Expands the application of provisions regulating insurance on wireless communications equipment.
Ayes (59): Addabbo, Avella, Ball, Bonacic, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, DeFrancisco, Diaz, Dilan, Farley, Felder, Flanagan, Gallivan, Gianaris, Gipson, Griffo, Grisanti, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Hoylman, Kennedy, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Larkin, Latimer, LaValle, Libous, Little, Marcellino, Marchione, Martins, Maziarz, Montgomery, Nozzolio, O'Brien, O'Mara, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Rivera, Robach, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, Seward, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousins, Tkaczyk, Valesky, Young, Zeldin
Excused (2): Espaillat, Golden
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the insurance law, in relation to insurance on wireless communications equipment
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To require additional wireless communications equipment insurance policy disclosures under section 2131 of the Insurance Law, to ensure that wireless communications equipment coverage products are subject to the consumer protections and financial security provided for in this Chapter and inherent in an insurance construct, to update the definition of wireless communications equipment to reflect significant evolution of the portable electronics market, and to make a technical amendment.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section one amends section 2131 of the insurance law to better ensure that consumers receive all relevant wireless communications equipment insurance policy information, specifically by adding a new premium and compensation disclosure requirement to the section 2131 set of disclosures designed specifically for such policies.
Section two amends section 2131 of the insurance law to expand the definition of wireless communications equipment insurance policies to cover all entities offering coverage essentially identical to the products that are currently covered by section 2131.
Section three amends Insurance Law § 2131(1) to update the definition of wireless communications equipment to more broadly encompass constructs designed to circumvent the consumer protections provided in this chapter.
Section four makes a technical amendment to Insurance Law section 3449 to ensure proper cross referencing to Insurance Law section 2131.
EXISTING LAW: Insurance Law section 2131 requires numerous written and material disclosures by producers of limited licensed wireless communications equipment insurance coverage products. The section 2131 disclosures were carefully constructed to establish the sales of these products as arms length transactions and eliminate the possibility of improper steering by producer agents.
The section 2131 disclosures are numerous. They include the name of a producer and any agents, a disclosure that a product may be a duplication of a renter's, homeowner's, automobile or other liability insurance policy, as well as a clear delineation of covered losses, billing processes, and cancellation and refund rights.
The section 2131 disclosures also specifically ensure that consumers do not rely on limited lines sales agents for guidance on coverage as they might on sales agents of traditional insurance products, such as life, home, automobile and disability coverage. Specifically, section 2131 requires that consumers be notified that producer employees "are not qualified or authorized to evaluate the adequacy of the purchaser's existing coverages, unless otherwise licensed."
JUSTIFICATION: This bill will address the emerging problem of certain businesses circumventing important consumer protection through various
schemes that seek to exploit technicalities in the Insurance Law. In some states, businesses structured in an attempt to operate outside the scope of the insurance laws are reneging on their commitments to pay valid consumer claims or refunding unnecessary premium payments. This bill will clarify that those products that function essentially as wireless communications equipment insurance policies should be subject to the same disclosure requirements and be provided only by solvent authorized insurance companies.
This bill is also necessary to improve the disclosure of relevant information to consumers of limited lines wireless communications equipment insurance policies by specifying how the information should be provided and by providing more information, specifically with regard to producer compensation, that is relevant, understandable and properly emphasized in the context of what were originally designed to be simple, common, arms length transactions.
The bill is also necessary to update the definition of wireless communications equipment to ensure that consumers have access to insurance coverage for devices, such as laptops and tablets, that access communications services like wireless internet connections and not just cellular systems.
