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  Sept. 24, 2013

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—and you can save with package pricing. For more information or to register, click here.   

Health-care certification concerns

Since many individuals (including PIANJ members) have been trying to complete Part 2 of the Federally Facilitated Marketplace Training, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noticed users having technical difficulties and issues confirming their initial registrations to completion of Part 1. CMS has released an instructional guide and an FAQ to assist registrants. This, and much more health-care information, can be found in PIANJ’s Health Insurance Tool Kit.   

Health update: Employer notices required before Oct. 1

For you as an employer, and so you can assist your commercial-lines clients, PIA offers members answers to the many questions about the new requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including what notification employers are required to send their employees about the new changes. Find this information in PIA’s new  Health Insurance Tool Kit, you will find this information and more regarding health-related issues affecting you and your clients. To see what is required by employers before Oct. 1, click here. NAIC offers guide to help consumers understand health insurance exchange. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has created a guide to help consumers understand the exchange and explain how it can help them find affordable coverage. For more information, click here.   

New Sandy legislation introduced in the Assembly

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, D-15, introduced A-4382 in the Assembly last Friday. The bill would create private cause of action for policyholders when an insurance company has operated in "bad faith" during the attempted settlement of insurance claims arising out of a declared disaster. The bill would allow an insured to file an action for any violation of state provisions regarding unfair claim settlement practices, regardless of whether the insured can establish that the violation occurred with enough frequency to indicate a general business practice on the part of the insurer. More…  

Sandy complaints lead to enforcement actions against adjusters

Based on complaints by consumers, the Department of Banking and Insurance has been issuing fines to mainly out-of-state public adjusters who came to New Jersey after Storm Sandy to represent home and business owners in their negotiations with insurance carriers. To date, the DOBI has not issued a fine to an insurance carrier or its employees. More…  

Federal court upholds strict compliance as necessary for flood insurance claim payment

The U.S. Court Of Appeals for the First Circuit, which oversees the Districts of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Rhode Island, issued a ruling in DeCosta v. Allstate requiring strict compliance with National Flood Insurance Program proof-of-loss rules. The court overturned a lower court ruling that allowed the plaintiff, DeCosta, to recover additional losses even though he did not fully comply with the Standard Flood Insurance Policy requirements. DeCosta attached an unsigned, unsworn copy of an adjuster’s estimate instead of the signed, sworn documentation required by federal regulation. The court’s decision was based partly on the special relationship between the NFIP and the federal government as the payor of claims. What it means to agents. If the government’s funds are used to pay claims, the NFIP proof-of-loss requirement must be strictly construed. A contract of insurance written by a U.S. government agency using the same words as a policy written by a private insurance company, will be dealt with differently. Agents and their clients must pay close attention to the special requirements of the SFIP, requirements not found in other policies.  

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October 2013 edition of the NFIP Manual now online

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has published the October 2013 edition of the National Flood Insurance Program Manual. Be sure to review the important changes occurring Oct. 1, 2013, particularly, those that implement the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012. More…  

Last chance to help PIA by taking short surveys

Your association is asking you to take two quick surveys that will end on Monday—it will take only two minutes to complete both. To help members plan for the future of their professional, independent insurance agencies, PIANJ is asking its members to complete a short, eight-question Legacy Survey. The survey will help PIA understand the resources agencies need with regard to their own perpetuation planning and the tools they need to attract younger professionals into internships. Please take the survey today.   

PIA’s two-minute survey on PIA education programs

PIANJ’s latest two-minute survey on hot topics in the insurance industry focuses on PIANJ’s top-quality education programs. This month’s question: What education programs are you most interested in attending? Technical personal lines | Technical commercial lines | Sales | Management | Professional designations   

Ask PIA: Discontinued operations—gone out of business

Q. When contractors go out of business, we recommend they buy "discontinued operations liability coverage" (i.e., for products completed operations exposures going forward). My question is, if contractors are incorporated and dissolve the corporation, how free from liability are they? Can’t they still be sued if a deck they built collapses and hurts someone? If the corporation is dissolved, can’t the individual officers of the old corporation still be sued? Should we still quote coverage for this potential liability? A. The only way the officers can be held individually responsible would be if the corporate veil were to be pierced. For a comprehensive answer to this question, click here. To access our entire Ask PIA library of frequently asked questions and expert answers by PIA’s technical staff, click here.  

