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State Assembly committee reports PIANJ-supported duty-of-care bill

Trenton, N.J.—The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey is applauding the state Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee for its progress forwarding A-5198, a bill sponsored by Committee Chair Craig J. Coughlin, D-19, which would address and clarify insurance producer duty-of-care requirements. The bill was reported out of committee with a 9-0 vote (with one abstention) yesterday. It now moves to the full Assembly.

PIANJ President Kacy Campion Renna, CIC, accompanied by five PIANJ past presidents: Louis Beckerman, CIC, CPCU; Donna M. Cunningham, CPIA; John A. Latimer, Esq.; Stephen P. Tague, CPIA; and William R. Vowteras, CPIA; and PIANJ Legislative Representative Carol Katz, attended the committee meeting to support the bill, Nov. 30. PIANJ provided oral and written testimony.  

"Unlike many other states, New Jersey statute is unclear about the duty-of-care required of insurance producers and has left the question to be resolved by case law. The result is that New Jersey is an outlier in this arena," said Campion Renna. "PIANJ supports legislation to clarify that insurance producers are fully liable for negligent actions, but that they are not subject to civil liability under standards governing the conduct of a fiduciary or a fiduciary relationship."

According to PIANJ, the legislation also will strengthen the existing "affidavit of merit" statute that in theory makes sure that lawsuits must have some merit before proceeding, but which in practice often falls short of that goal.

"PIANJ commends Assemblyman Coughlin for sponsoring this bill and the Assembly committee for recognizing the need to clarify the state’s duty-of-care requirements," said Campion Renna. "We encourage the rest of the Assembly to support this bill, which will help professional, independent insurance agents to continue to provide the products and services upon which their clients depend."

PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout New Jersey.

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