Weekly Dispatch: Sept. 28, 2023

September 28, 2023


N.Y.: Cyber risk: A universal challenge discussed at Capital RAP

Be a part of PIANY’s Capital RAP, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at the Albany Capital Center. This event promises to be an enlightening experience that delves into the dynamic intersection of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence in the insurance industry. In today’s digital age, cyberthreats loom large, affecting businesses of all sizes. However, small businesses often have been at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing effective cyber security strategies—despite facing the same risks as their larger counterparts. Do your clients know the cyber security measures they need to be insurable? The landscape of cyber security risk is evolving rapidly. As their trusted adviser, you must help them navigate these uncharted waters. Capital RAP’s Keynote Speaker Gordon Malin, co-founder and COO of Elpha Secure, will share invaluable insights on the relationship between cybersecurity and insurance. The event also will feature an education session, which has been approved for continuing-education credits, a trade show and a networking reception. Register today—and save 15%

NHID announces confirmation of insurance commissioner

Last week, the New Hampshire Insurance Department announced the confirmation of DJ Bettencourt as the commissioner of the department, following approval by the Executive Council. Commissioner Bettencourt has served as deputy commissioner since January of 2021, and he was nominated by Gov. Christopher Sununu.

New legislation designed to protect New Yorkers from increasingly frequent, extreme flooding

Gov. Kathy Hochul last week signed legislation to protect New Yorkers from flooding as storms become increasingly frequent and extreme. Legislation (S.5186-A/A.5221-A) requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to implement permit regulations and guidance pertaining to nature-based solutions for shoreline management. Legislation (A.1967/S.5400) requires sellers to inform home buyers as to whether a property is in a flood risk area or has flooded previously.

Vt.: Program to increase award amounts to flood impacted businesses, nonprofits, landlords

Gov. Phil Scott and the Vermont Department of Economic Development Commissioner Joan Goldstein announced forthcoming changes to the $20 million Business Emergency Gap Assistance Program formula, which will increase grant awards to flood impacted businesses, nonprofits and landlords. Since August, when BEGAP launched, organizations that had less than $1 million in physical damage were eligible for grants equaling 20% of net uncovered damages (damages less insurance proceeds, donations or other grants), with a maximum payout of $20,000. The new formula eliminates the $20,000 cap and increases payouts to 30% of net uncovered damages. The change applies to all BEGAP grantees—past, present and future.


New Jersey’s minimum wage to surpass $15 per hour target

New Jersey’s statewide minimum wage will increase by $1 to $15.13 per hour for most employees on Jan. 1, 2024. This achieves—and exceeds—the goal set by legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in February 2019 to raise the minimum wage to at least $15 per hour by 2024 for most employees. The New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development sets the minimum wage for the coming year using either the rate specified in the law, or a calculation based on the Consumer Price Index—whichever is higher. Once the minimum wage reaches $15 per hour in January, the state Constitution specifies that it continue to increase annually based on any increase in the CPI.


NFIP lapse, government shutdown possible at week’s end

Congress has until Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023, at 12 a.m., to fund the federal government, or it will shut down when the new federal fiscal year begins on Oct. 1. While Congress is supposed to pass 12 individual spending bills to fund all federal government departments and agencies, its appropriations process has not followed regular order since 1996. Instead, Congress often passes short-term funding measures called continuing resolutions, to allow the federal government to continue to operate on a short-term basis. At present, Congress is divided, with a Republican-led House and a Democratic-led Senate, making it difficult for the chambers to agree on a way forward. There also is internal disagreement within the House Republican caucus, complicating House GOP efforts to pass a CR that also could pass in the Senate. Unfortunately, the National Flood Insurance Program will expire at the end of the week without action by Congress. Unlike crop insurance, the NFIP would be immediately affected by a shutdown.

GAO report on RR2.0 validates PIA agent concerns

Recently, the Government Accountability Office published a report on the NFIP entitled FLOOD INSURANCE: FEMA’s New Rate-Setting Methodology Improves Actuarial Soundness but Highlights Need for Broader Program Reform. Among other issues, the report addresses: the actuarial soundness of the NFIP’s new Risk Rating 2.0 methodology; how premiums are changing for policyholders; efforts to make flood insurance affordable to policyholders; and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s efforts to promote policyholder understanding of RR2.0. The GAO report concludes that FEMA inadequately communicated details about RR2.0 to policyholders, agents and carriers. This conclusion, along with its supporting evidence, validated many concerns that independent flood insurance agents expressed to PIA and to FEMA over the last several years.

N.Y.: Call to action: Insurance agents assemble

The 2023 New York legislative session was a successful one for independent insurance agents. In 2023, PIANY saw not one, but two, of the association’s top priorities pass the Legislature. The advocacy of insurance agents, like yourself, has been critical in getting the legislation to where it is today. And, where is it today? Awaiting action from Gov. Kathy Hochul. The governor has until the end of the year to act. PIA asks you to contact the governor to let her know of the importance of signing S.5889 (photo inspection) and S.5764-B (bait and switch) into law.


Will the government reclassify marijuana?

