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Category: Industry News

Jan 25
NY State Insurance Fund Goes Paperless for Disability Policies


The New York State Insurance Fund has notified Big I New York that it will soon stop mailing paper copies of New York State Disability Benefits Law (DBL) insurance policies and bills to insurance brokers. The change takes effect on Feb. 28, 2021. 

In a letter to be sent to brokers this week, the State Fund invites all brokers to create online accounts on its website. The accounts give brokers constant access to their clients' records. The letter provides instructions for brokers who do not already have online accounts with the State Fund.

If you have obtained DBL policies for your clients from the State Fund, be aware that you will no longer receive physical mail from the Fund as of the end of February. We encourage you to plan accordingly.

Dec 04
Comp Rating Board Clarifies Classification Rules for Marinas, Telecommuters

​The New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board has announced a rule change that clarifies which operations should and should not be assigned to the marina classifications. The board also made the telecommuter classification more specific. If you provide Workers' Compensation insurance for these types of operations, you may want to inform your clients.

The New York Workers' Compensation Manual has two classifications for marinas - code 6826F for employers subject to the U.S. Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Act, and code 6836 for employers who are subject only to the New York Workers' Comp law. The new rules clarify that these classifications apply to employers that have "boat docks, storage facilities, repair shops, and marine railways." 

The state Department of Financial Services has approved loss costs of $4.64 per $100 of payroll for code 6826F and $3.29 for code 6836. Loss costs are used to develop the Workers' Compensation insurance premium. However, the rule change clarifies that these classifications do not apply to:

  • Building of boats up to 150 feet long
  • Building or repair of wood boats exclusively
  • Boat rental or livery
  • Boat salespersons selling boats
  • Lifeguards at onsite swimming pools
  • Store operations
  • Restaurants

There are separate classifications for employees engaged in these operations. 

The board also clarified that classification code 8871, Telecommuter Clerical Employees, applies only to employees who spend "more than 50 percent of their time performing clerical or drafting functions from their residence." The loss cost for this classification is $0.16 per $100 of payroll.

The rule changes take effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

Dec 04
Comp Rating Board Excludes COVID Losses From Experience, Merit Rating

​Employers will not face higher Workers' Compensation insurance premiums because of losses related to COVID-19, according to recent announcements by the New York Compensation Insurance Rating Board​

The board said that it had received approval from the state Department of Financial Services for a rule change that will exclude from the Merit Rating Plan calculation "all claims attributable to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic​." This follows an earlier move to exclude these claims from the Experience Rating Plan calculation. At the time, the board said, "The occurrence of COVID-19 workers’ compensation claims is unlikely to be a predictor of future claim costs incurred by an employer, and therefore their inclusion in an experience rating modification calculation would not meet the intended goal of experience rating."

The Merit Rating Plan is for employers whose Workers' Compensation premiums are too small to qualify for the Experience Rating Plan. It reduces or increases the employer's premium based on the number of losses over a three-year period.

The changes to both plans took effect on Dec. 1, 2020.

Nov 16
Loss Prevention Report on Risks Related to Cleaning & Disinfecting During the COVID-19 Pandemic


By Brian Bixby, IAAC President

The risks related to cleaning and disinfecting during the COVID-19 pandemic are multifaceted – and they can have a significant financial, legal, or reputational impact or result in business interruption.
While most employers have considered the impact of increased cleaning requirements on their workforce, some may not have considered other related risks or how to prevent any potential resulting losses.
Swiss Re Corporate Solutions considered these risks for a wide range of public spaces, workplaces, businesses, and schools and developed a loss prevention report examining some of the general liability risks stemming from the increased cleaning, sanitization, and disinfection requirements of the pandemic. It also looks at this planning process, who needs to be involved, and how the plan should be communicated and enforced.
Nov 06
DFS Nixes Requirement To Have Exams Monitored

​The New York State Department of Financial Services will no longer require that an insurance producer have a monitor present during an exam following a ​continuing education course. The department announced the change in a November 2 circular letter.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DFS started issuing a series of circular letters​ in March that extended producer license expiration dates and made other temporary changes. Among those changes was a moratorium on the requirement to have a monitor present during a CE exam. A circular issued in August extended the changes to November 5. The new circular stated in part:

DFS hereb​y eliminates the requirement that a monitor be present when an insurance producer takes any exam at the conclusion of either a continuing education or prelicensing course.  This change does not modify the requirement to take an exam at the conclusion of a self-study continuing education course or online prelicensing course as set forth in the Continuing Education Criteria and Prelicensing Criteria. ​

​As a reminder, Big I New York's new "15-in-1" program, which enables producers to get 15 credits through a combination of self-study and a four-hour webinar, includes an exam after the self-study portion. The DFS announcement means that producers who take advantage of the program can take the exam without needing a monitor. 

