Weekly Dispatch: Dec. 16, 2021

December 16, 2021

News

Reinsurer recommends the U.S. to regulate its litigation-funding industry

Recently, Swiss Re—a reinsurer headquartered in Switzerland—released a report indicating that 52% of the world’s third-party litigation funding—an industry now worth $17 billion globally—is spent in the U.S. As a result, U.S. insurers and policyholders are suffering increases in loss ratios and premiums. According to Insurance Journal, Swiss Re claims that the cause of these increases is a rise in cases that are awarded more than $1 million. For example, from 2010-19, the average award in these cases increased from $8 million to more than $10 million, and from $6 million to $8 million, for the general liability and commercial auto industries, respectively. In cases that involve third-party funding, litigation funders are profiting more—but insurers and policyholders are profiting less.

Northeast states deploy National Guard to mitigate COVID-19

Recently, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the they have deployed National Guard medical teams to various long-term care facility locations and hospitals across New Hampshire and New York. These teams will help health care professionals manage the surge in COVID-19 cases this winter. For more state-specific updates about the COVID-19 pandemic, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont schedules special election for Stamford state House seat

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that he has scheduled a special election to fill a vacant seat in the Connecticut State House of Representatives, which will take place Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022. The seat consists of a portion of Stamford, and it became vacant last month when Representative Caroline Simmons, D-144, resigned.

N.H.: PIANH lobbyist named in NHBR’s top 200

PIANH congratulates its lobbyist, Bruce Berke, who was named by The New Hampshire Business Review as one of its annual New Hampshire 200. The New Hampshire 200 is a report of the state’s most influential business leaders.

N.Y.: Cannabis is complicating life-insurance underwriting

This year, New York state legalized recreational, adult-use cannabis, which has affected underwriting greatly. Some municipalities in the state are considering opting-out of the cannabis law, which would make it even more complicated for underwriters to help their clients with their life-insurance policies. To prepare for how the legalization of cannabis will affect your insureds—especially if their municipality decides to opt-out—agents should review their carriers’ forms, and should look for forms that ask specific questions about drug, alcohol, cannabis and tobacco usage.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul issues proclamation for special election

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she issued a proclamation declaring that a special election will be held Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022, to fill the vacancy in the state Assembly for District 68, which covers a portion of Manhattan. Former Assemblyman Robert J. Rodriguez, D-68, left his seat in the state Assembly to assume his new role as acting secretary of state, which still is pending state Senate confirmation.

N.Y.: Protections increased for loft residents

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she signed S.6950/A.7667, which makes it unlawful for loft owners to interrupt, deny, or discontinue essential services, or create an uninhabitable environment in a multiple-dwelling unit, for any tenants covered by the existing Loft Law. Additionally, the new legislation allows tenants to pursue a claim in the New York City Housing Court. This law went into effect Dec. 1, 2021.

Vt.: DFR adopts new CE requirement for investment advisers

The Securities Division of the Department of Financial Regulation announced last week that it adopted Vermont Securities Regulations (S-2016-01), which goes into effect today. The regulations require both state-registered and federal covered investment-adviser representatives to complete annual continuing-education, which will help ensure their knowledge and competence on regulatory compliance and best practices.

Compliance

N.Y.: New mask mandate in effect for New York

Gov. Hochul announced last week that masks are required to be worn in all indoor, public spaces, unless a vaccine requirement is implemented. This mandate went into effect on Monday. It applies to all businesses—including offices—that are publicly owned or owned by a private business entity. Even for individuals who already are fully vaccinated, masks still must be worn. If a business chooses to implement a vaccine requirement, all individuals inside the business must prove that they vaccinated with an official immunization record, including the Excelsior Pass or a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card.

N.Y.: DFS stresses importance of multi-factor authentication in guidance letter

The New York State Department of Financial Services released guidance last week on multi-factor authentication. The guidance highlights common MFA errors that have led to cyber incidents and best-practices for the use of MFA. The guidance is intended for insurance producers and others considered covered entities under New York Cybersecurity Regulation 23 NYCRR 500

Advocacy

Cannabis Safe Harbor kept out of defense bill

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, after removing the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act. The SAFE Banking Act would protect insurance agents and carriers from federal prosecution if they choose to do cannabis-related business in states where cannabis is legal. However, even though the U.S. House passed the NDAA in September, it negotiated with the U.S. Senate to have the SAFE Banking Act removed, and passed it again without it. PIA will continue to advocate for this act. For updates, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

NJPIAPAC continues to work during nonelection years

Even though 2022 is not a state election year in New Jersey, New Jersey PIAPAC continues to work on behalf of independent agents in the state to support legislators who represent the insurance industry in the state Capitol. To support them, NJPIAPAC attends fundraisers for legislators who want to find solutions for the issues facing independent agents and the insurance industry. Often, these events present opportunities for independent agents to talk with members of the state Legislature so that those members can learn more. Find out how you can get involved.

Events

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

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