Financial Hardship Guidelines for Policyholders
Dear Valued Insurance Customer,
We hope that this message finds you and your family safe and healthy.
A recent Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo, together with recent amendments to the insurance and banking regulations issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services 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 pandemic .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 an individual, generally, personal lines property/casualty insurance policies are covered by these amendments, including auto, homeowners’ and renters’ insurance. If you are an individual and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or our office if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.
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 a small business and an affected policyholder, please contact your insurer or our office if you are uncertain whether your policy is covered.
A copy of the Executive Order and regulations can be found at https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-20213-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency and https://www.dfs.ny.gov/system/files/documents/2020/03/re_consolidated_amend_pt_405_27a_27c_new_216_text.pdf, respectively.
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 and 90 days for a life insurance policy. 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 Demonstrate Financial Hardship
If you, as an affected policyholder, are unable to make a timely premium payment due to financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may submit to your insurer or premium finance agency, as applicable, a statement that you swear or affirm in writing under penalty of perjury that you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the insurer or premium finance agency, as applicable, shall accept as satisfactory proof. Such statement is not required to be notarized. We have attached a copy of a template you can use: Financial Hardship Form.
If you have any questions about this or your policy, do not hesitate to contact our team or your insurance/finance company. We’re proud to continue helping you protect what matters most.
COVID-19 Notice: No-visitor policy
With confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the number of cases increasing in NY, Erie County and most of our surrounding counties have declared a State of Emergency as of 3/15/2020.
We are implementing a “no visitor” policy until further notice. In order to make it as safe as possible for our employees, we are asking our clients to communicate with our staff via phone or email. Although our physical office will be closed, our staff is ready, willing and able to service all your insurance needs via telephone and electronic capabilities and will remain committed to providing outstanding service to you.
We at GPA Insurance Agency, Inc. will continue to be committed to learning more about COVID-19 by monitoring local, state and federal reports. We encourage everyone to take reasonable measures to limit your personal risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
Please visit our website and like/follow us on Facebook to get up-to-date information on our office. We appreciate your loyalty to our agency and look forward to getting back to business as usual.
Stay healthy and safe, everyone!