Weekly Dispatch: April 20, 2023

April 20, 2023


National Volunteer Week is April 16-22:
PIA Northeast thanks its generous volunteers

PIA Northeast is the premier trade association for independent insurance agents in the Northeast—all thanks to the time, unbeatable knowledge and never-ending service of its members and volunteer boards. On behalf of the entire staff at PIA, we thank each and every PIA volunteer for their generous contribution to the insurance industry.

Next week: PIANY’s Long Island RAP—register today

Don’t miss out: PIANY’s Long Island RAP will be held next Thursday, at the Crest Hollow Country Club, in Woodbury, N.Y. In addition to its keynote speaker two-time Super Bowl champ Carl Banks, former linebacker for the New York Giants, and its salient education sessions, that have been approved for continuing-education credits, the event also will feature a trade show, where you’ll discover new products, services, and markets that can help your business grow. During dedicated trade-show time you’ll have the chance to meet vendors, connect with industry experts, and browse the latest innovations in the insurance industry. We can’t wait to see you there. If you miss this last chance to register online, you’ll still be able to register at the door.

Triple-I: 2023 Atlantic hurricane season forecast to be ‘slightly below-average,’ PIA has resources to help you prepare

A slightly below-average level of tropical cyclone activity is projected for 2023 in the Atlantic basin, according to a forecast released last week by Colorado State University’s Department of Atmospheric Science. The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project anticipates 13 named storms, six hurricanes, and two major hurricanes during the 2023 season. A typical season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. The 2022 season produced 14 named storms and eight hurricanes. Two reached major hurricane intensity—Fiona and Ian. Major hurricanes are defined as those with wind speeds reaching Category 3, 4 or 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Interested to know the factors that contribute to a hurricane season’s activity level? See the related article on PIA Northeast News & Media. Hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. For resources, PIA members can access PIA’s Hurricane Info Central.

Navigating claims: Modern approach offers advantages

Recently, claims management has had a hard and unmissable shove into the future. With the growing emphasis on digital transformation and the rise of InsurTechs, it’s nearly impossible to manage claims—or even exist—in the property/casualty insurance industry without having at least a base understanding of the technological evolution growing within it. Or coming face-to-face with it in a realistic capacity. The technological era of claims management is no longer on the horizon. It’s here. Innovate. Integrate. Modernize. That’s the mandate. The future is now, and it waits for no one. Yet still, studies have shown that some p/c insurers have been measurably and noticeably slow to adapt to the newest technological advancements, invest in Insurtechs, update their legacy systems—rife with neglected IT infrastructure—and generally display a reluctance to fully modernize. So, it’s worth diving into the specific modern factors that the digitization and technological upgrading of claims management solves.

N.Y. announces final Sexual Harassment Model Policy, strengthens protections for workers

Gov. Kathy Hochul recently announced that the New York State Department of Labor has finalized updates to the state’s Sexual Harassment Model Policy, a template document that New York state provides to employers to help them comply with state laws and access state-of-the-art policies on sexual harassment and related topics to protect employees in the workplace. The DOL collaborated with the New York State Division of Human Rights on the strengthened guidance, which addresses remote workers, gender discrimination, retaliation, and other new guidance for workers in New York state. For those who need to comply with New York state’s sexual harassment prevention training, PIA Northeast offers a seminar that fulfills with the state’s mandatory training. The next webinar session, taught by PIA Northeast’s Director of Government & Industry Affairs Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., will be held tomorrow, from 10-11 a.m. Participants will receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the webinar. Register today. The training must be completed once a year.


Do you offer your employees’ a 401(k) plan?

If your business is in Connecticut, New Jersey, or New York, you are required to offer your employees a 401(k) plan. If your business is in Vermont, participation in a 401(k) plan is voluntary. And, in New Hampshire legislative efforts currently are underway. PIA takes the stress out of offering a 401(k) plan to your employees. The PIA 401(k) Plan offers tools for attracting and retaining employees—state-mandated IRA programs do not permit employer contributions; higher contribution limits; total plan design flexibility—including allowing for both pre-tax & Roth contributions; no income limits for contributing; and tax credits for starting and contributing to a 401(k) plan. Learn more about this PIA-member benefit here.

