Weekly Dispatch: Feb. 17, 2022

February 17, 2022

News

Conn.: Insurance agents can network to their hearts’ content at Connecticut Convention

Networking is an opportunity for insurance agents to show off their agencies and their insurance know-how, to gain helpful insight from other insurance professionals and to meet new people. When you register for Connecticut Convention—which takes place March 24-25, 2022, at the Hartford Marriott Downtown—you’ll get myriad opportunities to network, expand your knowledge and explore, including at Connecticut Convention’s trade show; at a networking lunch buffet; at the Annual Networking Reception, featuring DJ Mike Nigretti; and at other fun additions like the Bloody Mary & Mimosa bar, and a wine and cheese reception. Let’s chat together at Connecticut Convention. Register today. Sponsorship, exhibition and advertising opportunities are available, too!

PIA members can use PIA National benefits, increase access to markets

In addition to PIA Northeast member-benefits, PIA members can utilize member-benefits from PIA National, which can expand their access to admitted and nonadmitted markets, increase their errors-and-omissions protection and propel their agencies toward success. To learn more about the member-benefits that PIA National offers, watch a short video from PIA National Director Paul Monacelli, CIC, CPIA, on PIA Northeast’s YouTube channel.

February is Careers in Insurance Month

Careers in Insurance Month is the perfect time for agents to recruit the next generation of insurance professionals. To do that, agents can contact their local high schools or colleges to give presentations to students about the benefits of working with the insurance industry—even if the presentations don’t fill vacant positions in agency offices. This kind of outreach provides agents with opportunities to raise their agencies’ profile in their communities, and puts the insurance industry on students’ radars who may not have considered a career in insurance before. To help agents recognize, recruit and train new employees, PIA offers tools and resources through its Agency Staffing Assistance Program.

Northeast tackles crypto

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu announced last week that he signed Executive Order 2022-1, which establishes the Governor’s Commission on Cryptocurrencies and Digital Assets. The commission will be responsible for several aspects of the finances and regulation involved with cryptocurrency and digital assets in New Hampshire, including the review and investigation of the current status of cryptocurrency and the digital-asset industries (and the underlying technologies that support the development of those industries); the review and investigation of the current status of federal and state laws and regulations, and the laws and regulations of other non-U.S. jurisdictions; and the establishment of public hearings to hear testimony about the development of cryptocurrency and digital-asset economies. Additionally, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation announced on Monday that it reached a $100 million settlement between state regulators, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and BlockFi Lending LLC—a digital-asset financial services company. This settlement—which is the result of the improper inducement of Vermonters’ digital investments—highlights the risks involved with the cryptocurrency and digital-assets industries, and the need for investors to be protected. As the cryptocurrency and digital-assets industries gain prevalence, insurance agents might consider using cryptocurrency in their agencies, or might have insureds who show interest in investing. To learn more about cryptocurrency, review the infographic in the February issue of PIA Magazine, or access the PIA Northeast media gallery.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont’s authority to issue COVID-19 emergency orders expires

Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday that his authority to issue emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic has expired. However, Lamont will continue to collaborate with the state Legislature to enact policies that will keep residents safe. His authority to issue emergency orders related to the pandemic was outlined in public-health and civil preparedness emergencies, which he declared on March 10, 2020. Starting yesterday, how the state continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic will be left up to the Connecticut General Assembly.

N.J.: Public health emergency extended 30 days

Gov. Phil Murphy announced last week the he signed Executive Order No. 288, which extends the public health emergency in New Jersey for 30 days, until Thursday, March 10, 2022. The public health emergency—which was declared on Jan. 11, 2022, in Executive Order No. 280—allows the state to continue vaccination or testing requirements in certain settings, and to implement any applicable recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prevent or limit the transmission of COVID-19, among other allowances. The public health emergency will expire in 30 days, unless Murphy extends it again.

N.J.: Gov. Murphy, Mayor Gusciora, DOT announce autonomous vehicle grant

Gov. Murphy, Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora and the New Jersey Department of Transportation Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti announced last week that $5 million was granted to the DOT Local Transportation Project Fund for the Trenton Mobility & Opportunity: Vehicles Equity Systems project. The grant will support the planned start-up and eventual deployment of 100 autonomous vehicles that will provide an on-demand, automated transit system to Trenton residents. The advancement and implementation of driverless autos isn’t new—in fact, 55% of small-business owners in the U.S., believe they will have an autonomous fleet of cars in the next two decades. However, autonomous cars raise questions about who is liable when a driver becomes involved in an accident with a driverless car.

