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August 2021

Safeco Insurance expands to New Jersey

Safeco Insurance announced last week that it has expanded to New Jersey, where Safeco auto and umbrella products now are available. This initial availability of auto and umbrella will pave the way for the future roll-out of the full suite of Safeco products, including home and renters coverage. The New Jersey launch comes amid a broader Northeast expansion, which most recently included an expansion to Rhode Island. Now, Safeco is available in 48 states—the Northeast states of which are led by Senior Vice President & Regional Field Executive Carl Canales. Safeco is a Liberty Mutual Insurance company, and its products are sold through a network of independent agents.

April 2020

Travelers provides financial assistance to producers

The Travelers Companies Inc. announced that it will accelerate commission payments to eligible agents and brokers to help them address the liquidity impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. In total, Travelers is accelerating more than $100 million to its distribution partners. PIANJ applauds Travelers for accelerating commission payments to producers, and the association encourages all carriers to take similar measures.

February 2020

Nationwide teams up with Toyota, offers telematics-based insurance

Nationwide has announced a partnership with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions to launch a new telematics-powered insurance solution that will lead to more savings for customers. The two companies are launching TIMS BrightDrive, an insurance program that uses driving data collected from participating connected vehicles to offer customers a discount based on their driving behavior. Toyota customers with connected vehicles who purchase an auto insurance policy with Nationwide can opt into the program—when they do, they automatically receive an initial 10% SmartDrive participation discount. Participants in the program can earn another discount—as much as 40%—if they stay with the program as it collects 90 days' worth of driving data.

January 2020

Syncora Holdings sets shareholder meeting

Syncora Holdings Ltd. held a special shareholders meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. At the meeting, Syncora Holdings plans toobtain approval for Syncora Guarantee Inc.’s liquidation plan. Syncora Guarantee Inc.—domiciled in New York state—is licensed in the District of Columbia and all states except Alaska, Ohio and Tennessee.

November 2019

Carrier cuts agent commissions

Allstate has announced that it is cutting costs, trimming the commission agents get paid when customers renew their policies. Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, the company will slice the percentage it pays agents for renewing customers to 9% of their premiums, from the 10% they have been getting. Additionally, Allstate will increase commissions for agents who attract new customers, so long as that new business is above an as-yet-unspecified baseline. Otherwise, agents’ compensation simply will be reduced.

October 2019

AmTrust announces withdrawal from N.Y. disability marketplace

Last week, AmTrust announced that it will no longer be writing any new statutory disability business in the New York market. According to a statement, AmTrust ceased writing statutory disability on Oct. 25, 2019. However, the company will continue to write all other lines of business, including New Jersey temporary disability policies and New York paid family leave stand-alone policies. Producers should expect to receive notification from the company as well as a letter from ShelterPoint Life Insurance Co., offering to replace their clients’ DBL/PFL policy.

James River Group to cancel auto insurance for Uber affiliate Rasier

James River Group Holdings Ltd., announced that it delivered a notice of early cancellation, effective Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, of all insurance policies issued to its largest customer—Rasier LLC and its affiliates. All insurance policies related to this customer are included in the company’s commercial auto line of business within its excess and surplus lines segment, and a majority of the insurance policies were due to expire Feb. 29, 2020. What this means for your clients who operate as Uber drivers: Under the law, either the transportation network company or the driver must maintain insurance for ride-hailing activities. The law also allows personal auto insurers to exclude coverage for ride hailing. So if Uber does not find a replacement, your clients who driver for Uber will be responsible for providing this insurance coverage.

September 2019

AAIS and Munich Re to provide inland private flood

James River Group Holdings Ltd., announced that it delivered a notice of early cancellation, effective Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, of all insurance policies issued to its largest customer—Rasier LLC and its affiliates. All insurance policies related to this customer are included in the company’s commercial auto line of business within its excess and surplus lines segment, and a majority of the insurance policies were due to expire Feb. 29, 2020. What this means for your clients who operate as Uber drivers: Under the law, either the transportation network company or the driver must maintain insurance for ride-hailing activities. The law also allows personal auto insurers to exclude coverage for ride hailing. So if Uber does not find a replacement, your clients who driver for Uber will be responsible for providing this insurance coverage.

