Nov. 13, 2012

New look for the PIANJ Weekly

Your PIANJ Weekly has a new look. PIANJ hopes these changes will make it easier for members to access, find and read the information you need. Sign up your staff members for the new Weekly by sending your agency name and the email addresses of your staff to In addition to the new Weekly, you’ll also receive notices on breaking news, legislative updates, education courses, etc. Let us know what you think. PIANJ asks you to email with any feedback you may have about the Weekly, Reporter, PIA magazine and other PIA publications. Think PIA first. We’re listening.  

PIANJ representatives meet with DOBI

Kenneth E. Kobylowski (second from right) acting commissioner of the DOBI, talked with PIANJ past President Bill Vowteras, CPIA, (left) and PIANJ Legislative Representative Leon Zimmerman following a recent "Meet the Decision Makers" forum sponsored by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association. Commissioner Kobylowski discussed the major insurance issues facing DOBI. At right is Philip Kirschner, president of NJBIA. (Photo by Brian Branch Price for NJBIA)   

N.J. issues directive on forbearance of cancellation activity, payment methods

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released Executive Order 107, which makes a number of important Sandy-related declarations. The executive order makes the following declarations: The imposition of hurricane deductibles shall not be allowed. Regulated entities including insurers are to exercise appropriate forbearance with regard to policy cancellations, premium collection and other regulatory issues. Insurers are permitted to make first- and third-party claims payments by an expanded number of methods, including prepaid debit cards, electronic transfer or other comparable alternate payment method, subject to some restrictions. The order also grants the commissioner of the Department of Banking and Insurance the power to take all necessary steps to effectuate the order.  More…

DOBI lists locations of mobile catastrophe units

The DOBI is providing a list of locations throughout the state where insurance companies are offering mobile catastrophe units to help with claims processing, should residents need an alternative way to file their claims besides through one’s insurance agent or via telephone. The DOBI says the list will be updated constantly. To view the page, click here. PIANJ also continues to compile its list of company claims reporting contact information; please share any you have and/or let us know if you need our help in contacting your carriers.   

Disaster unemployment assistance open to all N.J. counties

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced it approved Gov. Chris Christie’s request to extend Disaster Unemployment Assistance to cover people in all New Jersey counties, especially self-employed individuals, who were living or working in the affected counties at the time of the disaster, and who are unemployed as a direct result of the damages caused by the storm.   More…

Tax-filing deadlines extended after Sandy

At Gov. Christie’s direction, Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff ordered the Division of Taxation to grant hardship waivers for late filers on a case-by-case basis for business taxpayers affected by the storm. In addition, Michael J. Bryan, director of the Division of Taxation, again extended the deadline for tax filings that were due on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, 2012. The new deadline for businesses based or operating in areas hit by the storm is Wednesday, Nov. 14. The extension applies to businesses affected by storm damage in all New Jersey counties.  

Christie extends grace period for property tax payments

Gov. Chris Christie signed Executive Order 113 to give New Jersey residents, particularly those hard hit by Sandy, more time to pay fourth-quarter property taxes that were due Nov. 1. The grace period is extended to Friday, Nov. 16, for taxpayers who reside in municipalities that are not holding an accelerated tax sale.  More…

DOBI extends deadline for insurance producer licenses

Due to the damage and impact of Sandy, the DOBI is extending the expiration date for insurance producer licenses for those producers whose licenses expire Oct. 31, 2012, or Nov. 30, 2012. Producer licenses expiring in October 2012 and November 2012 will remain in active status until Dec. 31, 2012, although the expiration date listed on the license may have passed. According to an email from the DOBI, "We are unable to change the programming used by the NIPR electronic application system to reflect this extension. Those individuals expiring on Oct. 31 will be charged a late fee if they submit their renewal after Nov. 30 and use the electronic system. These individuals have the option of submitting the paper renewal application maintained on our website and simply not include the late fee or they may use the electronic system and request a late fee refund from the DOBI Licensing Services Bureau-Insurance. The late fee will be charged to any licensee whose license expires on Nov. 30 and does not submit the renewal by Dec. 31."  

PIA contacts ISO for changes in form wording

PIA recently reached out to ISO regarding an issue with the homeowners and dwelling forms. In these forms, ISO defines a Category 2 hurricane as a storm originating in the tropics that results in either a sustained wind speed of at least 96 miles per hour, or a storm surge at least 6 feet above normal. However, the current Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale does not reference storm surge in its descriptions. It defines categories strictly on sustained wind speed. ISO including a storm surge description in policy language could confuse insureds and create ambiguity regarding one’s coverage. ISO subsequently contacted PIA and agreed with its assessment, stating that they will be removing that language.  

Disaster Recovery Center Locator directs people to nearest aid center

FEMA’s Disaster Recovery Center Locator allows individuals to search for DRCs nearest to their location. DRC Locator also provides additional information about each DRC, such as hours of operation, services offered and driving directions to the DRC.   

