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Feb 23
3 Unique Ways to Build Relationships with Remote Employees

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Building relationships with remote employees is essential for fostering a strong team dynamic and a sense of belonging. Here are three unique strategies to bridge the gap and cultivate meaningful connections:

  1. Virtual Coffee Chats or Buddy System: Pair remote employees with colleagues for regular virtual coffee chats to discuss non-work-related topics and build rapport. Alternatively, establish a buddy system where remote employees are paired with on-site colleagues for support and social interaction.


  2. Virtual Team-Building Activities: Organize virtual game fun, online trivia contests, or collaborative problem-solving sessions to encourage participation and teamwork among remote team members. Host virtual social events like happy hours or cooking classes to promote bonding over shared experiences.


  3. Remote Employee Recognition Programs: Implement a recognition program to celebrate remote employees' achievements and contributions. Use platforms for public acknowledgment during team meetings, send personalized thank-you notes or care packages, and show appreciation with digital gift cards to strengthen relationships and morale.

By incorporating these unique approaches, organizations can effectively build relationships with remote employees and create a more engaged and connected team environment. Connection can really impact performance, retention and satisfaction. It's worth the attention.


Feb 16
The Cybersecurity Certification of Compliance Has Changed


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Entities that the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) will soon complete the compliance filings that the financial services cybersecurity regulation requires. This year they will notice a change.

The DFS regulates entities in the banking, financial services, and insurance sectors. These entities must submit a statement by April 15 each year about the state of their compliance with the regulation's requirements. Before this year, they had to submit a statement that they were complying with them during the prior calendar year.

An amendment to the regulation that took effect last November 1 expanded that requirement. Entities will have to complete and submit one of two forms:

Your agency will complete and submit the first one if it “materially complied" with the regulation's requirements  during the prior calendar year. The agency must base this on records that support the conclusion.

The agency must submit the second one If it did not meet the requirements in one or more sections of the regulation that apply to it. The person completing this form must:

  • Acknowledge that the agency did not “materially comply" with all the regulation's requirements during the prior year.
  • Identify the sections the agency did not comply with.
  • Describe what the agency failed to do and how big the failure was.
  • Either affirm that the agency has since met the requirements or provide a timeline for eventual compliance.

The agency's highest-ranking executive and its chief information security officer (CISO) must sign whichever form the agency submits. If the agency does not have a CISO, the senior officer responsible for the agency's cybersecurity program must sign it instead. Most Big I New York members do not have a CISO. If the highest-ranking executive and the person responsible for cybersecurity are the same person, that person must sign it in both spaces.

Your agency must retain the documents supporting its filing for five years.

​If you are one of the 92% of Big I New York members who qualify for the limited exemption, you must certify compliance or acknowledge noncompliance only with those sections of the regulation that apply to you.

Two things that have not changed:

  • Your licensed employees who your agency's cybersecurity program covers do not have to submit either of these forms. They should have submitted a Notice of Exemption and given Section 500.19(b) as the reason.
  • The regulation does not require the agency or its licensed employees to submit the Notice of Exemption again unless something has changed. An employee who changed employers or their name must submit a new one. So does an agency that grew too large to qualify under one of the three criteria for the limited exemption. If none of that is the case, the regulation does not require a Notice of Exemption every year. We have spoken with members who have done this unnecessary work.

More information is always available at:

Feb 16
New York's Proposed Budget Includes Many Changes Affecting IAs and Customers: What You Need to Know

By Scott Hobson, AVP of Government Relations

SHobson@BigINY.org

New York's budget process is in full swing, and Governor Hochul recently released her executive budget proposal. As the first step in the budget process, the Governor's proposal lays out her vision for how the state will collect and spend tax dollars, as well as major policy initiatives for the year. Next, each house of the legislature will issue their own proposals, and the legislative leaders and governor will negotiate on a final budget, which is due by April 1st.

