Over this past weekend, the New York Times ran a rather unflattering article about the employment practices at Amazon.com. Titled Inside Amazon’s Thrilling, Bruising Workplace, the article by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld described an atmosphere that borders on slave-driving and cruel. They wrote about employees receiving emails after midnight and follow-up text messages when the recipients fail to respond. They quoted an employee who said nearly every person he worked with cried at their desks at some point.
I learned earlier today that the New York State Department of Financial Services has disapproved ISO's filing of endorsements to address the "where you reside" issue. Correspondence in the filing expressed concerns about whether, under some carriers' underwriting guidelines, the endorsements might reduce coverage. The examiner also felt that it was unclear how carriers would interpret them, given the varying underwriting guidelines.
We at IIABNY will discuss this decision and what, if anything, we should do next. For now, though, the ISO Homeowners insurance program will maintain the status quo on October 1.
NPR's excellent Planet Money podcast recently did a show about how we as humans become comfortable with frightening technology. Did you ever wonder why elevators used to have operators in them? It's because, once upon a time, people didn't fully trust elevators and they wanted someone there to take control if necessary.
I have returned this morning from 11 days off. I spent a few days in the Thousand Islands region with some college friends, spent a week with my family on the Jersey Shore, played golf badly, coated myself with SPF infinity sunblock and sat on the beach, read a bunch of books, and pretty much forgot about insurance for two weeks. Today, I bear a striking resemblance to the picture displayed above.
Nevertheless, it's a new dawn, it's a new day ... sorry, lapsed into song for a minute there. But it is a new day, because New York's law governing the use of certificates of insurance took effect one week ago today (I celebrated by taking a nap on the beach in Ocean Grove, NJ.) Accordingly, the questions from IIABNY members have been coming in fast and furious in my absence. There is one question that we've gotten from all corners of the state, so I think it's worth addressing in an addendum to my earlier post about the myths surrounding the law.
In just 18 days, New York’s certificates of insurance law will take effect. The New York State Department of Financial Services has posted an initial list of certificate forms it has approved. We are getting closer to a huge relief for New York insurance producers.
Judging from the emails and questions I’ve been getting, though, there seems to be a fair amount of misunderstanding out there about what this law says and does. So, let’s take a few minutes to dispel some myths.
The New York State Department of Financial Services released its latest periodic disciplinary actions report last week. Compared to some editions, this one was relatively short. A few insurers were taken to the woodshed for violating the laws pertaining to cancellation notices (balance sheets at 21st Century, AXA and MetLife are a tad lighter now than they were in April.)
The good news for agents and brokers was 1) not that many hearings and stipulations; and 2) a lot of the punishments were doled out to out-of-state producers.
Question from an IIABNY member: I am looking to you to help clarify a question I have regarding a “temporary worker” exclusion currently attached to one of my clients policies, attached is a copy for your reference. My insured’s policy is written without a “labor law” or “employee injury” exclusion which she paid a lot more for and is very important because she is a “sub-contractor” for many large companies and signs many project contracts. At the time the policy was written the attached “temporary employee” exclusion did not seem to present too much of an issue because the insured did not anticipate any time that she would need to hire a temporary employee, that is until now. So a few days ago my insured sent me the attached labor firm contract asking me for a certificate of insurance so I immediately went to the carrier for information pertaining to this “temporary employee” exclusion currently on the policy and below is the email thread for your reading pleasure.
Warning: If you're located outside of New York State, feel free to skip this post. If you write personal auto insurance in New York, you're going to want to watch.
New York Insurance Law requires insurance companies to inspect many types of vehicles that they intend to insure for physical damage. Last winter, the New York State Department of Financial Services announced final adoption of a series of changes to New York Insurance Regulation 79, which sets for the rules insurers have to follow. A few of these changes will make life easier for insurance agents and their clients.
Clicking on the image below will take you to a 12-minute video in which I review the changes that most directly affect agents and their clients. The video and a link to the complete text of Regulation 79 are permanently housed on the Auto Insurance page in the Member Answer Center of the IIABNY Web site.
Last year, I developed and taught a continuing education course titled Absolute Liability: New York’s Scaffold Law and the Courts. The course looked at the history and interpretation of New York Labor Law Sections 240(1) and 240(6). Collectively, these sections are known as the “scaffold law.”
For those who are not familiar, the sections require project owners, contractors and their agents to provide certain devices to workers engaged in certain activities. The devices must provide “proper protection” to the workers. Courts have held that these entities cannot delegate the legal responsibility for this duty to anyone else. An injured worker automatically wins a lawsuit against them if he can prove that a violation of either of these sections at least partially caused his injury. Since it first enacted these provisions in 1885, the New York State Legislature has prohibited defendants from raising assumption of risk (you knew what you were getting into) and comparative negligence (I was at fault but you were more at fault) as defenses in court. In 1945, the New York State Court of Appeals (the state’s highest court) ruled that defendants may not raise the worker’s contributory negligence as a defense.