Weekly Dispatch: Feb. 3, 2022

February 3, 2022

News

Northeast recovers from last weekend’s blizzard

Last weekend, a storm buried tri-state residents in up to 22 inches of snow in parts of Connecticut, 8.5 inches in parts of New Jersey and 24.7 inches in parts of New York. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, another storm this weekend could impact the Northeast again. Remember, PIA can help you—and thus, your insureds—through its Storm Info Central and PIA Design & Print. These resources help you discuss the effects of inclement weather with your insureds so they are best protected. 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.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont proposes tax cuts for residents

Gov. Ned Lamont announced yesterday that, as part of his first package of legislative proposals for the 2022 session, he is proposing to implement a series of tax cuts that will provide approximately $336 million in relief for Connecticut residents. According to Lamont’s office, the tax cuts would be a result of projections in the state that there will be a surplus of $1.5 billion, which will enable a reduction in the one-time revenues built into the enacted budget and will continue to ensure that the state has adequate leftover funds.

N.Y.: Chapter amendments to the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act pass state Senate

Legislation (S.7882) sponsored by Sen. Michael Gianaris, D-12, passed the state Senate last week, which would amend the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act to exclude insurance applications from the list of necessary insurance disclosures, among other things. Additionally, the Senate passed S.7797 last week, which would permit insurance carriers to send all insurance documents electronically, as long as insureds provide consent for each document they wish to be delivered electronically. For updates on this legislation, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Mask mandate extended

Gov. Kathy Hochul extended the mask mandate in New York until Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. The extension comes after an Appellate Court justice in New York granted a stay of a lower court ruling that the New York State Department of Health did not have the authority to issue mask requirements. The stay puts a hold on that lower court ruling until a decision can be rendered on the case. Despite the stay, Gov. Hochul still is required to issue extensions if the mask requirement stays in place. The DOH issued a Determination Letter on Monday, which details the statewide mandate. For businesses, the mandate has important implications including who must wear masks; where the mandate applies, such as indoor venues, recreational spaces, restaurants, office buildings, etc.; mask requirements for business staff; and what sorts of proof-of-vaccination are required to exempt venues and businesses from the mask mandate. Gov. Hochul released a statement on Monday about the Appellate Court’s decision to extend the mandate until the case is decided.

N.Y.: DFS provides guidance to protect personal information

The New York State Department of Financial Services released guidance last week that provides tips that individuals and businesses can use to protect personal information from cyberthreats. According to the guidance, individuals and businesses can be wary of unsolicited emails and telephone calls asking for personal information; can secure their mobile devices; can be careful with Wi-Fi hotspots; can review details and specifications of mobile applications before downloading them; and can be cautious about the information they share on social media—to name a few. Recently, the DFS also stressed the importance of using multi-factor authentication correctly, which can prevent individuals and businesses from being exposed to cyberthreats.

N.Y.: State Legislature proposes new congressional, state Senate and state Assembly maps

This week, the New York state Legislature proposed new congressional, state Senate and state Assembly redistricting maps after Democrats in the Legislature conferenced on them last Thursday. If the proposed congressional maps are signed, they would change the boundaries of District 22—held currently by Republican U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenny—as a result of decreasing population according to the 2020 U.S. Census. Additionally, they would increase the sizes of Districts 21, 23 and 24, which are represented in the U.S. House of Representatives by Republican Reps. Elise Stefanik, Tom Reed and John Katko, respectively. If the proposed Senate maps are signed into law, they would implement several changes to district boundaries in New York City and some changes in Upstate New York. However, the proposed changes in the Assembly maps are harder to examine, since there is no statewide map. Changes to the Senate and Assembly maps also are a result of decreasing population. Currently, the congressional maps are on their way to Gov. Kathy Hochul to be signed into law or vetoed—the Senate and Assembly passed them yesterday with votes of 43-20 and 103-45, respectively. However, if Hochul signs the maps into law, they still can be challenged in court. For updates on whether the congressional maps pass the Legislature—and on when the Senate and Assembly maps are expected to go up for a vote—watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: New York requests additional funding for emergency rental assistance

Gov. Hochul announced last week that New York has requested an additional $1.6 billion from the U.S. Treasury to help fulfill the unmet need among struggling tenants and landlords who have applied for assistance through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance—the agency that administers the program—made the formal request for additional funding before the next round of federal rent-relief allocation. If the funding is granted, it would cover about 174,000 tenant applications that are not funded yet.

N.J.: Verisk absorbs insurance businesses and solutions as part of rebranding

Recently, Verisk Analytics Inc., announced that it is undergoing a company rebrand and its insurance businesses and solutions—including ISO, AIR Worldwide, Sequel, Xactware and ISO Claims Partners—will take on the Verisk name. However, insurers and agents still will be able to see the names of these businesses and solutions featured in Verisk’s insurance solutions. Additionally, as part of its rebranding, Verisk has updated its logo.

Advocacy

PIA urges federal government to reject cuts to Crop Insurance

PIA National announced last week that, alongside a coalition of industry allies, it sent letters to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, and to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Budget and Appropriations committees, urging them to protect Crop Insurance from funding cuts. Crop insurance protects farmers from natural and economic disasters and it supports rural economies. President Joe Biden’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget request sought $27.8 billion for the USDA—a 16% increase in funding—and no cuts to crop insurance. However, only one year before, the FY21 budget request sought to cut the USDA’s funding by 8%, and crop insurance would have been cut by $25 billion over the next decade. In other past years, federal budget requests have proposed various cuts to crop insurance—so the stability in funding for crop varies regularly. To support this and future funding, PIA continues to advocate on behalf of the crop-insurance industry.