Getting ready for annual performance appraisals?

During this time of year, many businesses conduct annual employee performance reviews and/or update/create job descriptions for their agency employees. PIA’s HR Info Central offers the tools you need, from sample job descriptions right down to performance appraisal tools including a sample meeting checklist, self-evaluation form to goal-setting forms. Don’t go it alone—check out these handy tools that will, hopefully, make this task a bit easier. Designed specifically for the HR manager in your agency, PIA HR Info Central offers access to a wealth of tools, including: information to assist you in developing your agency personnel manual; an HR administrator’s guide; common forms; information on federal and state labor laws; and much more.   

HR legal information available through PIA’s Industry Resource Center

PIA partnered with the nationally renowned law firm of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP to offer informational/consultative services to our association members through PIA’s Industry Resource Center. So, the next time you’re not sure about a specific human resources issue and need help, contact PIA’s Industry Resource Center by: phone: (800) 424-4244; fax: (888) 225-6935; or email: Through the PIA Industry Resource Center, members can have their HR concerns addressed by our in-house legal staff or be referred to Wilson Elser for up to 30 minutes of free consultation.  

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Do you need workers’ compensation for your artisan insureds? 

PIA’s NumberONE Comp Program—an exclusive PIANJ member benefit—offers workers’ compensation coverage for many contractor classes of business based on underwriting guidelines. Our simplified submission process makes it easy for you to earn commission while placing your insureds with trusted carriers. For more information, call (800) 424-4244, ext. 850.   

PIANJ’s 30th Annual Golf Classic

Come out and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the PIANJ Golf Classic! We are returning to Cherry Valley Country Club Monday, Sept. 30, 2013, and we’ve kept the same low price while maintaining the exceptional amenities that have made this a signature event for 30 years. All the proceeds from the event will provide support to Special Olympics New Jersey programs that serve thousands of New Jersey children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Event includes 18 holes of golf with cart, lunch buffet, course refreshments and cocktail reception, specialty contests and prizes, a silent auction, a chance raffle, a golfer’s dream raffle, professional photos of your foursome and more. For more information, contact Lauren Bunce at or call (800) 424-4244.  

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 of 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. The next course will be held Monday, Oct. 7, 2013. For more information, or to register, click here.  

PIANJ offers Agency Management Series

When a business is able to develop a strategic plan and then establish tactical operational components aligned with that plan, its chances for long-term success increase exponentially. The ability to communicate those plans to agency staff and then provide timely feedback on day-to-day results will establish those behaviors as a part of the agency’s culture. During PIANJ’s Agency Management Series, some of the most effective methods in developing a strategic plan to meet an agency’s goals will be discussed. Join PIA for Part 3: Reporting Agency Results will be held Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013; and Part 4: Compensation Planning will be held Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. Each class is $25 for PIA members; $50 for nonmembers. PIA members can attend all four Webinars for $80. These courses will be instructed by John Fear, CPIA, CISR, CPSR. Call PIA at (800) 424-4244 for details. For more information, or to register, click here.   

Cell-phone safety consumer flier available through PIANJ

Many states have passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones while driving. New Jersey prohibits the use of cell phones while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway. PIANJ created a consumer flier (Cell phone safety—driving home the importance) to help you educate your clients about the importance of cell-phone safety. This consumer flier can be emailed, tweeted, posted on your website or Facebook page or photocopied on your letterhead. To access the flier, log on to the PIANJ website and click "Agency Marketing Tool Kit" under "Tool kits." Once in the tool kit, click "Consumer fliers," under "Tools and Materials."  

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