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PIANH 2014 legislative wrap-up

By Colleen K. Byrnes, CPIA, CISR

Below is a review of the legislative bills PIANH monitored and the actions PIANH has taken on members’ behalf during the 2014 legislative session.

Valid homeowners claims and nonrenewals. PIANH supported H.B.1111, known as the valid claim bill, which protects insureds from cancellation of their homeowners policy simply because they made inquiries about their coverage. PIANH suggested an amendment be added which states that the term ‘inquiry’ include any claim that is closed without payment to the insured by the insurer. The amendment also extends to situations where a claim is made but the covered loss does not exceed the amount of the deductible on the policy. The bill passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor.

Flood coverage notification. H.B.1193 requires every insurer issuing a homeowners, condo, residential tenant or residential fire policy which does not have coverage for damages caused by a flood, to notify the policyholder of such and inform the insured how to obtain flood insurance at the time the policy is issued or renewed. The bill passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor.

Notice of cancellations. PIANH objected to amendments in H.B.0227 that would have allowed insurers to forego sending notices of cancellation to insureds when a renewal policy had been issued, but the renewal premium had not been paid. The bill, without the objected amendment, passed both houses and was signed into law by the governor.

Agent appointments. This 2013 bill (S.B.70) was aimed to streamline the insurance producer appointment process by allowing insurers to appoint a business entity (agency) as its agent instead of an individual agent. PIANH’s position continues to be that this paperwork requirement would only serve to complicate the appointment process, the opposite of the desired effect of the legislation. While the bill died in 2013, PIANH continued in 2014 to discuss several ways in which the New Hampshire Insurance Department and PIANH could work together to alleviate concerns and streamline the appointment process.

Anti-rebating. PIA opposed the original form of H.B.1177, known as the raffle bill, but suggested an amendment that would allow raising or eliminating the cap on contests, sweepstakes, raffles or drawings if it were done so in a way that was uniform and universal. The bill signed into law excludes insurer-sponsored raffles from the New Hampshire rebating laws. Producers remain restricted to the $1,000 cap. PIANH met with the NHID to address concerns and will continue to work to ensure the best interests of the independent agent are protected.

Insurance exchange navigator licensing. H.B.1328 required navigators for the health insurance exchange to be licensed by the NHID before they can assist consumers. Under the bill, any application for a navigator’s license would be required to submit a criminal records release form to the Department of Safety, as well as a complete set of fingerprints. In addition, in order to qualify for the license, a person must provide, among other things, a financial statement that demonstrates the financial condition of the applicant. The bill remained in the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs committee.

Ride hailing. PIANH monitored the ride-hailing trend and conducted a PIA Two-Minute Survey in September to assess members’ concerns about the issue. From the survey, it would appear that agents are taking a cautious approach because few insureds have contacted their agents to report a claim involving ride hailing.

Producer signature bill. S.B.292 amends state law to remove most property/casualty policies from a requirement that an application include a written or electronic signature from the applicant and producer. The requirement still applies to workers’ compensation policies, as well as life, accident and health insurance policies. Despite this change in the law, an insured’s signature is important and holds the insured accountable. PIA recommends requiring the customer to review any applications and policies, and sign them in approval. The bill was signed by the governor.

Distracted driving. H.B.1360 makes illegal the use of handheld electronic devices while driving, including talking, texting and emailing on a cell phone, as well as programming GPS navigation systems. The law does permit a person to use those devices when pulled off a roadway, but prohibits their use while stopped temporarily. The bill was signed into law, but this law will not go into effect until July 1, 2015.

Tractor insurance coverage. H.B.1546 exempts tractors with farm-tractor registrations from the motor vehicle liability requirements. It also provides that the minimum coverage requirements shall not apply to any tractor with a farm-tractor registration if an insured, at the insured’s election, purchases a liability policy other than a motor vehicle policy to cover the tractor. The bill was signed by the governor.

Noncompete agreements. S.B.351 mandates that any employer that requires an employee not previously employed by the employer to execute a noncompete agreement as a condition of employment must provide a copy of the agreement to the potential employee prior to the employee’s acceptance of an offer of employment. Any noncompete agreement that has not been disclosed to an employee would not be enforceable against the employee. The bill was signed into law. 7/14


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