new state law took effect three weeks ago that puts new restrictions on employers' ability to discriminate against workers because of workers' reproductive health decisions. Stephanie H. Fedorka of the law firm of Bond, Schoeneck & King has an informative blog post about it:
The law prohibits employers from accessing an employee’s personal information regarding the employee’s, or the employee’s dependent’s, reproductive health decision making without the employee’s prior informed affirmative written consent. The law prohibits employers from discriminating against or taking retaliatory action against an employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of or on the basis of the employee’s, or his/her dependent’s, reproductive health decision making. An employer also may not require an employee to sign a waiver or other document that attempts to deny the employee the right to make their own reproductive health decisions.
The law gives employees the right to file a claim in court against an employer alleged to have violated the prohibition on discrimination based on reproductive health decision making. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who exercise their right to: (1) make or threaten to make a complaint to an employer, a co-worker, or to a public body, that the employer violated the law; (2) causing to be instituted any proceeding under the law; or (3) providing information to or testifying before any public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into any alleged violation of the law. Prohibited retaliatory actions include discharging, suspending, demoting, or otherwise penalizing an employee for engaging in these protected actions.
The new law also requires employers that provide an employee handbook to their employees to include in the employee handbook a notice of employee rights and remedies under New York Labor Law Section 203-e. So, employers that have employee handbooks should promptly revise their handbooks to comply with this new requirement.
The law took effect immediately when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed it on November 8. It does not appear that the New York State Department of Labor has published a sample provision for employee handbooks pertaining to the new law. Insurance agencies and brokerages that have employee handbooks should work with a qualified human resources consultant such as Affinity HR Group to develop a notice that complies with the law's requirements.
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Today, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S.1405/A.7531) aimed at protecting homeowners from "storm chasers," unscrupulous roofers who exploit homeowners in need of home repair services after a major storm, performing sub-standard work that must be redone, or no work at all.
Big I NY and partners in the insurance industry undertook a multi-year campaign to pass this legislation to protect our customers. Big I NY member agents sent emails to lawmakers and the governor urging passage of this important bill.
The legislation, which takes effect 180 days from today, establishes a number of protections, including:
- Establishing specific requirements and responsibilities of roofing contractors
- Requiring a roofing contractor to enter into a written contract with a homeowner prior to engaging in any repair services
- Prohibit roofing contractors from advertising or promising to pay or rebate any part of a deductible
- Granting the customer the right to cancel a contract within 3 days after receiving notice their insurer has denied all or part of their claim
- Holds that a homeowner in not responsible for payments after the contract has been canceled, except work done before cancellation and for emergency repairs
- Prohibits a roofing contractor from requiring a deposit in excess of 50% of the total contract amount
- Prohibits a contractor from abandoning or failing to perform work without justification, or deviating materially from plans or specifications
- Stipulates that a roofing contractor shall not fail to pay for materials or services rendered when the contractor has received sufficient funds as payment for the contract applicable to those materials and services.
- Bars a roofing contractor from performing any reporting, adjusting, or negotiation of a claim for the homeowner or receiving compensation for referral to an entity that performs such services
- Implements minimum general liability insurance requirements for roofing contractors of at least $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury and $50,000 property damage, and workers comp coverage or proof of exemption.
We thank the bill sponsors, Senator Carlucci (D, Rockland-Westchester) and Assemblywoman Buttenschon (D, Utica), and Governor Cuomo for their support of this important issue.
This week, Big I NY launched an email campaign calling on agents to tell Governor Cuomo to sign two key regulatory relief bills.
- A.7540-B/S.5815-C would provide a cure period for small businesses to correct the first-time violation, rather than be required to pay a substantial fine, while also continuing to protect the public. First-time violations would not be forgiven for regulatory offenses that harm public safety, health, or the environment, violate human or civil rights laws, violate penal law, or result in loss of employee wages or benefits.
- A.842/S.5812 would require state agencies to consider how proposed rules would affect small businesses, including the minimum time needed to comply with any new regulations. State agencies would need to consider the practical, financial, and legal constraints for small businesses, and describe how they intend to communicate the new requirements.
The bills will help improve the state's small business climate, and are expected to be sent to the Governor for action in the coming weeks. He will then have ten days to sign or veto the bills.
Superintendent of Financial Services Linda Lacewell has announced the appointment of My Chi To as Executive Deputy Superintendent of the Insurance Division at the Department of Financial Services. She replaces Laura Evangelista, who served in that role since June 2018.
