Weekly Dispatch: Jan. 27, 2022

January 27, 2022

News

Conn.: We’ve got what you want—and what you need: Register for Connecticut Convention

PIA is holding its Connecticut Convention on March 24-25, 2022, at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, in Hartford. When you attend, you’ll get access to education sessions—and those valuable continuing-education credits—innovative InsurTech demos, an unbeatable trade show, a wine and cheese reception, a Bloody Mary/Mimosa bar and myriad opportunities to network with insurance professionals from all over the state. Plus, hotel rooms at the Hartford Marriott Downtown will come at a discounted rate—just for you. What are you waiting for? Register today. Sponsorship, exhibition and advertising opportunities are available, too!

N.H.: Gov. Sununu signs letter to President Biden about IIJA

Gov. Chris Sununu announced last week that he signed a letter—along with 15 other state governors—to President Joe Biden that calls on the federal government to partner with state governments to ensure that the investments laid out in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act align with state priorities. These priorities include workforce shortages and investment in the economy. Specifically, the letter asks that the U.S. Office of Management and Budget—and other respective federal agencies charged with the implementation of the IIJA—draft regulations and guidance that defer to the states and confer maximum regulatory flexibility.

N.J.: Murphy-Oliver administration announces new program for struggling homeowners

Gov. Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Y. Oliver announced the upcoming launch of the Emergency Rescue Mortgage Assistance Program on Monday, which will provide up to $35,000 in assistance to cover mortgage arrearages, delinquent property taxes and other housing-cost delinquencies for eligible homeowners who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic negatively. The program—which will be administered by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency—will utilize $325.9 million of federal Homeowner Assistance Fund money, and is expected to help thousands of families get back on their feet and stabilize New Jersey’s most at-risk communities. Applications for assistance will be open Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022, at 9 a.m.

N.Y.: DFS confirms Harris as superintendent

New York State Financial Services Superintendent Adrienne A. Harris released a statement on Tuesday announcing that the New York state Senate voted to confirm her appointment as the superintendent of financial services for the New York State Department of Financial Services. For updates from Harris and the DFS, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: New York continues fight against winter conditions

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week that she urged New Yorkers to prepare for dangerous cold temperatures and wind chills over the weekend. Several regions across the state—including the Capital District, the Finger Lakes, Mohawk Valley, North Country, and parts of Western and Central New York—were forecast to experience below-freezing temperatures and wind chills as low as -30 degrees. Eligible homeowners and renters in the state were reminded that they still may apply for the Home Energy Assistance Program, which can provide up to $751 (depending on income, household size, and how applicants heat their homes). Winter can impact your insureds. PIA offers resources through its Storm Info Central and PIA Design & Print to help you discuss these effects with insureds so they are best protected against inclement winter weather. For more information on Storm Info Central, email PIA’s Industry Resource Center. For more information on how PIA’s Design & Print can help you connect with your insureds this winter, email Design & Print Account Manager Calley Rupp.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces U.S. SBA to provide loans after Tropical Storm Fred

Gov. Hochul announced last week that the U.S. Small Business Administration will make low-interest loans available to homeowners and businesses that were affected by Tropical Storm Fred last August. The loans are available to residents and businesses in Steuben County, and the contiguous counties of Allegany, Chemung, Livingston, Ontario, Schuyler and Yates.  

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces grants for low- and moderate-income homeowner repairs

Gov. Hochul announced last week that $25 million in grant awards have been made to nonprofit organizations and municipalities in every region of New York state to support safe and affordable homeownership. The grants will help low- and moderate-income homeowners make repairs or safety upgrades to their homes, and provide down-payment assistance for first-time buyers.

Vt.: Gov. Scott announces applications for Homeowner Assistance Program

Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Department of Housing and Community Development announced Monday that the Homeowner Assistance Program—which will help homeowners in the state facing pandemic hardships, and is managed through the Vermont Housing Financing Agency—now is accepting applications. The program, funded by $50 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, will provide grants of up to $30,000 per household toward overdue mortgage payments, utility bills, property taxes and property-association charges.

Compliance

N.H.: NHID outlines enforcement actions from inaccurate or incomplete license applications

The New Hampshire Insurance Department released information on enforcement actions that it can take against licensees when false or incomplete information is presented in the insurance-producer license application or renewal process. According to the NHID, insurance producers must provide true and complete answers to all questions on the license application when they fill it out. If an insurance producer fails to do this, the NHID is allowed to assess penalties that can include license revocation, license suspension or license denial. Additional penalties could include monetary fines—and infractions result in an average fine of approximately $2,500. Do you have someone in your agency who is in the process of earning his or her insurance license? Remember: PIA Northeast has partnered with A.D. Banker & Co., to offer members prelicensing courses at a 5% discount. Also, if you have a question about your licensing requirements, see PIANH’s Licensing Compliance Central.