Many of the Governor's proposals would impact IAs and their customers. Throughout the budget process Big I NY's government affairs team will work with lawmakers and Governor Hochul to support pro-consumer measures and defeat those which are harmful. These issues and our position are outlined below.

SUPPORT Changes to Supplemental Spousal Liability Opt-Out Law (Executive Budget, TED Part DD)

What it does: Makes common sense changes to the recent law that made supplemental spousal liability opt-out, rather than opt-in. Automatic enrollment would apply only to married policyholders, and would exempt commercial auto policies.

Why it is good for consumers: Supplemental Spousal Liability coverage is an often overlooked, valuable, and affordable or even no-cost coverage that benefits married drivers. However, the 2022 opt-in law resulted in situations where unmarried drivers were automatically enrolled in coverage they would not benefit from. Moreover, the coverage is rarely a benefit for commercial auto polices.

SUPPORT the Extension of the Internet Point Insurance Reduction Program (Executive Budget, TED Part F)

What it does: This program provides a 10% reduction for three years, from the base rate of current liability, no-fault and collision premiums for drivers who complete an approved point reduction course. The executive budget would extend the program until 2026. It is currently due to expire April 1, 2024.

Why it is good for consumers: The program improves public safety and gives drivers a much-needed reduction in their insurance rates.

SUPPORT Property Resiliency Initiatives (Executive Budget, Capital Projects Allocation)

What it does: Provide $435 million for resiliency projects to protect communities from severe floods, including $250 million for a voluntary buyout program.

Why it is good for consumers: Multiple studies have shown that for every dollar spent on preventative measures, it saves approximately $4 in future losses. By actively implementing risk mitigation strategies, communities and consumers can help harden property and better protect it. The implementation of risk mitigation strategies should make certain properties more appealing to insure, adequately cover and accurately price.

OPPOSE Unfair, Deceptive, and Abusive Acts and Practices (Executive Budget, TED Part JJ)

What it does: The proposed expansion of the law surrounding Unfair, Deceptive, and Abusive Acts and Practices (UDAAP), would significantly expand the scope of business conduct that is considered illegal, including subjective standards such as “likely to cause substantial injury", and “takes unreasonable advantage of a person's lack of understanding of the material risks, costs, or conditions of a product or service." It provides for enforcement by the Attorney General and private lawsuits, with minimum damages of $1,000, and mandatory attorney's fees and court costs to a prevailing plaintiff. The proposal includes a 30-day cure period in cases where damages exceed $500.

Why it is bad for consumers: While well-intentioned, this bill will have significant unintended consequences. It creates powerful incentives for private litigation, which is likely to give rise to a wave of abusive “shakedown" lawsuits against businesses. This will harm the state's economic recovery and put further pressure on the increasingly strained insurance market, driving up rates for businesses and consumers.

SUPPORT Online Insurance Verification (Executive Budget, TED Part H)

What it does: Create an Online Verification (OLV) system that would allow for real-time verification of motor vehicle liability insurance. It would replace the state's current reporting system.

Why it is good for consumers: Currently, insurers providing motor vehicle liability insurance on vehicles registered in New York report coverage information on those vehicles to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) using the Insurance Information and Enforcement System (IIES.) The IIES technology, introduced and implemented in 1999, is outdated and relies on manual processing by both DMV and insurers. Manual entry makes it more likely that law enforcement officers will erroneously identify a driver who carries liability insurance as uninsured. They may unfairly accuse these drivers and ticket or even arrest them for failure to carry the required coverage. The drivers may face charges of misdemeanor driving without insurance.

SUPPORT Market-Based Interest on Judgments (Executive Budget, PPGG Part R)

What it does: This bill would permit a variable market-based, rather than a fixed 9% interest rate to be assessed on court judgments and accrued claims, resulting in lower State taxpayer costs and relief to local governments.

Why it is good for consumers: This proposal would reduce the amount of interest paid by the State on court judgments and accrued claims by approximately $2.5 million annually. Additionally, passage of this bill would provide fiscal relief to local governments and businesses.


