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  Dec. 20, 2012

Special holiday edition—New York Weekly

PIANY wishes you and yours a warm and prosperous holiday season. We look forward to continuing to bring you the information your business needs, the way you want it. The PIANY Weekly will resume Jan. 2, 2013. And watch our website, Facebook and Twitter feed for ongoing information all year long.  

PIANY files formal complaint against law firm for unethical ads

Earlier this month, PIANY reported its call for the retraction of an ad that claimed agents were at fault for a lack of business interruption coverage after Sandy. Since then, your association filed a formal complaint with the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division against the law firm for producing false, deceptive and misleading ads in the Sandy-affected market. PIA stands vigilant against erroneous and offensive advertising that paints agents as anything other than what they are: ethical, hardworking advocates for their clients. Additionally, your association has worked on behalf of all agents to provide information and resources to help educate and inform your business and personal lines clients about flood and other coverages. See information to assist your clients on Storm Info Central here.  

PIANY holds special session to discuss Sandy situation

Agencies in Sandy-affected areas face continued crisis as they struggle to maintain their livelihood and take care of insureds, many of whom are becoming increasingly frustrated navigating the claims process after the storm. Yesterday, your PIANY directors from Long Island, New York City and the Hudson Valley convened on a special conference call to discuss the challenges agents are encountering. A multitude of issues, from conflicting information by different adjusters on homeowners/flood claims; slow responses from carriers for homeowners with flood coverage; aggressive and unethical attorneys and fly-by-night restoration companies; to waning agency revenue as the market dries up, were discussed. "The agency force is hurting; we’ve done nothing but claims for six weeks, cash flow is down, and the industry’s best distribution channel needs support from its carriers," one director summarized. PIA will continue to identify challenges and seek remedy and relief to the issues. If you have concerns or suggestions, please send them to your PIA Industry Resource Center, or call (800) 424-4244.   

Cuomo vetoes supplementary uninsured auto insurance bill

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation (A.10784) that would have brought New York into line with laws in 26 other states by changing the default limit for supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist ("SUM") coverage. This bill would have changed the required amount of supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from a maximum amount that is the same as bodily injury to a minimum amount that is the same as bodily injury. It also would have allowed the insured the option of declining SUM coverage or purchasing lower amounts than the statutory minimum. Producers are advised to remind New York drivers to purchase liability insurance above the bare legal minimum of $25,000, and that increasing liability coverage does not provide a corresponding increase in protection for them and their families. Drivers who are not told about this distinction or who purchase insurance online may fail to realize that they do not have the coverage that they think they have when they need it most.  More…

DFS issues official statement to extend moratorium for select counties

After previously notifying PIA that it would once again extend a moratorium it enacted following the landfall of Sandy, the New York State Department of Financial Services issued an official statement doing so, but only for New York Bronx, Kings, Richmond, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.  

Cuomo announces tax relief and support for New Yorkers affected by Sandy

Gov. Cuomo announced a series of tax relief measures for New Yorkers still recovering from Sandy. Under the new measures, New Yorkers affected by the storm will have their tax returns counted as on-time even if they file late, businesses temporarily relocating to New York to help with recovery efforts will not have to pay several state taxes, and employers will be granted a tax exemption for the value of leave they donate to Sandy relief efforts.   More…

DFS visiting communities to aid residents with insurance issues

Representatives of the DFS will be available to meet with homeowners, renters and business owners with insurance-related issues inside the agency's Mobile Command Center, which will be stationed at these locations: Nassau County—Norwich Library, 89 East Main St., Oyster Bay, Thursday, Dec. 20; Staten Island—Stop & Shop, 2754 Hylan Blvd., Friday, Dec. 21; Brooklyn—Seaview Shopping Center, 1847 Rockaway Parkway, Canarsie; Saturday, Dec. 22; Queens—11235 Beach Channel Drive, Rockaway Beach, Sunday, Dec. 23. Department representatives will help citizens contact their insurers if they have been unable to do so and answer questions about homeowners', renters' and business owners' insurance coverage.  More…

DMV advises Sandy victims on plate surrender

The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles advised that it is using flexibility in backdating plate surrenders for victims of Super Storm Sandy. A motorist can visit a local DMV office and complete form MV-44DR-F and return what plates remain, if any. The "License Plate(s)" box needs to be checked with words "SANDY" written next to it as well as the surrender date (usually 10/29 or 10/30). If the client does not physically have plates to surrender, "no plates surrendered" must also be written on the form. DMV also reminded insurers that its Rules & Regulations prohibit insurance companies from filing electronic cancellation notices with the DMV when a vehicle is replaced with another on a policy that remains in force. When a client presents an ID card that indicates "Replacement Vehicle", the DMV transfers the plates from the client’s "old" vehicle to the "new" vehicle.   

