The New York State Department of Financial Services today announced that it was extending the expiration of individual insurance agent and broker licenses through July 8. The move grants producers an additional 45 days to renew their licenses.
On March 25, the department announced that it was suspending the expiration of producers' licenses for 60 days, through May 24, due to anticipated difficulty for producers to meet continuing education requirements during the current pandemic. All licenses with expiration dates between those dates were automatically extended to expire on May 25. Today's announcement pushes that expiration date back to July 9. For example, a license scheduled to expire on May 22 will now expire on July 9.
Visit the Big I NY Education Calendar to find webinars that you can take to meet the continuing education credit requirements.
Big I New York thanks National General, in support of Adirondack Insurance Exchange, for its $250,000 donation to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund to specifically benefit members of Big I New York! We know that Big I New York members are experiencing different hardships, incurring new expenses to serve their customers and set their team up for various degrees of remote work and eventual return to the office. Members are making new and necessary investments in many areas that were not anticipated or planned, such as:
- Enhancing cybersecurity protocols for remote workers
- Implementing new communication tools to stay connected with their staff, carriers and customers
- Updating human resource policies and procedures
- Engaging with outside professionals to ensure agency operations adapt to new regulations and government guidance
- Purchasing personal protection devices for staff
- Implementing new safety and health measures for office locations
- Purchasing equipment for staff to work effectively and comfortably while remote
Through this generous donation, Big I New York members may be eligible to receive a minimum grant from the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund of $1,000. Submit your application and ALL receipts and back up documentation directly to the Trusted Choice COVID-19 Relief Fund.
Again, we offer a heartfelt thank you to National General, in support of Adirondack, for partnering with Big I New York to recognize the important role that independent insurance agents play in advising their clients through this challenging time and helping to ease some of the burden.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended for 30 days an order that prohibits insurance carriers from terminating some policies and requires them to be lenient with policyholders suffering financially from the COVID-19 pandemic. The requirements, which were scheduled to expire on May 7, will now expire on June 6. Big I New York wrote to the governor last week urging him to extend the requirements' duration.
The governor issued an executive order on March 29 that required the state Department of Financial Services to issue regulations setting a 60-day moratorium on insurers cancelling, non-renewing or conditionally renewing some policies. The regulations also required insurers and premium finance companies to make accommodations for households and small businesses having trouble paying their premiums because of the pandemic.
The expiration of the emergency regulations is tied to the expiration of the executive order. An order issued on April 7 extended the expiration date to May 7. The new order further extends that date to June 6.
The regulations apply to property-casualty and life insurance policies issued to individuals and businesses with 100 or fewer employees and in effect on March 30. They apply to policies issued by admitted insurers and to personal lines policies and commercial lines policies that provide fire insurance issued by non-admitted insurers.
More information is available from the Coronavirus Resource Page on this website.
The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board (NYCIRB) today announced that employers who are paying employees sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic will pay a less-expensive rate for Workers' Compensation insurance. Big I New York had asked the NYCIRB to make this change.
Many employers have taken advantage of the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which provides them with short term loans to cover payroll for two months during stay-at-home orders. Other employers are simply paying employees even though they are prohibited from operating.
Workers' Compensation rating rules require premiums to be calculated based on the amount of the employer's payroll. While idled employees are still on the payroll, they have no exposure to being injured on the job. This results in an employer paying insurance premiums for a non-existent risk.
The NYCIRB announced that it has filed and received approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services for a new classification - code 8873, Telecommuter Reassigned Employees. According to the announcement, this classification applies:
"... to the payroll of employees who, during New York’s stay-at-home order related to the COVID-19 pandemic (and future stay-at-home orders), are reassigned to either (a) not perform any work duties (idle), or (b) perform clerical work duties at home. The loss cost rate for Classification 8873 will mirror the rate for Classification 8810 (clerical office employees). Further, this provision is applicable at the start of New York’s stay-at-home order and for up to 30 days after its conclusion."
The rule change applies to all new and renewal policies effective May 1, 2020, as well as to all in-force policies as of March 16, 2020.
Big I New York's Tim Dodge exchanged emails with the president of the NYCIRB in mid-April on this issue. The board assured us at that time that a change was forthcoming.
We suggest that you contact all clients for whom you obtain Workers' Comp insurance so they can instruct you as to how much of their payroll should be assigned to this new classification.
Despite the current moratorium on property-casualty insurers terminating policies, all policies issued by insolvent carrier Maidstone Insurance Co. cancelled on April 13.
New York State Supreme Court in Nassau County ordered on February 13 that Maidstone be liquidated due to its inability to meet its obligations to pay claims. The New York State Department of Financial Services was appointed as the liquidator. The order also required all Maidstone policies to be cancelled effective April 13.
Big I New York contacted the DFS recently to ask whether the department would petition the court to delay the effective date of cancellation, given the current moratorium. The department responded last night that, "No policyholder came forward with a claim of financial hardship." Consequently, the cancellations took effect as scheduled.
If you had clients insured with Maidstone, you should discuss alternative coverage arrangements with them, if you have not already done so.
A new “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) page on the New York State Department of Financial Services website clarified the current moratorium on terminating and changing insurance policies.
- IF the terms of the policy permit the carrier to cancel, non-renew or conditionally renew it on a specific date;
- AND the policyholder can demonstrate financial hardship because of the pandemic;
- THEN the 60-day moratorium begins on that date.
