Zelle LLP mourns the death of its founder Lawrence Zelle, 86, who died May 8. A Minnesota attorney, Zelle, a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the U of M Law School, founded the firm in Minneapolis which grew to offices in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, London, Miami, New York, Oakland, and Washington. He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Hannalee, sons and their spouses, and eight grandchildren. The Zelle law firm honored him with this statement on the firm’s website: “The attorneys and staff of Zelle LLP mourn the loss of our dear friend, mentor, founder, and namesake Larry Zelle. Without Larry, there would be no Zelle LLP. He was a pioneer and legend in the property insurance industry. We honor his legacy by proudly carrying his name on our law firm letterhead. That will never change. We will miss you Larry.” A separate message from the law firm recalled how words, performance, and winning mattered to Zelle, who was noted for being a perfectionist, as well as highly prepared and competitive, but to him his clients and colleagues mattered most.
The Federation of Insurance Women of Texas will hold its 77th Annual Convention on Oct. 21-24 at the Embassy Suites San Marcos. Metroplex Insurance Professionals and Tarrant County Insurance Professionals will serve as hosts of the convention. Room rate is $162 per night and includes full breakfast buffet. The golf tournament on Oct. 21 will be held at the Bandit Golf Club in New Braunfels, and costs $175 per golfer for registrations before Oct. 1, and $195 thereafter. FIWT is currently seeking sponsors for the golf tournament and the convention. Awards to local associations for top scores in the education, membership and community service contests will be announced at the convention. The deadline for contest activities is Sept. 30, with a submission deadline of Oct. 9.
Wellington Insurance Group, Fort Worth, is offering weekly training sessions online on Wednesdays. Content is for new agents and agency office staff and agents interested in learning more about Wellington’s admitted and surplus products. Times for the training vary, but generally are at 10 a.m. or noon. There is no registration necessary to join the webinar which is offered virtually through the GoToMeet.Me application. For more information, send an email to email@example.com.
According to a Reuters report, U.S. safety officials investigating the cause of a Tesla Model S crash that killed two men in Texas on April 17 said on May 10 that testing suggested the vehicle’s automated steering system was “not available” on the road where the accident occurred. But the car’s cruise-control function could still have been in operation, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in its preliminary report. The report drew no conclusions about the cause and circumstances of the fiery crash in a suburb of Houston. The NTSB and local police are still investigating. Local police have said they believe the crash occurred with no one in the driver’s seat. The accident has raised fresh questions about the safety of Tesla’s Autopilot system. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said last month Autopilot could not have been engaged in the vehicle involved in the Texas crash. Tesla shares fell 6.4 percent to close at $629.04 on May 10. The NTSB report makes clear that Autopilot is in fact two systems. One is a Traffic-Aware Cruise Control that controls the vehicle’s speed and distance from vehicles up ahead. The second is Autosteer which governs lateral steering movements. Both must be engaged for Autopilot to be considered in operation.
The insurance industry’s investments are garnering greater scrutiny related to their impact on environmental, social, and governance issues, according to news sources, and NAIC is no exception. National Association of Insurance Commissioners President and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier told AM Best that the NAIC is sharpening its focus on ESG issues in general, and another regulatory priority for 2021 is its Natural Catastrophe and Climate and Resilience Task Force.
According to a statement by the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, during the last 40 years, the United States sustained more than 290 weather and climate disasters that collectively were responsible for nearly 15,000 deaths and cost more than $1.9 trillion dollars. The changing climate has become clearer in 2020 with a record-shattering 22 individual billion-dollar weather and climate-related disasters in the U.S., costing nearly $100 billion in damages. In addition, 2020 was the sixth consecutive year the U.S. experienced 10 or more billion-dollar weather and climate-related loss events. APCIA credits the source of this information to National Centers for Environmental Information.