Contact our Education Department​ for more information about the 15-in-1 program.

Nov 03
ACT Announces New Agent Resource: An Agent's Resource Guide to Chatbots

chatbots.pngExpectations for instant service and ease of doing business have never been greater. Your agency needs to meet these expectations to compete in this digital-first world. 

Provide immediate customer service, realize cost savings, and reduce staff workload by implementing a website chatbot. 
You likely have a lot of questions on how to get started! ACT has created “An Agent’s Resource Guide To Chatbots” to help. 
Powered by the expertise of our Customer Experience Workgroup, you will learn: 
                        •  What is a chatbot?
                        •  Challenges and benefits of using  
                        •  Purchase and implementation considerations
                        •  And so much more
This easy-to-use Agent’s Chatbot Resource Guide is available 
free to all Big ‘I’ member agencies.  
Web-based, and downloadable PDF versions are available within the ACT website here:

Nov 03
Election Results: Property Damage Coverage Issues

​By Chris Boggs, the Big I’s Executive Director of Risk Management & Education

News reports from across the country tell of retailers boarding up their buildings in attempts to curtail damage from rioters post election. From an insurance perspective, are there any coverage issues these retailers should consider? 

Insurance coverage questions asked over the past several days in preparation for the election have center around several common terms:
  • Riot,
  • Civil unrest,
  • Insurrection, and even 
  • War.

Each read similarly, “If my insured’s property is damaged by (fill in the blank from above), is there coverage? Understand that no (or very few) coverage question(s) is/are answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” There is always a “however.”

But where possible, the “however” is avoided in this short article. Simply put, yes, there is coverage in the Insurance Services Office (ISO) Causes of Loss – Special Form (CP 10 30) for any loss caused by disgruntled groups following the election – regardless which of the above terms is used. 

Following is an individual yet very quick review of each potential “cause” presented previously. This review explains why coverage does exist. 

Notice that riot is not excluded in the CP 10 30. In the Special Form, a loss is covered unless it’s specifically excluded. As further proof, the Broad Named Peril form (CP 10 20) specifically COVERS damage caused by riot; it’s illogical to think that a named peril form would provide more coverage than an open peril form. Thus, damage caused by riot is covered in the unendorsed CP 10 30. 

Civil Unrest
This term is not found in any ISO cause of loss form, as covered or excluded. Since it’s not excluded, any damage arising out of “civil unrest” must be covered. But what is “civil unrest”? Essentially, it can be classed with riot. The broad named peril policy uses the term civil commotion – which is specifically covered. Again, damage caused by civil unrest (civil commotion) is covered by the unendorsed CP 10 30.  

War and Insurrection
These exclusions raise a few eyebrows because both causes are specifically excluded within the Special Form (CP 10 30):
f. War And Military Action
  1. War, including undeclared or civil war;
  2. Warlike action by a military force, including action in hindering or defending against an actual or expected attack, by any government, sovereign or other authority using military personnel or other agents; or
  3. Insurrection, rebellion, revolution, usurped power, or action taken by governmental authority in hindering or defending against any of these.

Can the actions of malcontents be considered war? It is unlikely that such actions meet the intent or meaning of the war exclusion. 

War is defined, in part, by Black’s Law Dictionary to mean, “Hostile conflict by means of armed forces, carried on between countries, states or rulers….” Notice that a war involves and requires organized and armed governmental authorities with a common agenda. 

Participants in these protests and riots are largely unrelated groups without a common leader, direction or goal. The actions do not appear to be within the meaning of war, nor do they appear to active the war exclusion. 

But do these acts qualify as an “insurrection” triggering the insurrection part of the exclusion? First, what is an insurrection and who is an insurrectionist? 
  • Insurrection: A violent revolt against an oppressive authority, usually a government. “Insurrection is distinguished from rout, riot, and offense connected with mob violence by the fact that in insurrection there is an organized and armed uprising against authority or operations of government, while crimes growing out of mob violence, however serious they may be and however numerous the participants, are simply unlawful acts in disturbance of the peace which do not threaten the stability of the government or the existence of political society.” (Black’s Law Dictionary)
  • Insurrectionist: A person who takes part in an armed rebellion against the constituted authority (especially in the hope of improving conditions) freedom fighter, insurgent, rebel.

Based on the supposed purpose of the threatened protests, the acts do not appear to qualify as acts of insurrection, nor are the participants insurrectionist. The various groups are not necessarily organized and often don’t have a singular goal. Note again the meaning of “insurrection” taken from Black’s Law Dictionary. 