N.Y.: DFS adopts virtual currency assessment regulation

Superintendent of Financial Services Adrienne A. Harris announced this week that the New York State Department of Financial Services has adopted a final regulation establishing how companies holding a DFS-issued Bitlicense will be assessed for costs of their supervision and examination. The adopted regulation effectuates a provision in the New York State FY23 Budget giving DFS new authority to collect supervisory costs from licensed virtual currency businesses, similar to other licensees regulated by DFS. This regulation will allow the department to continue adding top talent to its virtual currency team to continue efficient and effective regulatory oversight. DFS’s virtual currency regulatory framework is modeled after full-scope banking supervision, requiring companies to meet rigorous standards for capitalization, cyber security protection, and anti-money laundering protocols, among other requirements. As the virtual currency industry evolves, DFS is engaged with regulators around the world who are seeking to build regulatory frameworks that leverage DFS’s expertise and experience.


PIA asks NAIC to revise Consumer Privacy Model

Over the past several decades, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has produced several model laws and regulations to address the increasingly complex issues raised by the need to collect consumer information as a part of the business of insurance and the concurrent need to protect and secure that data. Late last year, the NAIC’s Privacy Protections (H) Working Group announced its intent to replace its current models with one new model that will be known as the Insurance Consumer Privacy Protection Model Law (MDL-674). PIA submitted a comment letter and draft markup reflecting our comments and suggesting changes to the draft text. PIA raised concerns about the apparent differences between the expressed goals of the Working Group and the language contained in the draft. As we understand it, the Working Group seeks to allow agents to use and share consumer data to the extent needed to conduct insurance business. Its intent is to limit the sharing of consumer data for purposes other than engaging in insurance-related transactions. However, the language of the draft may be inconsistent with that goal.

Conn. bill: Homeowners would be responsible for tree damage

A bill (H.B.5241) that would impose liability on certain owners of real property for the expenses of removing a tree or limb that falls on an adjoining owner’s private real property recently was reported out of Connecticut’s General Assembly Judiciary Committee and has been sent to the state Senate. The bill would allow licensed arborists to examine and to send letters to property owners regarding trees that have a high potential to fall, then the property owner could be held responsible for the tree’s removal. Similar bills have been introduced in the state since 2013.

PIA-priority NYSIF bill introduced in state Assembly

For years, PIANY has campaigned for changes in the way the New York State Insurance Fund conducts business. Currently, NYSIF is the largest writer of workers’ compensation insurance policies in the state by a comfortable margin. In fact, it is one of the top 10 workers’ compensation carriers in the country—despite writing almost exclusively in New York state. Right now, the current law makes working with NYSIF difficult for both the insurance-buying community and insurance agents. However, A.6256, which was introduced in the state Assembly earlier this month, would address many of the aforementioned issues by making several significant changes to the way NYSIF operates. See how the law stands now, and how this bill could change it.


N.J.: Laundromat owners cited for wage violations

The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Wage and Hour Division completed its first strategic enforcement initiative involving the retail laundromat industry, including a comprehensive analysis of industry practices and areas identified for corrective action. Wage and hour investigators visited 20 retail laundromat locations owned by nine employers in New Jersey. Wage and hour violations were found in each of these laundromat locations except one. After interviewing dozens of employees and employers and reviewing thousands of documents, the Wage and Hour Division cited laundromats for failing to pay employees the state minimum wage; failing to pay employees time and a half their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 hours in a week; illegally misclassifying employees as independent contractors; and failing to comply with the state’s earned sick leave law.


Conn./N.J./N.Y.: Help a local charity receive $2,500

Want to make a difference to a local charity in your community? PIA is working with the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation to let agencies know that the IICF is offering 10 grants—worth $2,500 each—to worthy charities in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. In order for the charity to receive one of the grants, it must be sponsored by an insurance entity—at no cost to you. Ask the charity you are sponsoring to complete an application. Applications are due Thursday, May 18, 2023.

