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Jul 31
DFS Suspends Cost Sharing for Outpatient Mental Health Services for Essential Workers

Today, the DFS adopted, on an emergency basis, the 60th amendment to Regulation 62. The amendment prohibits health insurers from charging copays, coinsurance, or deductibles for outpatient mental health services for essential workers, with the exception of high deductible plans. Health insurers are further required to notify outpatient mental health providers in their network that they may not collect any copay, coinsurance, or deductible from essential workers for such services.

The regulation is currently in effect until September 28th, 2020.

Read the amended regulation here

Jul 31
Liberty Mutual Insurance Waives Growth Requirement for Agencies in Profit-Sharing

Liberty Mutual Insurance announced that they are rolling out updated guidelines for their 2020 commercial lines profit-sharing agreement and will be waiving the 10% written premium growth requirement to earn a profit-sharing bonus.

"Despite the incredible challenges they've faced during the pandemic, independent agencies never stopped working hard. They continue to help customers protect what matters most, while keeping their teams safe and businesses afloat. But our shared customers have been hit hard and agencies need carrier support," said Big I NY's Chair of the Board, David T. MacLachlan, CPCU.

"I commend Liberty Mutual for leading the way, waiving the growth requirement for agencies in profit-sharing. There continues to be much economic uncertainty. Liberty’s move is just one way to help agents move more confidently towards the future, and I strongly encourage other carriers to follow suit." ​

New York members requested this leeway when asked how carriers can best support them at this point in the pandemic. The Big I NY exclusive report '
Independent Agency Approach to Visits During COVID-19' explains how agencies are handling in-person and virtual visits, and the safety precautions being implemented. Read the report.

Read the full IA Magazine article sharing this Liberty Mutual news. ​

Jul 29
On Our Mind...CE for Your Agency

​By Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA, AVP of Learning & Development

My wife just reminded me that back in March when I started working remotely, I boldly predicted I would be back at the office by mid-May, well……….

As we stare straight at August, all the headlines (well many of them) are talking about kids going back to school and “how" it will all work.  It got me to think about your agency and your staff's needs for continuing education for license renewal as well as those taking certification and designation classes.

What are your plans?  How do you implement them?  Have you discussed doing classes as a group remotely?  We can help!!

Do you have a certain class or topic in mind?  Is there an instructor you really like?  

Please contact us so we can discuss, arrange and deliver a quality, convenient and competitive education program where you and your staff can earn CE from the comfort of their home office.

We have a lot of experience and the technology to pull this off successfully!

In the meantime, here are some upcoming classes you may want to look into.

Reg 187 - It's In YOUR Best Interest​    

How Businesses Use Life Insurance Against Financial Losses

NYAIP Certification Program   

Cyber Coverage - Data Breach and So Much More​

Jul 24
DFS Announces First Enforcement Action of NYS Cyber Regulation

​This week, the Department of Financial Services announced the first charges for violations of Reg 500, aka the Cyber Regulation. The Department alleges a laundry list of violations by First American Title Insurance Company, which resulted in the exposure of millions of customer documents.

We have long speculated and advised you that DFS will not take violations of the Cyber Regulation lightly. Now, we have a bit more clarity: in this case, DFS holds that each instance of exposed customer information carries up to a $1,000 fine. Need a reason make sure your agency is in compliance? The DFS just gave you a billion reasons.

The good news: Big I NY has your back with a full suite of compliance tools to make sure your customer data stays safe. Plus, Big I NY members receive​ a 5% discount on cybersecurity consulting services from LCG

With more employees working from home, cybersecurity risks are on the rise. It's more important than every to ensure your customer data is safe and secure. 

Jul 24
Albany Update: Legislature Adjourns, Victory on Business Interruption, “Bad Faith" Bills


What you need to know:

    • The New York State Senate and Assembly have adjourned for the year.

    • Several bills that Big I NY opposed, including business interruption coverage mandates and “bad faith" liability were not passed.

    • The legislature will hold joint hearings on COVID-19 between July 28th and August 25th. 

​As of July 24th, the NY Senate and Assembly stand adjourned at the call of the Majority Leader and Speaker​, respectively. Unlike in past years, all bills “on third reading," meaning those that have passed the relevant committee(s) and are eligible for a vote by the full house, remain on third reading. Legislative leaders can call legislators back to session at any point during the remainder of the year, and can resume voting on bills. The legislature will hold joint hearings on COVID-19 between July 28th and August 25th, and the prevailing opinion is they are likely to reconvene​ session in the early fall.

