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Important Notice – COVID-19 Update – Policyholder Financial Hardship

By April 7, 2020 Vanner Voice
COVID-19 update

Dear Policyholder,

A recent Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo, together with recent amendments to the insurance and banking regulations (the “regulations”) issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services (“Department”), extend grace periods and give you other rights under certain property/casualty insurance policies if you are an individual or small business and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the novel coronavirus (“COVID‑19”) pandemic (“affected policyholder”).  These grace periods and rights are currently in effect but are temporary, though they may be extended further.  Please check the Department’s website at https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/coronavirus for updates.

If you are a small business, only certain types of commercial lines property/casualty insurance policies are covered by these amendments, generally including property, fire, commercial general liability, special multiperil, medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, commercial auto (including livery and other for-hire vehicles), and commercial umbrella insurance. A business qualifies as a “small business” if it is resident in New York State, is independently owned and operated, and employs 100 or fewer individuals.

If you are an individual, generally, personal lines property/casualty insurance policies are covered by these amendments, including auto, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance.

Moratorium on Cancellation, Non-Renewal, and Conditional Renewal

If you are an affected policyholder, there is a moratorium on your insurer cancelling, non-renewing, or conditionally renewing your property/casualty insurance policy for a period of 60 days.  If you do not make a timely premium payment and can demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, your insurer may not impose any late fees relating to the premium payment or report you to a credit reporting agency or a debt collection agency regarding such premium payment.

Catching up on Overdue Insurance Payments

The regulations also require your insurer to permit you, as an affected policyholder, to pay the overdue premium over a 12-month period if you did not make a timely premium payment due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and can still demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This also applies if the insurer sent you a nonpayment cancellation notice prior to March 29, 2020.

Policies Financed by Premium Finance Agencies – Grace Period

If your insurance policy has been financed through a premium finance agency, and you, as an affected policyholder, do not make an installment payment, the premium finance agency may not cancel your policy for a period of at least 60 days, including any contractual grace period, and subject to the safety and soundness of the premium finance agency.  In addition, if you do not make a timely installment payment to the premium finance agency, the premium finance agency must extend the due date for the installment payment by at least 60 days, may not impose any late fees relating to that installment payment, and may not report you to a credit reporting agency or a debt collection agency regarding that installment payment.

Catching up on Overdue Payments to Premium Finance Agencies

If you, as an affected policyholder, do not make a timely installment payment to the premium finance agency due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the premium finance agency must permit you to pay the installment payment over a 12-month period if you can still demonstrate financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, subject to the safety and soundness of the premium finance agency. This also applies if the premium finance agency issued a non-payment cancellation notice prior to March 29, 2020.

How to Qualify for these Extensions

In order to take advantage of these extensions, the insurer or finance company will need from you a written statement that you are having financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  These statements should be sent to Vanner Insurance and we will forward them to your insurance carrier(s).  A recent Executive Order issued by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set forth the details that insurers must abide by in implementing the premium relief that has been mandated for policyholders financially impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have any questions about this premium payment assistance, or need help with the process, please do not hesitate to contact our agency at 716-688-8888 or you can email any one of your team members at Vanner.  We understand these are tough times for many of us and we will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Sincerely,

John Daughton

President