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  Jan. 22, 2013

House passes $50.5 billion in Sandy aid, Senate to vote this week

Last week, the House of Representatives approved $50.5 billion in long-delayed federal disaster aid to victims of Superstorm Sandy. The aid package for the storm that ravaged the Northeast now moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it is expected to win swift passage. More… The Senate is expected to vote on the bill today. More…  

Govs. Christie, Cuomo and Malloy issue a joint statement on House’s action on disaster bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released the following statement regarding passage of the disaster relief package by the House of Representatives was issued Jan. 15: "We are grateful to those members of Congress who today pulled together in a unified, bipartisan coalition to assist millions of their fellow Americans in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut at their greatest time of need. The tradition of Congress being there and providing support for Americans during times of crisis, no matter where they live across this great country, lives on in today’s vote in the House of Representatives. We anticipate smooth passage when this package moves back to the Senate for final approval and for this long-awaited relief to finally make its way to our residents."   

DOBI issues bulletin to remind public adjusters about fees

In Bulletin 12-16, the Department of Banking and Insurance reminds public adjusters that "all public adjusters, including those who hire or retain temporary sublicensees pursuant to N.J.S.A. 17:22B-11 and N.J.A.C. 11:1-37.7, that any fees for adjusting services charged to consumers must be reasonably related to the services rendered, whether the loss was related to Superstorm Sandy or not, and that public adjusters must be able to demonstrate this relationship upon inquiry by the department." According to the bulletin, homeowners who are working with public adjusters have contacted the department with reports that some public adjusters are charging homeowners exorbitant fees for their services, in some cases up to 50 percent of the amount of the claim payment by the insurer.   

FEMA issues checklist to help homeowners rebuild

FEMA created a checklist to help Storm Sandy survivors rebuild smarter, stronger and safer so their homes are protected in future storms. To access the checklist, click here.   

Professional, independent agents demonstrate extraordinary service in the wake 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? Have you worked with any carriers that have shown exemplary customer service? Please share your photos and stories with your PIA Communication Department by emailing them to  

Proposed bill to address out-of-network disclosure

On Jan. 17, 2013, Assembly members, Amy H. Handlin, R-13, and Jon M. Bramnick, R-21, introduced A-3699, which would require managed care plans to disclose allowed amounts for out-of-network health-care services under certain circumstances. The bill has been referred to Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee.   

NCCI studies medical services for 20 years or older claims

The National Council on Compensation Insurance released a new study that looks at workers’ compensation medical services provided beyond 20 years after the injury, with a view toward anticipating which medical service categories will account for the largest shares of costs and future treatment and utilization that will drive those costs. It is likely that more than 10 percent of the cost of medical benefits for the workplace injuries that occur this year will be for services provided more than two decades into the future. That percentage has been growing and might continue to grow. Some key findings concerning services provided from 20 to 30 years following the date of injury are: 1.) Patients are predominantly male, more so than can be explained by historical gender differences in the workforce; 2.) Deteriorating medical conditions of the more elderly claimants is not a main cost driver—indeed, claimants younger than age 60 cost more per year, per claimant, to treat than those older than age 60; 3.) Relative to services within the first 20 years after injury, care provided later has a significantly greater portion of cost going for prescription medications, supplies, home health services, and the maintenance of implants, orthotics, and prosthetics. This study is a "quick first look" at some types of analysis that can be gleaned from NCCI’s new Medical Data Call.  

Real Time Day 2013 set for April 9

The Real Time/Download Campaign announced that its second Real Time Day will be held Tuesday, April 9, 2013, with a goal of increasing activity and awareness for the independent insurance agent channel to save time and costs on insurance workflows. Plans for Real Time Day 2013 will include: web broadcasts featuring discussions with Real Time and Download agent users and technology experts; webinars and education events sponsored by agency management systems user groups; presentations by insurance carriers and vendors on using Real Time tools; and contests and prizes to recognize success in Real Time and Download usage and participation in Real Time Day.  

Webinar: NFIP requirements, program changes and more

Nationally recognized flood insurance expert Rita Hollada, CIC, CPCU, CPIA, will conduct a three-hour Webinar Understanding the NFIP, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (for 3 GEN NFIP credits). In the aftermath of Sandy, understanding the flood insurance program is more important than ever before. Your entire agency staff—anyone who may discuss flood insurance—should attend and learn the latest on this important program. For more information, or to register, click here.   

PIANJ’s upcoming Webinar schedule

PIANJ has a number of Webinars scheduled in the upcoming months. These Webinars allow you to learn valuable continuing-education credits without leaving your office. Plan to take part in the following programs: The Latest in E&O (and What Can Be Done About It), Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (for 3 GEN credits). Included in this seminar will be an extensive discussion on the major E&O issues that agents face and the new plaintiffs that are bringing litigation against today’s agent. Selling Employee Benefits? The Keys to Keep It from Becoming an E&O Headache, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, from 10-11 a.m. (1 GEN credit). For agencies involved in selling employee benefits, there are many loss-control initiatives that they can undertake to minimize their E&O exposure. This course will review a number of overall issues, as well as some initiatives specific to the sales and services process.   

New & improved: CISR 5-of-9 program

The CISR designation program now includes nine course offerings. To earn the CISR designation, participants will need to pass exams for five of the nine courses. However, anyone is welcome to attend the classes without taking the exams. There is no special order in which courses must be taken. If you are more familiar with a given topic, you may want to begin with that course. The CISR program is a CE credit-approved, nationally recognized designation program that takes a practical, hands-on approach to learning. This designation is recognized nationwide as an important credential—one that benefits individuals, their agencies and their customers. Through this program, developed by the National Alliance for Insurance Education, students who are committed to CE and career growth can obtain the highest level of professional insurance education. This uniquely powerful training is designed to help you conquer the challenges of today by making customer service representatives more professional, more productive and more profitable. The CISR program is for all insurance personnel who make customer service their priority. CISR courses include: 1IC: Commercial Casualty I—CGL; AI, 2IC: Commercial Casualty II—BAP, WC, Excess; IP: Insuring Commercial Property; PR: Insuring Personal Residential Property; PA: Insuring Personal Auto Exposures; PM: Personal Lines—Miscellaneous; LHE: Life & Health Essentials; ELR: Elements of Risk Management; and AO: Agency Operations. For more information, click here or call (800) 424-4244.  

Build and strengthen your agency-carrier relationships

Given the competition of direct writers, and the changing market cycles in the insurance industry, both agencies and carriers need to understand what the other party’s goals and future plans are. Visits by company field representatives should not just entail a lunch out, but should give you the opportunity to talk with your company representative about where you see your agency going and how your relationship with this carrier can get you there. On the other side, the field representative has the opportunity to let you know what changes the carrier is facing and share what it has planned for the coming year as it relates to the types of business it is looking to increase. Through PIA QuickSource document No. QS90547, industry consultant Doug Brown, offers views from three company representatives on how these relationships can be a win-win experience for both parties. Another guide that can assist in making these meetings more productive is AUGIE’s Productive Agency Visits for Insurance Carriers booklet (QS90496). To access either of these documents, log on to the PIANJ website and type the appropriate QuickSource number in the Google-facilitated search box, or fax a request to PIA’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935. Also, be sure to bookmark PIA’s Market Transition Tool Kit for the latest market trends, sample customer communications, policyholder protections and more.  

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