Weekly Dispatch: Dec. 9, 2021

December 9, 2021

News

Focusing on employees and customers can help agents manage risks

Employees who are happy and healthy will make a business thrive. And, when a business takes good care of its customers, the business will grow. Focusing on these in tandem with their business processes presents an opportunity for insurance agents to manage risks—and to educate their commercial clients about risk management, too.  

Northeast states continue to recover from Hurricane Ida

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that President Joe Biden has approved the addition of New Haven County to the existing Federal Emergency Management Agency Individual Assistance presidential major disaster declaration as a result of the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in September. Residents in New Haven County now can apply for the FEMA Individual Assistance Program, which can give them federal reimbursements related to the costs of uninsured damage to their housing and personal property. Other counties in the state that are eligible for the program include Fairfield and New London counties, and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribal nations. Additionally, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sunday that the deadline for applications for the Ida Relief Fund is extended to Tuesday, Jan. 4, 2022, to provide relief to excluded survivors of the storms and flooding caused by Hurricane Ida. New Yorkers who are not eligible to receive storm recovery assistance through the FEMA Individual Assistance Program or other means can apply for funding through the Ida Relief Fund.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont announces applications for new paid family leave and medical leave program

Gov. Lamont announced last week that applications now are being accepted for Connecticut residents who want to participate in the state’s new paid family and medical leave program. Claims are being accepted for qualifying events that are happening on or after Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. Under the new program, workers will gain access to the necessary benefits that allow them to take time off of work to care for their own health, a newborn health or a sick family member. Eligible workers can receive up to 12 weeks of income replacement for qualifying events. Qualifying events include medical leave for one’s own serious health condition, which includes pregnancy and serving as a bone marrow or organ donor; caregiver leave to care for a family member experiencing a serious health condition; leave to bond with a new child that has entered a person’s home through child birth, adoption or foster care; leave to address issues arising from family violence; qualifying exigency leave to address issues arising from a parent, child or spouse’s military deployment; and military caregiver leave to care for a family member injured during active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces. Paid leave benefits may be received for time off taken as consecutive days or weeks,  but also may be received for time off taken intermittently in certain circumstances. And, in the event that workers who experience a serious health condition resulting in incapacitation that occurs during pregnancy, they may qualify for an additional two weeks of paid leave benefits under the paid family and medical leave program.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont and Commissioner Boughton raise awareness about Tax Amnesty program

Gov. Lamont and Department of Revenue Services Commissioner Mark Boughton announced Monday that they are raising awareness about the 2021 Connecticut Tax Amnesty program, which allows individuals and businesses to get back on track with their tax payments with a 75% reduction in interest. Additionally, the program waives penalties to those who haven’t filed, have under-reported or have existing liabilities related to taxes owed to the state for any tax period on or before Dec. 30, 2020. It’s available to individual and business taxpayers, and it will close on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont reminds residents about state’s energy-assistance program

Gov. Lamont reminded residents last week about energy-assistance services that are available for those who need help keeping their homes and families warm this winter. The services include the Connecticut Energy Assistance Program, which provides winter heating cost assistance to more than 75,000 income-eligible households every year, regardless of their heat source; nonprofit heating assistance services that provide emergency energy assistance to low-to-moderate-income households that don’t qualify for the CEAP or who run out of CEAP benefits; and COVID-19 payment plans for utility-heated customers, which allows residential and nonresidential customers to repay past-due balances with a payment plan. The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority last year directed all regulated electric, gas and water utilities in the state to offer these payment plans through the end of the public health emergency declaration.

N.J.: Sen. Scutari names Pou to state Senate leadership

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-22—the incoming president of the New Jersey state Senate—announced last week that he selected state Sen. Nellie Pou, D-35, to serve as the Senate Majority Caucus Chair—a newly created position—on the Senate Democratic Leadership Team. Pou has represented the 35th legislative district in New Jersey since 2013, and she serves as the chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, the vice chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the chair of the New Jersey Legislative Latino Caucus. The Senate Democratic Leadership Team—which includes Scutari, Pou, and state Sens. M. Teresa Ruiz, D-29, and Sandra B. Cunningham, D-31—will be responsible for developing the caucus agenda and Senate Democratic policies.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul signs legislation to support small businesses

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she signed a package of legislation to increase state agency support of small businesses in New York. S.33/A.3456 will create a small-business liaison with the Department of Agriculture and Markets, the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Labor, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Taxation and Finance. The liaison will assist small business owners to learn more about each agency, will help small-business owners navigate agency bureaucracy, will be the primary contact for small-business owners to report their concerns to these agencies, and will be an advocate for small businesses to these agencies. Additionally, S.113-A/A.6508-A amends the Business Corporation Law and the Limited Liability Corporation Law by requiring the secretary of state to confirm when he or she receives a statement of filing. In the receipt, the secretary of state will be required to include information to small businesses about support programs that New York state offers, such as the New York Small Business Development Center, the Entrepreneurship Assistance Centers and Business Mentor NY through Empire State Development.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces $539-million homeowner assistance fund

Gov. Hochul announced Monday that the U.S. Department of Treasury approved the launch of the New York State Homeowner Assistance Fund—the first homeowners assistance program in the nation—which will provide up to $539 million to help eligible homeowners in the state avoid mortgage delinquency, default, foreclosure and displacement. Eligible homeowners include those who own a home in New York, so long as that home is their primary residence; those who have household incomes below 100% of the Area Median Income; and those who are at least 30 days delinquent on monthly housing payments for their primary residence. Applications for this assistance will open on Monday, Jan. 3, 2022.

