Today, Big I New York, a statewide nonprofit trade association representing approximately 1,500 independent insurance agencies and their over 12,000 employees, congratulated Adrienne Harris on her confirmation by the NY Senate as the state’s Superintendent of Financial Services.
“Adrienne Harris’ impressive experience as a public servant, educator, and leader in the financial services sector, combined with her thoughtful regulatory philosophy, make her exceptionally well-qualified to serve as one of the most important financial regulators in the nation,” said Lisa Lounsbury, Big I NY’s President and CEO. “We congratulate her on this extraordinary achievement, and are confident she will serve the people of New York with honor and distinction.”
Ron Brunell, CIC, Chair of the Big I NY Board said, “We are excited to work with Superintendent Harris to protect insurance customers and ensure the state enjoys a vibrant, thriving insurance market with affordable coverage options for all.”
As expected, chapter amendments to the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act (CIDA) were introduced this week, which resolve our most serious concerns. The original bill, which we strongly opposed, would have required the automatic disclosure of all insurance information within 60 days of litigation, including the full policy application. This could have created substantial burdens and potential E&O exposure for agents, as well as compromising sensitive customer information. The chapter amendments remove the policy application from automatic disclosure, lengthen the time frame to 90 days, and will exempt motor vehicle PIP litigation. The amended CIDA is not expected to have a significant impact on independent agents.
The amendments will be retroactive back to the original effective date of the CIDA, eliminating the possibility that defendants will be forced to comply with the original, far more burdensome requirements, if disclosure is requested prior to passage of the chapter amendments. The amendments are expected to be passed and signed into law swiftly, prior to the March 1 disclsoure deadline in the original bill.
On Tuesday, January 18th, Governor Hochul released her executive budget. The $216 billion budget is balanced and includes no new tax increases. Relevant items include:
- Non-Compete/No-Poach Ban: A ban on non-compete agreements for workers making below the median wage in New York State and a total ban on “no-poach" agreements under State antitrust law. We believe the widespread ban on non-compete and no-poach agreements would be unnecessary and harmful to our industry.
- Focus on Enhancing Current Healthcare System: The budget identifies numerous changes reduce the cost of healthcare and reduce the state's uninsured population, as well as rebuilding our healthcare workforce and economy. Conspicuously absent is any mention of a single-payer healthcare system. We are encouraged to see Governor Hochul focus on enhancing the current health insurance system rather than supporting a costly and unnecessary single-payer system.
- Infrastructure Projects: The Governor's commitment to rebuilding infrastructure as a driver of economic recovery, including $1B each for bridge and highway repair programs and a multitude of infrastructure projects across the state, will benefit the construction industry.
On Monday, January 24th, The New York State Senate will begin the confirmation process of Acting DFS Superintendent Adrienne Harris. The Senate Insurance Committee will begin the confirmation hearings at 10:00, and will be webcast here. To be confirmed, she must receive a majority vote in the Insurance Committee, Banking Committee, and by the full Senate.
Harris brings extensive experience in economics and financial services. She served as a special assistant for economic policy for President Obama at the National Economic Council, and previously worked for the Brunswick Group as a senior advisor to financial companies, venture capital firms, and fintechs. Since leaving the White House in January 2017, Harris went on to serve as General Counsel and Chief Business Officer, and presently as Advisor at States Title, Inc. (now DOMA), which provides title insurance and settlement services in a number of state throughout the nation. She currently serves as a Professor and Faculty Co-Director at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy's Center on Finance, Law and Policy at the University of Michigan.
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Last week, I chatted with Big I NY Board Chair Ron Brunell. If you've met Ron (if you haven't, you really should), you know he's an incredibly smart, successful, outspoken, multi-generation leader from downstate. You may also know that the man has a heart the size of NY and when he speaks, he means it. Ron was a few minutes late to our chat because he was answering a call from another independent agent entrepreneur, a man he's mentoring through the Big I Diversity Council's Right Start program.
