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  Nov. 15, 2012

New look for the PIANY Weekly Reporter

Your PIANY Weekly Reporter has a new look. PIANY 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 Reporter, you’ll also receive notices on breaking news, legislative updates, education courses, etc. Let us know what you think. PIANY 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.    

PIANY/NYIA Insurance Leadership Forum: It’s about partnerships and plans

During yesterday’s PIANY/NYIA Insurance Leadership Forum at The Century House in Latham, agent and company panelists all discussed the need for strong partnerships; perpetuation and strategic business plans; effective communication; and technology to develop solid and effective relationships that benefit agencies, companies and ultimately clients. A full report of the event with photos and video will be available on the PIANY website shortly (under "Events") or check out the January issue of PIA magazine. Pictured above are, from left: Gino Orrino, CPIA, president, New York Young Insurance Professionals and president and founder, Orrino Capital Services LLC; Richard A. Savino, CIC, CPIA, PIANY immediate past president, and president and CEO, Warwick Resource Group; and Michael J. Skeele, CIC, CPIA, PIANY president, and president, Skeele Agency Inc.

PIANY board members offer agency space to storm-damaged agents

Several PIANY board members located in the downstate region have offered to provide office space to agents affected by the storm. If you are in need of assistance or know another agent who might be, please call (800) 424-4244 or email For all storm related information—Think PIA First—visit Storm Info Central. For announcements on hurricane deductibles; downloadable ACORD claims forms; FICO and CAT numbers for tracking the claims; emergency phone/email numbers; and key coverage questions and answers, click here. All of this information and more also is available in the PIA Storm Info Central tool kit.   

New York offers 24/7 hot line for insurance issues after Sandy

The Department of Financial Services disaster hot line to help New Yorkers with insurance issues from Sandy will now be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hot line, at (800) 339-1759, can answer insurance-related storm questions and help consumers file complaints. It had been open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends since immediately after Sandy.   More…

DFS moves offices to temporary locations

The DFS has been operating out of several temporary locations in the New York City area while the State Street and Beaver Street offices remain closed. Currently, the DFS has established temporary locations at: 633 3rd Ave., in midtown Manhattan; 110 William St., in lower Manhattan; and, 15 Metro Tech Center in downtown Brooklyn.    More…

Empire State Relief Fund to aid homeowners hit by Sandy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the Empire State Relief Fund, dedicated to assisting the countless New Yorkers whose homes have been damaged or destroyed in the wake of Sandy. Funds donated will be distributed in the hardest hit areas across the region, specifically directed at costs associated with providing long-term housing and rebuilding homes. Although some homeowners will receive assistance from private insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other funding sources, in many cases New Yorkers will face a substantial gap between the cost of repair or replacement of their homes and the assistance available. The Empire State Relief Fund will focus on filling that funding gap.  More…

Financial aid available to New York residents

Gov. Cuomo announced that FEMA will issue emergency assistance for New Yorkers whose homes were affected by Sandy. FEMA will bring in contractors in order to perform basic repairs so that residents can return to their homes while more long-term repairs are in progress. Only residents in the federally declared counties are eligible to participate in this program. Homeowners in these localities who want to apply for assistance should contact their county or local officials to receive contractor support. Homeowners must be registered with FEMA, which they can do by calling (800) 621-FEMA. For more information, click here. Additionally, four more counties have now been approved for additional funding under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program: Orange, Putnam, Sullivan and Ulster counties.   More…

Cuomo announces small business emergency loan fund

Gov. Cuomo announced that the New York Bankers Association and the New York Business Development Corp. have agreed to establish a $10 million small-business emergency loan fund to provide immediate financial assistance for businesses impacted by Sandy. Under the fund, businesses will be able to apply for loans of up to $25,000 immediately by going to or calling (855) NYS-SANDY.   More…

Application deadline extended for disaster unemployment aid

New Yorkers who lost their job or income due to Sandy now have an extension from Dec. 3, 2012, to Feb. 4, 2013, to apply for federal disaster unemployment assistance. Additionally, claimants now have up to 90 days to submit proof of employment or self-employment and will be provided an IRS link to expedite the retrieval of lost or destroyed tax documents. Disaster unemployment benefits are available to provide financial support to anyone who has lost their job and live or work in the Bronx, Kings, New York, Richmond, Queens, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester counties.   More…

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 contacts ISO regarding hurricane definition

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.    

ISO adds eco-friendly commercial property classifications

In a recent press release, ISO announced the introduction of new classifications to its commercial property program to account for the emergence of alternative energy sources. In response to the growing demand for alternative energy, ISO is adding classifications and associated rating information for risks in three main areas: electric vehicle charging stations, solar panel arrays and wind turbines.   More…

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.    

