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2013: 101613 IIABNY News - Abstract
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10/16/13 -- Push Intensifies to See Certificates Bill Signed by Gov.

IIABNY Insider

October 16, 2013

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IN THIS ISSUE:

  Advocacy icon

IIABNY Certificates Efforts Continue
You may remember the fanfare when the certificates of insurance bill introduced initially by IIABNY passed both houses of the State Legislature last June near the end of session. Following two years of hard work, IIABNY was able to celebrate the passage of its top legislative priority. This legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) and Sen. Jim Seward (R-Oneonta) and supported by Assembly Insurance Committee chair Kevin Cahill and many other legislators in both houses would standardize certificate forms and put an end to abusive certificate requests.

Our legislative team in Albany anticipated resistance from some of the biggest offenders in the certificates arena – state agencies – as the bill awaits delivery to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his signature to be signed into law. As of today, the bill still has not been delivered to Gov. Cuomo’s desk, following an unusual pattern of slow action on bills from this legislative session.

Since June (and even before passage of the bill by the Legislature), IIABNY’s Albany team has been meeting with senior members of the governor’s staff to discuss the issue and counteract objections from state agencies. This issue remains a top priority of IIABNY and its members, and we will continue our discussions with the governor’s staff.

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NYS Capitol icon

Association is Co-signer to Letter Urging Gov. Cuomo to Reform 'Scaffold Law'
Today, a coalition of more than 50 advocacy groups that includes IIABNY and represents small and large businesses, developers, insurers, builders, contractors, municipalities and taxpayers issued a joint letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his top budget staff, urging for the inclusion of reform of New York’s “Scaffold Law” in the FY 2014-15 Executive Budget.

The Scaffold Law, which dates back to the 1885, holds contractors and property owners fully liable in lawsuits for gravity-related construction injuries, regardless of partial contributing fault by a worker. Scaffold Law lawsuits, which represented 16 of the top 30 settlements in New York in 2012, are responsible for escalating insurance and building costs across the state, according to coalition members. The letter states that these costs threaten the viability of many small businesses and impose millions of dollars in costs on taxpayers.

The letter states that reforming the “Scaffold Law” would help advance many of Governor Cuomo’s goals, citing Budget Director Robert Megna’s recent letter to agency commissioners, which said: “The 2014-15 Capital Budget will focus on targeted investments that strengthen the State’s infrastructure and create jobs, while maintaining a level of affordability.” The coalition claims that reforming the Scaffold Law will reduce the costs for taxpayer-funded capital projects, boost job creation, stimulate the economy and generate tax revenue. The joint letter stressed that reform would not remove a worker’s ability to sue nor adversely affect workplace safety. Citing estimates by the Pacific Research Institute, the coalition emphasized that reforming the Scaffold Law could create approximately 86,000 jobs and increase tax revenues by $1.04 billion.

Legislation to reform the Scaffold Law currently enjoys bipartisan support in both houses of the legislature, and supporters are hopeful that inclusion in the Executive Budget will be the next step towards achievement of their shared agenda. IIABNY has long advocated for reforms to the law, whose liability provisions are found in sections 240 and 241 of the New York State Labor Law..

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 Industry News icon

Reciprocals 101
Recent industry news stories have heightened awareness of reciprocals and generated an increased number of questions from IIABNY members. We thought it would be helpful to provide a quick refresher on what a reciprocal is and how it operates.

Reciprocals have been around for many years, and they offer an alternative to standard insurance company structure with a stock or mutual insurance company. A reciprocal is a risk-pooling alternative where participants (known as “subscribers”) agree to exchange contracts of insurance among themselves, thus pooling their risk. The exchange of contracts is managed by an attorney-in-fact, appointed by the subscribers, who manages the reciprocal’s finances and handles underwriting, claims administration and investments. Often, the attorney-in-fact has the authority to retain third-party service providers to assist with these functions. The attorney-in-fact usually provides security for its obligations to subscribers, typically in the form of a bond. The reciprocal is further capitalized through contributions to surplus by its subscribers.

Recent news about Tower Insurance has caused confusion about Tower’s relationship with a well-known reciprocal in New York, the Adirondack Insurance Exchange. The attorney-in-fact for the Adirondack Insurance Exchange is Adirondack AIF, LLC. AIF is an indirectly wholly owned subsidiary of Tower Group International, Ltd. It is important to note that New York reciprocals have a governing board known as the subscribers’ advisory committee, which has general responsibility for the finances and insurance activities of the reciprocal. The subscribers in a reciprocal elect the members of the subscribers’ advisory committee. Adirondack Insurance Exchange operates as a separate stand-alone legal entity, under the provisions of Article 61 of the New York State Insurance Law and has an identity apart from its attorney-in-fact.

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Online icon

Enhanced TrustedChoice.com's First 100 Days Marked by Major Progress
Progressive Insurance is among the latest additions to the list of carriers in which New York consumers will be able to find new comparative rating options in the first quarter of 2014 through the enhanced TrustedChoice.com consumer website. Safeco, Selective, Selective Insurance Group and Main Street America Group are among the other insurers with the comparative rating option. Additional carriers have also signed on for participation on a national or regional basis and will be announced in the near future.

This site’s special quoting functionality, which represents an important milestone in the site’s development, is currently available in Minnesota, Indiana, Georgia, and South Carolina and will become available in other states over the coming months. The site hopes to be offering comparative quoting in all states by the end of next summer.

