The Connecticut Insurance Department offers guidance on the suspension of premium payments under Bulletin IC-31. This bulletin was activated after Governor Lamont declared a state of civil preparedness emergency last week from Tropical Storm Isaias.
Bulletin IC-31 applies to all property and casualty lines of insurance, including surplus lines carriers.
The Department released the following guidance:
- Concerning Suspension of Premium Payments, the Department believes that insurers
should extend the grace period on premium payments due that have not been electronically
scheduled or in the mail system. Insurers should allow a grace period during the
Emergency for the payment of premiums and not seek to cancel due to non-payment.
Insurers should not require any affirmative action on the part of policyholders (such as an
opt-in method) to seek an extension to pay. While some policyholders may not have been
as impacted as others by the storm depending on their geographic location, the Department
requests that insurers uniformly allow a grace period for all policyholders throughout the
- The Department is cognizant that insurers may need to modify automated systems to
suspend premium payments and avoid cancellations being triggered. The Department
believes suspension of premiums should be effective on the August 5, 2020 date of
Governor Lamont’s declaration of emergency and last at least through the end date of the
Declaration. As stated in Bulletin IC-31, the Department directs insurers to attempt to
give policyholders some leniency in the payment of premiums and/or to work out a
reasonable payment plan.
Isaias toppled trees and knocked out power across the state last week.
Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out power to thousands and toppled trees across the state. As insurance claims come in, the Connecticut Insurance Department has important information for you and your customers.
The National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service report a "hurricane warning" was not issued for Connecticut and the state did not sustain hurricane force winds as a result of Isaias. This means insurance companies may not impose a hurricane deductible on claims.
The Insurance Department has some advice on its website you can share with your customers as they clean up from Isaias.
The hurricane season ends on November 30, 2020.
With Isaias moving up the eastern cost, the Connecticut Insurance Department requests all agents to closely monitor the department's website and social media for the latest information on the storm. The department will share information so you can help customers with property loss.
There are three ways to get updates from the Insurance Department:
Insurance standards setting organization ACORD has announced upcoming revisions to three of its forms used in Connecticut in relation to Workers' Compensation insurance. ACORD recommends that users treat them as new forms.
The three forms are:
- ACORD 171 CT, Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission – Coverage Election by Employee who is an Officer of a Corporation, Manager of an LLC, or Member of Multiple-Member LLC
- ACORD 172 CT, Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission – Coverage Election by Employees who are Members of a Partnership
- ACORD 173 CT, Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission – Coverage Election by Sole Proprietor or Single Member LLC
All three forms carry a 2020/09 edition date and replace the 2006/08 editions. All agents should begin using these new forms starting Sept. 1, 2020.
Read the ACORD announcement
A new Connecticut law will require many insurance agencies to implement cybersecurity programs. The requirements take effect in less than two months.
The Insurance Data Security Law requires Connecticut licensees to develop, implement and maintain a comprehensive written information security program based on a risk assessment. The programs must include the administrative, technical and physical safeguards for protecting their information systems and the nonpublic information stored in them. The deadline for implementing the program is October 1, 2020. The program must be commensurate with:
- The size and complexity of the licensee
- The nature and scope of the licensee's activities, including, but not limited to, the licensee's use of third-party service providers, and
- The sensitivity of the nonpublic information the licensee uses or has in its possession, custody or control.
Licensees are also required to perform due diligence when they select third party service providers with whom they will do business. By Oct. 1, 2021, they must require these providers to implement their own information security programs. These programs must safeguard licensees' systems and nonpublic information to which the providers have access.
If a cybersecurity event occurs, the licensee must:
- Launch a prompt investigation
- Notify the Insurance Department
- Notify all individuals whose nonpublic information may have been accessed.
Insurers who experience cybersecurity events must notify the producer of record no later than when they notify the consumers.
Penalties for non-compliance are up to $50,000 per violation.
Some licensees are exempt from the law's requirements:
- Between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021, licensees with fewer than 20 employees including independent contractors
- On and after Oct. 1, 2021, licensees with fewer than 10 employees including independent contractors
- Licensed employees, agents, representatives or designees of licensees
Big I Connecticut successfully fought for the exemptions for small agencies.
