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April 2020

Travelers to provide financial assistance to producers

The Travelers Cos. Inc. announced that it will accelerate commission payments to eligible agents and brokers to help them address the liquidity impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. In total, Travelers is accelerating more than $100 million to its distribution partners. PIANY applauds Travelers for accelerating commission payments to producers, and the association encourages all carriers to take similar measures.

February 2020

Nationwide teams up with Toyota, offers telematics-based insurance

Nationwide has announced a partnership with Toyota Insurance Management Solutions to launch a new telematics-powered insurance solution that will lead to more savings for customers. The two companies are launching TIMS BrightDrive, an insurance program that uses driving data collected from participating connected vehicles to offer customers a discount based on their driving behavior. Toyota customers with connected vehicles who purchase an auto insurance policy with Nationwide can opt into the program—when they do, they automatically receive an initial 10% SmartDrive participation discount. Participants in the program can earn another discount—as much as 40%—if they stay with the program as it collects 90 days' worth of driving data.

January 2020

Carrier cuts agents' commissions

Syncora Holdings Ltd. held a special shareholders meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. At the meeting, Syncora Holdings plans toobtain approval for Syncora Guarantee Inc.’s liquidation plan. Syncora Guarantee Inc.—domiciled in New York state—is licensed in the District of Columbia and all states except Alaska, Ohio and Tennessee.

November 2019

Carrier cuts agents' commissions

Allstate has announced that it is cutting costs, trimming the commission agents get paid when customers renew their policies. Beginning Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, the company will slice the percentage it pays agents for renewing customers to 9% of their premiums, from the 10% they have been getting. Additionally, Allstate will increase commissions for agents who attract new customers, so long as that new business is above an as-yet-unspecified baseline. Otherwise, agents’ compensation simply will be reduced.

October 2019

AmTrust announces withdrawal from N.Y. disability marketplace

AmTrust announced that it will no longer be writing any new statutory disability business in the New York market. According to a statement, AmTrust ceased writing statutory disability on Oct. 25, 2019. However, the company will continue to write all other lines of business, including New York paid family leave stand-alone policies and New Jersey temporary disability policies. Producers should expect to receive notification from the company shortly as well as a letter from ShelterPoint Life Insurance Co., offering to replace their clients’ DBL/PFL policies.

James River Group to cancel auto insurance for Uber affiliate Rasier

James River Group Holdings Ltd., announced that it delivered a notice of early cancellation, effective Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019, of all insurance policies issued to its largest customer—Rasier LLC and its affiliates. All insurance policies related to this customer are included in the company’s commercial auto line of business within its excess and surplus lines segment, and a majority of the insurance policies were due to expire Feb. 29, 2020. What this means for your clients who operate as Uber drivers: Under the law, either the transportation network company or the driver must maintain insurance for ride-hailing activities. The law also allows personal auto insurers to exclude coverage for ride hailing. So if Uber does not find a replacement, your clients who driver for Uber will be responsible for providing this insurance coverage.

September 2019

AAIS and Munich Re to provide inland private flood

The American Association of Insurance Services announced a new partnership with Munich Reinsurance America Inc. that will focus on improving flood insurance for U.S. homeowners in the low to moderate risk areas.

May 2019

DFS approves the Hartford acquisition of Navigators Group

Acting Financial Services Superintendent Linda Lacewell today announced that the New York State Department of Financial Services has approved an application by The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. to acquire Navigators Insurance Company and Navigators Specialty Insurance Company, New York stock property/casualty insurance companies and global specialty underwriters. The Hartford Group is a holding company for insurance and financial services subsidiaries, and is one of the largest p/c insurance company groups in the country, headquartered in Hartford, Conn.

October 2018

Travelers partners with Amazon to offer smart-home solutions

In the latest example of how InsurTech is driving our industry, the Travelers Cos. Inc. has announced it has teamed up with Amazon to provide smart-home kits and valuable insurance information via the industry’s first digital storefront. The smart-home kits include: security cameras; water sensors; motion detectors; a smart-home hub that connects numerous smart devices together; and an Amazon Echo Dot, a voice-controlled speaker. The company also introduced its own Alexa skill, which can help with billing information and home maintenance.