May 2019

Vault Insurance to underwrite in Northeast

Vault Insurance, a high net-worth insurance company, has announced that it has received approval to underwrite in the states of New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. The expansion adds to Vault's existing operations in Florida and South Carolina, as well as its nonadmitted coverage offerings in the U.S.

October 2018

Travelers partners with Amazon to offer smart-home solutions

In the latest example of how InsurTech is driving our industry, the Travelers Cos. Inc. has announced it has teamed up with Amazon to provide smart-home kits and valuable insurance information via the industry’s first digital storefront. The smart-home kits include: security cameras; water sensors; motion detectors; a smart-home hub that connects numerous smart devices together; and an Amazon Echo Dot, a voice-controlled speaker. The company also introduced its own Alexa skill, which can help with billing information and home maintenance.

August 2018

Safeco and QBE in huge 47-state independent agency deal

Specialty insurer QBE North America has entered into an agreement with Safeco Insurance, a Liberty Mutual company, involving QBE’s personal insurance independent agency policies in 47 states. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

July 2018

Plymouth Rock expanding in New Jersey

Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. reached an agreement July 14, 2018, to acquire replacement carrier rights for auto and home insurance business in New Jersey from American Commerce Insurance Co., a MAPFRE company. Palisades Safety and Insurance Association will offer auto policies and Palisades Property and Casualty Insurance Co. will offer home policies. PIANJ member agents seeking appointments or information about the merger can contact Plymouth Rock’s Vice President of Independent Agent Marketing and Distribution for Plymouth Rock Assurance Karen Murdock at (908) 790-7821 or kmurdock@plymouthrock.com.

April 2018

Nationwide to switch to independent agency distribution model

Nationwide announced its intention to shift entirely to an independent agency distribution model by July 1, 2020. However, the company will continue to offer direct-to-consumer options for members who choose to do business online or over the phone.

March 2018

Travelers launches online personal insurance product

The Travelers Co. Inc. announced on March 21, 2018, the launch of Traverse, a personal insurance product that is a completely digital offering. The package is launching in New York and offers personal liability coverage, identity theft coverage and more.

January 2018

MAPFRE to 'package' New Jersey and New York lines of business

Recently, MAPFRE announced it will exit the personal-lines business in five states—New York, New Jersey, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. With that announcement, it had sent out several communications to its agents. The first notification informed the agents that MAPFRE USA reorganized its operations to add focus to core lines of business and states and that it intends to cease operations in those five states. The second communication was an FAQ, which answers some of the more common questions about the company’s intention to withdraw from the five states mentioned above.

MAPFRE has stated it is looking to "package" together its lines of business in the New Jersey and New York. According to the company, these states are closely aligned and it would create the smoothest transition as possible for its insureds and its agent community. Initially, the company indicated that it hopes to announce a buyer early in the new year.

In recent years, MAPFRE has struggled with rate adequacy in its personal auto "other liability" lines of business with its adjusted loss ratio of in excess of 140 in New Jersey and 110 in New York (according to A.M. Best 2016 data).

MAPFRE also announced that effective Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, it will reorganize its regional structure to establish two primary areas of focus: 1. Massachusetts/Northeast Region and 2. States Outside of the Northeast Region, which will be managed through three Regional Centers. Along with the restructuring announcement, the company announced the promotion of Patrick McDonald as the new CEO of the Northeast Region. For more information, you can access the company’s website.

December 2017

MAPFRE USA to exist N.J. and four other states

Insurer MAPFRE USA, which now writes in 19 states, announced Dec. 1, 2017, that it will narrow its focus by ceasing operation in five states and concentrate on 11 key states. MAPFRE has identified 11 core states where it will continue to pursue a profitable growth strategy, including Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont. MAPFRE intends to cease operations in five states, including New Jersey and New York. The company plans to conduct an orderly withdrawal and find replacement carriers where viable.