PIA storm resources: Info you need to process claims and more

Since Sandy hit the East Coast, PIA has been providing agencies affected by Sandy with information to help them as it has become available. We will continue to do so on an ongoing basis, recognizing that power and Internet access continues to be an issue for agents and clients impacted by the recent devastating storms. For announcements on hurricane deductibles; downloadable ACORD claims forms; FICO Numbers from FEMA for tracking the claims; emergency phone/email numbers; and key coverage questions and answers, click here. All of this information also is available on the PIA Storm Info Central.   

PIANJ and DOBI discuss issues affecting agents

PIANJ representatives met recently with Acting Commissioner Kenneth Kobylowski and other top officials of the DOBI to discuss major issues of concern to professional, independent agents in New Jersey. PIANJ representatives discussed the role of producers when health care exchanges are implemented under the federal Affordable Health Care Act. DOBI officials are examining this subject and future regulations affecting producers.   More…

PIANJ administration takes active role in PIA National

PIA members from New Jersey are well represented at both the state and national levels of PIA. As the administration of PIA National President Andrew C. Harris, CIC, CPCU, ARM, CRM, AIS, and past president and national director of PIANJ gets into full swing, PIANJ national director Keith Savino, CPIA, will serve on key committees, focusing on the needs of PIA members both here at home and throughout the country. As president, Harris serves in an ex officio capacity on all PIA National Committees. In addition, Savino serves on the Business Issues and Image committees. PIANJ Executive Director Diane Fowler serves on the PIA Membership Committee and on the Affiliate Relations Committee. PIANJ Government and Industry Affairs staff participates regularly in all conference call meetings of the Business Issues and Government Affairs Committees.  

NFIP extends grace period for payment of renewal premiums

The National Flood Insurance Program issued a bulletin extending the grace period for renewals as a result of the storm Sandy. The concern about the possible lapses in coverage and the subsequent denials of claims occurring during a gap in coverage compelled them to extend the 30-day grace period for receipt by the NFIP of flood insurance renewal premiums.  

Deadline extended for states to submit health exchange blueprints

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is extending the deadline for state-based health insurance exchange Blueprint application submissions to Friday, Dec. 14, 2012. The deadline for a declaration letter for a state-based health insurance exchange remains Friday, Nov. 16, 2012, and the HHS will approve or conditionally approve the state-based exchanges for 2014 by the statutory deadline of Jan. 1, 2013.  More…

A.M. Best: Workers’ compensation lines grew 10 percent in 2011

The U.S. workers’ compensation line of business received a respite in 2011 as employment and payrolls stabilized and overall net premiums written increased by 10 percent, according to an A.M. Best Co. report. The report, titled "Despite Favorable Pricing Trends, Profitability Challenges Persist," also found that overall underwriting results for the aggregated workers’ comp line improved slightly, as the combined ratio declined to 117.8 in 2011, from 118.1 the previous year.   More…

Webinar examines coverage issues with vacant, unoccupied buildings

The Webinar Exploring Vacancy Issues, designed for students with three to five years’ experience, covers both personal- and commercial-lines issues. Join instructor R. Bryan Tilden, national faculty member, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012, to discuss how personal residential coverages handle vacancy; explore how commercial forms define vacancy; and understand the solutions to insuring vacant buildings. No tests need to be taken. For more information, or to register, click here, or call PIANJ at (800) 424-4244.  

Take a step toward the CPIA designation with PIANJ

On Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, PIANJ offers CPIA 2: Implement for Success, which will provide attendees with specific tools for analyzing consumer needs. The class will teach risk identification techniques to gather pertinent prospect information; along with skills necessary to assimilate information into a customized protection program. Lastly, attendees will participate in exercises designed to promote effective delivery of proven solutions. This class previously was rescheduled due to the storm. For more information, or to register, click here, or call PIANJ at (800) 424-4244.  

NJYIP Industry-Wide Holiday Social less than a month away

Registration is now open for the New Jersey Young Insurance Professionals’ ninth annual Industry-Wide Holiday Social, Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012, at The Grain House Restaurant in Basking Ridge. It’s a great opportunity to meet and greet the "who’s who" of the New Jersey insurance community. Renew relationships, establish new contacts and build a stronger business network while enjoying the holiday spirit. All insurance professionals are invited to attend. For additional details and to register online with a credit card, click here. To register by check, please click here. Watch the NJYIP website for other upcoming events.  

Essential digital marketing

Agents can leave up to half of their leads behind if they don’t have the right technology. Since 50 percent of searches now are mobile, it is essential that agents have a mobile-optimized website. To obtain more information, check out Michael Jans’ Webinar, The Changing Consumer and How to Use Digital Marketing to Grow Your Agency, available On Demand from PIANJ. PIA members also may access a QuickSource document written by Michael Jans, by logging on to the PIANJ website and typing QS90701 in the Google-facilitated search box, or by faxing a request to PIA’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935.   

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