July 2018

Nationwide hit with agent lawsuit over business model

An agent for Nationwide Insurance in Virginia is suing his employer over its decision to change its distribution model to independent agents. In his complaint, agent Patrick Potter warned that the transition could push captive agents into becoming independent, subsequently harming their retirement benefits and forcing them to pay just to maintain relationships with their clients.

April 2018

Sterling Insurance to launch new company in 2019

According to a letter from Sterling Insurance President Stephen A. Harris, CPCU, Sterling Insurance will launch a new company, Sterling Insurance Cooperative Inc., on Jan. 1, 2019. The new company will provide a market for the types of business historically written by New York Mutual Underwriters, which is expected to cease writing new business and will transition into a “run-off” operation providing necessary services only, such as collecting premiums on existing policies and handling claims starting Jan. 1.

Nationwide to switch to independent agency distribution model

Nationwide announced its intention to shift entirely to an independent agency distribution model by July 1, 2020. However, the company will continue to offer direct-to-consumer options for members who choose to do business online or over the phone.

NYDFS approves new entrant to insurance market

New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo approved Plymouth Rock Assurance Corp. and Plymouth Rock Group of Cos.’ application to acquire 21st Century National Insurance Co. As part of the transaction, Plymouth Rock will reinsure and service the remaining New York in-force business of two of National’s former affiliates.

December 2017

MAPFRE USA to exit N.Y. and four other states

Insurer MAPFRE USA, which now writes in 19 states, announced last week that it will narrow its focus by ceasing operation in five states and concentrate on 11 key states. MAPFRE has identified 11 core states where it will continue to pursue a profitable growth strategy, including Connecticut, New Hampshire and Vermont. MAPFRE intends to cease operations in five states, including New York and New Jersey. The company plans to conduct an orderly withdrawal and find replacement carriers where viable.

November 2017

NYDFS announces fine against Cigna for violation of Insurance Law

New York State Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo this week announced that the NYDFS has fined Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co. $2 million for violations of the state Insurance Law. The NYDFS found that Cigna improperly sold stop-loss and fully insured health-insurance policies outside of New York to New York-based small groups with employees in New York state, and where, in many cases, the companies solicited business and conducted other activity in the state.

October 2017

Direct writer entering N.Y., will work with some independent agents

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Universal Insurance Holdings Inc., announced it wrote its first homeowners policy in New York and will launch its direct-to-consumer online platform. While UPCIC primarily is a direct writer, according to Universal Insurance Holdings Inc. Chairman and CEO Sean Downes, the company will look to offer its homeowners insurance products via direct writing and also in collaboration with independent agents throughout the state.

August 2017

AG Porrino announces settlement with Nationwide

New Jersey Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced last week that New Jersey, along with 31 other states and the District of Columbia, has entered into a settlement with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. that resolves allegations linked to a data breach that compromised the personal identifying information of more than a million consumers. The multistate settlement, which also includes Nationwide subsidiary Allied Property and Casualty Insurance Co., flows from an investigation by the participating states into a 2012 data breach that resulted in the loss of Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, credit-scoring information and other personal data belonging to 1.27 million consumers.

June 2017

UPCIC approved for underwriting in state

Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. received approval from the New York State Department of Financial Services to begin underwriting property insurance in the state. UPCIC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Insurance Holdings and will begin writing policies later this year.

The Service Insurance Co. expands into additional states

The Service Insurance Co., a privately-owned New Jersey-domiciled insurance company specializing in underwriting contract, commercial, and court surety business that does business in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire and elsewhere, has announced its expansion into Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington, D.C.

December 2016

Startup insurer Lemonade files for licenses countrywide

Insurance startup Lemonade is eyeing a national expansion and has filed for licenses to operate in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The peer-to-peer insurer that is focused on renters and homeowners insurance is pursuing the broader regulatory approval strategy after starting small.