I've heard Ron many times share how meaningful this program is to him. What does he do? He shares his hard-earned wisdom with someone trying to get started in our industry over 1000 miles away. Does he get paid for this fantastic consulting opportunity? Not in dollars. It's clear helping another strikes a very deep chord.
As I reflected on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and how to continue to honor his legacy, Ron's story came to mind. What if I, if you, if everyone around us served as a mentor to raise another. To share the things that were hard for us to learn, from the experiences we've been lucky enough to have. What if even a few of us could do this. Impacts have a funny way of multiplying.
Connect with a program in your local community, schools, or through the Big I.
Julie Furst is the AVP of Marketing & Communications for Big I New York. Connect with her at email@example.com
On December 12, the NYS Assembly passed Big I NY-supported legislation to eliminate an unnecessary burden on customers by repealing the anti-arson application statewide.
Section 3403 of the Insurance Law requires the completion of an “anti-arson application" for people seeking property insurance for fire or explosion to complete. If a policyholder fails to complete this application, which is required upon initial application for insurance and on each subsequent renewal of the policy, the insurer must cancel the policy.
Technology has advance dramatically since the application was first required, and the law has outlived its usefulness. Insurance companies today are required by law to have fraud prevention plans, which are filed with the State, on how they detect, investigate, and prevent fraudulent activities. These fraud prevention plans are far more effective than the anti-arson application form which simply asks a series of questions. The law is just a paperwork burden for policyholders who risk losing coverage if the paperwork is not completed. Recent legislation scaled back the current law to remove cities with a population of less than 1 million, leaving New York City as the last jurisdiction with this requirement.
Big I NY thanks the bill's sponsor, Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D, Brooklyn) for championing this critical pro-customer reform. The bill must now pass the Senate and be signed by the governor before becoming law.
On December 31st, Governor Hochul signed the “Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act" (CIDA) on the condition that the legislature would swiftly pass several changes to the bill, referred to as “chapter amendments." The bill as signed requires, among other things, defendants in a lawsuit to automatically disclose all insurance information, including the policy application, within 60 days of answering for new actions and by March 31, 2022 for all pending actions. The chapter amendments agreed upon by Governor Hochul and the legislative leaders would exempt the policy application from automatic disclosure. These amendments are expected to be passed soon, but at the time of writing they have not been introduced in either house.
How it Affects You:
The CIDA took effect on December 31,2021, and while beneficial amendments are in the works and virtually certain to be adopted, the law as originally written currently stands. We have heard from several members whose customers have already been notified of the requirement to produce all insurance information. Furthermore, while we fully expect the chapter amendments exempting insurance applications from automatic disclosure will be passed prior to the March 1st deadline, we do not yet know if the amendments will be retroactive back to the December 31, 2021.
Big I NY Has Your Back:
We will closely monitor and report on the status of the CIDA chapter amendments and if they are retroactive. Throughout 2021, Big I NY consistently opposed the CIDA, culminating with a statewide call-in campaign to Governor Hochul. We are pleased that our greatest concern with the bill, disclosure of the full policy application, will be resolved.
Without competitive insurance markets, your agency can't grow and get to the next level. We know the more markets your agency can easily access, the better your chances of writing and retaining business, so we have made market access an integral part of your membership.
In 2020, we made the investment to be a part of Independent Market Solutions (IMS) and, since that time, we have grown market availability in New York to include 10 participating carriers that offer personal, commercial, and various specialty lines.
IMS programs are designed to give agencies of all sizes the opportunity to gain carrier appointments as IMS sub-producers. Certain insurance markets also feature the opportunity to “graduate" to a direct appointment once the carrier's minimum premium threshold and performance standards are met. While working as an IMS sub-producer, agencies are paid competitive commissions, enjoy 100 percent ownership of expirations, and can participate in earned contingencies.
Access to IMS is an exclusive Big I NY member benefit, and that simply means you can be assured of the most agent-friendly terms available that perpetuate and add to the prosperity of independent agencies.
To learn more about IMS and how to sign up to start writing business, visit IMSAccess.com.