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  Oct. 01, 2013

Government shutdown effects on the insurance industry

NFIP not affected. Despite a lapse in annual appropriations, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is allowed by law to continue activities that are funded by sources other than annual appropriations. The National Flood Insurance Program is funded by sources other than annual appropriations and will maintain daily operations and operate the NFIP consistent with existing funding authority. More… Lapse in federal funding impact on FEMA website operations. Due to the lapse in federal funding, portions of may not be updated and some non-disaster assistance transactions submitted via the website may not be processed or responded to until after appropriations are enacted. More… Government shutdown could halt Sandy cleanup, coastal dredging. According to an article in the Asbury Park Press, the government shutdown could affect Sandy cleanup in New Jersey. More…   

PIA introduces new Business Operations Tool Kit

Agency owners and principals have a lot on their minds on a daily basis. Running a professional, independent insurance agency can be a daunting task. PIA is here to help. Through PIA’s new Business Operations Tool Kit, you have access to numerous resources to help you meet these challenges. We’ve put the most current and long-acquired knowledge of our experts all in one, easy-to-access kit, so if you have a business operations-related question, all you have to do is Think PIA first.   

Federally facilitated insurance marketplaces—What you need to know

PIA members have told us they wonder what comes after they complete the certification training for the federally facilitated Insurance Marketplace and the federally facilitated Small Business Health Options Program. PIANJ has compiled information to help keep members up-to-date. Remember, PIA posted this and additional information you need to know about health exchanges in its Health Insurance Tool Kit.   

DOBI to monitor p/c insurance conditions

Last week, the Department of Banking and Insurance issued Bulletin 13-16. According to the bulletin, based on the extensive property damage caused by Sandy, the department has deemed it necessary to monitor market conditions for property/casualty insurance in the state. "Accordingly, all authorized and admitted property/casualty insurer groups with a total of $5,000,000 or more in written property/casualty insurance premiums in this State that had insurance policies … made a part hereof, in force on October 1, 2012 are requested to provide to the Department information on property damage claims received by the insurer on a consolidated group basis …"  

Christie’s executive order quickens dune construction at beaches

Last week, Gov. Chris Christie signed Executive Order No. 140 to clear the way for dune construction to protect homes and businesses along New Jersey’s 127 miles of shoreline. More…  

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Don’t miss out! Pick-your-own education and earn up to 17 NJCE in two days

As always, PIANJ’s OktoberEdFest brings something for everyone. This year’s event will be held Oct. 23-24, 2013, at the Crowne Plaza, Edison. Choose from seven varied education programs, earn needed continuing-education credits and catch up on what’s hot in the insurance industry. Classes for this year’s event include: Condos, Co-Ops, Community Associations; Ethics: Knowing and Abiding by the Law; Communications Issues for the Modern Insurance Agency; Quality Customer Service; Cyber Liability—The 21st Century Peril; Understanding Occurrence and Claims-Made Triggers; and Insurance Quiz—Testing Your Insurance Knowledge. PIANJ brings you quality education—save with package pricing. For more information, or to register, click here. Sponsors include—Platinum: Liberty; Gold: FMI; Silver: Selective.  

PIA launches two-minute survey on underwriting

During the month of October, PIANJ’s two-minute survey focuses on underwriting. This month’s question: Do you believe that your profitability is directly tied to your front-line underwriting? Yes | No   

Medicare notice reminder

Employers should remember that before Oct. 15, 2013, they must offer information to Medicare-eligible employees regarding their Part D benefits. From the HHS website: "The Medicare Modernization Act requires entities (whose policies include prescription drug coverage) to notify Medicare eligible policyholders whether their prescription drug coverage is creditable coverage, which means that the coverage is expected to pay on average as much as the standard Medicare prescription drug coverage. The form to offer such notification is available here. For more information, click here.  