PIA issues open letter to carriers stressing the importance of relationships with agents

PIA National issued an Open Letter to Carriers. In it, PIA notes the relationship between an independent insurance agency and its multiple carrier partners is designed to achieve mutual benefit, accomplishing together what the parties cannot alone. In the letter, PIA said: “We offer to every carrier an open door to be a sounding board for changes they may be contemplating. Such communication can foster more successful results.”

October 2016

EverGuard to appoint agents with hospitality expertise

EverGuard, an independently owned company that specializes in comprehensive insurance services for hospitality businesses with liquor licenses, wants to appoint New York retail agents who have experience in the hospitality industry. For more information, contact Michael Maher at (973) 588-4552 or Michael@everguardins.com.

NYDFS grants license to new insurance company domiciled in N.Y.

NYDFS Superintendent of Financial Services Maria T. Vullo announced that the NYDFS has approved the application of Lemonade Insurance Co. to sell property/casualty insurance in the state. Lemonade, which will focus on writing homeowners and renters policies for basic inland, will engage in direct-to-consumer marketing and in a corporate giving program funded from policyholders’ favorable loss experience.

September 2016

NJ Manufacturers implements InsurePay

Patriot Technology Solutions, Inc. (PatTech), a subsidiary of Patriot National, Inc., announced that New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company will implement InsurePay, a pay-as-you-go billing tool, to help ease the payment process for its workers' compensation customers. More...

June 2016

Erie Insurance names new president, CEO

The board of directors of Erie Indemnity Co., the managing company for Erie Insurance, recently named Timothy G. NeCastro its president and CEO-designate. He will succeed previous President and CEO Terrence W. Cavanaugh.

May 2016

Progressive announces new PAP, excludes ride hailing

Progressive has announced that it will initiate contract changes around its New Jersey Personal Auto Product. The changes will impact both new business and renewal business for all Progressive personal auto policyholders in New Jersey. New business customers with policies written on or after Thursday, May 19, 2016, will receive the new policy contract.

March 2016

UPCIC enters New York insurance marketplace

Universal Insurance Holdings Inc., an insurance holding company based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., announced that its subsidiary Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. has been approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services as a licensed insurance entity. According to Sean P. Downes, chairman, president and chief executive officer, "We are excited to extend our offerings into New York as we continue successfully executing on our geographic expansion strategy." "We look forward to developing relationships and working with independent agents to bring our leading products and services to customers throughout the state," Downes said.

Central Insurance Cos. addresses 'residence premises' definition

Central Insurance Cos. has filed for company-specific endorsements that would modify the definition of "residence premises" to completely remove the "where you reside" verbiage. These mandatory endoresements will be attached to all Central Insurance Cos.' homeowners policies effective May 1, 2016, and after at no additional cost.

Providence Mutual adopts ISO 'residence premises' definition

Providence Mutual adopted ISO's multistate filing, which revises its homeowners program coverage forms to add more explicit language to the definition of "residence premises." This ISO filing was in response to litigation over the phrase "where you reside," after a claim when the owner is not occupying the home at the time. There are reasons for not occupying the home besides material misrepresentation when a homeowners policy was requested, including the following: The owner may be in a nursing home or recently deceased; or has moved into a newly purchased home and is waiting for the old home to be sold; or the owner may have purchased the home to occupy, but is unable to move into it for months becasue of renovations or delays in executing an employer relocation plan. A separation or divorce may occur in which the named insured owner moves out, leaving the nonowner spouse, who is not a named insured, to occupy the home. Additionally, a child may live in the parent's home or the parents may live in a child's home.

February 2016

Three health insurers ban broker commissions

Anthem, Aetna and Cigna announced last week they will ban broker commissions for consumers who sign up for plans after the open enrollment season deadline.

