At the end of the 2022-23 legislative session in New Jersey a series of insurance-related bills that will impact personal- and commercial-lines clients were signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy. These bills range from mandating safety measures in housing construction, to expanding workers’ compensation for public safety personnel.
Below, we explore three notable bills, to provide insight into their objectives and potential impacts on various aspects of life in New Jersey.
Fire suppression systems
S-281/A-3791 (sponsored by Sen. Greenstein, Sen. Turner and Assemblymember Sumter, Assemblymember Reynolds-Jackson) addresses the installation of automatic fire sprinkler systems￼ in newly constructed townhouses.
Recognizing the vital role of fire sprinklers in enhancing safety, this new law mandates that all new townhouse constructions include a comprehensive automatic fire sprinkler system. The intention is to minimize fire-related losses, ensuring a higher standard of safety in residential constructions.
Increase in commercial minimum limits
Under S-2841/A-4292 (sponsored by Sen. Scutari, Sen. Bramnick and Assemblymember Carter) there will be an increase to the minimum amount of liability coverage required for commercial motor vehicles and autocabs.
The aim is to ensure that, in the event of accidents or damages, there are sufficient funds available from insurance to cover the costs. Under the new law, commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds are required to carry minimum limits of at least $1.5 million. Commercial vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 or more pounds, but less than 26,001 pounds, will be required to carry at least $300,000 of coverage.
The law specifies that the new insurance requirements may be satisfied by a commercial automobile insurance policy, fleet insurance policy, commercial umbrella insurance policy, commercial excess insurance policy, similar insurance policy, or any combination thereof.
By raising the minimum liability coverage, the law’s aim is to provide better financial protection to the public and parties involved in accidents with these vehicles. This change reflects the rising costs associated with vehicle accidents and the need for adequate insurance coverage to address these costs.
Expansion of workers’ compensation for volunteers and public safety personnel
A-5909/S-4267 (sponsored by Sen. Sarlo, Sen. Oroho and Assemblymember DeAngelo, Assemblymember Wirths, Assemblymember Space) revises workers’ compensation coverage for certain injuries sustained by volunteer and professional public safety and law enforcement personnel.
The law, in part, adds part-time and volunteer firefighters, police officers and first-aid or rescue squad members as employees eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. It aims to broaden the scope of coverage and ensure that these individuals—who often work in high-risk environments—are protected under workers’ compensation laws adequately.
The bill recognizes the unique risks faced by public safety and law enforcement personnel and aims to provide them with the necessary support and protection in the event of work-related injuries.
Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.
Bradford J. Lachut, Esq., joined PIA as government affairs counsel for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2012 and then, after a four-month leave, he returned to the association in 2018 as director of government & industry affairs responsible for all legal, government relations and insurance industry liaison programs for the five state associations. Prior to PIA, Brad worked as an attorney for Steven J. Baum PC, in Amherst, and as an associate attorney for the law office of James Morris in Buffalo. He also spent time serving as senior manager of government affairs as the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, a chamber of commerce serving the Buffalo, N.Y., region, his hometown. He received his juris doctorate from Buffalo Law School and his Bachelor of Science degree in Government and Politics from Utica College, Utica, N.Y. Brad is an active Mason and Shriner.