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  Feb. 07, 2013

PIA’s Winter Storm Info Central available to help agencies prepare for snowstorm

As the Northeast braces for what some are reporting as potentially one of the worst blizzards in memory, PIA has placed its Winter Storm Info Central tool kit prominently on the PIANY website for your easy access and use. Click here to review PIA's Storm Info Central before the storm, as it includes state-specific insurance department information; consumer materials for your agency to use in pre- and post-storm communication with your insureds and relevant information in the form of QuickSource documents and AskPIAs on business and personal coverages for topics such as: snowplowing; business interruption; loss of use; other homeowners policy information agents and their clients may need to access. Members who have prepared by using PIA’s Agency Preparedness and Recovery Plan may want to review their customized document in preparation for the storm as well. Contact PIA's Industry Resource Center at, or use the Ask PIA button on the PIA home page at for additional questions. Your PIA staff is working on your behalf to help you be prepared and wishes you a warm and safe weekend.  

NYPIUA answers questions from PIANY leaders

After a series of successful discussions and communications between NYPIUA and PIANY leaders, PIANY has crafted a frequently asked questions document that expands on the NYPIUA Producer News bulletin on the temporary easing of underwriting guidelines. With the DFS moratorium regarding suspension of certain insurance and banking law provisions set to expire soon, PIANY leaders enjoined NYPIUA for a broader understanding of their bulletin. What resulted from those discussions is an in-depth FAQ designed to assist PIANY members in placing business with NYPIUA and what to expect in terms as to their easing of the guidelines.   

N.Y. Senate task force on Sandy releases preliminary report

The New York State Senate Bipartisan Task Force on Sandy recovery released its preliminary report and recommendations on Sandy relief and storm planning. The preliminary report and recommendations come after task force members toured storm-damaged communities across the New York City Metro Area, including Freeport, Island Park, Oceanside, The Rockaways, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Hudson Valley. PIANY past President Jeffrey H. Greenfield previously testified at a Senate hearing on Sandy relief and recovery. For more information, click here. To view the report, click here.  

PIANY issues FAQ on DFS moratorium

With the multiple moratorium notices issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services after Sandy that prohibited the termination, cancellation or nonrenewal of any "covered policy," PIANY assembled and continues to update its FAQ document on the moratorium to assist members. To view it, click here.  

New York City plans for Sandy aid to include home-repair grants, tech contest

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the city plans to spend its initial allocation of $1.77 billion in Community Development Block Grants to address the most urgent housing, business and infrastructure needs in the neighborhoods hardest hit by Sandy through eight new programs. The new programs fall into three categories of immediate need: housing recovery, business recovery and infrastructure resiliency.  More…

Cuomo seeking home buyouts in flood zones

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing to spend as much as $400 million to purchase homes wrecked by Sandy, have them demolished and then preserve the flood-prone land permanently, as undeveloped coastline. The purchase program, which still requires approval from federal officials, would be among the most ambitious ever undertaken, not only in scale but also in how Cuomo would be using the money to begin reshaping coastal land use. Residents living in flood plains with homes that were significantly damaged would be offered the pre-storm value of their houses to relocate; those in even more vulnerable areas would be offered a bonus to sell; and in a small number of highly flood-prone areas, the state would double the bonus if an entire block of homeowners agreed to leave.   More…

New York City announces $15 million mold cleanup program

New York City is launching a $15 million program to clean up at least 2,000 homes contaminated with mold because of flooding during Sandy. Storm victims enrolled in the program will be able to get their homes scrubbed of mold for free by private contractors. Money for the project is being put up by three charities: The American Red Cross, the Robin Hood Foundation and the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City. No federal, state or city tax dollars are involved. The work is being overseen by a nonprofit development company.  