“As we complete our first 100 days, we’re not only pleased with the large number of agencies that have already signed up, but the growing number of prospects who are visiting the site each week,” says Chip Bacciocco, CEO of Consumer Agent Portal, LLC.

Since its launch on July 1, the new TrustedChoice.com has already hosted nearly 50,000 insurance consumers and is now being used by more than 1,500 independent agencies. IIABNY member agencies interested in using TrustedChoice.com to generate exclusive prospects may do so on either a monthly subscription or per-prospect basis and can register in just minutes through the Marketing section of www.ProjectCapMarketing.com.

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Trusted Choice icon

Plan to Visit Free Trusted Choice® Virtual Tradeshow
Through Thursday, Trusted Choice® is presenting the Trusted Choice Virtual Experience, the inaugural online tradeshow exclusive to Trusted Choice agencies and Trusted Choice Company and MGA Partners. This online exhibit hall is like a physical tradeshow, but attended online from any computer with access to the Internet. You can enjoy the information and speakers right from your desk at your convenience....and best of all, it's completely free!

Trusted Choice has invited company and MGA partners, as well as Big "I" programs, to participate by having booths at the tradeshow. Booths will be stocked with information regarding the company's programs and products, videos, even prize giveaways, just like at a regular convention.

To register for the Trusted Choice Virtual Experience, simply visit www.TCVirtualExperience.com, and click the big blue "Attendee? Register Now" button. A listing of all of the exhibitors is also available on the website.

Once you have registered, you will be sent registration confirmation and reminder messages, which will include the link to the show. Once the insurance tradeshow is live, you will be able to access all of the company/MGA information, live chat with some of the booth staff to get any questions answered in real time, and log in and out of the show as many times as you would like through Thursday.

For more information about the Trusted Choice Virtual Experience, email Jenner Gohr.

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Make-A-Wish icon

Syracuse University Basketball Team, Make-A-Wish &  … You?
Our wish granting continues as Trusted Choice® sponsors the upcoming Ms. Orange Fan® Luncheon. Juli (Boeheim), Coach Jim Boeheim and the Syracuse University men’s basketball team will host the Make-A-Wish Central New York 22nd annual Ms. Orange Fan Luncheon at 10:30 a.m. Oct 27 at the OnCenter Complex in Syracuse. You can WIN 2 tickets to our table at the ladies-only event. That's right, only ladies can attend. To enter: Simply email IIABNY’s Julie MacConnell with "Orange" (without quote marks) in the subject line by 5 p.m. on Thursday. Winners will be notified Friday.

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Web Resources icon

Cyber Bullying: Info. to Share with Your Clients from TrustedChoice.com
While bullying has certainly been around for the ages, one of the more recent trends of our increasingly technology-driven world is bullying over the Internet or what’s commonly called cyber bullying. The tragic consequences grab headlines, but, more importantly, can haunt the victims and their families, as well as the perpetrators and their families for years. TrustedChoice.com, which tackles the issue in the article “You Posted What! Teens, Social Media and a Parent’s Liability,” advises a parent to talk to a Trusted Choice independent insurance agent about whether their current insurance coverage includes an endorsement for personal injury liability.

The article is among a wide range of consumer-oriented articles posted in the “Am I Covered?” section of TrustedChoice.com in which agents and brokers can share with their clients from the agency’s own website. Other articles feature the insurance implications of dog bites and volunteering, the inadequate protection of state auto insurance minimums, identity theft risks and many more.

Speaking of Cyber
Did you know October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month? Nearly all businesses, including independent insurance agencies and brokerages, are susceptible to a cyber-attack. Your clients who are business owners might not know that their general liability policy may not cover all risks. The TrustedChoice.com article “Understanding Cyber Liability Insurance” can help you clarify how insurance helps protect businesses from cyber-attacks.

If your agency or brokerage isn’t covered or you have questions on how to obtain cyber liability/privacy protection through IAAC, IIABNY’s membership services division, email IIABNY’s Brian Bixby or call him at (800) 962-7950, ext. 233.

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Next Gen icon

Upcoming Next Gen Networking Events are Cool
For some, the benefits might not seem so obvious. However, any smart business owner ought to realize the value of networking. Building relationships or partnerships, increasing the number of business contacts and expanding opportunities for career growth and development are just of few of the rewards one can derive from networking. Oh yeah, networking can also be a lot of fun. Three upcoming events hosted by the Next Generation Insurance Professionals or Next Gens in different parts of the state offer the chance for young producers and other agency staff, as well as others new or relatively new to the industry, to realize the full potential of networking.

For more information about Next Generation Insurance Professionals, visit the Next Gen page on IIABNY’s website.

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IICF icon

You Can Still Give During Week of Giving
If you weren’t able to volunteer for a community service project during the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s Week of Giving, which ends Saturday, you can still help. If you would like to support Week of Giving and the IICF Early Literacy Initiative, donate $5 by texting INSURANCE to 50555* or donating online. Don't forget to confirm your text donation! IICF’s next major event for the Northeast Region, which includes New York state, is its annual benefit dinner, scheduled Dec. 11 in New York City. A sponsorship form for the dinner is posted online.

IICF supporters have provided more than 166,000 volunteer hours, serving over 150 nonprofits nationwide, and involving over 200 industry companies and offices.

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