N.J.: PIANJ seeks industry stars—nominate someone today

PIANJ is calling for nominations for its 2023 Distinction of Professionalism awards, and nominations are due Friday, May 19, 2023. The association will honor insurance professionals who exemplify the qualities and actions that serve as a model of excellence in the insurance industry and for the independent agency system. Nominations are being sought for these awards: Professional Agent of the Year, Community Service Award, and Company Person of the Year. For a full description of each award, or for a nomination form click here.

Educating insurance agents

N.Y.: New classes that meet the New York State Department of Financial Services’ new CE requirements are available online and in private on-site sessions.

Conn./N.H./N.J./N.Y.: Strong ethical behaviors are vital

Robin Federici, CPCU, AAI, ARM, AINS, AIS, CPIW, will lead the webinar Teaching Ethical Behavior–Whose Job is it?, on Tuesday, April 25, 2023. Organizations with strong ethical cultures—supported from the top and communicated to all levels—have a positive and profound impact on employee’s workplace behavior. However, is it the job of businesses to teach ethical behavior to their employees? How are the ethical ideas of management effectively communicated throughout the organization? Federici will explore the ideas of ethics, how an agency can communicate these ideas, and what the benefits are of supporting a strong ethical environment in the workplace. This course has been approved for continuing-education credits in Connecticut (3 LRE), New Hampshire (3 Ethics PROD), New Jersey (3 ETH), and New York (3 BR, C1, C3, LA, LB, LSB, PA, PC).

Conn./N.J./N.Y.: Earning or maintaining your CISR designation?

Join Mishell K. Magnusson, CIC, CISR, CPIA, AAI, FIPC, for 2023 CISR AO: Agency Operations^FF^UN on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, either at the PIA Northeast Headquarters in Glenmont, N.Y., or via webinar in Connecticut and New Jersey. This course will help make you an indispensable team player in any insurance agency. As you work with colleagues and customers, you will do so with enhanced self-assurance and a greater understanding of the dynamics within insurance organizations. Also, understanding how agencies operate is essential training for both insurance agency and company personnel. You will learn about legal & ethical requirements; the insurance agency; the insurance industry and marketplace; communication; agency workflow; account management; and errors & omissions. This course has been approved for CE credits in Connecticut (6 LH, 1 LRE or 1 LRE, 6 PC), New Jersey (1 ETH, 6 GEN, designees in good standing will receive 12 CE credits), and New York in class or via webinar (7 BR, C1, C3, LA, LB, LSB, PA, PC). ^FF^UN–This course has been approved for E&O loss-prevention credit by Fireman’s Fund and Utica National. Call the PIA E&O Department for details.


NY-YIP Pre-LI RAP Happy Hour

Kick off Long Island RAP with NY-YIP the night before the daylong event, Wednesday, April 26, 2023, at the Hurricane Grill & Wings, Syosset, starting at 7 p.m. Event sponsor: Jencap. Gold sponsors: Bolton Street Programs and Hilltop Strategies. Register today.

Register now

Wednesday, April 26, 2023: NY-YIP Pre-LI RAP Happy Hour

Thursday, April 27, 2023: Long Island RAP

Monday, May 1, 2023: NJYIP Golf Open

Thursday, May 18, 2023: PIWA Spring Reception

June 4-6, 2023: Annual Conference hosted by PIANJ and PIANY—Register now and save 20%. Want to sponsor, exhibit or advertise?

Tuesday, June 6, 2023: NJYIP Fun Run

Tuesday, June 13, 2013: Save the date: YIP Spring Webinar: From Bud to Table: The Insurance of Cannabis

Tuesday, June 20, 2023: CTYIP Golf Outing

Monday, Aug. 7, 2023: Save the date: NY-YIP Annual Golf Open

Monday, Oct. 2, 2023: Save the date: PIANJ Golf Classic—40th Anniversary

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023: Save the date: Capital RAP

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