P&C Legislative Round-Up: Q1 2021

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P&C Legislative Round-Up: Q1 2021

Here are recent key insurance-related legislative updates from New York, Florida, Virginia and more.

National updates

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed on March 11. The $1.9 trillion stimulus package provided payments of $1,400 to taxpayers earning up to $75,000 individually, heads of household earning up to $112,500, or $150,000 per couple; a $400 (up from $300) per week unemployment supplement through Aug. 29; $25 billion for rental assistance; $170 billion for K-12 schools and higher education institutions to cover reopening costs and aid to students; and an increase to the child tax credit to $3,000 per child ($3,600 per child under age 6) and allows 17-year-old children to qualify.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) reintroduced the Clarity Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act to the U.S. Senate. If passed, the bill would help legal marijuana and related businesses access comprehensive and affordable insurance coverages, including workers’ comp, property, casualty and title insurance. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.).

The Federal Emergency Management Agency updated its National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) pricing methodology for the first time in 50 years. According to Bloomberg, most homeowners in the program will have lower or stable premiums, while roughly 11% of homes will see increases in premiums of at least $10 a month under the new model.

On March 9, the U.S. House passed the Protecting the Right to Organize Act” bill with a 225-206 vote that could classify many insurance agents and brokers as employees rather than independent contractors. Freelancers have complained that the law interferes with their ability to operate as freelancers and might force them to take staff jobs against their will. The bill is now under review by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

President Biden signed an executive order asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to release revised guidance on COVID-19 safety protocol for workers and consider whether workers need an emergency temporary standard on COVID-19.

State updates

Senate Bill 76 passed in Florida. The bill addresses litigation cost drivers in the property insurance market and helps restore balance to Florida’s civil justice system. In response to the passing of the legislation, Michael Carlson, president and CEO of Personal Insurance Federation of Florida (PIFF), said: “Florida is in a precarious position. Higher insurance rates are driven by a number of factors but greatly exacerbated by the litigation industry, which has found loophole after loophole to exploit consumers. This legislation is a great step toward reigning in the rampant litigation abuse in Florida.”

SB 54 is pending a vote in Florida and would abolish the state’s current no-fault (PIP) auto insurance system replacing it with a liability-based system.

The Florida House also passed HB 7 that would shield businesses from lawsuits related to COVID-19. HB 9 is pending in the state and would make it a criminal offense for any person to knowingly and willfully make a materially false or misleading statement or to disseminate false or misleading information regarding the availability of, or access to, a vaccine for “COVID-19″ or a vaccine for any other pandemic disease.

The New Jersey Assembly passed SB 2476, which would provide weekly supplemental benefits from New Jersey’s Second Injury Fund to surviving eligible dependents of workers who died after March 1, 2020, due to contracting COVID-19 at work.

SB 111 is also under review in New Jersey. The legislation would prevent auto insurers from assigning an insured or prospective insured to a rating tier based on homeownership, marital status, educational level, credit score, employment status, or occupation.

A 4805 also passed the New Jersey Senate and Assembly. The bill requires insurers that issue business interruption policies in the state to disclose whether the policy provides coverage for “global virus transmission or pandemic coverage” to any potential purchaser or policyholder seeking renewal.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana. Governor Murphy in New Jersey also signed legislation in February allowing for adult recreational use of cannabis in the state. Virginia passed an adult-use marijuana legalization law in February and recently amended its marijuana bill to speed up legalization from July 2024 to July 2021.

A 3994 was introduced in New York and would eliminate the policy that requires independent insurance adjusters to hold a surety bond.

Washington introduced Senate Bill 5351 that focuses on helping small businesses seeking to recover COVID-19 related claims under business interruption insurance policies. The bill would officially codify several protections that recent court rulings have extended in favor of policyholders and would also give small businesses another year to challenge the denial of COVID-19 business interruption claims by insurers.

Maryland lawmakers proposed HB 683 that would remove workers’ eligibility for workers’ compensation for injuries or illnesses that are solely caused by or effects of improper use of medical marijuana.

Senate Bill 1047 was introduced in Connecticut and would require that insurance companies disclose how much they receive annually in fossil fuel premiums and how much they invest in the fossil fuel industry, as well as the climate risk associated with those investments.

AB 1465 was introduced in California and would create the California Medical Provider Network (CAMPN). The bill would establish that an employee may choose to treat within their employer’s network or the CAMPN.

On January 1st, several laws went into effect in California, including:

  • SB 872: This law removes barriers for future wildfire survivors to receive critical insurance benefits and also streamlines the wildfire recovery processes for California homeowners who suffer losses caused by wildfires.
  • AB 2658: This law protects domestic workers from employer retaliation if they refuse to work in hazardous conditions, including wildfires.  It also prevents an employer from ordering an employee or a household domestic service worker to remain in or enter a mandatory evacuation zone caused by wildfires or a public health order, such as circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • AB 2756: This law provides additional insurance for disaster survivors to rebuild and requires increased levels of transparency when a new policy is sold that does not cover wildfire losses. It also reduces the burden of a home rebuild on disaster survivors.
  • SB 1192: This bill creates department oversight of public safety workers’ benefits associations so the department can make sure that these associations provide financially sound insurance benefits and are transparent to association members.
  • AB 2049: The bill prevents federal preemption of California’s existing law regarding credit for reinsurance and retains the state’s accreditation by the NAIC.

HB 1800 is pending a vote in Arkansas and would require roofing contractors to register with the state.

The Insurance Consumer Bill of Rights Act is under review in Georgia. The bill would mandate that within 30 days of receiving a statement under oath of a claim from a claimant or their agent, the insurer must disclose policy limits and all deadlines and requirements for claim coverage.

HB 254 passed the Georgia House and Senate. If signed into law, the bill would require all public adjusters to be licensed through the department of insurance.

Kentucky signed HB 250 into law, which will increase the regulatory oversight for the underwriting and issuing of travel insurance policies. Kentucky also enacted SB 71 into law that requires towing companies to be requested to respond to a scene in most circumstances,  document via photo or video vehicle damage before towing, disclose all rates and fees and allow owners, lien holders and insurers access to vehicles for inspection.

Virginia enacted SB 1393 into law. The bill allows consumers to request companies delete or correct personal data and also allows consumers to prohibit personal information from being used for targeted advertising or being sold. Virginia also signed HB 1942 into law that requires all licensed public adjusters to have a minimum of 24 hours of continuing education every 2 years, including 3 hours of ethics training.

Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota signed HB 1092 into law that allows the insurance commissioner, in conjunction with the county state attorney, to impose an administrative penalty of up to $10,000 for acts of insurance fraud.

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