Vt.: Gov. Scott announces retirement of Mike Smith

Gov. Phil Scott announced Monday the retirement of Secretary of Human Services Mike Smith, who has been instrumental in Vermont’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including statewide vaccination rollout, health care system maintenance and testing capacity. Smith will depart from his role at the end of the year. Deputy Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson will serve as the interim secretary of human services following Smith’s departure.

Vt.: Health insurers to cover costs of at-home COVID-19 antigen tests

Gov. Scott and the Department of Financial Regulation Commissioner Michael Pieciak announced an emergency regulation on Tuesday that requires health insurers to cover the costs of U.S. Food and Drug Administration-authorized at-home COVID-19 antigen tests—commonly referred to as “rapid” tests. The regulation goes into effect immediately, but health insurers must process and reimburse appropriate claims for tests described in the regulation retroactively for tests purchased on or before Dec. 1, 2021. The emergency regulation is effective until Thursday, March 31, 2022. To keep you updated on the latest COVID-19-related news, see the PIAVT COVID-19 resource page and be sure to read your PIA Northeast publications.

Compliance

Conn.: Remember to comply with state sexual harassment prevention law

Connecticut state law requires most employees to complete sexual harassment prevention training within six months of being hired, and they must renew this training every 10 years. PIA offers these courses online that satisfy these requirements for agents in Connecticut—including agents who do business in Connecticut. For updates on when PIACT offers this training, watch your PIACT education schedule.

Advocacy

Biden signs NFIP extension

President Biden announced last week that he signed H.R.6117, a continuing resolution that will fund the federal government—and extend the National Flood Insurance Program—until Friday, Feb. 18, 2022. For updates on the NFIP and for information about opportunities to encourage congressional offices to provide a longer extension later this winter, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Agents Advocacy Coalition prepares for next year’s election season

With the success of the Republican Party in the 2021 off-year elections—in New York, in other Northeast states and across the country—it’s certain that the 2022 elections will be costly. Currently, state Democrats hold majorities in both the state Senate and state Assembly. State Republicans may try to capitalize on the momentum from the 2021 elections and focus resources in an attempt to take downstate Senate seats to reduce the Democratic majority in the state Senate. For Agents Advocacy Coalition, this means that the PAC needs to be prepared to respond to requests for support from legislative candidates. Agents Advocacy Coalition supports only the candidates who represent the insurance industry, and who are willing to work with independent agents to find solutions for insurance-industry problems. To prepare adequately, your PAC relies on you.

Technical

Sweeping enhancements coming to the ISO GL Program

As part of its mission to keep the ISO General Liability program responsive to the evolving loss exposures of today’s business operations, ISO is making significant revisions to the program—some of the largest in years. The program includes a complete revision to the classification system plus associated forms, rules and loss costs, when applicable. Classification enhancements include 58 new classifications; 249 classes discontinued; premium base changes to 17 classes that will help improve policy rating; 214 class revisions with potential rating impact; the split of 20 existing classes into 40 for added granularity; and the streamlining of 136 classes into 61. Some of the new or updated classifications can help insurers more accurately underwrite risks in emerging technologies, while others address new business trends, including several that have been accelerated by the pandemic. Filings for the new program will begin in the second quarter of 2022.

N.J.: NJCRIB provides a short-rate calculator

Recently, the New Jersey Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau announced in Advisory Bulletin 92 that it launched an online calculator to estimate the short-rate penalty premium to be assessed when a policyholder cancels coverage before the expiration date. To produce the estimate, users must input the policy effective date, the policy cancellation date, experience modification for this period, and classification codes and their associated exposures. The calculator will autofill the policy expiration date, the number of days for which the policy is written, the number of days the policy is in-force, the short-rate percentage, the description for the classification code and the manual rate.

N.Y.: WC reports are published by NYCIRB

The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has invited agents to view and download three reports that have been published: the Medical Treatment Statistics Report, which provides statistics related to the medical treatment of injured workers in New York state by injured part of the body; the Code Rule 59 Report—which provides statistics related to New York state’s Code 59 program; and the Code Rule 60 Report, which provides statistics related to New York state’s Code 60 program.

N.Y.: NY ACORD forms have gone to the dogs

ACORD released its November 2021 Bulletin, which includes changes that have been made to New York forms to help insurance carriers comply with new legislation (S.4254/A.4075) regarding dog breeds. The new legislation—which goes into effect Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022prohibits carriers from using the breed of a dog when underwriting an insured’s homeowners insurance policy. ACORD added new sections about dogs to the forms, including: 1. ACORD 80 NY (2022/02) New York Homeowner Application; 2. ACORD 83 NY (2022/02) New York Personal Umbrella Application; 3. ACORD 84 NY (2022/02) New York Dwelling Fire Application; 4. ACORD 85 NY (2022/02) New York Mobile Home Application; 5. ACORD 88 NY (2022/02) New York Personal Insurance Application (change to placement of the fraud warning); 6. ACORD 89 NY (2022/02) New York Residential Section; and 7. ACORD 283 NY (2022/02) New York Personal Umbrella Section.

Events

March 24-25: Save the date: Connecticut Convention at the Hartford Marriott Downtown

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