Right now, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the CSA. However, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending that marijuana be reclassified from a Schedule I to Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Despite being federally illegal, legal cannabis has proliferated at the state level. While the reclassification of marijuana is a huge first step for the United States, reclassification is not legalization. Cultivation, production and sales still would be prohibited under federal law. Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule III substance would pave the way for interstate commerce, meaning states where cannabis is legal would have opportunities to comingle and expand their profitability into other domestic cannabis markets. It also would offer more favorable economic opportunity for businesses operating in the cannabis industry. The recommendation to reclassify cannabis as a Schedule III drug is significant, but insurance agents may not feel its impact immediately.

Stop the growth of mold claims, a look at ISO endorsements

Do you know the how the Insurance Services Office Inc. endorsements impact mold coverage in both personal and commercial lines of insurance? PIA Northeast offers an explanation on how proximate causes, neglect and more are covered, which can help you explain these coverages to your insureds. For more information, access Stopping the growth of mold claims in the PIA QuickSource library.

Conn.: WC disability benefit adjusted Oct. 1

The state labor commissioner has determined that the estimated average weekly earnings of all employees in Connecticut has increased from $1,509 to $1,575, effective Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. Therefore, the maximum compensation rate for total disability and decedents’ dependents is now $1,575 for injuries occurring on or after Oct. 1, 2023. The maximum compensation rate for partial disability is equivalent to the average weekly earnings of production and related workers in manufacturing in Connecticut, which the commissioner has determined to increase from $1,108 to $1,154, effective Oct. 1, 2023.

Conn.: NCCI files a WC loss cost decrease for 2024

The National Council on Compensation Insurance is proposing that the Connecticut Insurance Department approve an overall average decrease of 9.8% to the current voluntary loss costs and an average decrease of 10.5% to the current assigned risk rate level. According to the department’s Public Notice, the new loss costs and assigned risk rates take effect on Jan. 1, 2024. There will be a 30-day period of public comment on the filing, but the department does not intend to hold a public hearing.


Utica National presented with Company Award of Excellence

PIA National has named Utica Mutual Insurance Co., the lead company of the Utica National Insurance Group, as the recipient of its prestigious 2023 Company Award of Excellence. The presentation was made on Sept. 20, 2023, during the annual fall meeting of the PIA National Board of Directors, in Naples, Fla. Utica National Insurance Group is a nationally recognized group of insurance companies, providing personal and commercial insurance products and services. For nearly six decades, PIA Northeast has partnered with Utica National to offer its members access to E&O coverage for their agencies. Are you interested in speaking with someone about your E&O options? Call (800) 424-4244, or for a free, no-obligation quote, log on here.

Educating insurance agents

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

Conn./N.J./N.Y.: Examine ISO forms

Be a part of 2023 CISR OPLS: Other Personal Lines Solutions, on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, starting at 8 a.m. This webinar, which will be taught by Mishell K. Magnusson, CIC, CISR, CPIA, AAI, FIPC, will examine coverage exclusions and limitations in the most current ISO Homeowners 3–Special Form and the ISO personal auto policy. Participants will learn to address exposures created by business activities, the ownership or use of recreational vehicles and watercraft, and the need for additional coverage through personal umbrella liability and catastrophe coverage. Covered topics will include: business activities of personal-lines clients, recreational lines, personal umbrella/excess liability, personal lines catastrophe coverage, and personal-lines emerging risks. This class has been approved for continuing-education credits in Connecticut (7 PC), New Jersey (7 GEN) and New York (7 BR, C3, PA, PC).


The CTYIP Awards Gala is back

Join CTYIP for its Annual CTYIP Gala, on Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023, at Anthony’s Ocean View, New Haven, Conn., starting at 5 p.m. During the event, the association will recognize top industry professionals. CTYIP will roll out the red carpet and bring the paparazzi for a fun-filled evening of networking, dinner, raffles and awards. Register today. Sponsorships still are available.


N.Y.: Revised WC loss costs take effect Oct. 1, 2023

In May 2023, an application for an overall loss cost decrease of 2.6% was submitted to the New York State Department of Financial Services by the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board. The DFS approved the application as filed with an effective date of Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. The loss cost revisions, experience rating values, loss cost multipliers by carrier, maximum wage benefits and executive officer benefit amount increases are available in PIA QuickSource library: New York workers’ compensation rates—October 2023. For more information about these changes, see the related article on PIA Northeast News & Media. If you have any additional questions, contact PIA’s Industry Resource Center via email or by phone at (800) 424-4244.

Register now

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023: 2023 PIANH Symposium—Register at the door, starts at 2 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023: NY-YIP Midtown Soirée—Register at the door, starts at 6 p.m.

Monday, Oct. 2, 2023: PIANJ Golf Classic–40th Anniversary

Monday, Oct. 2, 2023: PIANJ WLA, TPC Jasna Polana Neo-Classical Villa Tour

Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023: CTYIP Awards Gala

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023: PIANY Capital RAP—Register now and save 15% Interested in sponsoring, exhibiting or advertising?

Save the date

Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023: NY-YIP Capital RAP Welcome Reception

Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023: NJYIP Holiday Reception

Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024: PIANY MetroRAP

Wednesday, May 8, 2024: NJYIP Golf Open

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