January 2016

NYDFS announces HealthNow to pay fine for Insurance Law violations

The New York State Department of Financial Services announced that HealthNow New York Inc. will pay a $750,000 fine for violating state regulations, with respect to its small group policy renewal program. An investigation by the NYDFS found that between 2007 and 2013, in contravention of New York insurance regulations, the insurer failed to offer coverage to small groups with fewer than five people enrolled.

December 2015

Vermont Mutual introduces a newly redesign website

Vermont Mutual's new website offers an intuitive interface, richer content and a responsive layout designed to be viewable on any device.

Health Republic providers, insurance brokers looking for state funds

With the state estimated to have more than $1 billion in surplus funds when it puts together the 2016 budget, the New York State Association of Health Underwriters called on Gov. Cuomo and state lawmakers to use part of the surplus to cover Health Republic's unpaid bills to providers and brokers. Health Republic providers and insurance agents performed millions of dollars in uncompensated work after Health Republic was shut down by state and federal regulators in November.

UnitedHealthcare to leave PPACA market, end agent commissions

UnitedHealthcare has announced it will likely leave the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act marketplace and it will stop paying sales commissions to health insurance agents who sell the company's policies under the PPACA.

N.Y.'s Oscar health plan slashes commissions

Oscar became the most recent health insurer to slash the commissions it pays to brokers The Manhattan startup in October sent a letter notifying brokers that rates would be more than halved starting in February.

October 2015

Encompass names new president

Mark Green has been appointed as president of Encompass Insurance, effective immediately. He will report to the President of Emerging Businesses Don Civgin. Mark has over 25 years' experience in the insurance industry. His ability to successfully lead large organizations and manage insurance risks while profitably growing the core business, along with his external experience working with insurance companies which market through independent agencies, will serve him well in this new role.

State, federal regulators to shut Health Republic

Health Republic Insurance of New York will stop selling policies and eventually cease operations under orders from New York and federal regulators. The order came after regulators found it was likely to become financially insolvent, according to the New York State Department of Financial Services. More …

August 2015

Travelers CEO to step down in December due to health

The Travelers Cos. Inc. this week announced Chairman and CEO Jay S. Fishman will step down as CEO on Dec. 1, due to health problems. Alan D. Schnitzer, head of the insurance company's business and international insurance unit, will then take over as CEO and Fishman will stay on as executive chairman.

July 2015

Utica First withdraws from flood program

Utica First announced its withdrawal from the WYO Flood Insurance Program effective Aug. 1, 2015. Utica First, which has been recognized by Ward's 50 as a top property/casualty company, has received approval from the Federal Insurance Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency to automatically transfer their Utica First flood policies to New Hampshire Insurance Co. on Aug. 1, 2015. In an agent notice, Utica First stated, "You have the right to place your renewal flood policies with a different carrier on renewal. However, please note that under NFIP rules, you would be required to submit a photo and elevation certificate with the submission. We believe that simply allowing the seamless transfer to New Hampshire is the best option."

March 2015

Progressive alters Snapshot program, 20 percent to see added surcharge

According to subscription-based service A.M. Best, Progressive Corp. said it is beginning to move away from a discount-only model and has begun to use surcharges for risky drivers, which the company estimates will work out to about 20 percent of users. Dave Pratt, general manager of usage-based insurance at Progressive, told A.M. Best that surcharges would vary by state; remain small enough not to scare drivers away; and be subject to change as the company acquires more data.

The Hartford terminating agents in N.Y.

The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. announced it will begin terminating agents in New York effective April 1, 2015. A company representative told PIANY that the entire state was under review, and approximately 70 agents with an unprofitable personal-lines book of business dating back four-to-five years will receive a mutual termination notice. The company will offer an incentive for agents to agree to the mutual termination. Agents who move 80 percent of the personal-lines book of business within a 12-month period will receive a one-time payment of 5 percent on the book's premium.

What this means to agents:

Signing the mutual termination means you forfeit your protection rights. PIANY recommends that when a contractual relationship is ended, you should secure a notice of contract termination since your rights and the applicable time frames will be clarified by the issuance of this notice. For more information, access QS31052 in the PIA QuickSource library.