Advocacy

PIA releases 2022 legislative priorities

Last week, PIA National announced its legislative priorities for 2022. These priorities include the long-term reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program; the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act, which would protect insurance agents and carriers from federal criminal liability if they work with cannabis-related businesses in states in which cannabis is legal; the Main Street Tax Certainty Act, which would make the 20% tax deduction available to some S corporations (aka, passthrough corporations) permanently; the protection of the Crop Insurance Program from budget cuts; and legislation that would repeal the Federal Insurance Office. For updates on PIA’s legislative priorities, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Ten steps a bill must take before it reaches the governor

Once an idea becomes a bill and it garners adequate support, it must take certain steps through the state Legislature before it arrives at the governor’s desk. The bill must be introduced and referred to committee, placed on the committee agenda, passed by the committee (or committees, if the bill addresses an issue under the jurisdiction of multiple committees), and then placed on the chamber calendar—and those are just the first three steps.

N.Y.: We know what a Wilson Pakula is—do you?

The 2022 political scene in New York is in full-swing—and the primary election is only six months away. Agents Advocacy Coalition wants to ensure that you are up-to-date on all the political lingo you will encounter in political advertisements and articles between now and Election Day this November. You may know what early voting and general election mean, but what about New York-specific terms like Wilson Pakula, or the second floor? Agents Advocacy Coalition is here to help you this election year. For important election updates—like when Gov. Hochul announced last week that she signed legislation (S.7565-B/A.8432-A) to allow voters to cast absentee ballots through 2022 as a result of the pandemic—watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter channels.  

Technical

Conn.: WCC issues coverage and procedure revisions

The Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission announced that the compensation rate for deaths covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act is $12,516, based on the overall 2021 CPI-W increase of 4.3% in the Northeast. This rate went into effect Jan. 1, 2022. The WCC also announced an increase in the mileage-reimbursement rate to $0.59 per mile from the $0.56 rate in 2021, for all travel expenses incurred on or after Jan. 1, 2022. Additionally, Memorandum No. 2022-02 advises employers that forms 6B, 6B-1, and 75 were amended to include instructions that these documents should be submitted to the Office of the Chairman at 21 Oak St., Hartford, CT 06106. The documents also now may be delivered to the Office of the Chairman electronically, with proof of a delivery receipt. To submit these documents electronically, email them to WCC.Forms@ct.gov.

N.H.: NHID issues bulletin regarding electronic-funds transfers for premium-tax payments

NHID Commissioner Christopher Nicolopoulos issued Bulletin INS 22-002-AB last week, which advises all licensed insurers in New Hampshire that are remitting premium tax payments, that the state no longer will offer ACH Debit as an electronic method of payment for premium tax payments. According to the bulletin, RSA 400-A:32-b requires insurers that have a tax liability of $20,000 or more to remit payment by an electronic-funds transfer. Electronic payment options will continue to include payments by ACH Credit or wire transfers. All licensed insurers’ premium tax reports and payments are due annually, on or before March 15.

Vt.: Vermont businesses to see decrease in WC insurance for sixth consecutive year

Gov. Scott and the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation announced yesterday that—for the sixth consecutive year—businesses in the state will see another rate decrease in workers’ compensation insurance in 2022. Vermont employers will see a 4.9% loss cost decrease and a 5.6% assigned-risk rate decrease. These rates go into effect Friday, April 1, 2022. When combined with decreases from 2017-2021, Vermont employers will pay an average of 41% less in premiums in 2022 than they did in 2016. For more information on these rate increases, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Educating insurance agents

Understanding cyber insurance helps agents protect insureds

Cyberattacks—like ransomware attacks and data breaches—are one of the most significant and detrimental exposures that businesses face today. To protect their insureds, insurance agents should understand the basics of cyber policies, including the exposures that their commercial clients face, why non-cyber policies don’t respond to cyber-related losses effectively, and what types of coverage cyber policies can include for losses from damage to data and business interruption.

Events

April 27: Save the date: Long Island Regional Awareness Program at Crest Hollow

ICYMI

Conn.: CID releases guidance on individual and small-employer group health insurance policies

The Connecticut Insurance Department released guidance on Monday regarding filing requirements—which go into effect for plan years beginning Jan. 1, 2023—for individual and small-employer group health insurance carriers. The requirements apply to carriers that participate in the Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange, that do business as Access Health CT and that don’t participate in AHCT. The requirements include coverage for essential health benefits, form filings, rate filings, semi-annual filings for small-group rates, maximum-copayment amounts, and formulary and network adequacy filings.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont, Access Health CT announce Broker Academy Program

Gov. Ned Lamont announced last week that Access Health CT—Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, is launching its Broker Academy Program, a first-of-its-kind program that aims to reduce health disparities and the number of uninsured people in the state. The program will create a pathway to license health-insurance brokers by recruiting and building the skillsets of people who live and work in historically underserved communities throughout Connecticut. The program begins Wednesday, June 1, 2022, with recruitment underway already for cohorts in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven and their surrounding areas.

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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