PIANY President Gary Slavin talks about recent state legislative efforts

May 13, 2024

In the last legislative session, PIANY had some tremendous legislative successes: it’s important to look back at our victories as an association, as it reminds us of what we can achieve as a unified group of independent agents.

Priority photo-inspection bill signed into law

This PIA-priority bill was signed into law late last year, allowing insurance companies the option to waive photo inspections for certain auto insurance customers. This law, which will go into effect Wednesday, May 15, 2024, will ease the burden on consumers to find and to commute to a designated photo inspection site.

The legislation was passed swiftly through the state Assembly and state Senate and it was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul with the same expediency. It was thanks to the efforts of our independent agents and our allies in the state Legislature that this bill was introduced and passed.

Bait-and-switch bill signed not long after

Shortly after the photo inspection bill was signed into law, another priority bill made its way to the governor’s desk. This bill took aim at the harmful bait-and-switch tactic that is performed by certain personal auto insurance carriers.

This tactic involves the carrier binding auto coverage on a new policy, then increasing premiums after checking the insured’s driving history. This practice is unethical and abuses the trust consumers place in their insurance carriers. This new law restores that trust and provides the insurance-buying public with a valuable safeguard. Carriers will now be required to make a good-faith effort to check an applicant’s driving history prior to the binding of the policy.

Upon passage of the bait-and-switch law, additional chapter amendments were proposed to limit the scope just to an individual’s New York state driving history, and the removal of a requirement in which carriers verify the driving history of all drivers on a policy when it is renewed.

Windstorm definition bill passes Assembly

One of our most recent legislative victories was in March when the state Assembly passed a bill that would require the New York State Department of Financial Services to create a standard definition of “windstorm” for homeowners insurance policies.

The heart of this issue lies in the fact that the DFS has accepted over 100 definitions for what constitutes a windstorm. Two houses can be comparably damaged in a storm, but one homeowner may have to pay thousands of dollars more in deductibles if it meets his or her policy’s definition of windstorm. The other homeowner may only have to pay the standard $1,000 deductible for the damages.

Having to keep up with over 100 definitions is not just bad for agents: it is bad for the insurance-buying public. Having to compare how one policy defines a windstorm is an additional stressor for consumers as they try to find home insurance coverage that fits their needs.

PIANY has been fighting for the passage of this bill for a long time. Now is the time for independent insurance agents across New York state to rally around it and to see to it that it passes the state Senate and is sent to the governor’s desk. Through our combined efforts, we have successfully passed the photo inspection and bait-and-switch bill: we must do the same here.

Next steps

Although PIANY has had some massive legislative victories, your association is not one to rest on its laurels.

I encourage all PIANY members to contact their legislative representatives and talk about why passage of the windstorm bill, S.4199, is paramount to their constituents and the insurance industry. If we work together, we can help get this legislation passed; we’ve done it before.

You don’t have to go it alone, PIANY has plenty of resources for its members to use—whether you need to develop their agency, stay informed, or advocate for themselves and their insureds.

Gary Slavin, CIC, LUTCF, CLTC
MassMutual | + posts

Gary Slavin entered the insurance industry as a claims examiner. His desire to help people in designing insurance coverages prompted him to get his broker’s license and earned his CIC designation in 2002. To continue guiding his clients, Gary received his series 6, 63 and 7 licenses. Reach him at gslavin@financialguide.com.

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