My Chi is a partner in Debevoise & Plimpton’s restructuring group and global insurance practice. She represents clients across the insurance industry, including insurers, reinsurers, pension funds, private equity firms and other capital providers, in a wide range of transactions and restructuring matters. This includes state insurance rehabilitations and liquidations, insurance holding company bankruptcies, reinsurance transactions, reserve and other financings, pension risk transfers, and other complex transactions and restructurings involving insurance businesses.
We look forward to working with Executive Deputy Superintendent To to strengthen the independent agency system, protect consumers, and strengthen the state's insurance market.
Read the DFS press release here
Victims of domestic violence will have new protections against discrimination in the workplace under a New York State law taking effect November 18. The measure, which the State Legislature approved in May and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in August, places new restrictions on how employers may treat victims.
The new law prohibits employers and licensing agencies from:
- Refusing to hire or employ, or firing an individual because of her status as a domestic violence victim
- Discriminating against that individual in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment
- Printing or circulating statements, advertisements or publications; using employment applications; or making inquiries about prospective employment that express limits, specifications or discriminations against domestic violence victims
- Refusing to provide reasonable accomodations (leave for medical attention, counseling, services from shelters, legal services, etc.) for employees they know are domestic violence victims
The requirement to provide reasonable accomodations does not apply if the employer can show that the employee's absence would impose an undue hardship because of the business's size or the type of operation. Employees must provide the employer with either reasonable advance notice of the absence or, where that is not feasible, give the employer after the fact a police report of the incident, a medical report, a court order of protection or separation, or some other form of evidence.
If an employee suffers a physical or mental disability because of a domestic violence incident, the employer must treat that person as it would treat an employee with any other disability. Employers must also maintain confidentiality of the employee's information to the extent the law permits.
Recent announcements from several personal umbrella carriers outline major changes in coverage that will leave agents scrambling to find a new market for their clients.
For example, one major standalone umbrella carrier will begin requiring underlying auto liability limits of at least $1 million in some states and $500,000 in all others. That carrier will also require $1-million underlying uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits when excess UM/UIM is purchased.
Other carriers, meanwhile, have announced that they will be non-renewing all their personal umbrellas nationwide.
IAAC has personal umbrella markets to assist agents if they are dealing with carrier shifting underwriting guidelines.
Click here to get started
Recently, the NYS Department of Financial Services informed representatives of the insurance industry that the Department will significantly step up enforcement of the requirement that carriers notify DMV of new auto insurance business (NBS) within seven days of the issuance of the policy. The DFS’s position can best be characterized as “zero tolerance” for late reporting.
Big I NY, along with insurance carriers and their trade associations, have been regularly engaged with DMV and DFS regarding NBS compliance over the past several years. The DFS’s aggressive enforcement posture marks a significant development which will have impacts across New York’s auto insurance space.
At this stage, it is unclear what actions carriers will take and how independent agents and brokers will be affected. While the NBS reporting requirement applies solely to carriers, all parties in the insurance transaction (agents, brokers, dealers, carriers, etc.) have a role to play in ensuring notice is provided to DMV. We are currently working with members of the insurance industry to identify solutions to improving compliance.
Our principal objectives are to protect our members’ ability to provide their customers with the best and most responsive service, and ensure that independent agents are not unfairly disadvantaged with respect to captive and direct writers.
We will keep our members apprised of any developments in this emerging issue. In the immediate term, we recommend the following:
- Carefully review your agency’s practices and procedures to ensure that notice of new business is being provided to carriers with as little delay as possible.
- Check the binding authority requirements on your carrier contracts and make sure that your staff is aware of the requirements as well. It’s not uncommon to have the binding authority section stipulate that binding of coverage needs to be reported within a specific number of days.
- If an insured receives a notice from the DMV that there is a lapse in their insurance (through the IIES system), an agent can go into the DMV site and enter the insurance information on behalf of the insured. It’s simple (the agent only needs a copy of the notice received by the insured from the DMV) and the agent can use their own email address so that they get the confirming email as proof. What this does is to trigger the DMV-IIES to go back to the carrier that currently provides the coverage. This particularly helpful if the carrier is not being responsive to the issue.
Upcoming Flood Insurance Webinars for Agents
Presented by the National Flood Insurance Program
November 2019 - Register Now!
(Capacity is Limited)
Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents
Parts One and Two
Please register for both parts of this webinar.
Part One: November 13 - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CST - REGISTER
Part Two: November 14 - 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM CST - REGISTER
Insurance agent continuing education course approval and credits vary by state. CLICK HERE for information about your state.
Can't attend these sessions? Watch for more opportunities soon.