Feb 16
Let's Play 'Can They Do That?'

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For those who may have missed it, the property casualty insurance markets are in a very hard market cycle. During a hard market, insurance carriers hike premiums, cancel and non-renew policies, and do whatever they can to limit their exposures to loss. Sometimes their actions seem questionable.

Today we launch a new recurring feature called "Can They Do That?" From time to time, we'll summarize some of the questions the Big I New York Research Department has received about carrier actions. As you read the questions below, keep one thing in mind: These are the ones we've received in the last eight working days.

Can a carrier decline to quote personal auto insurance where the household has two licensed drivers and three cars?  Yes. There is nothing in New York Insurance Law or related regulations that prohibits a carrier from doing that.

Does a carrier have to send a conditional renewal notice upon the expiration of a personal auto policy with a one-year term, informing the insured that the renewal will be for six months instead of a year?  No. New York Insurance Law Section 3425(d) requires a carrier to send a conditional renewal notice on a personal lines policy if it wishes to change the limits of insurance or eliminate any coverages.

Can a carrier non-renew a homeowners policy and the rest of the insured’s policies on their third anniversary because of a two-year-old open dog bite claim?  Yes. Section 3425​ permits a carrier to non-renew a non-auto personal lines policy for any reason at the end of the three-year required policy period for any reason that is not otherwise illegal (such as a violation of the Civil Rights Act.)

Can a carrier decline to quote an account for one of its agents and then quote for another of its agents?  Yes, if the carrier's contract with the agent permits it to do that. There is nothing in New York Insurance Law or related regulations that prohibits a carrier from doing that. Not every poor business practice is illegal.

Can a carrier decline to accept a properly executed cancellation release of a personal auto policy and insist on speaking with the insured before cancelling the policy?  No, unless the policy contains a provision requiring the insured to speak with the carrier before canceling. Every personal auto policy that we have reviewed requires only that the insured give the carrier advance written notice of the date cancellation is to take effect. Any conditions that a carrier imposes beyond that are simply rules someone in their office made up.

These questions or ones like them may arise in your offices at some point. Watch future issues of our ICYMI newsletter for future additions to this topic. We're reasonably certain there will be more.

Feb 01
RT Binding 2024 Binding Authority Submission Excellence
​The continuation of the hard market is evident as both standard and E&S carriers face underwriting challenges contributing to a narrowing of business appetites and thus increasing shopping for retail agents and brokers. Effective submissions get you noticed and help achieve results that improve the insurance solutions you provide. RT Binding wants to help you help your clients with the below advice on what makes an excellent submission!