Business Interruption Bills Defeated:

From their first introduction, Big I NY strongly opposed bills to retroactively mandate that business interruption coverage apply to pandemic related-losses.​ Such proposals would decimate the private insurance market, harm all NY policyholders, provide limited benefit to hurting businesses, and are almost certainly unconstitutional. We further oppose legislation to that would proactively mandate such coverage​, as it would also create a crisis of cost and availability for business interruption coverage. During the final crucial weeks of session, we launched a grassroots campaign pressuring legislators to reject these harmful bills, resulting in well over six hundred emails sent and four dozen phone calls to members of the NY Assembly.​​

“Bad Faith" Liability Bills Defeated:

Big I NY worked closely with the carrier trades to oppose legislation that would impose sweeping legal liability on insurers for a range of “bad faith" claim settlement conduct. This legislation, which is a priority for the plaintiff's bar, would result in an avalanche of litigation against insurers, driving up premiums for all New York customers.

Dog Breed Legislation Withdrawn from Committee Agenda:

On Monday, the Senate Insurance Committee was scheduled to vote on S.7924​​​, which would prohibit insurers from canceling, refusing to issue or renew, or charging higher premiums for homeowners’ insurance based on the breed of a dog. Big I NY opposed this legislation, and it was subsequently pulled from the committee agenda at the sponsor's request. The bill therefore did not advance. 

Bill Authorizing Sale of Group Fleet For-Hire Auto Passed:

Both the Senate and Assembly passed legislation requiring NY insurers to establish a group fleet policy insuring against the losses or liabilities arising out of the ownership of motor vehicles engaged in the business of carrying or transporting passengers for-hire, having a seating capacity of not less than eight passengers. The legislation takes effect immediately upon signature by the governor.

​Police Liability Insurance Legislation Not Considered:

Legislation to require police officers to carry liability insurance garnered attention nationally, but was not acted on in either the Senate or Assembly.


Jul 23
On Our Mind…Learning to Thrive

By Sue Keegan, AIC, MBA, Learning & Development Coordinator

My daughter has a dream catcher in her room, hanging over her bed.  Legend says good dreams pass through the dream catcher to the sleeping child and bad dreams are warded off.  A dream catcher is a good luck charm that absorbs positive energy while repelling negative energy. 

 My daughter was a true believer in this legend when she was younger.  She's sixteen now, and although we haven't talked about it in forever, that dream catcher remains on her wall.  She has approached COVID-19 with such a positive attitude that I almost think there is something to be said about the dream catcher and its effect on her.  She's flexible and open to new ideas and responds so well to the continual changes we see every day.  

 I, however, am set in my ways and sometimes it takes a shove to get me to open my mind.   The thought of working from home wasn't anything I was even remotely interested in doing.   Here I am now, though, four months post-COVID-19 lockdown and doing quite well.  We transitioned to working from home on March 22.  I am forever grateful we were given this opportunity to continue working.  I've been able to do a lot of the things I have always meant to do but just never got around to. 

 I'm reading the newsletters I get in my email.  I'm responding timely to email – a true fete in itself.  I'm doing deep dives into areas I know I should know more about.  I have learned a lot about my co-workers and almost feel like I've made meaningful personal connections with each of them through our virtual interactions.  I'm taking classes I should have taken forever ago and just kept putting off.  I'm brushing up on old technology and learning new technology.   I'm taking a page from my daughter's book and am learning to thrive during this most unconventional time.  

If you're closing in on a designation, now is the time to finish it up.  If you're thinking about beginning work toward a designation, no better time than now.  If you want to get something started but don't know how, please reach out to me.  There is no time better than now to start or continue in-house education.

ABEN Little This a Little That: New Threats & Possibilities ​     

ABEN Rental Cars: More Than Meets the Eye

ABEN Cyber Exposures and Insurance Training for Agents and Brokers​

Jul 20
On Our Mind...New Opportunity

By Sue Keegan, AIC, MBA, Learning & Development Coordinator

They say we are living in a new world; that we have a new normal.  Life seems and feels really strange right now.  Looking for the silver lining has become important to me.  And guess what?  I found it!

During this, the craziest of times, I was hired by Big I NY.  To long story short it, my background is in claims.  I worked for the same company for almost 30 years.  They closed their NY office at the end of last year.  On my last day, as I was literally heading out the door, I ran into Lisa Lounsbury and she said, “Drop off your resume, you never know what the future may bring." 

Well, the future brought me the most amazing opportunity, and I am now the Learning and Development Coordinator at Big I NY.  I'm actually in the same building as I was with my previous employer, although most of the time you will find me working out of my basement in Camillus, NY!

The people I work with are amazing.  From my first day and everyday thereafter, I have felt appreciated and welcomed and treated like an important part of this big, happy, cohesive team.  Their desire to provide the best service possible to our members is nothing short of inspirational.  The word nice is so blah and just too easy to use when you're describing people.  But these people are nice.  They're nice and they're smart and they're honest and they're successful and they're kind and they've got your back. 