FEMA publishes policy on flood risk analysis and mapping standards

As part of a multiyear plan, FEMA is improving the way guidelines and standards for flood risk mapping are presented and have completed the extraction of distinct standards from the existing Guidelines and Specifications for Flood Hazard Mapping Partners. FEMA conducted a public review of the draft standards earlier this year. A summary of the comments received and changes implemented is published here. For additional information, please visit the FEMA Guidelines and Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping website. This and more flood-related information can be accessed through PIA’s Flood Insurance Tool Kit.   

FEMA defines its role in the state-sponsored Claims Mediation Program

On Sept. 23, 2013, FEMA issued the State-Sponsored Non-Binding Wind versus Flood Disaster Claims Mediation Policy (FP 206-086-1), which interprets and implements Section 100223 of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12), 42 U.S.C. Section 4021. This information is issued as a FEMA policy to facilitate implementation of the provision of BW-12 requiring FEMA to participate in state-sponsored non-binding mediation of wind versus water disputes, when appropriate. For more, click here.   

FMCSA publishes final rule on Unified Registration System

The Federal Motor Carrier Administration has published a final rule that will combine 16 different forms that carriers, freight forwarders and brokers currently use to register and update their information with the agency into a single, electronic "smart form." The new Unified Registration System will increase efficiency by streamlining the registration process for the industry and enabling FMCSA to maintain more accurate information on the entities it regulates. The streamlined web-based system will begin operating in 2015. At that time, all new applications and updates to existing records will be handled through the new system.   

Court: Excess flood coverage for mortgages is OK

In the case of Kolbe v. BAC Home Loan Servicing LP the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held, in a split ruling, that mortgage companies are permitted to require mortgagors to insure their properties against flood in excess of the value of the mortgage balance. The case was being heard on appeal from a three-judge panel of the First Circuit.  

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Ask PIA: Flood—reduction of coverage limits or reformation

Q. I received a notice that FEMA is changing the coverage amount on my insured’s flood policy. The premium stays the same, but the coverage amount has changed. Can FEMA do this? A. It is called the policy reformation or reduction of coverage limits. FEMA is basing this on Section D of the flood manual: "D. Reduction of Coverage Limits or Reformation. In the event that the premium payment received is not sufficient to purchase the amounts of insurance requested, the policy shall be deemed to provide only such insurance as can be purchased for the entire term of the policy for the amount of premium received." The most likely scenario is that there is incorrect information in the policy or application. Generally, this happens due to a discrepancy in the building description. FEMA is re-underwriting many of its policies based upon recent claim inspections to ensure the most current and accurate information is reflected on the policy. Once the new information has been captured, the policy is endorsed to reflect the amount of coverage that the previous premium would have paid. To access our entire Ask PIA library of frequently asked questions and expert answers by PIA’s technical staff, click here.  

PIA’s exclusive partnership with Agency Revolution

PIA’s partnership with Agency Revolution offers substantial discounts to members with vital assistance increasing their Internet presence and marketing efforts. The exclusive agreement provides PIANJ members with access to the expertise of industry marketing veteran Michael Jans, founder of Agency Revolution, and his firm’s expansive industry research to implement marketing systems that include mechanisms from personalized emails to custom-built websites specifically designed for independent insurance agencies and their clients. More…  

New Employee Orientation for Agency Personnel

Give your rookies the training they need to succeed—without interrupting your daily sales and service activities. If you have a new employee on board or are planning a new hire, this course is for you. This program is designed for unlicensed employees with less than a year’s experience in the agency. Your employees log on to the course via the computer each week to get the training they need. There’s no travel, no interruption to daily agency activity and, most importantly, no time out of the office. Through this "virtual classroom," your new hire can connect with other rookies, bounce questions off the facilitator, and learn in manageable pieces in the comfort of their home or office. NJCE credit: N/A. This is an online computer course for unlicensed/new employees. The next courses will be held Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. For more information, or to register, click here.  

New Jersey auto complaint ratios

The DOBI offers its annual auto insurance complaint ratios. To see how your carriers compare, log on to PIANJ’s website and type QS29042 in the Google-facilitated search box, or fax a request to PIANJ’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935.   

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