For example, suppose the insurer sent a non-renewal notice on February 1. The policy will expire April 16. The policyholder demonstrates financial hardship. The insurer must delay the non-renewal until June 15. It may terminate coverage at that time.
The FAQs also clarified that:
- The requirements apply to policies that were in effect on March 30, 2020
- The requirements expire when the governor's executive order does on April 28. Big I New York has asked the department to confirm that the governor's extension of NY PAUSE did not change the regulation's expiration date.
For example, an insurer may non-renew a policy that is scheduled to expire on May 1.
Check www.biginy.org/coronavirus for further updates on the pandemic.
Progressive donation to provide relief to Big ‘I’ members facing pandemic challenges.
ALEXANDRIA, VA, April 16, 2020— The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) is pleased to announce that Progressive Insurance has donated $2 million dollars to establish the Trusted Choice® COVID-19 Relief Fund in response to the economic and operational challenges the coronavirus crisis has presented to independent agencies.
The grant will be dispersed directly to independent agencies via a Big “I” application process to meet those agencies’ critical needs in the midst of the pandemic. Independent agencies can apply for assistance online
“The Big ‘I’ is so grateful for Progressive’s generosity in leading the charge to support the independent agency community during these unprecedented times,” says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO, who created a video message
to address the donation and new fund. “Big ‘I’ agents and agencies are facing unforeseen obstacles even as they seek to help their clients and communities in their time of need. To see Progressive step up and provide tangible, innovative support is a powerful reminder that we’re all in this together. I know this will make an enormous difference to our agencies as they provide essential services across the country.”
“Other insurance carriers and industry partners are welcome to provide resources to support this new 501(c)(3) charitable fund,” Rusbuldt says. “With the impending loss of premium from retail and service businesses, independent agencies are now beginning to experience what many of their business clients are experiencing. Some agencies are also facing equipment shortages, staffing challenges and other barriers during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The donation is part of Progressive’s broader Apron Relief Program, which will also return approximately $1 billion in premiums to customers; provide an expedited claims experience for insured first responders and health care workers in a car accident; cover health insurance co-pays for Progressive employees’ telemedicine visits and cover costs of coronavirus medical treatments and donate to charities focused on hunger, health and homelessness and more, according to the press release
“Our Apron Relief Program is designed to help Progressive assist our four key stakeholders—employees, customers, communities and agents—and doing so ultimately will serve our shareholders as well,” says Tricia Griffith, Progressive president & CEO. “Partnering with the Big ‘I’ in its dedication to serve independent agents gives us the ability to provide grant assistance quickly and broadly to agents across the country who are affected by this pandemic. By sticking together, we’ll come through this stronger.”
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Progressive has created a resource page on their agent portal, ForAgentsOnly.com, to provide up-to-date information to agencies. The Big “I” also has a coronavirus resource page
with original articles, tools, webinars, news items and more to assist its members and their clients.
Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies.
Similar to the requirements that have had property-casualty insurance producers emailing their clients for the past week, a new state regulation requires health insurance producers to notify their clients about new temporary rules.
An emergency regulation issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services last week requires health plans and insurers to make certain concessions to customers experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. DFS issued the regulation to comply with an executive order issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on April 7.
The regulation, which is in effect from April 7 to May 7, applies to insurers, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), and student health plans and any individual, small group, or student blanket comprehensive health insurance policies they issue. The insurers, HMOs and plans must extend the period for the payment of premiums to the later of the expiration of the applicable contractual grace period and 11:59 p.m. on June 1, 2020 for any policyholder or contract holder who can demonstrate financial hardship from the pandemic. Insurers, HMOs and plans must pay claims during that time. Also:
- They cannot retroactively cancel policies, charge late fees, or report overdue payments to consumer reporting agencies or debt collectors for those in financial hardship
- They must provide information about alternative policies and plans they offer, along with contact information for New York State of Health
- They must, by April 21, mail, email or deliver written notice to every policyholder and contract holder of the regulation's provisions and a toll-free number to call to discuss billing and make alternative payment arrangements
- Notify insurance producers and any third-party administrators with whom or which the insurer does business, by April 21, of the regulation's provisions
"A licensed insurance producer who procured the individual, small group, or student blanket comprehensive health insurance policy for the policyholder or contract holder shall mail or deliver, which may include email, notice to the policyholder or contract holder of (the regulation's provisions)" by April 21.
In a communication to Big I New York last week regarding the notices to property-casualty policyholders, DFS said that producers are not required to send these notices through U.S. Mail.
Insurers must accept written attestation from the policy or contract holder of financial hardship from the pandemic. The regulation's new restrictions apply only to policy terminations resulting from non-payment of premium and not for any other cause. The rules clearly state that this is a deferral of premium payment obligations, not a waiver or forgiveness of them.
Members can download a sample letter developed by the New York State Association of Health Underwriters from the Coronavirus Resource Page on this website. The content of this notice is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact your legal counsel for legal guidance.
More information has come in over the past few days about the New York State Department of Financial Services emergency regulation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this video, my associate and I provide the latest updates.
This free, on-demand webinar provided by Big I by Agency CFO (Advisory Group LLC) covers gathering information and answers questions on the Payroll Protection Act.
The PRICELESS piece is the self-calculating worksheet for figuring out how much you can borrow and their offer of FREE help to Big I members.
In addition to this Big I member benefit, agents can also offer this information to their clients.