 Here are some CE opportunities you don't want to miss!   

Hour With Kevin: Drones-Ins Innovators,Enthusiasts & Idiots  

How Businesses Use Life Insurance Against Financial Losses 

Cyber Coverage - Data Breach and So Much More​  ​

Jul 17
Albany Update – Legislature Returns, Committee Meetings Held, Business Interruption Campaign Launched
swh headshot blog.jpgWhat you need to know:

State lawmakers return to Albany on Monday for a full week session, which is expected to be the last “regular” session week. 
Members of the legislature will reconvene virtually in early August for a series of hearings on issues related to COVID-19. A list of specific issues is not yet available. 
Big I NY opposes retroactive business interruption coverage mandates and “bad faith” lawsuit bills. We are monitoring underwriting restrictions based on dog breeds and COVID-19 Workers Compensation proposals. 

Here are the latest developments:

Big I NY Launches Business Interruption Campaign:

This week, we rolled out a statewide grassroots campaign to oppose A.10226-B (Carrol)/S.8211-A (Gounardes), which would retroactively mandate that business interruption coverage apply to pandemic-related losses, even when such coverage was specifically excluded. This legislation would decimate New York’s insurance market, with serious consequences for policyholders of all types of insurance. Click here to send a message to your lawmaker​

“Bad Faith” Legislation Advances in the Assembly:

The Assembly Insurance Committee voted 14-6 to advance A.5623-B (Weinstein), which would create a private right of action to allow a policyholder to sue an insurance company for a wide range of claims settlement practices. Big I NY opposes this legislation, as it is unwarranted and would substantially increase the cost of insurance. New York policyholders already have multiple remedies, including suing for breach of contract, violations of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, and filing a complaint with the Department of Financial Services. California courts briefly authorized “bad faith” lawsuits, only to see insurance premiums spike by almost 20% before ultimately reversing the decision.

Dog Breed Legislation Considered in Senate:

On Monday, the Senate Insurance Committee will consider S.7924 (Martinez)​​, which would prohibit insurers from canceling, refusing to issue or renew, or charging higher premiums for homeowners’ insurance based on the breed of a dog.

Workers Compensation Presumption of Workplace Exposure Bills Not Considered:

Legislation to create a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is an occupational disease covered by workers’ compensation have not advanced to a committee vote. 

Jul 10
On Our Mind...What it Means to Be Independent

​By Jim Lombardo, CPCU, AAI, AIM, MBA, AVP of Learning & Development

Ahhh to be “independent." defines it as:

  1. not influenced or controlled by others in matters of opinion, conduct, etc.; thinking or acting for oneself
  2. not subject to another's authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; free
  3. not influenced by the thought or action of others
  4. not dependent; not depending or contingent upon something else for existence, operation, etc.​

You are an independent insurance agent!  You have the freedom to do what is best for your customer.  It is a tremendous benefit that comes with an equally tremendous responsibility.  Of course, price is important, but you have the opportunity to offer ANY company your agency works with.  That is a very advantageous and strategic position to be in.  So use it!!  Explain to your clients and prospects why your agency is the best place for their insurance.  Use your power of independence to paint that picture.

We all get lazy, complacent and/or stuck in routines at times.  I understand. BUT, in today's competitive and cutthroat marketplace, it is essential that you and your staff are always “on your game."

Use the different carriers you have access to.  Find out the obvious and also the not so obvious benefits of doing business with them.  Utilize all available discounts and credits.  Carriers change pricing.  They have niches and certain classifications they are priced right for.  Find out!!

How can you say you are independent if you place most of your business with one carrier?  How can you say you are independent when you don't take the time to do a thorough review and evaluation of your clients' needs and exposures?  How can you say you are independent if you don't always strive for better?  Better companies?  Better coverages?  Better experience?  Better knowledge?

Here are some upcoming webinars that will help you become more knowledgeable.  Take advantage of them.

ABEN Basics of Property Values and Coinsurance Conditions

VU 5 Contractor Coverage Concepts All Agents MUST Know

VU 3 Keys To Getting the Named Insured Correct

Big I NY 2020 Annual E&O Loss Control Seminar: Webinar​

Jul 08
Webinar: Get to Know JIBNA Personal Jewelry Insurance

​Join us for this FREE webinar featuring JIBNA Personal Jewelry Insurance. JIBNA is a unique, stand-alone personal jewelry program that can accommodate small to multi-million dollar schedules. Best of all, JIBNA does NOT require new appraisals!

Wednesday, July 22  |  2:00 pm​

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