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PIANH 2017 legislative wrap-up

By Bradford J. Lachut, Esq.

New Hampshire’s 2017 legislative session has concluded. PIANH worked diligently during the session to ensure that the best interests of our association members and their clients were represented throughout the legislative process. Notable legislation included:

  • H.B.150 which would make technical changes to the law governing property and casualty. While the new law makes many changes to the existing property and casualty law, the most notable change is a provision that would prohibit a liability policy issued with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in New Hampshire that insures against personal risk from containing any exclusion which would preclude coverage for intra-family or inter-spousal claims. Among the other changes, the new law would make including extending the waiting period for policy forms, endorsements and other contract language to become effective to 60 days and opening filings for public inspection on or after the date that the filing is approved or the effective date, whichever is later. The law will go into effect on Aug. 1, 2017.

  • H.B.194 will permit employers to pay wages to employees weekly or biweekly. Under current law, employers are required to pay wages to employees within eight days after expiration of the week in which the work is performed. As such, employers must play employees on a weekly schedule or risk violating the law. H.B.194 would amend the law to allow for payment of wages at regular intervals not to exceed 14 days. This grants business flexibility in deciding whether to compensate employees on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. In addition, this bill would allow employers to submit a written petition to the commissioner of labor requesting that payment of wages be made on a schedule other than weekly or biweekly, as long as the alternate schedule is at least once a month. PIA supported this measure, as it does any measure, aimed at granting small business owners more flexibility in running their businesses.

  • H.B.78 would have, among other things, substantially increased fines for issuing a false certificate of insurance. It was determined to be inexpedient to legislate and was killed in the House.  The bill would have increased the penalties for violating RSA 412: Regulation of Forms and Rates for Property and Casualty Insurance. While most of the provisions of this section of the Insurance Law involve insurer actions such as the filings of rates and forms, RSA 412 also contains provisions making it illegal to issue or demand or require the issuance of a certificate of insurance from an insurer, insurance producer or policyholder that contains any false or misleading information concerning any policy of insurance to which the certificate makes reference. Currently, a person is subject to a fine of not less than $500 or more than $10,000 for each violation, but if the violation is found to be willful, a penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $25,000 may be imposed for each violation. H.B.78 would have substantially increased those fines to not less than $10,000 or more than $40,000 for each violation, and not less than $30,000 or more than $75,000 if the violation is willful.

  • H.B.314 would have established equipment requirements and operating restrictions for autonomous vehicles. It was retained in committee on Feb. 1. This will allow the House Transportation Committee to consider the bill for up to 10 months prior to reporting their opinion to the full House of Representatives. The bill would allow manufacturers of autonomous vehicles to operate the vehicles on New Hampshire roadways for the purposes of testing the technology. The vehicle must comply with all federal standards and regulations applicable to motor vehicles; have a means to engage and disengage the autonomous technology which is easily accessible to the operator; have a means, inside the vehicle, to visually indicate when the vehicle is operating in autonomous mode; have a means to alert the operator of the vehicle if a technology failure affecting the ability of the vehicle to safely operate autonomously is detected while the vehicle is operating autonomously in order to indicate to the operator to take control of the vehicle; and be capable of being operated in compliance with the uniform rules of the road of New Hampshire. The bill is silent as to any insurance requirements, absent a provision requiring manufacturers of the technology to provide proof of a $5 million surety bond or liability insurance policy prior to testing.

  • S.B.39 which would have changed the rules for cancellation of an auto policy was determined to be inexpedient to legislate and killed by the Senate Commerce Committee. Under the bill, an auto policy could be canceled by a carrier if the carrier had determined that the insured has falsely attested to the New Hampshire residency form at the time such policy was issued or renewed; or the insured did not meet the definition of resident adopted by the commissioner. This would have replaced the current rule that allows a carrier to cancel a policy for failure to sign the New Hampshire residency form as a valid reason for cancellation. 7/17


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