With the new year upon us, let us take a moment to reflect upon 2023, which was easily the most effective and successful legislative session in recent history for Big I NY. The victories we achieved this year will have lasting impacts on independent agencies and their customers. These accomplishments were achieved, in no small part, due to the tireless advocacy of our members and our government affairs team in Albany.
Photo inspection reform and unfair quoting practices legislation signed into law:
In 2023, Big I NY was successful in passing a law to allow insurance companies to waive CARCO inspections for the next four years. Based on similar initiatives in other states, we anticipate that this will reduce the number of photo inspections by over 90%, relieving customers and agents of a significant hassle. More importantly, customers will be spared from losing their comprehensive and collision coverage due to being unable to complete a photo inspection in time. This bill has been a priority for the association for over 20 years. Big I NY agents sent over 2,500 emails, signed over 1,600 petitions, made hundreds of phone calls, and held over 100 meetings with State lawmakers. This historic level of agent advocacy helped overcome numerous challenges and carried the bill to signature in November of 2023. The law will take effect on May 15th, 2024.
Also this year, Big I NY celebrated the signature of another priority law which will protect consumers from misleading quoting practices. This new law will require insurance companies to run a customer's motor vehicle report (MVR) prior to binding coverage. This will eliminate the practice of companies offering policyholders a low quote and then subsequently raising premiums later after running the insurance MVR.
Wrongful death expansion, non-compete ban bill defeated:
Big I NY also scored two defensive victories this year with the veto of legislation to dramatically expand the state's wrongful death law, and a bill which would have banned the use of all non-compete agreements in the state. We joined a broad-based coalition of groups representing virtually every sector of the state's economy to urge governor Hochul to veto the wrongful death expansion bill. The bill would have dramatically increased both the volume of wrongful death lawsuits, and the value of awards and settlements, which would have had a devastating effect on the economy and the insurance market. We also urged the governor to veto the non-compete ban bill on the basis that it did not include an explicit exemption for the use of non-compete agreements in the sale or purchase of a business. If this bill had been signed into law, it would be a major disruption to agency sale and acquisitions.
Met with top officials on the state of the insurance market:
The deteriorating state of the New York insurance market was our top concern in 2023 and remains our top concern this year. Throughout last year, Big I NY was instrumental in engaging key leaders to draw attention to the need to stabilize the state's market. We issued a dire warning and subsequently met with Executive Deputy Superintendent of Insurance John Finston of the Department of Financial Services, Senator Neil Breslin, and Assembly Member David Weprin, chairs of the Senate and assembly insurance committees respectively. Big I NY testified before the State Assembly on the impact of extreme weather events on the insurance market.
Secured favorable changes to the New York cyber security regulation:
Big I NY urged the Department of Financial Services to make favorable changes to the cybersecurity regulation, such as significantly expanding the limited exemption, and creating a total exemption for inactive licensees. Both changes were included in the final amendments to the regulation released this year. But we didn't stop there - we immediately published guidance to educate members on the new requirements and the effective dates, and subsequently partnered with the Department of Financial Services to offer a comprehensive training webinar. Stay tuned for updated compliance resources all available at no charge to Big I NY members.
Hosted legislative events for agents and elected officials:
Big I agents traveled to Washington DC to lobby our senators and members of Congress on pressing national issues such as the reauthorization of the national flood insurance program, new data privacy laws, and extension of important small business tax cuts. We also hosted legislative breakfasts in Central New York and Western New York with agents and state lawmakers from the regions.
Set political fundraising records:
In 2023, Big I NY members raised nearly $57,000 for Insurpac, our federal political action committee, and nearly $80,000 for IAPAC, our state political action committee. These funds were crucial in supporting the elections of state and federal candidates who understand and support the industry.
Building on the momentum in 2024 and beyond:
We're not resting on our laurels. With the start of the 2024 legislative session, your team at Big I NY is already hard at work. Our government affairs team is building relationships at the Capitol in Albany, and just this week, Lisa Lounsbury, CEO of Big I NY, represented the association at a private VIP reception with governor Kathy Hochul.
Want to get involved and help us make 2024 even more successful than last year?