Oct 16
Big I NY Member Addresses Costs of “Scaffold Law” at Press Conference

On Friday, October 12, Big I NY member Jason Schiciano joined business leaders for a press conference in Tarrytown to call for reform of the state's antiquated and unjust “Scaffold Law."

Scaffold Law Press Conference.jpgScaffold Law Press Conference.jpgStanding in front of the newly constructed Tappan Zee bridge, the group pointed to the tremendous costs associated with the law. They estimate that the law was responsible for between $200 and $400 million in additional insurance costs that did little if anything to improve safety on the project.

“The Scaffold Law is a small-business and new-business killer," said Jason Schichiano, president of the Levitt-Fuirst agency. “it affects our young adult, women, and minority entrepreneurs, looking to take advantage of the strong economy by starting a construction business."

First enacted in 1882, the “Scaffold Law" imposes absolute liability on property owners and contractors for gravity-related construction accidents. No contributing actions or negligence on the part of a worker are considered, regardless of how egregious. Tom Stebbins of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York illustrated this point by citing a case in which a worker cut away the floor from underneath him and subsequently fell and was injured. Under the Scaffold Law, the property owner was held 100 liable for the worker's injuries.

Big I New York is a member of a broad coalition in support of reforming the Scaffold Law. We believe that all defendants must be afforded the opportunity to defend themselves from unfair liability claims. ​


Oct 11
Big I NY Sponsors Lawsuit Reform Alliance Meeting

imageNew York's legal climate is among the worst in the nation, and it affects you and your customers! 

We are proud to sponsor the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York 's annual meeting in Albany on October 23rd. The event will include updates from legal and policy experts on the tort liability climate, the "Scaffold Law," fraudulent claims, and upcoming lawsuit reform issues.​

You won't want to miss this valuable event! Register here

Oct 05
Big I NY Discusses Sexual Harassment Training With Provider

​Big I New York is working with a training organization on a potential solution for members to conduct the new mandatory sexual harassment training. Director of Member Engagement Christine Neet and AVP of Information and Education Tim Dodge met with the Albany-area company on Tuesday, Oct. 2.

A provision in the 2018-19 New York State budget requires all employers to annually provide training to their employees on sexual harassment prevention. The first annual training must be completed by Oct. 9, 2019.

The program we discussed would offer compliant training in various formats, including in-person, live webinars, and on-demand web-based learning. Details have not been finalized, as we are awaiting a written proposal from the provider. We will announce future developments via email and posts on this website.

Sep 21
We Want to Hear From You! Help Us Craft Our 2019 Legislative Agenda

image2018 has been an exciting year! With your help, Big I New York scored several key legislative and regulatory victories to benefit independent agents and brokers.

Two pieces of Big I-supported legislation will soon be delivered to the governor for signature into law, including a bill to synchronize the renewal dates of all insurance producer licenses, and a bill to allow agents to complete property and casualty pre-licensing outside a traditional classroom.

We want to hear your thoughts! What issues are most important to you and your agency? What challenges do you face that could be addressed through legislation? What law or regulation gives you the biggest headache?

This is your opportunity to weigh in! Contact Scott Hobson with your suggestions. You can view our 2018 legislative agenda here​.

Scott Hobson, MPA

Director of Government Relations

Sep 14
New Enhancement to NYSIF Audit Upload Program

​The New York State Insurance Fund is pleased to announce a new enhancement to the Audit Upload Program.  Workers' Compensation policyholders or their representatives can conveniently and securely upload financial records from their nysif.com online accounts in lieu of an on-premise audit or to resolve an audit issue.  The NYSIF is working to make it easier for brokers to do business with them. 

submitted by
Kathy Lawler, AAI, CIC
AVP Communities & Relationships

Sep 10
Big I NY Convenes Industry Strategy Meeting on Cyber Regulation

​What it Means:

imageToday, Big I NY led a strategy meeting with representatives from the state's producer groups and insurance trades to discuss a unified industry response to the Department of Financial Services' recent decision regarding “third party service providers" under the new cyber regulation. We and our allies are deeply concerned with the recent determination, as it will be extremely burdensome and confusing for producers and insurers to fully comply with.

What's Next:

The group unanimously agreed to request a joint meeting with the DFS to share our concerns, with the ultimate goal that that the decision be modified or reversed. The industry will also work collaboratively to develop standard guidelines for covered entities to use when conducting due diligence in working with all third party service providers.

Big I New York Has Your Back:

Beginning prior to the issuance of first draft of the cyber regulation, we have worked with the DFS to share our concerns and seek modifications to the regulation to minimize the burden to agents while still ensuring consumer data is protected from cyber threats. We recognize that the cybersecurity regulation is a top issue for our members, and we are continuing to work to ensure that our concerns are addressed. Furthermore, we continue to work to develop resources to help our members comply with the regulation.

Contact Scott Hobson​ if you have any questions.

Scott Hobson, MPA

Director of Government Relations

Sep 07
Big I Meets With DMV and Carriers to Discuss IIES Reporting

imageWhat it Means:

Today, the Big I government relations team, joined by Albany-area member Don Chrysler, met with the Department of Motor Vehicles to discuss the issue of improving compliance with the requirement that carriers notify the DMV of auto insurance transactions within 7 days.

One concern raised during the meeting was that agents may cause carriers to be out of compliance if they delay transmitting transaction data to carriers. While we acknowledge that this may be occurring, we do not believe that it is widespread. Nearly all agents use either insurance carriers' own portals or agency management systems which integrate with insurer systems, or a combination of the two. In both cases, transaction information is instantaneously transmitted to the insurer. This meeting was a timely opportunity to share the agents' perspective on the issue.

