Legislative Session Recap: Major Victories on Photo Inspection, Excess Lines Affidavits

After a long final week, the regularly scheduled 2022 Legislative Session concluded, with the Senate finishing their work at 2:30 A.M. Friday June 3rd, and the Assembly finishing just before 8:20 A.M. on Saturday June 4th. During the entire 2022 Legislative Session, 1,007 bills passed both Houses, which is the most to have passed both Houses during a Legislative Session in the last 25 years.

We are pleased to report that we have scored several major wins this session, including most notable, the passage of our bill to eliminate mandatory auto photo inspections. Contact SHobson@BigINY with any questions. 

Beneficial Bills Passed/Advanced:

Repeal Auto Photo Inspection Mandate – Passed Senate and Assembly

S.6028 (Breslin) and A.6877 (Zebrowski)

In a historic victory, Big I NY’s “Auto Insurance Consumer Relief Act”, which makes auto photo inspections optional at the discretion of insurance carriers passed both houses of the legislature. The bill is our top legislative priority this year, and has finally cleared the legislature after being stalled for nearly a decade. The passage of this bill was the result of a concerted multi-year grassroots and lobbying campaign involving legislative meetings with agents and lawmakers, hundreds of phone calls and emails, 1,700 petition signatures by agents and their customers, and a statewide PR and media campaign. As a testament to the strength of our campaign and merits of our position, the bill passed both houses with overwhelming support.

The bill must now be signed by Governor Hochul. We anticipate the bill will not be sent to her desk for several months, at which time she has ten days to act. If signed, photo inspections will become optional at carrier discretion beginning January 1, 2023.

Streamline Excess Lines Affidavits – Passed Senate and Assembly

S.8127 (Breslin) and A.9088 (Hunter)

We celebrate another important win with the passage of a bill to reduce the information required to be reported when placing coverage in the excess markets. The bill would reduce the number of data elements that a broker is required to collect and report for each of three declining licensed insurers from seven to three. The insurer name, NAIC number and the reason the broker believed the licensed insurer would consider underwriting the risk would still be recorded in an affidavit. The bill must now be signed by Governor Hochul. We anticipate the bill will not be sent to her desk for several months, at which time she has ten days to act.

 Anti-Arson Application Repeal – Passed Assembly

S.2627 (Sanders) and A.603 (D. Rosenthal)

Big I NY supports legislation to repeal the anti-arson application in the last remaining jurisdiction, NYC. The bill passed the Assembly this year, but was not brought up for a vote in the Senate.

Harmful Bills Defeated:

 Single Payer Healthcare – Died in Committee, Senate and Assembly

S.5474 (Rivera) and A.6058 (Gottfried)

This bill would abolish the state’s private health insurance market in favor of a government run “single payer” program. The Assembly has passed the bill five times now, and there are currently 33 co-sponsors in the Senate; the exact number needed to pass it. Last year, Big I NY mobilized a group of members with experience in the health and benefits space to meet with Senators during “Single Payer Action Week.” That momentum carried into 2022, and the bill ultimately the bill was never voted out of committee in either the Senate or Assembly.

 Lead Paint Exclusion Ban – Passed Assembly, Died in Senate Insurance Committee

S.7039-A (Ryan) and A.7488-A (Rivera)

Legislation to ban the use of lead paint exposure exclusions in residential habitational coverage passed the Assembly, but died in the Insurance Committee in the Senate. This bill would send shockwaves through the market, and could lead to a crisis of cost and availability. Big I NY and partners in the insurance industry advocated instead for a primary prevention approach as a more effective solution to the issue of lead paint poisoning.

Harmful Bills Passed:

Expansion of Wrongful Death Benefits – Passed Senate and Assembly

S.74-A (Hoylman) and A.6770 (Weinstein)

This legislation would expand the types of compensation available to family members in a wrongful death claim to include grief and emotional anguish. The current law permits families of a victim of wrongful death to collect the full value of any economic damages (for example medical costs, loss of support, loss of a future inheritance, etc.), damages for pain and suffering experienced by the victim, and punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct was particularly malicious and/or intentional.

We oppose this bill because it is unnecessary and costly. The current law provides juries the ability to fairly compensate the families of victims. Emotional damages by their very nature are subjective and impossible to quantify, and in tort cases where they are awarded, are often sizeable. Ultimately the cost of these awards are borne by policyholders and the public writ large, through higher premiums, loss of affordable coverage options, and higher taxes. A recent study found that this legislation could increase average annual premiums for New York residents and businesses by $2.2 billion or 12.6%.