N.Y. Assembly Prepares to Close Today with Budget, Fair Plan, Other Insurance Issues Unresolved

June 22, 2004

The Legislature in Albany is scheduled to adjourn today and barring last-minute action will do so without passing a state budget and without addressing a slew of insurance and other key issues.

Political observers, newspaper editorialists and even elected leaders themselves are calling this one of the least productive New York legislative sessions in recent memory. Gov. George E. Pataki, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver and Senator Joseph L. Bruno have been among the critics,

While the major unfinished business is the state budget, lawmakers did nothing of significance the entire session.

Among the insurance measures in limbo as a result of the inaction are bills to renew the property insurance residual market known as the Fair Plan; reform the workers compensation system and amend to the so-called “scaffolding law” affecting employer liability for injuries; change the state’s no-fault auto law to curtail fraud; and fix the law affecting liability of auto leasing companies,

Insurance agents warned that the legislative lethargy regarding the Fair Plan, or New York Property Insurance Underwriting Authority (NYPIUA), in particular, would have real impact on thousands of New York property owners who depend on the plan for their insurance.

“Lawmakers allowed NYPIUA’s authority to accept new business to lapse as of April 30, 2004, because they could not agree on the terms of an extender. Since then, insurance agents and brokers cannot access NYPIUA coverage for new applicants,” explained T.J. Derella, president of the Professional Insurance Agents of N.Y. “Moreover, through the middle of June, NYPIUA has been forced to send out more than 4,700 nonrenewal notices affecting their existing policyholders.”

Agents have warned that property closings will be thwarted and people’s insurance coverage will run out because of the failure to renew the Fair Plan.

.NYPIUA sends out nonrenewal notices 60 days in advance, so the first policyholders whose coverage will terminate are those with policies expiring June 29, 2004. “These are New York’s toughest properties to insure. Agents and brokers know it may be impossible to find replacement coverage for some of these people,” Derella warned.

NYPIUA’s policies include more than 50,000 residences and almost 7,100 commercial properties.

In 2003, a similar gap in NYPIUA’s authority prevented it from accepting applications for a 58 days.

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