Professional independent agents demonstrate extraordinary service in the face of Sandy

Not surprisingly, PIA members continue to extend extraordinary service to help their clients after Sandy, and we’d like to share that. Do you have customers who can report how they benefited from working with a professional independent agency? Please share your photos and stories with your PIA Communication Department by emailing them to   

After Sandy, flood insurance could be on rise

A report in Newsday says flood insurance premiums for thousands of Long Islanders who bore the brunt of superstorm Sandy's devastation could double over the next four years as Washington starts phasing out long-running subsidies for properties at risk from coastal storms. Beginning next year, the increases will impact vacation homes, businesses, severely storm-ravaged properties and those that flood time and again. The move is part of a broader push to reform the debt-ridden National Flood Insurance Program in hopes of running it more like a private insurance company.   More…

Saland concedes election to Gipson, judge rules on Amedore-Tkaczyk race

Trailing by more than 2,100 votes, longtime state Sen. Stephen Saland, R-41, on Dec. 13 conceded the race in New York’s 41st Senate District to Democratic challenger Terry Gipson. More ... In related news, a judge has certified Republican George Amedore the winner of the state’s 46th Senate District race by just 37 votes, but Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk’s campaign says there are ballots that still have not been counted.    More…

Federal government approves health insurance exchange in N.Y.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services approved New York, as well as Kentucky and Washington, D.C., to create health exchanges and provide options geared to the uninsured under the Affordable Care Act.   More…

Update on health insurance exchanges

A proposed rule recently released by the Department of Health and Human Services would require insurance carriers to pay brokers the same compensation for plans sold through a federally facilitated state exchange or a similar plan outside the exchange. More … The National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Producer Licensing Task Force is seeking public comments on a "discussion framework" about procedures that could be used to regulate the new health insurance exchange "navigators," or consumer assistance providers. More … According to a press release issued by America’s Health Insurance Plans, the health insurance tax included in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will increase the cost of health-care coverage for consumers and employers in every state.    

FEMA provides guidance on contents claims

The numbers, severity, and complexities presented by Sandy flood losses, both logistically and in terms of claim handling itself, have not been encountered in several years in the National Flood Insurance Program. The situation requires the NFIP to implement innovative claims handling techniques that will assist our policyholders to quickly recover from these losses, while maintaining necessary controls over NFIP funds held in the U.S. Treasury. Authorized procedures are detailed in Memorandum No. W-12115.   

NCCI updates its study on WC claims from auto accidents

Traffic accidents are a leading cause of high-severity workers’ compensation injuries. Moreover, they are pervasive; indeed, a study by the National Council in Compensation Insurance published in December 2006, noted that even the clerical classification has surprisingly high exposure to traffic accidents. Driver-related factors that are linked to traffic accidents include speeding, distraction and impairment. There are differences between accidents for large trucks and for passenger vehicles, as well as impacts due to recessions. In this update, NCCI extends its analysis to add several years of data, allowing it to observe the reduction in traffic-related injuries during recessions, and thus, to confirm the cyclical characteristics of traffic accidents during the Great Recession.  

AAIS introduces new data breach coverage endorsement

The American Association of Insurance Services announced that its member insurers are being given access to a new sample endorsement they can use to provide "data breach" coverage to small- and mid-sized commercial accounts. The endorsement was developed in conjunction with IDentity Theft 911, a provider of identity and data risk management, resolution and education services, and covers certain services provided to a commercial account in the event that personal information in its possession is lost, stolen, accidentally released, or accidentally published. Covered expenses include: expert consultations; forensic investigations; legal and regulatory research; notification to persons whose data may have been breached; and credit and fraud monitoring for victims of identity theft. Coverage under the endorsement is subject to an each-event deductible and an annual aggregate limit, plus separate sublimits for forensic investigations and legal/regulatory research expenses.  

NAIC releases annual auto and homeowners reports now available

The NAIC released its 2009/2010 Auto Insurance Database Report, which provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance nationwide. The report features state-by-state auto insurance data designed to provide necessary information and analysis to insurance regulators, consumers and policymakers. Additionally, the NAIC also released its 2010 Homeowners Insurance Report, providing data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. The report includes countrywide and state-specific premium and exposure information for noncommercial dwelling fire insurance and for homeowners insurance package policies.   

A.M. Best Ratings

A.M. Best Co. upgraded the financial strength rating to "A" (Excellent) from "A-" (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings to "a" from "a-" of Medical Professional Mutual Insurance Co., ProSelect Insurance Co. (both of Boston, Mass.) and Coverys RRG Inc. (District of Columbia), all members of Coverys Cos. The outlook for all ratings has been revised to stable from positive.  More … A.M. Best Co. revised the outlook to positive from stable and affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Excellent) and issuer credit rating of "a-" of Leatherstocking Cooperative Insurance Co. (Cooperstown, N.Y.).   More…

Ask PIA: HO-3 civil authority

Q. My insured homeowners are contacting me, telling me that they are receiving checks from insurers for additional living expenses incurred because their property is located within a town under "civil authority." What does this mean? A. When property is damaged on the residence premises of the homeowner, Coverage D—Loss of Use will provide Additional Living Expense and Fair Rental Value for the duration of time it takes to make repairs. For a comprehensive answer to this question, click here. To access our entire Ask PIA library of frequently asked questions and expert answers by PIANY’s technical staff, click here.   

The Certified Insurance Service Representative Program 2013 expansion

PIA’s unparalleled education programs provide members with information they need to stay on top of the latest happenings in the industry. This expansion allows participants to select from a wider variety of courses, based on their personal preference, to earn the Certified Insurance Service Representative designation. The new options give participants the opportunity to choose five of the nine courses to specialize in a certain area or mix and match courses to diversify their learning. For more information, or to register, click here, or call PIA for more information at (800) 424-4244.   

Named nonowner coverage

The Named Nonowner Coverage Endorsement, ISO form PP 03 22, is added to the personal automobile policy to provide important protection for someone who does not own an auto but has exposures to loss nonetheless.  PIA QuickSource document No. QS90346, defines this coverage and identifies its application to assist you ensuring that your clients are properly covered. To access, log on to the PIANY website and type QS90346 in the Google-facilitated search box, or fax a request to PIA’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935.   

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