N.J.: DOBI proposes to amend CE regulations

The Department of Banking and Insurance is proposing to make changes to New Jersey’s continuing-education requirements, which would allow producers to carry over up to 12 CE credits into a new licensing term; would allow producers to use one insurance-fraud credit hour toward professional ethics requirements; and would give CE instructors twice the approved credit hours for the courses they teach. PIANJ advocated for insurance agents, arguing that producers should be encouraged to educate themselves and should be rewarded appropriately for those efforts. Once the DOBI proposes the amendments officially, there will be a 90-day period for the public to comment. For updates on these proposed amendments and on how to participate in the 90-day public commentary, watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter channels.

N.Y.: PIANY asks association members for support

PIANY is advocating for legislation (S.6028/A.6877) that would allow insurance carriers to waive the requirement for photo inspections when clients purchase physical damage coverage for their vehicles. PIANY is asking its members to support the association’s advocacy by sending a prewritten message to their state legislators to raise awareness about the legislation. Additionally, PIANY has shared information on PIA Northeast’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter channels to educate members about the legislation, about its significance, and to give members the opportunity to share the posts with their followers and state legislators. And, PIANY members have met with state legislators through the association’s District Office Visits Program to get more co-sponsors for the legislation. To learn more about this legislation, watch the latest episode of The Break. For updates, watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s social media channels.

N.Y.: PIANY advocates to standardize windstorm definitions

In the 2022 legislative session, PIANY is advocating for legislation (S.6407/A.950) that would standardize the definition of windstorm in homeowners policies. Specifically, the legislation—sponsored by Sen. James Sanders Jr., D-10, and Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, D-23, respectively—would require the DFS to create a universal definition for windstorm in New York homeowners policies that have windstorm deductibles, so that insurance agents can easily advise their clients when they are purchasing a policy or filing a windstorm claim. Additionally, the standardization would make the trigger for windstorm deductibles universal—so whether insureds affected by windstorms pay their standard deductibles or their windstorm deductible wouldn’t depend on the carrier. The legislation would not restrict the values of carriers’ deductibles, and PIANY is clear that it’s not advocating to restrict the value of deductibles. However, there are multiple definitions of windstorm across homeowners policies currently, which means that, in communities damaged by windstorms, some insureds may pay their standard deductible while others would pay the windstorm deductible—which could be substantially more than the standard deductible. To learn more about why standardizing windstorm definitions is important, watch The Break: Defining windstorms in New York. For updates on this legislation, watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s social media channels.

N.J.: What is NJPIAPAC and what does it do?

PIANJ staff—as well as New Jersey PIAPAC committee members—are asked about what NJPIAPAC is and what it does. NJPIAPAC is a state political action committee that operates in New Jersey to support candidates for the state Legislature or statewide office who want to work with independent agents to find solutions to insurance-industry problems. NJPIAPAC is a nonpartisan PAC that supports candidates from both political parties. For resources related to politics and elections, and to learn more about NJPIAPAC, visit the NJPIAPAC website.

Technical

N.Y.: WC long-term COVID-19 issues addressed

The New York Workers’ Compensation Board has provided a fact sheet for workers who have long-term medical issues from contracting COVID-19 at work, which includes information on eligibility for workers’ compensation coverage and instructions on how to file a claim through the WCB. For more COVID-19-related information, employees can visit the WCB’s COVID-19 Information for Workers webpage. Related to COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims, Gov. Hochul announced last week that New York is offering new, online educational opportunities to help workers who believe they contracted COVID-19 from an exposure at work—especially those with long-term symptoms. Employees in New York have until two years after a work-related injury or illness to file workers’ compensation claims, so the deadline is approaching for workers who contracted COVID-19 at work in the early days of the pandemic. To learn about workers’ rights when filing workers’ compensation claims and the eligibility for cash and/or medical benefits, New Yorkers can attend an online webinar on Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022; Wednesday, March 9, 2022; and Wednesday, April 13, 2022—all of which take place from noon-1 p.m.

Vt.: Loss costs and rates for 2022 include changes in experience, trend, benefits, loss-based expenses

The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation approved the original workers’ compensation voluntary loss cost filing made by the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which consists of an overall 4.9% decrease and a decrease of 5.6% of the overall assigned-risk rates. Key components of the loss cost reduction include changes in experience at -4.1%; trend at -1.1%; benefits at 0.0%; and loss-based expenses at 0.3%.

Educating insurance agents

CGL policies and contractors: What agents need to know

Often, insurance agents have a difficult time insuring contractors because sometimes, insurers modify the Commercial General Liability policy and restrict coverage. When agents review contractor CGL policies, they should examine how coverage has been restricted to certain operations or classification codes, how coverage for certain exposures has been excluded and how coverage has been modified when the named insured is working on a project that’s covered by a wrap-up—to name a few.

Events

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

ICYMI

N.Y: PIANY answers questions about updated CE requirements in New York

Recently, the DFS announced that it finalized changes to the CE requirements for insurance producers in New York. These changes include new requirements for all licensed agents and brokers to complete education in Insurance Law; ethics and professionalism; and diversity, inclusion and elimination of bias each licensing period. Additionally, property/casualty licensees must complete additional education in flood insurance each licensing period, and p/c licensees who sell flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (including Write-Your-Own carriers) must complete three hours of enhanced flood-insurance training each licensing period. To find answers to the questions you may have about these new CE requirements, access CE changes in New York: What does it mean?

Register now

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

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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