What's Next:

The DMV acknowledged that many factors may contribute to late notice of transactions, including delays caused by insurers, agents, auto dealers, or motorists, delays resulting from the complexity of commercial fleet policies, typographical and data entry errors, and technical limitations of the DMV system. The agency indicated that it would be necessary to identify the relative magnitude of each factor in order to help insurers identify which causes to focus on, but that they do not have the capacity to do so. Instead, they will provide insurers with “snapshots" of transaction data for insurers to analyze. It is anticipated that DMV will have a better understanding of the main causes of noncompliance, based on analysis by insurers, by January 2019. This analysis will be a continual, ongoing process.

Big I New York Has Your Back:

We are committed to working with the DMV and carriers to ensure compliance with the IIES notification requirement. To that end, be on the lookout for educational materials and/or programming focused on best practices for reporting. Furthermore, we will continue to ensure agents' interests are represented as DMV steps up enforcement. We anticipate that carriers will begin reaching out to their agents (many have already) with guidance on how to comply. It is possible that carriers could also consider withholding commission or other punitive measures for agents who delay transmitting transaction information.

For more information, contact Tim Dodge​ or Scott Hobson.

Scott Hobson, MPA

Director of Government Relations​


Aug 23
New Life Insurance "Best Interest" Standard Raises Concerns for Agents

swh headshot blog.jpgThe news:

Recently, the NYS Department of Financial Services adopted its final version of Regulation 187, which alters the standard of care for producers in sales of life insurance and annuities. The regulation replaces the previous “suitability" standard with a “best interest" standard, and will take effect March 1, 2019.

Under the suitability standard, a producer must reasonably believe the policy they sell a customer is suitable based on the facts provided by the customer. The best interest standard adds the further requirement that producers divine which policy they believe is in the customer's best interest, including considering all potential consequences of the transaction, favorable and unfavorable. Furthermore, producers will be required to document and disclose to the customer, in writing, every factor they considered in selecting a policy.

Why it matters:

Requiring producers to act in the best interest of consumers seems simple and reasonable, but in reality the standard is vague, subjective, and likely to create significant unintended consequences.

One major concern with the best interest standard is that it will significantly increase errors and omissions (E&O) lawsuits against producers. The expansive list of criteria producers must consider creates ample opportunities for a customer to second-guess and retrospectively scrutinize a policy they selected, even if a producer was acting in good faith.

Furthermore, we are concerned that the new standard, while well intentioned, fundamentally alters the agent-customer relationship in a troubling way. Specifically, the regulation creates a duty for agents to recommend products to customers. However, longstanding case law has held that agents do not make recommendations, but instead inform and take orders. Changing this relationship will limit producers' ability to defend themselves from weak or spurious lawsuits.

Lastly, it is unclear how this regulation would affect the actions, steps, or tasks a producer performs that are not already performed today. I seems unlikely that the best interest standard will significantly improve customer satisfaction.

This new regulation will create uncertainty, raise the risk that a producer will be sued, and consequently raise the cost of E&O insurance. In the face of this, small family owned and community agencies may make the decision to cease the sale of life insurance products.

Our stance:

Big I New York worked with the DFS during the entire process, and was successful at securing several amendments to alleviate the concerns of producers. While we appreciate many of the changes the department made, the best interest standard, as it currently stands, remains troubling. Big I New York will continue to explore every possible recourse to this latest regulation.

While bad actors in the life insurance and annuities industries are in the distinct minority, we recognize and agree with the need to protect consumers from abuse. However the new best interest standard swings the pendulum too far, offering negligible if any benefit to consumers while putting yet another burden on the backs of small agencies struggling to succeed in a challenging market. To the extent that this new regulation causes producers to abandon the life insurance space, consumers will lose a trusted ally and advocate in navigating the complex world of insurance. 

Aug 17
DMV Stepping Up Enforcement of Notification Requirements – What You Need to Know

​​​​​swh headshot blog.jpgThe NYS DMV requires notification of vehicle liability insurance coverage transactions for vehicles registered in New York State for which an insurance ID card or insurance certificate has been issued by, or on behalf of, an insurance company. An insurer must notify the DMV within 7 days of the effective date of the transaction. ​

The DMV is beginning to step up enforcement of this requirement, and it is important that agents and brokers do their part to help insurers comply.

If you manually notify carriers of transactions (i.e. you are not using the insurer's portal, or are using an agency management system that does not integrate with insurers' systems), please be sure to transmit transaction information to the insurer promptly. Your contracts with insurers may specify a time frame. The best practice is to notify immediately once an auto ID card is issued.

If you have any questions, please contact Tim Dodge or Scott Hobson​

Scott Hobson, MPA

Director of Government Relations

Aug 16
AmTrust Clarifies Background Check Requests

Am trust logo.png

We have had several questions from members regarding a recent inquiry from AmTrust North America's licensing department requesting Individual Background information from producers that are currently appointed by AmTrust.  We reached out to our contact at AmTrust and they explained that as an insurance company they are required by federal and state laws to ensure the individuals they engage in the business of insurance with are free of any felony convictions or any offence falling under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (18 U.S.C 1033 & 1034).  The reason that this request is currently being made is that due to AmTrust's acquisitions and a new computer system, in some cases they did not have complete information on file.  In order to make it convenient to comply, AmTrust will send their producers a secure link to Career Builder Employment Screening (CBES) to complete the process which will take less than 10 minutes.  We want to give you this information in the event that you receive this request from AmTrust North America's licensing department. 

Kathy Lawler, AAI, CIC
AVP  Communities & Relationships

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