TWO-PART KEY FUNDAMENTALS WEBINAR
This webinar is a two-part course on the National Flood Insurance Program. It includes the topics listed in the Federal Register notice on training and education requirements related to Section 207 of the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2004, otherwise known as FIRA 2004.
It brings participants the latest information on reform legislation impacting the NFIP as it reviews the key elements that insurance agents need to know about the NFIP and how it works. It also discusses many of the federal flood program's general rules as well as some more advanced topics. For more information visit our Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance overview.
Attendees must complete both sessions in order to cover all topics required by the Flood Insurance Reform Act (FIRA) of 2004.
To register, please use the links above. These webinars are FREE to attend, but spaces are limited so please register early.
Can't attend these sessions? NFIP Training conducts webinars on flood insurance topics regularly. Watch for more upcoming opportunities. If you are not a subscriber to NFIP agent training bulletins, please sign up here.
CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS
Insurance agent continuing education course approval and credits vary by state. Click Here for information about your state. Some states (e.g. California, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia) require that both parts of the course be successfully completed in the same offering to receive any credit hours.
Currently, there are no CE credits available in Puerto Rico, Guam or the Virgin Islands.
Both parts of the course must be completed to meet the FIRA 2004 training requirement. Periodic learning checks will be conducted to measure attendee engagement. Learning checks must be completed by each registered attendee to earn CE credit. Only registered attendees are eligible to receive CE credits. No exam is required. As the course provider, we will collect agents' license numbers for the purpose of roster submissions.
State Mandatory Notifications:
Colorado - This two-part course is approved by the Colorado Division of Insurance for Continuing Insurance Education Credit.
Connecticut - Approved by the State of Connecticut Insurance Department for insurance producer continuing education credit.
Florida - Each part of this course has been approved by the Florida Department of Financial Services for insurance continuing education credit. FL Provider: H2O Partners, Inc. (#365883); Course: Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents - Part 1 (Webinar) (#106200); Course: Key Fundamentals of Flood Insurance for Agents - Part 2 (Webinar) (#106202).
New Mexico - This course has been approved by the Insurance Continuing Education Committee as a New Mexico Insurance Continuing Education Course.
South Carolina - This course is approved by the South Carolina Department of Insurance for Continuing Insurance Education Credit.
Questions? Contact Aaron Montanez at: email@example.com
By Mary Byrnes, AAI-M, AU, Education Department
On the eve of my last day with Big I New York rapidly approaching on November 7th, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to leave you with one last challenge.
Thinking back on a few decades in insurance, it has come to mind how truly blessed I have been to have been mentored by some wonderful people. Perhaps you might have known them.
Bill Caryl of Caryl & Murray (RIP)-This was my first agency position. Whether it was asking to take the brokers licensing course, take the AAI course series, try my hand at sales, or whatever, Bill was not only on board, but when I came into the office and said, “Guess what I learned?", he didn't roll his eyes wondering if I thought he was born yesterday. He was so encouraging. For those of you that might have known Bill, I'm sure that you remember him as fondly as I do. He helped set me on a path that will never be forgotten.
Tom Kowalczyk, CPCU, Unigard Insurance Company-Tom was an insurance brain and the Commercial Underwriting Manager in the Syracuse office. As an underwriter, I'd stick my head in his office and say “Does this form cover….?" His response, “Did you read the form? Come back in when you have." He also figured me out pretty quickly, if he told me that I might not be able to do something, I'd make it my mission to show him that I'd figure it out. In the 10 years that we worked together, I learned so much because he challenged me.
Lastly, Jim Tompkins of First Niagara Risk Management (RIP) was a wonderful mentor and an even better friend. We worked on a few accounts together that were so challenging and interesting. Both of us just loved the whole process of insurance so we fed off each other. Co-workers would say that I was so lucky to work with him and they were right.
These people had such an impact on me, they each changed the course of how I saw the industry and to see the potential in what I could do. Many of you have played these same roles with people that you have worked with, please know that you are appreciated and as you can see from the memories above, you will never be forgotten. My challenge to you, it to keep being a great mentor and for those who have been mentored to pay it forward. The rewards to both the mentor and the mentee are worth it.
It is so exciting to start this next chapter. I'm going to try joining my husband in retirement, he's loving it, so it's likely we'll enjoy it together.
Thank you for joining me in this column, your feedback has been overwhelming. Every conversation about it and your take on some of the topics covered were very much enjoyed and appreciated.
It has been so awesome to get to know so many of you. The emails and notes that you have sent to me since learning of my new adventure are so kind and I am truly grateful. Best wishes to you all.