Others are considered to be compliant if they meet other requirements:
- Licensees who are subject to and in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
- Licensees who are compliant with the requirements of another jurisdiction approved by the Connecticut Insurance Department
The department may issue regulations that name the jurisdictions. Licensees who comply this way must submit a certification to the department by Feb. 15 each year.
For more information, see Insurance Department Bulletin IC – 42.
Avoiding E&O Scenarios When Helping Insureds With Claims & Dealing With Public Adjusters
As you know, our mantra to avoid E&O claims and lawsuits starts with you understanding that the greater responsibilities that an insurance broker or agent takes on, the greater the chance for a court to potentially find an assumed, or higher duty of care; something more than just procuring the coverage requested. That being said, a recent scenario that we handled is a good illustration of when an agency went beyond its usual duty actually helped prevent an E&O claim against the agency.
To set the stage, think about the TV show, Law & Order. It's marketing phrase has always been “Ripped from the Headlines." A reference to the fact that its storylines are often loosely based on recent Headline News events. So too is this E&O report. Continuing the TV-law show theme, the names of the each of the parties involved have been changed “to protect the innocent."
The Insured owned and operated an in-door sports facility with an artificial turf field covered by an inflatable dome. The field was installed by laying it down in segments. The weight of the artificial turf kept it in place.
The broker obtained a property insurance policy for the sports facility. The policy had limits as follows: $1M for building, $500,000 for BPP and $700,000 for BI. The BPP limit was based upon the submitted value of the field-turf, $400,000 and $100,000 for other business personal property, like the sports equipment, gym, etc.
The facility was hit by a severe wind event; a covered peril under the policy. As a result of the severe wind, the dome collapsed, damaging the building and destroying the field. While the insured did reach out to the broker immediately following the claim, it was for the limited purpose of notifying the insurance carrier of the loss. It did not consult with the broker for any suggestion as to the hiring of a public adjuster or coverage counsel.
The insurance company clearly wanted to avoid paying the full limits of its policy, which it was obligated to do. So, during the claim adjustment, it decided to treat the field-turf NOT as BPP, as it was insured, but as part of the building. Thus, the $400,000 for the damage to the field reduced the building limit accordingly. That had the planned effect, (from the insurance company's standpoint), of leaving an additional $400,000 in building damage that would otherwise have been covered, uninsured. The lack of this payment had a ripple effect in increasing the insured's loss of income claim, since it lacked the money, early on, to rebuild quickly.
Aghast at this unsupportable, (both legally and as per the policy wording), position by the insurance company, the broker retained us to write a comprehensive coverage letter to counsel for the insurance company in support of its insured. The insured was so appreciative of the support provided by the broker in offering assistance with this claim that the Insured agreed to waive and release the broker from any potential claims against the broker that it may potentially have as a requirement of our retention. (Not that the Broker did anything wrong. It was the insurance company's position that was untenable.) Unfortunately, the insurance company would not budge from this position, which resulted in litigation. We recently settled the case without the need for costly and protracted litigation.
The point of that recitation is that, especially when it comes to first-party property claims, an agent or broker can be of invaluable assistance in helping the insured, especially the less sophisticated ones, to navigate the claims / adjustment process. However, remember that by venturing into this area, an insurance agent or broker is taking on a duty that it ordinarily would not have and may be opening itself up to potential liability if an issue or problem should occur in connection with the claim. If an insurance agent or broker is considering being involved in assisting an insured in the claims process (beyond just the reporting of the claim), the best approach is for the broker to do so with caution, and also possibly with the assistance of an attorney involved in the process. Proceeding in this manner will help protect the agent or broker from a potential E&O claim or lawsuit. Furthermore, when a public adjuster is involved with a claim, an agent or broker should always proceed with caution. While a public adjuster is sometimes important and may be needed in the claims adjustment process, their position in handling the claim may sometimes be adverse to that of the agent or broker who handled the procurement of the coverage. Once the insured has hired a public adjuster, it is often best for the agent or broker to take a back-seat and let the adjuster handle the claim. We make this recommendation because we have seen many situations arise over the years where public adjusters handling claims have advised the insured that the agency or brokerage made a mistake in handling the subject insurance and an E&O claim or lawsuit should be asserted.