PIANY participates in legislative conference

PIANY’s Director of Government and Industry Affairs Matthew F. Guilbault, Esq., represented your association at the Downstate Legislative Conference at the Chateau Briand in Carle Place, New York City, yesterday. The panel discussion was moderated by Steve Acunto of the Insurance Advocate, and panelists fielded questions on issues ranging from workers’ compensation proposals in the Executive Budget, to the problems associated with certificate of insurance requests, to legislative and regulatory proposals expected to arise post-Sandy, to labor law reform proposals. All participants agreed that post-Sandy legislative and regulatory actions must be tempered to avoid unnecessary negative impacts upon the coastal marketplace and to preserve accessibility and affordability of coverages. PIANY continues to raise awareness of these and other issues impacting members and their clients. To view PIANY's 2013 legislative agenda, click here.  

PIWA member wholesalers announce coastal market property availability

JoAnn Peri, president of the Professional Insurance Wholesalers Association of New York, has reminded New York insurance producers that the state’s wholesalers can provide an alternative market for hard-to-place risks, including those in coastal areas of the state affected by Storm Sandy. "New York's wholesalers offer access to nonadmitted markets, which offer coverage that may not be available elsewhere for certain risks affected by Storm Sandy," said Peri. PIANY members may obtain a list of PIWA member wholesalers and the types of risks for which they have markets, through PIA's MarketBase Program.   More…

Scaffold Law Reform Day in Albany on Feb. 12

PIANY invites its members and all interested parties to join insurance agents and carriers, farmers, construction and small business groups on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at the Capitol in Albany to talk Scaffold Law reform with lawmakers from across the state. The day is being organized by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance, of which PIANY is a member and supporter. The effort will be focused toward state Senate action on S.111 to reform New York's Scaffold Law and S.6816/A.2835 would hold workers liable for their fair share of fault when they act negligently; refuse to use safety devices or are impaired by drugs or alcohol. New York's Scaffold Law holds property owners and the contractors they hire automatically liable for all workplace injuries, even if the worker was grossly negligent or intoxicated. PIANY has long fought for this reform. Attendees may register for the event here. Interested parties may send letters of support here.   

PIANY legislative hot lists

Want to see the status of an important bill? Think PIA first. Select PIANY Priority Bills for bill status. Select Recent Actions for any movement in the past week affecting any bill PIANY is tracking. More information, including summaries and bill texts, can be viewed by typing the bill number in the Assembly or Senate bill search sites.   

ELANY reminds brokers to file

In its Bulletin No. 2013-07, the Excess Line Association of New York reminds all licensed excess line brokers that they must electronically file a tax return (Premium Tax Statement) on or before March 15, 2013, even if NO business was placed under that license. New York and a number of other states assess up to a $500 penalty if you fail to file.  

NYCIRB releases 2012 Annual Report

The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has placed its 2012 Annual Report online. Some highlights in this report include: the post-2007 reforms indemnity/medical split is now 55/45 percent (as opposed to the prior 60/40 percent); the 2011 combined ratio greatly improved over 2010, but is still above 100 percent; the NYSIF market share has gradually decreased since 2008; there is a significant dispersion of loss cost multipliers around the 1.27 average; routine classification inspections resulted in 9.8 changes; test inspections resulted in 15.2 changes; the 2012 audit error ratio was 37.1 percent (54.6 percent payroll, 26.2 percent classification, 19.2 percent other), but the net change in premium for these audit revisions was a premium increase of 1.2 percent; 2012 CPAP applications dropped 11 percent; and there are 374 member insurance carriers in the NYCIRB.  