NFIP reeling from impact of Sandy

A report in the New York Times says the federal government’s flood insurance program, which fell $18 billion into debt after Hurricane Katrina, is once again at risk of running out of money as the daunting reconstruction from Sandy gets under way. Early estimates suggest that Sandy will rank as the nation’s second-worst storm for claims paid out by the NFIP. With 115,000 new claims submitted and thousands more being filed each day, the cost could reach $7 billion at a time when the program is allowed, by law, to add only an additional $3 billion to its onerous debt.   More…

New York Insurance Law requires annual flood notices from carriers

Sandy clearly demonstrated that even geographical regions not usually associated with floods can be besieged by flood waters. In recognition of this fact, nearly 95 percent of all communities in New York state have qualified to participate in the NFIP, making homeowners residing in these participating communities eligible to purchase federal flood insurance. In 2008, PIANY supported a law requiring every insurer to provide an annual notice, prescribed or approved by the DFS superintendent, to all homeowner and dwelling fire insureds explaining the limitations of such coverage and the importance of flood insurance. The notice also must include information regarding flood insurance eligibility and access, and must be worded in a manner that does not alarm insureds or entice them into purchasing unnecessary coverage.   More…

PIANY Government and Regulatory Committee meets, sets priorities

This week, your board of directors met at PIA headquarters in Glenmont to tackle a number of issues of interest to professional, independent agents and brokers. The Government and Regulatory Issues Committee discussed many issues related to Sandy, including the need to continue working toward the standardization of hurricane deductible triggers (continuing an effort started years ago by PIANY and reiterated to the DFS as recently as last year) as well as priorities for the 2013 legislative session (such as certificates of insurance, health insurance exchanges, labor law and tort reform). The committee also discussed the need for agents and brokers to have access to disaster sites to assist with claims filing, and plans to create and introduce proposals to the DFS on the subject. Finally, the committee discussed outstanding issues in the CMAP program and changes that could make it more responsive to the needs of agents and insureds. Share your thoughts and suggestions about these issues and more at   

DFS proposes changes to export list

The DFS has proposed the Thirteenth Amendment to 11 NYCRR 27 (Excess Line Insurance Regulation 41), which includes the additional of the following risks to the export list: Asbestos, Fungi and Water Damage Remediation and Removal—Liability and Property Damage; High Value Builders Risk Insurance; Elevator Service and Maintenance Contractors—Liability and Property Damage; High Value Excess Professional/Errors & Omissions Liability—All Classes; Excess Salary Protection (Disability) Insurance; Large Law Firm Lawyers’ Professional Liability Insurance; and Primary and/or Excess "Liability" Insurance for vacant or unoccupied Buildings. Public comments on the proposal will be received up to 45 days following the publishing date of Nov. 7, 2012, and should be directed to: Hoda Nairooz, Department of Financial Services, 25 Beaver St., New York, NY 10004, or Also, the DFS has adopted the Fourth Amendment to 11 NYCRR 16 (Special Risk Insurance Regulation 86).   

PIANY administration takes active role in PIA National

PIA members from New York state 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, gets into full swing, PIANY National Director D. Scott Liebert, CIC, will serve on key committees, focusing on the needs of PIA members both here at home and throughout the country. Liebert serves on the Government Affairs Committee and the Business Issues Committee. PIANY past President Donna Chiapperino, CIC, serves on the Governing Board of the PIA Insurance Foundation. PIANY Executive Director Diane Fowler serves on the PIA Membership Committee and on the Affiliate Relations Committee. PIANY Government and Industry Affairs staff participates regularly in all conference call meetings of the Business Issues and Government Affairs committees.  

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 PIANY at (800) 424-4244.    

PIA sales training Webinars continue Nov. 29, parts one and two available On Demand

Take advantage of PIA sales training programs—a great focus for your next agency sales meeting. PIA’s brand-new Sales Opportunities Series is a PIA Webinar program instructed by John Fear, CPIA, owner of Premier Business Consulting. The courses conclude with Don’t Ask, Don’t Sell on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012. Listen to what attendees are saying about the SOS: "John's ability to transform an organization, whether that be a service operation, company sales force, agency or broker is remarkable." "At the end of our sessions our employees ’get it’ and are better prepared to serve our clients’ needs." For more information, or to register, click here. If you missed the first two parts of the series, Renewals—The Second Chance Sale and Selling Value in a Price-Driven Market are available via PIA Webinars On Demand here.   

NY-YIP Monday Night Football event offers networking, charity

Join the New York Young Insurance Professionals Monday, Dec. 3, 2012, for the Monday Night Football Pregame Reception. Network with friends and colleagues at Kodiak’s Restaurant in Farmingdale before the New York Giants battle the Washington Redskins in an NFC East division game. This holiday season, NY-YIP will be teaming up with Jocelyn’s Operation Holiday Spirit to raise money to buy gifts for families in need for the holidays. Monetary donations will be accepted. Please make checks payable to NY-YIP and a donation will be made in your name. For more information, or to register, click here.  

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 PIANY. PIA members also may access a QuickSource document written by Michael Jans, by logging on to the PIANY 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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