According to a published report, a federal district court in Alabama denied Cincinnati Insurance Company’s motion to dismiss a Covid-19 business interruption lawsuit, saying physical damage is not necessarily visible to the eye. The three restaurant companies had argued that the terms concerning loss under Cincinnati Insurance Company’s coverage were ambiguous. The insurer had argued that the restaurants had not identified the physical loss or damage to the property needed to trigger coverage. The ruling left room for the restaurants to proceed by allowing that the facts alleged by the restaurants may constitute actual physical loss of their buildings and furniture during the pandemic, even though the impact is not visible. The court said, “…Policy language indicates that the insurer understands that an insured may suffer physical loss without physical alteration of property because the policy excludes from coverage some expenses incurred because of invisible substances like vapor and fumes…. Cincinnati could have excluded invisible substances like viruses but did not.”
As the pandemic continues to crumple the U.S. economy, the insurance industry lost 7,000 jobs in April with businesses struggling to reverse the Covid-19 impact and engage in a long anticipated recovery, BestWire reported May 7, citing the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate inched upward to 6.1 percent. For the insurance industry, jobs shrunk by 0.24 percent over March’s numbers. The Department of Labor employment numbers for the industry have ping-ponged between gains and losses. In March, the industry gained 11,200 jobs; in February the industry lost 2,900 jobs and in January posted job losses of 9,300 positions. The insurance industry employment numbers showed growth year-to-date, with a 0.77 percent increase of jobs to 2.88 million, compared with 2.85 million in April 2020, according to the report, which is scheduled to be released June 4.
By rule, the Texas Department of Insurance requires individuals, agencies and companies regulated by the TDI to designate an email address for official communications from the agency. The requirement becomes effective Jan. 1, 2022. The rule also allows electronic submissions to TDI in most cases where a paper method was previously required. Regulated entities must notify TDI and designate a new email address within 10 business days when communication can no longer be received at the address previously provided.
The Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) seeks comments on a proposed plan to update notices as it prepares to move its headquarters from Metro Center Drive to the Capitol Complex at 1601 Congress Ave., Austin, in the summer of 2022. According to DWC, the move will require updating notices and forms to use new letterhead and a mailing address. In some cases, DWC also plans to modernize forms and notices for content or formatting. DWC has organized forms and notices into three groups depending on whether it’s planning significant updates, limited updates, or no changes. DWC accepted comments on the form revision plan through May 24.
In April, the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas recorded $747.99 million in premium, the fifth highest monthly premium in stamping office history, and a 0.8 percent increase over April 2020. Cumulatively, SLTX reports $2.75 billion in premium year-to-date, a 14.2 percent increase compared to the same period in 2020. Several lines of business demonstrated notable increases over April 2020, with the largest increase being attributed to Property Package (residential, commercial, and historical codes), which rose almost $27 million, or 131.8 percent. Due to SLTX’s re-categorization of coverage codes in the beginning of the year, some of this increase likely shifted from Homeowners coverage. The second-highest premium increase in April is associated with Allied Lines coverage (residential, commercial, and historical codes), which gained $13 million, or 135.4 percent. These calculations do not represent a market trend, as they are for a single-month period only. For the second consecutive month, the overall number of transactions and policies filed increased over the same period in 2020. Year-to-date, 223,204 policies have been filed, a 5.3 percent decrease in the number of policies filed. Continuing with the year-to-date trend, the majority of the premium reported in April can be attributed to renewal policies, 61 percent. Secondarily, 34 percent of premium reported is for new business, and the remaining five percent is a result of other transactions such as endorsements, cancellations, audits, and installments. As of the end of April, SLTX has posted $2.69 million in stamping fee collections.
The stamping office offers the infographic Best Practices to Avoid Late Filings on its website. In infographic, SLTX reminds filers to enter policy issue dates along with effective dates, as a filing is considered late after 60 days of the later of the two dates. Other tips are to replace binders with policies whenever a binder is filed, review the policy checklist to make certain no required data items are missed, and correct errors timely, as filings with errors are not considered filed until corrected. Finally, in the event a surplus lines agent has issues with online filings, the items should be sent by U.S. mail for filing. The infographic includes the rule changes affecting late filings that became effective Dec. 20, 2018.