August 2017

Lemonade launches in the Garden State

Lemonade Insurance Co., which launched in New York last year, will sell property/casualty insurance in New Jersey. The company, which will focus on writing homeowners and renters policies for basic inland, will engage in direct-to-consumer marketing and in a corporate giving program funded from policyholders’ favorable loss experience. More ...

May 2017

The Service Insurance Co. expands into additional states

The Service Insurance Co., a privately-owned New Jersey-domiciled insurance company specializing in underwriting contract, commercial, and court surety business that does business in New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and elsewhere, has announced its expansion into Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

April 2017

MetLife asks court to halt 'too-big-to-fail' case

MetLife Inc. has asked a U.S. court to suspend a case over how the government deems certain companies “too big to fail,” while the Trump administration finishes a review of the current regulatory approach. A U.S. District judge struck down the government’s designation of MetLife as “systemically important” in March 2016. More ...

December 2016

Startup insurer Lemonade files for licenses countrywide

Insurance startup Lemonade is eyeing a national expansion and has filed for licenses to operate in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The peer-to-peer insurer that is focused on renters and homeowners insurance is pursuing the broader regulatory approval strategy after starting small.

PIA issues open letter to carriers stressing the importance of relationships with agents

PIA National issued an Open Letter to Carriers. In it, PIA notes the relationship between an independent insurance agency and its multiple carrier partners is designed to achieve mutual benefit, accomplishing together what the parties cannot alone. In the letter, PIA said: “We offer to every carrier an open door to be a sounding board for changes they may be contemplating. Such communication can foster more successful results.”

October 2016

Philadelphia Contributionship offers flood endorsement

Philadelphia Contributionship has announced a new endorsement that will give limited coverage for inland flood for insureds on their homeowners policies. The endorsement will give limited coverage for personal property in the basement as well as coverage for additional living expenses, debris removal among others. Coverage is available in limits from $5,000 to $50,000 with a $500 deductible. This endorsement could help insureds who do not have or cannot afford a standard flood policy.

EverGuard to appoint agents with hospitality expertise

EverGuard, an independently owned company that specializes in comprehensive insurance services for hospitality businesses with liquor licenses, wants to appoint New Jersey retail agents who have experience in the hospitality industry. For more information, contact Michael Maher at (973) 588-4552 or Michael@everguardins.com.

September 2016

Kingstone Insurance Co. to come to New Jersey

Kingstone Insurance Co. announced it will begin agency appointments in the Garden State this fall. Currently, Kingstone is scheduling agency introductions across the state.
As part of its roll-out, the company will launch a new homeowners product with a coastal appetite that extends to the barrier islands. If you are interested in an agency appointment with Kingstone Insurance, contact David Delaney at (201) 238-6545 or email ddelaney@kingstoneinsurance.com.

NJ Manufacturers implements InsurePay

Patriot Technology Solutions, Inc. (PatTech), a subsidiary of Patriot National, Inc., announced that New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company will implement InsurePay, a pay-as-you-go billing tool, to help ease the payment process for its workers' compensation customers. More...

May 2016

Progressive announces new PAP, excludes ride hailing

Progressive has announced that it will initiate contract changes around its New Jersey Personal Auto Product. The changes will impact both new business and renewal business for all Progressive personal auto policyholders in New Jersey. New business customers with policies written on or after Thursday, May 19, 2016, will receive the new policy contract.</

March 2016

UPCIC enters New Jersey insurance marketplace

Universal Insurance Holdings Inc., an insurance holding company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced that its subsidiary Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. was issued a certificate of authority from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. According to Sean P. Downes, chairman, president and chief executive officer, "We are pleased to have received our first state regulatory approval of 2016, further extending our reach as a growing national homeowners insurance provider." "We look forward to building our presence in New Jersey, as we continue to successfully execute our geographic expansion effort," Downes said.

