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PIANJ applauds state Senate, Assembly for passage of producer duty-of-care bill

Trenton, N.J.—The Professional Insurance Agents of New Jersey applauds the state Senate and the state Assembly for passing its top-priority bills S-2475/A-2034, unanimously on Feb. 21 and Feb. 25, respectively. The bills, which would prohibit application of a fiduciary standard to insurance producers, will be sent to Gov. Phil Murphy for his consideration.

The bills were sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-3; Senate Commerce Committee Chair Nellie Pou, D-35; Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19; and Assemblymembers BettyLou DeCroce, R-26, John McKeon, D-27, and Carol Murphy, D-7.

The bills also would strengthen the existing “affidavit of merit” statute that, in theory, makes sure that lawsuits must have some merit before proceeding, but which, in practice, often falls short of that goal.

“PIANJ has been a strong advocate for the passage of this legislation, and we applaud the state Legislature for working to clarify that insurance producers are expected to exercise ordinary and reasonable care and skill in renewing, procuring, binding or placing insurance, and are fully liable for negligent actions—but that they are not subject to civil liability under standards governing the conduct of a fiduciary or a fiduciary relationship,” said PIANJ President Rip Bush, CPIA. “There are only a handful of states that have unclear laws regarding insurance producers’ duty of care, causing many questions to be resolved by case law, which is why the association urges Gov. Murphy to sign this legislation into law.”

Clarifying and standardizing the level of care that insurance producers are expected to exercise is one of PIANJ’s top legislative priorities for this legislative session. It also is addressing the importance of accurate quoting of automobile policies and combating personal auto step-down provisions in personal automobile policies.

PIANJ is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout New Jersey.

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