N.Y.: PIANY holds board of directors meeting, names professional agent of the year

PIANY held its board of directors meeting last week, during which the association named Peter Buccinna of XS Brokers in Albany, the PIANY 2022 Professional Agent of the Year. Additionally, PIANY recognized Dina Bruno, CPIA, of Franklin Mutual Insurance Co., in Branchville, N.J., as the PIANY 2022 Company Person of the Year. Mishell Magnusson, CIC, CISR, CPIA, AAI, FPIC, of KJM Consulting & Training Inc., in Munnsville, was bestowed with PIANY’s 2022 Distinguished Insurance Service award. And, Daniel J. Gruner of NFP in Kingston, and Stephen J. Turnbull of Turnbull Insurance Service in New Hartford, both received PIANY’s 2022 Community Service award.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul commits funding for homeowners impacted by Tropical Storm Fred

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced last week that up to $1 million in emergency funding will be allocated to eligible homeowners in Steuben County who were impacted by flooding from Tropical Storm Fred in 2021. These funds will provide emergency repair grants of up to $35,000, to homeowners who suffered damage to their primary residence during the flooding event. Eligible repairs may include the repair or replacement of electrical and plumbing systems, septic replacement, roofing, accessibility and heating systems. Secondary repairs may include the installation of new windows, insulation, doors and any scope of work that would improve the energy efficiency of the home.

N.Y.: Gov. Hochul announces upcoming special election

Gov. Hochul announced last week that she issued a proclamation to schedule a special election for Tuesday, March 22, 2022. The election will fill the vacancy in the state Assembly for the 43rd district seat, which represents parts of Brooklyn, N.Y. The Assembly seat is becoming vacant because Assemblywoman Diana C. Richardson, D-43, has been elected to serve as deputy Brooklyn borough president.

Vt.: Laroche appointed to state House of Representatives

Gov. Phil Scott announced on Monday that he appointed Republican Wayne A. Laroche of Franklin, to fill the vacancy in the Vermont House of Representatives for the Franklin-5 state legislative district, which represents the towns of Berkshire, Franklin, Highgate and Richford. Laroche’s appointment fills the vacancy in the state House that Rep. Paul Martin, R-Franklin-5, left behind when he announced his resignation last week.

Conn.: Gov. Lamont activates cold-weather protocol

Gov. Lamont announced on Monday that, in response to severe, cold conditions that would impact Connecticut this week, he activated the state’s severe cold-weather protocol from Feb. 14-16, 2022. Even when snow isn’t falling, insureds can be impacted by cold temperatures because it can cause pipes to freeze and burst—which can cause costly water damage. To help you discuss the effects of cold weather with your insureds, PIA offers tools and resources through its Storm Info Central and PIA Design & Print. For more information on Storm Info Central, email PIA’s Industry Resource Center. For more information on how PIA Design & Print can help you connect with your insureds this winter, email Design & Print Account Manager Calley Rupp.

Compliance

N.Y.: COVID-19 designation under NY HERO Act extended, DOL updates model prevention plan

The New York State Department of Labor announced on Tuesday that COVID-19’s designation as a highly contagious communicable disease has been extended until Thursday, March 17, 2022. Until the designation expires, employers are required to implement their airborne infectious disease prevention plans. The DOL updated its model airborne infectious disease exposure prevention plan last week, which includes changes to mask requirements under the NY HERO Act. According to the plan, if a business does not have a mask or proof-of-vaccination requirement for entry, masks still are recommended, but not required. PIANY members should review the updates to the model prevention plan. If they choose to adopt these changes in their companies’ plans, they must inform their employees of the update. For updates on COVID-19’s designation and employer requirements under the NY HERO Act, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Advocacy

NFIP extension passes U.S. House

PIA National announced last week that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a continuing resolution—which extends the National Flood Insurance Program—on Feb. 8, 2022, with a 272-162 vote. If the continuing resolution is signed, federal funding and authority for the NFIP will be extended through Friday, March 11, 2022. Currently, the continuing resolution is with the U.S. Senate, which has until Friday, Feb. 18, 2022, at midnight, to pass the continuing resolution and to send the bill to President Joe Biden to sign. If the Senate does not pass the continuing resolution and it is not signed by tomorrow at midnight, the NFIP’s federal funding and authority will expire, and the federal government will shut down. For updates on the NFIP, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

Conn.: State budget in short session, 2022 elections loom

Connecticut’s 2022 legislative session is shorter than usual this year—it began on Feb. 9, 2022, and it will end on Wednesday, May 4, 2022. During the session, state legislators are looking for ways to cut taxes and to provide relief to businesses and working families. Recently, Gov. Lamont released a budget that calls for $336 million in tax cuts, comprised of reduced property taxes and the expansion of a tax credit that helps employees in Connecticut pay off their student loans. However, the Connecticut General Assembly is expected to take these cuts further. Additionally, all the seats in the state Legislature and the seats for state constitutional offices (e.g., governor, secretary of state) are open for reelection this November. For updates on Connecticut’s 2022 legislative session and elections, watch your PIA Northeast publications.