General Submission Information 
  • Tell the story (below is a guide for information that may be helpful to provide during the submission process. More complex risks will likely require more information than straightforward risks.) 
  • Confirm admitted markets are not in play
  • What is needed to sell the account?
    • Provide the target premium with the understanding that premiums are generally rising in the current marketplace
    • Are you the incumbent agent or are you trying to win the business?
    • Is there competition? If so, describe
  • Have you engaged other wholesale brokers?
    • If so, provide the markets already approached
  • Provide details on current carrier, renewal premium and terms
    • If non-renewed, provide the following:
      • Reason for non-renewal
      • Confirm legal notice was sent in accordance with state requirements and provide a copy if possible
    • If this is their first insurance policy
      • What date did they begin operations, and why are they looking for coverage now?
      • If for a new purchase, provide the projected closing date
  • Include fully completed applications providing insured name, mailing address, and physical address to avoid follow up questions
    • Acord 125/126/140/131 and supplemental applications are preferred
    • Business owners (BOP) Acords and Acord supplementals are less applicable and likely to slow down the process
    • Provide any loss runs available
      • Explain details of losses and mitigation to avoid similar future losses
  • Explain any coverage gaps
  • For lessors risk: provide operations of each tenant
  • For habitational risks, insurers request the following: any subsidized, student, or elderly units? How many of each?
General Liability Specific:
  • Do all lessors risk tenants have insurance with $1 / $2M limits naming our insured as additional insured? (AI)
  • If this insured is located in a region that gets snow and ice, is there a snow removal contract in place with a subcontractor? Do they name the insured as AI? Do they provide hold harmless wording in their contract with the insured?
  • If there is NY exposure, policies will generally exclude action over/labor law. Please advise up front if this coverage is required so that the risk can be referred to brokerage; action over/labor law coverage is not offered by binding authority carriers
Property Specific:
  • If the building is over 50 years old, is the building on the historic registry or in a historic district?
  • In order to offer special / replacement cost (RCV), most carriers require buildings over 30 years old to have had substantial updates to the roof, electric, heating, and plumbing. Please provide the year for each or the markets will most likely only offer basic form and actual cash value (ACV).
  • Have you verified the RCV / ACV limit is adequate utilizing a building cost estimator in the past year? Many carriers have placed minimums per square foot with the increases in building costs in the past few years
  • Most carriers exclude theft without an active central station burglar alarm. Theft will be excluded if alarms are not verified on the application
  • E&S carriers do not offer business income on an actual loss sustained basis. Please provide a limit and coinsurance or monthly limitation
  • Not every carrier offers no-coinsurance / agreed value. If you are requesting this, please provide the building valuation report or appraisal for consideration
  • It’s not a deal breaker in all cases, but below listed electrical panels or wiring systems need to be listed if they exist. If post binding inspections reveal any of them, mid-term cancellation is likely 
    • Federal Pacific
    • Stab - Lok
    • Zinsco - GTE Sylvania
    • Square D on recall list
    • Knob and Tube wiring
    • Aluminum wiring (full replacement with copper wiring, Copalum Method, and AlumniConn connector may be acceptable)
    • Fuses
    • Any panel or wiring identified as having an ongoing or past recall for fire hazard
Excess Liability Specific:
  • Please provide:
    • All underlying policies/quotes/binders showing limits, premiums, classes and exposures
    • Hard copy 3-5 year loss runs for all underlying lines
    • Explanation and remediation of any losses
    • Details surrounding open losses if any
    • MVR and driver list for excess over auto
    • Supplemental application (request from your RT underwriter if you do not already have one)
 
Read the article on RT's website​

RT Binding Authority is a part of the RT Specialty division of RSG Specialty, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company based in Illinois. RSG Specialty, LLC, is a subsidiary of Ryan Specialty, LLC. RT Binding Authority provides wholesale insurance brokerage and other services to agents and brokers. RT Binding Authority does not solicit insurance from the public. Some products may only be available in certain states, and some products may only be available from surplus lines insurers. In California: RSG Specialty Insurance Services, LLC (License #0G97516). ©2024 Ryan Specialty, LLC
Jan 25
Agents Lobby on Pro-Consumer Measures at NY Day on the Hill

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​This week, members of Big I NY's Group of 100​ traveled to Albany for our “Day on the Hill" to meet with state lawmakers and urge them to support proposals that will help New York consumers. The state budget process is in full swing, and Governor's recently released budget includes many proposals that will impact policyholders.

First and foremost is the dire state of New York's insurance market. Policyholders are struggling with rising rates and shrinking availability, and agents are facing new challenges obtaining coverage for their customers.

G100 members lobbied in support of common-sense changes to the recently enacted supplemental spousal liability law, including applying automatic coverage only to married insureds and exempting commercial auto policies. We also lobbied in support of a $400+ million investment in climate resiliency efforts, including grants for improvements to properties and funding for a voluntary buyout program for flood prone properties. We urged lawmakers to support a modernization of the state's insurance verification system to help prevent drivers from being unfairly penalized for errors in the reporting of their insurance status. We lobbied for the extension of the points reduction program which is a valuable tool to help drivers save money on their car insurance.

