldwin, known for his roles in 30 Rock, Beetlejuice, and Saturday Night Live—was believed to be cold, meaning that it should not have been loaded with live ammunition. This accident highlights the importance of safety regulations and insurance for the entertainment industry—and exposes the entertainment industry’s shortcomings to create safe environments for its employees. Depending on how state and federal regulators respond to this incident, it’s possible that the insurance industry will undergo drastic changes related to how it covers movie and TV producers who become liable for on-set, gun-related accidents.

New Jersey and New York respond to nor’easter

This week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced that he declared a state of emergency in preparation for the nor’easter storm that was forecasted to hit the Northeast mid-week. Additionally, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul declared a state of emergency and directed state agencies to prepare emergency response assets. Hochul provided an update to New Yorkers on the state’s response to the nor’easter on Tuesday. According to CNN, a nor’easter is a storm that comes from the Northeast and travels along the East Coast. Typically, it’s accompanied by strong winds and copious precipitation—rain in the fall and spring, and snow in the winter. For state-specific updates following this storm, PIA members can access PIA Northeast’s Storm Info Central. Do you have a question about nor’easters and how they may affect you and your insureds? PIA members can email the Industry Resource Center, or call (800) 424-4244.

Northeast states continue to recover from hurricane season

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that he submitted a formal request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration following the damage from Hurricane Ida. To qualify for the declaration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency requires state and local governments to complete a detailed assessment, including a calculation of FEMA-eligible damages, in order to determine whether the required federal thresholds have been met. Based on the results of the assessment, Lamont has requested eligibility for the FEMA Individual Assistance Program for Fairfield and New London counties, and for the state’s two tribal nations, Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan. If approved, homeowners in those counties and tribal nations may be eligible for federal reimbursements related to the costs of uninsured damage to their housing and personal property. Additionally, New York Gov. Hochul announced last week that residents in Dutchess County now are eligible to apply for FEMA’s Individual Assistance Program, as part of the state’s Major Disaster Declaration. Additional counties that are eligible for federal assistance include Bronx, Kings, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester counties. 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.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces $11.1 million in disability funding

Gov. Hochul announced last week that New York state has committed $11.1 million in federal workforce development funding over the next three years to expand the successful network of Disability Resource Coordinators to all 33 local workforce development areas, and to better serve individuals with disabilities in New York state career centers. According to Hochul’s office, this expansion builds on past programs supported by the federal Disability Employment Initiative, which has served more than 31,000 individuals since 2010.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul signs retirement security legislation

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she signed legislation (S.5395-A/A.3213-A) that will ensure retirement-plan options for private-sector employees with a program called New York State’s Secure Choice Savings Plan. According to the legislation, private-sector employers that do not provide their employees with a retirement plan must enroll their employees in the Secure Choice Savings Plan automatically, which will promote retirement saving in a convenient, low-cost and portable manner. Employees are able to opt-out of the program at any time. Remember, PIA has partnered with TAG Resources to bring your agency a 401(k) plan that gives you lower prices, extensive services and less responsibility. With the PIA Retirement Plan and TAG Resources at the helm, you can stay on top of your business, knowing that the day-to-day responsibilities of your 401(k) plan are being looked after.

N.Y.: Employees can petition for shared work program

Gov. Hochul announced on Saturday that she signed legislation (S.17-A/A.7373) that authorizes employees who are facing potential layoffs to petition employers to participate in a shared work program. Under this amendment to the labor law, the majority of employees may submit a request for a shared work program, in writing to the employer before the layoff or within 10 days of the layoff. Then, the employer has seven days to respond and is not required to implement the program. However, the program would allow employers to reduce all employee hours, but keep the entire staff working and would help avoid layoffs. The shared work program would ensure that full groups of laid-off workers are rehired when business returns to normal, instead of just smaller portions of workers.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul signs housing legislation package

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she signed a package of legislation (S.69/A.297; S.290/A.113) that is related to housing. S.69/A.297 gives residential tenants fair access to small-claims courts by letting them sue in the small-claims court located in the same area as the rental unit. Previously, the law required tenants to file claims with the small-claims court in the jurisdiction where the landlord’s business is located. S.290/A.113 protects debtors from bankruptcy by granting them exemption to their interest in their rent-stabilized lease.

Advocacy

PIA opposes proposal to expand federal oversight to state workers’ compensation programs

Recently, the House Education and Labor Committee passed the labor portions of the Biden administration’s pending budget reconciliation package. The labor portions include an allocation of $121 million to expand federal authority over the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs. The funding would be used, among other things, to monitor state workers’ compensation programs. PIA opposes this legislation because state workers’ compensation programs already are overseen by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, and numerous state insurance departments, rating bureaus and workers’ compensation agencies, and do not need federal oversight.

N.J.: Join NJPIAPAC for a fun evening of trivia

Looking for a way to have fun while supporting state legislative candidates who listen to the concerns of independent agents? New Jersey PIAPAC is hosting an online trivia event on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at 7 p.m. Registration for the event is just $25, and you can choose to play individually or your friends can join you to add to the fun. Davies and Associates LLC, is sponsoring the prize for the first-place team, which will be a $50 Visa gift card to each of the winning players. Register today. There are only 25 spots available, so be sure to sign up quickly! All event proceeds will go to NJPIAPAC and its mission to support state candidates who represent the insurance industry.

Technical

Conn.: WC disability benefits adjusted Oct. 1

Connecticut Department of Labor Interim Commissioner Danté Bartolomeo has determined that the estimated average weekly earnings of all employees in Connecticut has increased from $1,373 to $1,446. This increase went into effect Oct. 1, 2021. Therefore, the maximum compensation rate for total disability and decedents’ dependents is now $1,446 for injuries occurring on or after Oct.1, 2021. The maximum compensation rate for partial disability is equivalent to the average weekly earnings of production and related workers in manufacturing in Connecticut, which Bartolomeo has determined to decrease from $1,174 to $1,140. This decrease also went into effect Oct. 1, 2021.

Educating insurance agents

NFIP offers November RR2.0 webinars

The National Flood Insurance Program has scheduled a free agent-specific training session called Risk Rating 2.0–Equity in Action for Agents, which will take place several times in November, and will help independent insurance agents better understand the NFIP’s Risk Rating 2.0 methodology, which went into effect Oct. 1, 2021. During the session, PIACT and PIA National past President Tim Russell, CPCU—the current chair of the Flood Insurance Producers National Committee—will discuss: What RR2.0 is; what led to this NFIP transformation; the NFIP today; what has changed—and what has not changed; and the transition of current NFIP policies. This course has been approved for continuing-education credits for all five of PIA Northeast’s state associations. The webinar is available to agents on the following dates: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021; Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021; Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021; Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021; Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021; Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021; Monday, Nov. 22, 2021; Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021; and Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.

Register now

POSTPONED: Nov. 1: PIANJ Golf Classic

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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