N.Y.: Help PIANY advocate in under one minute

PIANY is asking its members to help support 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. Supporting this legislation is simple—and members can do it in less than one minute by sending a prewritten message to their state legislators to raise awareness about the legislation. Additionally, PIANY members can share information about the legislation on their social-media channels, which has been provided on PIA Northeast’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube channels—and also can be done in less than a minute. For questions about how to help PIANY advocate for its auto photo-inspection legislation, email govaffairs@pia.org. For updates, watch your PIA Northeast publications and PIA Northeast’s social media channels.

N.Y.: The governor’s role in law-making

If a bill reaches the governor’s desk, it’s faced a long sequence of steps, including its conception and drafting, its advocacy for support and its movement through the state Legislature. Once the bill is on the governor’s desk, he or she has 10 days (excluding Sundays) to sign, veto, pocket sign or pocket veto the bill. However, this process isn’t simple because there are laws to which the governor must abide in this process—and there are some less-conventional practices that are specific to New York.

N.J.: Share with colleagues: NJPIAPAC makes your job easier

New Jersey PIAPAC makes your job easier by helping state legislators who support independent agents and PIANJ get elected, so you can focus on what’s most important to you: Your clients and your business. To raise awareness about NJPIAPAC, you can share a short video with your colleagues. Or, you can click “Share” on PIA Northeast’s Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter posts containing the video so your followers can see all the efforts that NJPIAPAC makes to support agents and the insurance industry.

Advocate for PIA’s federal priorities all year long

PIA National announced this week that, instead of holding one PIA Advocacy Day this year—during which PIA and its PIA National announced this week that, instead of holding one PIA Advocacy Day this year—during which PIA and its members discuss the association’s legislative priorities with federal legislators—it will hold a series of state-specific advocacy days. Holding the Advocacy Days over the course of the entire year will provide PIA National members—including PIA Northeast members—more opportunities to bolster PIA’s advocacy and to discuss state-specific insurance-industry issues with federal legislators. Many of these rolling meetings will take place via video conferencing, but PIA hopes that some of them will be held in-person later in the year. For more information on and to participate in this event, see PIA’s Advocacy Days website.

Technical

N.Y.: DMV tracks new identification sexes

Recently, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles announced that, beginning in May 2022, it will begin implementing system changes that will record and/or display two new sexes for identification: X for unspecified and I for intersex. These new sex identifiers will be recorded and/or displayed in addition to M for male and F for female. These changes will be implemented in phases: they will appear on New York state photo documents (e.g., permits, licenses, nondriver identification cards), and financial and administrative documents in May 2022; on registrations and titles in July 2022; on crash records in December 2022; and on tickets in June 2023.

Educating insurance agents

Take your credibility to the next level

When it comes to protecting their insureds, insurance agents should increase their credibility, trust and perception. Agents can strengthen these traits through the Trusted Risk Advisor Certification Program, which provides agents with opportunities to advance their ability to deliver an enterprise risk-management method through logical, disciplined and results-oriented frameworks; to sharpen their growth mindsets; and to consider additional tools and tactics that can improve performance. The TRA certification program—which is provided by PIA and Beyond Insurance—is comprised of four online courses that agents can take this spring at a discounted rate. For more information, download the TRA brochure or watch a short video.

Events

April 27: Save the date: Long Island Regional Awareness Program at Crest Hollow. Want to sponsor, exhibit or advertise?

ICYMI

Conn.: Gov. Lamont names new CPLA chair and vice chair

Gov. Lamont announced Monday that he selected Fran Pastore and Michelle Gilman to serve as chair and vice chair of the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority board of directors, respectively. The CPLA is the quasi-public state agency that is responsible for administering Connecticut’s recently established paid family- and medical-leave program. The program provides workers in the state with access to necessary benefits that allows them to take time off of work when they need to care for their own health, a newborn child or a sick family member.

Register now

Monday, May 2, 2022: NJYIP Golf Open

Celebrating 40 Years with Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies.
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