Two legal concepts also apply to limit the application of the insurrection exclusion: Noscitur A Sociis and/or Ejusdem Generis. Both concepts essentially state that a term within a list is judged by the words around it and are not given their broadest possible meaning. More specifically, these concepts are defined as follows: 
  • Ejusdem Generis: Latin meaning, “of the same kind.” In the construction of contracts, when certain things are enumerated, and then a phrase is used which might be construed to include other things, it is generally confined to things of the same type. General words are not to be construed in their widest extent but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same general kind or class as those specifically mentioned.
  • Noscitur A Sociis: Latin for, “the meaning of a word may be known by its accompanying words.” The word or phrase is defined in its context.

Based on these legal concepts and given the context of the term “insurrection,” it’s apparent that the exclusion applies only when there is armed conflict in an attempt to revolt and/or overthrow a government by the actions of another recognized government or militia. Even if the “overthrow of the government” is a stated goal of one of these protest groups, they are not a government or state-sanctioned group, they are just malcontents mad because they didn’t get their way. 

As stated earlier, there does not appear to be any specific exclusion in ISO’s unendorsed CP 10 30 (Causes of Loss – Special Form) applicable to any protests arising out of the election results. Don’t let news media accounts of “insurance issues” scare clients. 
Sep 25
NYSDFS Calls on Insurers to Consider Financial Risks From Climate Change

forest-fire-3836834_640.jpgThe New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) on Tuesday told insurance carriers that it expects them to begin considering the financial effects of climate change if they are not already. While the department did not call for immediate action by insurance agents and brokers, you should expect to see changes in carrier underwriting guidelines.

DFS described the purpose of its circular letter​ to carriers as "to outline DFS’s expectations for the industry and begin a dialogue as to how DFS can best support your institutions’ efforts to manage the financial risks from climate change." The letter pointed to the increasing cost of climate-related natural disasters. "These risks," it said, "directly affect property/casualty insurers’ liabilities and the long-term viability of certain business lines." While praising certain insurers for the steps they've already taken to manage these risks, the letter said that the industry needs to do more and that DFS is prepared to help them. 

The letter promised that DFS will publish detailed guidance "consistent with international best practices on climate-related financial supervision," and invited industry input. The department will organize a series of webinars to allow the exchange of ideas and lessons learned among industry participants. 

In the mean time, the department said that it expects insurers to "start integrating the consideration of the financial risks from climate change into their governance frameworks, risk management processes, and business strategies." The letter acknowledged that every insurer's situation is different. "DFS understands that climate change affects each insurer in different ways and to different degrees depending on the insurer’s size, complexity, geographic distribution, business lines, investment strategies, and other factors," it said. "DFS appreciates that insurers do not have the same level of resources to manage these risks and are at different points in the process of incorporating these risks into their governance, strategy, and risk management." 

Sep 25
NYAIP Offers Primary/Noncontributory, Waiver of Subrogation

The New York Automobile Insurance Plan​​ has added a rule that will permit its policyholders to waive subrogation rights and make other concessions to third parties. The rule, which took effect on August 1, calls for a 3 percent premium surcharge.

The new Rule 60, which applies only to Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Coverage, states in its entirety:

If the insured requests, in writing, either a waiver(s) of subrogation or a primary and noncontributory—other insurance condition or both to comply with contractual requirements, increase the bodily injury and property damage total policy premium by 3%.

Attach the applicable endorsement(s).

The 3% surcharge applies whether the insured requests one or both; it is not added together to make 6%. The applicable Insurance Services Office (ISO) endorsements are:

  • CA 04 44 10 13, Waiver Of Transfer Of Rights Of Recovery Against Others To Us  (Waiver Of Subrogation)
  • CA 04 49 11 16, Primary and Noncontributory—Other Insurance Condition

Insurers that do not subscribe to ISO forms will use different endorsements. Check with the insurer to determine the appropriate endorsement numbers.

Aug 31
Health Insurance Exchange Course Available Only From NYSOH

​The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has announced that New York State of Health (NYSOH) will be the only authorized provider of certification training courses. NYSOH is the health insurance marketplace for New York, one of the marketplaces created under the federal Affordable Care Act.

All insurance brokers wishing to obtain individual or group health coverage for their clients through NYSOH must take a certification course and apply for certification. Previously, the certification course was available from third-party organizations such as Big I New York. The announcement on the DFS website states:

Effective August 31, 2020 you must contact NYSOH to register a new account and to access the NYSOH approved certification course.  The certification course will not be offered by DFS approved education providers and the course is not approved for insurance CE credit.

The NYSOH registration process on the DFS licensee self-service portal will be shut off beginning Friday morning August 28, 2020.​

Visit​​ to create an account and learn more about the certification course.

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