We strongly opposed a proposal to expand the states unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts and practices law. While well-intentioned, this expansion creates major incentives for litigation, including mandatory attorney's fees and minimum damages of $1,000 per violation. While we agree it is crucial to protect consumers from unfair business practices, this bill is very broadly and subjectively written and is certain to invite a wave of abusive lawsuits which will increase costs to businesses, and further strain the states precarious insurance market.

After our meetings at the Capitol, we hosted a meet and greet reception with our members and members of the legislature and their staff. Agents had the opportunity to meet with their lawmakers, build new relationships, and discuss the importance and value of the independent insurance model.

G100 members had the opportunity to speak up and make a difference for their customers and the industry, while learning and having fun. Thank you to all who joined us and helped make the day a success!

HEAR WHAT THE AGENTS HAVE TO SAY​

Jan 11
2023: Our Most Successful Advocacy Year…Yet!

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:

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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?


Jan 03
What a GREAT year for NextGen!!

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2023 has come to a close and our NextGen group has done some amazing things this past year. Here are some highlights:

January 2023

  • NextGen Buffalo co-hosted an insurance sales training workshop presented by Ryan Hanley, founder and president of Rogue Risk.  

February 2023

  • NextGen members from across the state took part in the #DayintheLife social media initiative, sharing what we love about working in the insurance industry! 
  • Many NextGen members participated in Big I NY Virtual Advocacy Meetings with legislators from across the state
  • Big I Suffolk NextGen hosted a Top Golf insurance event

March 2023

  • NextGen Buffalo brought together members for a Happy Hour at Hatchets and Hops (Axe-Throwing)
  • NextGen CNY had a March Madness Party! 

April 2023

  • Big I Suffolk Happy Hour - NG collected donations for Sleep in Heavenly Peace at Six Harbors Brewing Co. 
  • A group of NextGen NY members attended the National Legislative Conference in Washington DC! 

May 2023

  • NextGen Statewide Committee gathered at Go Big! in Long Island
 
June 2023

  • NextGen kicked off a statewide collection for bedding to benefit "Beds for Buffalo" and "Sleep in Heavenly Peace" chapters throughout NY
  • NextGen Buffalo had a fun Happy Hour at Jack Rabbit, where they also collected donations for Beds for Buffalo 

September 2023

  • Carrie Shaw, NextGen Co-Chair, attended National Young Agents Leadership Institute (YALI) and our state committee was awarded the 2023 Outstanding Membership Development Award! 
  • NextGen Buffalo held a seminar on Battling Burnout and Building Resilience,  presented by Lindsay Amico, founder and Mindset Coach, Picture Perfect Mind, LLC
 
October 2023

  • NextGen Buffalo held their 8th Annual Speed Networking Event at Resurgence Brewing
  • NextGen CNY held a CE Trivia & Karaoke Night at Sharkey's Bar & Grill
  • We launched NextGen Rochester with a Happy Hour at Aurora Brewing Co.
 
December 2023

  • NextGen CNY held the 1st Annual Shop 'Til you Drop for Charity event!
  • NextGen Buffalo had an Ugly Sweater Party for the Holidays at Sports City Pizza Pub
 

Other Contributions:

  • Over 40 NextGen Buffalo members volunteered throughout the spring and summer with Beds for Buffalo (Service Collaborative of WNY). We look forward to returning to The Foundry to volunteer again in 2024!

  • Several NextGen members volunteered with Project InVest, presenting to various high school students about Careers in Insurance

  • Throughout October and November, NextGen had a statewide Band-Aid drive - donations were distributed to a variety of hospitals and other organizations serving children throughout NY!


Want to get involved in NextGen? We have some great things planned for 2024 and would love for you to join us!

Learn More About NextGen

Dec 26
​ Governor Hochul Signs Big I Priority Auto Insurance Quoting Fairness Law, Vetoes Noncompete Ban

What Happened:

Great news! Governor Hochul has taken favorable action on two key bills affecting IAs and their customers.

