New York Lawmakers Consider Extending Agents’ Licenses, Other Issues

By | February 14, 2011

The New York Senate Committee on Insurance is scheduled to hear bills this afternoon that would extend insurance agents’ license renewals, allow multiple rating plans for personal lines insurers and clarify laws about insurance surcharges from car accidents.

One bill would allow the superintendent to issue insurance licenses to new agents for a period longer than 24 months. Lawmakers seek the change because agents’ initial licenses renew on their birthday every other year. In cases where an agent’s birthday is shortly following the application, it can mean drastically shorter license period. The bill would give the superintendent the ability to extend the renewal date of initial licenses by up to six months, for a total of 30 months.

Another bill would allow personal lines insurers to create multiple rating plans within a single company — which is currently prohibited by insurance law in the state. The bill is seen as a benefit to smaller, regional companies, since insurers would no longer have to create subsidiaries to offer different rating plans. Each time a company develops a new plan, it would be provided only to new business customers, which is the current practice when larger insurers establish a separate corporation to offer a new plan.

The final bill clarifies technical issues in a law passed last year that raised to $2,000 the threshold for vehicle damage before an insurer could add surcharges to a policy. The bill clarifies that the threshold goes into effect March 1, and gives the superintendent the authority to raise or lower that amount.

Hearings on all three pieces of legislation — which were sponsored in the Senate by Insurance Committee Chairman James Seward — are scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m today.

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