Court keeps insurers' late notice defense alive despite 2008 law

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote held in mid-January that Value Waterproofing Inc.'s delay in notifying Atlantic Casualty Insurance Co. about the roof collapse was serious enough to bar coverage for an underlying lawsuit blaming its repair work in Atlantic Casualty Insurance Co. v. Value Waterproofing Inc., 2013 WL 152854 (S.D.N.Y., 2013). In its decision, the Southern District Court of New York held that a commercial general liability insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify its insured where the insured had failed to provide timely notification of a claim. This appears to be the first decision to address New York Insurance Law Section 3420(a)(5), which provides that an insurer cannot deny coverage on late notice grounds unless it demonstrates direct prejudice.   More…

Article explains where Sandy aid will be spent

An article written by the Associated Press examines how the money passed in the Sandy aid, which recently was signed into law by President Barack Obama, will be spent. According to the article, the largest portion of funds—$16 billion—will go toward "Housing and Urban Development Department community development block grants. Of that, about $12.1 billion will be shared among Sandy victims as well as those from other federally declared disasters in 2011-13. The remaining $3.9 billion is solely for Sandy-related projects."  

Upcoming Webinars to focus on storm preparedness

PIA has prepared a series of CE Webinars to focus on these and other disaster-related issues, presented by nationally recognized flood and agency management expert Rita Hollada, CIC, CPCU, CPIA. Each Webinar is appropriate for agency management, as well as agency sales and service personnel. Lessons Learned from a Superstorm, Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (NYCE: 3 BR, C3, PA, PC) will focus on insurance issues and coverage concerns. The program will detail coverages, limitations and exclusions in property and flood insurance policies; it will discuss the ongoing challenges our industry will face as the result of this storm; and will address reconstruction concerns and new flood elevation standards. Avoiding E&O in Writing Flood Insurance^FF^UM, Tuesday, March 5, 2013, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (NYCE: TBD). This course will review the NFIP rules and procedures of concern to agents and policyholders; explore common causes of E&O claims against agents for failure to advise the insured of unique definitions, limited scope of coverage as well as alternative coverages; and enumerate practices to prevent E&O situations at the agency level. Real-life claim scenarios will be reviewed. ^FF^UM—This course has been approved for E&O loss-prevention credit for Fireman’s Fund and Utica Mutual. Disaster Planning: Preparation for the Next Disaster,Tuesday, March 19, 2013. (NYCE: TBD). This course will focus on ways you and your agency can be better prepared for any future disasters—natural or man-made. This program will help you to develop a plan to mitigate damage to your home, your agency and your community; and ensure that your agency is able to operate effectively without power, phone service, Internet connection or even access to your agency building. PIA’s Disaster Planning Manual and other resources will be reviewed. For more information, or to register, click here.   

U.S. Labor Department marks 20th anniversary of FMLA

The U.S. Department of Labor marked the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Family and Medical Leave Act by issuing a final rule implementing two important expansions of FMLA protections. The first expansion provides families of eligible veterans with the same job-protected FMLA leave currently available to families of military service members and it also enables more military families to take leave for activities that arise when a service member is deployed. The second expansion modifies existing rules so that airline personnel and flight crews are better able to make use of the FMLA’s protections. More… PIANY has a number of resources to help you understand the FMLA, including the following QuickSource Document QS90400Family Medical Leave Act.  

January ACORD forms update

In the latest ACORD forms update, a new countrywide form ACORD 821, Producer Information Form, is introduced as a standard form used to initiate the relationship between the life, annuity, health and/or property/casualty producer and the carrier. This form is to be completed by a producer and then sent to the new carrier. Some sections on this form may not be applicable to some carriers, therefore, producers may need to contact the carrier to verify the appropriate sections to complete. This and other ACORD forms are now directly available under the ACORD Advantage Program. If you already are registered for the ACORD website, enter your username and password here.   

Fourth-quarter reports

The Chubb Corp. reported net income in the fourth quarter of 2012 of $102 million or $0.38 per share, compared to $452 million or $1.60 per share in the fourth quarter of 2011.According to Chubb’s fourth-quarter 2012 results, earnings call transcript, Dino E. Robusto, president of personal lines said: "Post Sandy, we plan to file for rate increases up to the low teens in some areas of the Northeast."  