In conclusion, a broker or agent assisting an insured in the navigation of a claim can often greatly inure to the benefit of both the insured and the broker. It can help an insured obtain coverage, which can reduce the potential for an E&O claim or lawsuit. However, the prudent insurance agent or broker should always remember that if they do get involved with a claim, beyond simply reporting it, their actions can create a higher duty of care to the insured and increase the chances of an E&O claim or lawsuit. Furthermore, if a public adjuster becomes involved in the claim process, the agent or broker should be sure to proceed with caution in how, and to what extent, they may be involved with that claim.
Howard S. Kronberg, Esq.
Keidel, Weldon & Cunningham, LLP.
121 years ago this month our great association was born. Initially called the 'Connecticut Association of Insurance Agents,' our group quickly grew to become a major factor in CT and New England insurance circles. In fact, even in 1902 the STANDARD called us "the strongest and most aggressive such group in New England." That strength continues today.
Over these years, who we are has not changed and will not change.
We are a team. A team of individuals, of independent agencies, of people working together with strength and purpose.
Your purpose is to create a sustainable agency that helps Americans protect their families, businesses and dreams. Our purpose is to help you achieve yours.
Who we are...is pretty BIG.
With a big community, and big purpose, comes big responsibility.
One that we have taken seriously for these 121 years.
That's why today, we unite the strength of our past with our spirit for the future.
Introducing our new name...
Big I Connecticut
This isn't simply a new logo and name, this starts the next era of delivering what you need us to be. Channeling the big strength in collective knowledge, resources and connections to raise our independent agent community to the top. Together, we are Big I Connecticut.
Warren C. Ruppar
President | Big I Connecticut
Governor Lamont signed an executive order on July 24, 2020 that creates a rebuttable presumption that workers who contracted COVID-19 between March 10, 2020 and May 20, 2020 may have workers' compensation coverage under certain conditions.
The Insurance Data Security Law goes into effect on October 1, 2020. This law establishes standards applicable to licensees of the Connecticut Insurance Department for data security, the investigation of a cybersecurity event, and notification to the department of such event.
The Connecticut Insurance Department issued a bulletin to provide licensees with guidance for compliance of the law's provisions.
READ THE BULLETIN
Our friends at Connecticut Business & Industry Association need help fighting proposed changes to workers' compensation. They recently published the call to action below. Let's do our part to help!
Your action is needed now.
Key state lawmakers are planning to change the workers' compensation system to create a presumption that virtually any worker who had to work outside the home during the pandemic and contracted COVID-19 did so while at work.
What does that mean for your business?
Even if you took every precaution to keep your employees safe, and even if an employee likely contracted the virus elsewhere, the burden will be on you to prove the employee DID NOT contract the virus at your workplace. This could mean a significant increase in your workers' compensation costs.
Why is this a dangerous idea?
- It will increase your insurance costs for at least three years due to paying claims for workers who contracted the virus—including those that may have ignored social distancing measures off the clock or ignored travel restrictions. An analysis by the independent National Council on Compensation Insurance shows that if left open-ended, your workers' compensation costs could rise as much as 238%.
- This change is unnecessary as frontline healthcare workers and first responders—those most likely to contract the virus in the line of duty—are already covered by the workers' compensation system.
- It ignores the fact that emergency federal benefit programs were put in place to provide replacement wages for workers who contracted COVID-19.
- We have not been given any examples of people who should have received benefits but were denied after filing a claim with the Workers' Compensation Commission.
The New York state legislature abandoned a similar proposal because it was projected to cost employers in the state $31 billion.
Connecticut employers implemented broad safety measures and incurred significant expenses to ensure the safety of their employees and customers—additional cost burdens will only weaken the state's economic recovery.Act now!
Tell your state lawmakers to oppose any costly workers' compensation presumption that applies to all “essential businesses."
|The latest news from IIAC