On December 23rd, the Governor signed into law a Big I NY priority bill, A.4668-B, which will require carriers to run an insurance motor vehicle record before binding coverage. This will protect customers from unscrupulous quoting and pricing practices whereby certain carriers will bind a policy only to later run the MVR and substantially raise the premium. Responsible insurance agents and companies utilize all available underwriting resources prior to binding a policy for an insured. The practice of intentionally disregarding driver history information in order to present a false price to an insurance consumer undermines the credibility of the insurance industry as a whole.

The governor also vetoed a sweeping bill which would have banned the use of all noncompete agreements in New York. Big I New York strongly opposed this bill, as it did not include and explicit exemption for the sale or purchase of a business. We lobbied the Governor to veto the bill on the basis that it would significantly harm the independent agency system.

What's Next:

The governor signed the quoting fairness law on the condition that “chapter amendments" will be made to the law by the legislature. This means the legislature will quickly pass minor changes to the bill before it goes into effect. At this time we do not have the specific chapter amendment language, but based on conversations with the Governor's office we anticipate that the bill will apply only to new business and not renewals. The law will take effect on June 20th, 2024.

The Governor had proposed reasonable limits to the noncompete bill but was unable to come to an agreement with the legislature, and therefore vetoed the bill outright. We anticipate that the legislature and the governor will continue to negotiate to reach a compromise in the coming session.

Big I NY Has Your Back:

We will continue to lobby to ensure that the noncompete bill, if passed, includes reasonable limitations to protect independent agencies and their customers. We will also work to educate independent agents on the coming changes to the quoting fairness law.

This legislative session has been a powerful demonstration of the importance of agent advocacy. This year, we have now scored major legislative victories: the passage of the photo inspection reform law, passage of insurance quoting fairness law, and the veto of a noncompete ban bill. For each of these bills, agent participation, through emails phone calls and legislative meetings has been a key factor of our success.

Want to do even more to help us amplify our impact in Albany? Contribute to IAPAC, our political action committee today!  


Dec 20
NYSDFS Says Auto Carriers Must Refund SSL Premium When Insured Rejects

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Insurers writing auto insurance coverage in New York must refund premiums to insureds who have rejected Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance coverage, the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) said Monday. The announcement came in a circular letter the department published late on December 18 addressed to carriers, producers, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan, and ​others.

The letter, signed by Deputy Superintendent of Insurance​ Avani Shah, stated:

"It has come to the Department’s attention that some insurers are not specifying a premium for SSL insurance or permitting a named insured to decline the insurance with an appropriate premium reduction.  As discussed further below, an insurer must specify the premium for SSL insurance and provide an appropriate premium reduction when a named insured declines the SSL insurance. …

The law and regulation require that the SSL insurance notification include the insurer’s premium for the insurance.  Therefore, an insurer must include the premium for the SSL insurance in the SSL insurance notification.  An insurer may not inform a named insured that there is no charge for the SSL insurance or otherwise specify “$0.00” on the notification. The premium for SSL insurance should be based on the bodily injury limits if there are split limits under the policy or the total liability limits if there is a combined single limit under the policy. An insurer may not charge a flat dollar amount for SSL insurance for all policies regardless of each policy’s liability coverage limits.  In addition, if a named insured declines the SSL insurance, then the insurer must provide the named insured with a premium reduction, even if the insurer considers the premium reduction to be nominal. …

SSL insurance is an optional coverage.  If a named insured elects, in writing, and in such form as the Superintendent determines, to decline and refuse SSL insurance, the policy may not include SSL insurance and an insurer may not prohibit a named insured from declining the coverage. …

The Department expects insurers to comply with the amendments to Insurance Law § 3420(g) and 11 NYCRR 60-1 and with the guidance set forth in this Circular Letter."

This will mark a change in procedure for some carriers, so will likely not see immediate changes. However, once carriers receive approval for new rate filings from DFS, you can expect to see refunds being credited to insureds who reject the coverage. 
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