More fourth-quarter reports

The Hartford reported a net loss of $46 million, or $0.13 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2012, compared with net income of $118 million, or $0.23 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2011. More… For the fourth quarter, Selective reported its net income per diluted share was $0.02 and operating loss was $0.04. Net income for the year was $0.68 per diluted share and operating income was $0.58 per diluted share. Overall net premiums written grew 5 percent in the quarter and retention was up a point to 85 percent.  

Marsh: Further firming expected in U.S. commercial insurance market in 2013

U.S. commercial insurance rates are expected to continue firming in many lines of business and industry sectors in 2013 as above-average losses, subdued investment returns and receding reserve releases impact insurers, according to a comprehensive report published by Marsh. However, traditional signs of a conventional hard market are not evident as price increases are not uniform, capacity is plentiful and competition among insurers remains intense, Marsh said in its U.S. Insurance Market Report 2013. More…  

Company rating news

A.M. Best Co. has revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the financial strength rating of "A" (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings of "a" of the insurance operating subsidiaries of American Safety Insurance Holdings Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda), which includes: American Safety Casualty Insurance Co., American Safety Indemnity Co. (both domiciled in Oklahoma City, Ok.), American Safety Reinsurance Ltd. (Hamilton, Bermuda) and its affiliate, American Safety Risk Retention Group Inc. (Burlington, Vt.). Concurrently, A.M. Best has revised the outlook to negative from stable and affirmed the issuer credit rating of "bbb" of ASI. According to A.M. Best, "The ratings are based on the consolidated financial condition and operating performance of ASRE and its three U.S. domestic subsidiaries and affiliate (entities), with each one receiving significant quota share reinsurance support from ASRE." More…  

Webinar: Construction Insurance Requirements (Not Really the Same Old Thing)

The days are over when a producer could routinely crank out contractor risk policies without a highly sophisticated service support team. The stakes are high for owners, developers and general contractors, and their demands for coverage certainty have increased accordingly. Join PIA Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, for an opportunity to advance the knowledge of your staff in addressing the specialized insurance needs of contractors. The landscape of contractor insurance changes so rapidly, you can’t afford to let a learning opportunity like this escape when it is offered so conveniently in this venue. This Webinar will bring you up to date on contract indemnification, primary and noncontributory coverage, vertical vs. horizontal limits exhaustion, subrogation and recent case law. Don’t let your competitors get ahead of you on these important updates. This Webinar is sponsored by Lawley. No tests need to be taken for Webinar classes. Earn NYCE credit: 1 BR, C3, PA, PC. For more information, or to register, click here, or call PIA at (800) 424-4244.  

Register now for upcoming NY-YIP events

On Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, the New York Young Insurance Professionals presents a Night at the Theater at John W. Engeman Theater in Northport, N.Y. Tickets include a reception with lite fare, cash bar and the show "Wait Until Dark." A reception will start at 6 p.m., with the show beginning at 8 p.m. For tickets, please call the theater directly at (631) 261-2900 and tell them you are with the NY-YIP party. On Thursday, March 7, 2013, the 2013 Winter Reception will take place in Utica. Network with some of the best and brightest young professionals and take a tour of the nation’s oldest brewery. For more information, or to register, please click here. On Monday, April 15, 2013, come network with NY-YIP in the heart of New York’s capital city. The 2013 Spring Reception takes place from 5:30-8 p.m., at Blue 82 in Albany. For more information, or to register for this event, click here.   

Unlicensed CSRs: What exactly can they do?

This is a common question of agency owners and managers. It is not their title that dictates what they can and cannot do, but the particular activities these individuals do within the agency. For a comprehensive list of authorized and unauthorized activities, be sure to review PIA QuickSource document No. QS31274, by logging on to the PIANY website and typing QS31274 in the Google-facilitated search box, or fax a request to PIANY’s Industry Resource Center at (888) 225-6935. After reviewing this information, if you decide that licensing your CSRs is the way to go, PIA’s Licensing/CE Compliance Central offers you the information you need to get started.  

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