Central Insurance Cos. addresses 'residence premises' definition

Central Insurance Cos. has filed for company-specific endorsements that would modify the definition of "residence premises" to completely remove the "where you reside" verbiage. These mandatory endoresements will be attached to all Central Insurance Cos.' homeowners policies effective May 1, 2016, and after at no additional cost.

Providence Mutual adopts ISO 'residence premises' definition

Providence Mutual adopted ISO's multistate filing, which revises its homeowners program coverage forms to add more explicit language to the definition of "residence premises." This ISO filing was in response to litigation over the phrase "where you reside," after a claim when the owner is not occupying the home at the time. There are reasons for not occupying the home besides material misrepresentation when a homeowners policy was requested, including the following: The owner may be in a nursing home or recently deceased; or has moved into a newly purchased home and is waiting for the old home to be sold; or the owner may have purchased the home to occupy, but is unable to move into it for months becasue of renovations or delays in executing an employer relocation plan. A separation or divorce may occur in which the named insured owner moves out, leaving the nonowner spouse, who is not a named insured, to occupy the home. Additionally, a child may live in the parent's home or the parents may live in a child's home.

February 2016

Three health insurers ban broker commissions

Anthem, Aetna and Cigna announced last week they will ban broker commissions for consumers who sign up for plans after the open enrollment season deadline.

December 2015

UnitedHealthcare to leave PPACA market, end agent commissions

UnitedHealthcare has announced it will likely leave the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act marketplace and it will stop paying sales commissions to health insurance agents who sell the company's policies under the PPACA. More …

November 2015

Kingstone Cos. to write in New Jersey

Kingstone Cos. Inc., a multiline property/casualty insurance holding company, this week announced that its subsidiary, Kingstone Insurance Co., was granted approval to write property/casualty insurance in New Jersey from the DOBI. New Jersey marks the fifth state in which the company is authorized as an admitted carrier of property/casualty insurance. In addition to New York and Pennsylvania, Kingstone also was recently licensed by Connecticut and Texas. The company has applications for admission pending in one additional state that shares similar catastrophe exposure and opportunities as New York.

October 2015

Encompass names new president

Mark Green has been appointed as president of Encompass Insurance, effective immediately. He will report to the President of Emerging Businesses Don Civgin. Mark has over 25 years' experience in the insurance industry. His ability to successfully lead large organizations and manage insurance risks while profitably growing the core business, along with his external experience working with insurance companies which market through independent agencies, will serve him well in this new role.

August 2015

Travelers CEO to stepdown in December due to health

The Travelers Cos. Inc. this week announced Chairman and CEO Jay S. Fishman will step down as CEO on Dec. 1 due to health problems. Alan D. Schnitzer, head of the insurance company's business and international insurance unit, will then take over as CEO and Fishman will stay on as executive chairman.

July 2015

Utica First withdraws from flood program

Utica First this week announced its withdrawal from the WYO Flood Insurance Program effective Aug. 1, 2015. Utica First, which has been recognized by Ward's 50 as a top property/casualty company, has received approval from the Federal Insurance Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency to automatically transfer their Utica First flood policies to New Hampshire Insurance Co. on Aug. 1, 2015. In an agent notice, Utica First stated, "You have the right to place your renewal flood policies with a different carrier on renewal. However, please note that under NFIP rules, you would be required to submit a photo and elevation certificate with the submission. We believe that simply allowing the seamless transfer to New Hampshire is the best option."

March 2015

Progressive alters Snapshot program, 20 percent to see added surcharge

According to subscription-based service A.M. Best, Progressive Corp. said it is beginning to move away from a discount-only model and has begun to use surcharges for risky drivers, which the company estimates will work out to about 20 percent of users. Dave Pratt, general manager of usage-based insurance at Progressive, told A.M. Best that surcharges would vary by state; remain small enough not to scare drivers away; and be subject to change as the company acquires more data.