March 19, 2020 - Today, Lisa Lounsbury, Big I New York President and CEO, asked the Empire State Development Corporation to declare that insurance agencies and brokerages do provide essential services to the public in response to an executive order mandating businesses decrease their in-office workforce by 75 percent by 8 p.m. Friday, March 20.
This follows the Governor's directive yesterday that all businesses and not-for-profit entities in the state shall implement, to the maximum extent possible, any telecommuting or work from home procedures that they can safely utilize. Any essential business or entity providing essential services or functions shall not be subject to the in-person restrictions. This includes banks and related financial institutions.
Big I NY asserts that independent insurance agencies and brokerages are financial institutions in that they sell financial contracts and provide services to insurance buyers. It is our opinion that they should be considered “related financial institutions” within the terms of this executive order because they provide essential services to the public, including:
- Receiving first reports from policyholders of incidents for which they make claims against their insurance coverages
- Acting as intermediaries between insurance claimants and the insurers providing coverages
- Obtaining insurance for businesses and households in immediate need of coverage (for example, individuals who must quickly obtain Homeowners Insurance for closings on home mortgage loans)
- Issuing Automobile Liability Insurance identification cards for purchasers of new and used motor vehicles, who must produce the cards to the Department of Motor Vehicles at the time of vehicle registration
- Answering questions from the public about their insurance coverages, particularly as those coverages pertain to the present crisis
- Accepting premium payments from the public
“I ask that you deem independent insurance agencies and brokerages to be 'essential businesses or entities providing essential services or functions' and not subject to the in-person restrictions described in the executive order,” Lounsbury said. Insurance policyholders rely on their independent agents and brokers to provide services whenever they need them. Consequently, it is critical that agencies and brokerages have sufficient staff on hand to provide these services. It’s imperative that agencies have the flexibility to determine the right staffing plan for their business, one that allows for safety of employees while serving the needs of their customers.
Big I New York will be closely monitoring this Executive Order and will provide updates on the status and clarification of insurance agencies and brokers with relation to it as they become available. Please visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) News and Resource page on our website at BigINY.org/Coronavirus
for resources, including remoting working information. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions on this or any other aspect of how the Coronavirus pandemic affects your business. Even during these difficult moments, Big I New York always has your back.