The bill is also necessary to make a technical amendment to provide for proper cross referencing by a certain provision of section 3449 of the Insurance Law to section 2131 of the same chapter.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: This is a new bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 7706 IN SENATE June 2, 2014 ___________Introduced by Sen. LIBOUS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Insurance AN ACT to amend the insurance law, in relation to insurance on wireless communications equipment THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Paragraph 2 of subsection (d) of section 2131 of the insur- ance law, as amended by chapter 368 of the laws of 2010, is amended to read as follows: (2) with respect to wireless communications equipment vendors, insur- ance issued to cover the loss, theft, mechanical failure, or malfunction of, or damage to, wireless communications equipment offered as either an individual policy issued to the consumer or as a group policy under which certificates or other evidence of coverage are issued to individ- ual consumers who enroll in the program, OR ANY ARRANGEMENT THAT SEEKS TO PROVIDE SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR BENEFITS THROUGH OTHER MEANS INCLUDING ARRANGEMENTS THAT CONFER BENEFITS UPON CONSUMERS THAT PURCHASE, INCLUD- ING INSTALLMENT SALE PURCHASES, OR LEASE WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS EQUIP- MENT OR WIRELESS SERVICES, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE BENEFITS ARE PROVIDED DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY TO THE CONSUMER, WHERE THE BENEFITS INCLUDE THE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT OF THE COVERED DEVICE, THE PROVISION OF A LOANER OR RENTAL DEVICE, OR THE PAYMENT OF INDEMNIFICATION IN THE EVENT OF A LOSS OF A COVERED DEVICE, AND WHERE THE BENEFITS ARE EXPRESS- LY OR IMPLIEDLY CONDITIONED ON THE HAPPENING OF SOME FORTUITOUS EVENT SUCH AS THE LOSS, THEFT OR PHYSICAL DAMAGE OF THE COVERED DEVICE, OR IS STRUCTURED AS A REMEDY IN THE EVENT OF SUCH PERILS WITHOUT EXPRESSLY STATING THOSE PERILS AS A CONDITION OF COVERAGE, provided however, that said insurance shall not extend to wireless services or service contracts governed by article seventy-nine of this chapter; or S 2. Subparagraphs (F) and (G) of paragraph 2 of subsection (e) of section 2131 of the insurance law, as amended by chapter 368 of the laws of 2010, are amended and a new subparagraph (H) is added to read as follows:EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD15460-01-4 S. 7706 2
(F) disclose that the employee of the rental vehicle company, wireless communications equipment vendor or self-storage company is not qualified or authorized to evaluate the adequacy of the purchaser's existing coverages, unless otherwise licensed;
[and](G) state that the customer may cancel the insurance at any time and any unearned premium will be refunded in accordance with applicable law [.]; AND (H) WITH REGARD TO WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS EQUIPMENT INSURANCE, INCLUDE A DISCLOSURE THAT IS DEEMED SUFFICIENT TO COMPLY WITH ANY REQUIREMENT TO DISCLOSE PRICE AND PRODUCER COMPENSATION WITH RESPECT TO THIS TYPE OF INSURANCE AND THAT SHALL READ SUBSTANTIALLY AS FOLLOWS: "YOU WILL BE BILLED A CHARGE OF (AMOUNT OF PREMIUM) FOR A TERM OF (NUMBER OF MONTHS) MONTHS. FOR CUSTOMERS WHO ELECT INSURANCE COVERAGE, THE MONTHLY INSURANCE PREMIUM MAY INCLUDE FEES PAYABLE TO (NAME OF ADMINISTRATOR) AND/OR (NAME OF VENDOR)." S 3. Subsection (1) of section 2131 of the insurance law, as added by chapter 582 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows: (l) For purposes of this section "wireless communications equipment" shall mean wireless handsets, pagers, personal digital assistants, wire- less telephones [or], wireless telephone batteries, PORTABLE COMPUTERS AND TABLETS, and other SIMILAR PORTABLE wireless devices and accessories related to such devices that are used to access wireless communications services and includes wireless services. S 4. Subsection (a) of section 3449 of the insurance law, as added by chapter 426 of the laws of 2005, is amended to read as follows: (a) In this section, the term "policy of wireless communications equipment insurance" means an insurance policy covering the kind of insurance described in PARAGRAPH TWO OF subsection [(1)](D) of section two thousand one hundred thirty-one of this chapter. S 5. This act shall take effect immediately.