With only a few weeks to go in the 2019-2020 Session of the Wisconsin Legislature, three bills backed by PIA of Wisconsin appear headed for the Governor’s desk for a signature. Each one is a victory for independent agents, our clients and our industry as a whole:
Bill to Rein-In Public Adjusters Heads to Governor’s Desk
Registration of public adjusters will become part of Wisconsin law if a bill that cleared the Wisconsin Legislature on February 11th is signed into law by Governor Tony Evers. PIA of Wisconsin has lobbied in favor of regulating public adjusters who swoop into Wisconsin following natural disasters. This is because some public adjusters convince desperate homeowners to sign contracts with inordinate fees that hamper the homeowners’ ability to complete covered repairs on their homes.
45 other states already regulate public adjusters because of the consumer protection aspect and the tendency of their activities to unnecessarily drive up claim costs and premiums in the personal residential market. If Governor Evers signs the bill, Assembly Bill 357 will make Wisconsin the 46th state to regulate public adjusters. The bill creates some limitations on their contracts with consumers and it requires out-of-state public adjusters to register with OCI.
Insurance Cybersecurity Legislation Passes State Assembly
Legislation to create cybersecurity standards for the insurance industry in Wisconsin has passed the Wisconsin Assembly on a unanimous vote and will likely pass the Wisconsin Senate, in March.
This legislation (2019 Assembly Bill 819) creates standards for insurance businesses that will help protect customers’ private information from hackers. Larger businesses will be required to conduct risk assessments, develop information security programs based on those assessments and submit those plans to OCI.
Small businesses, including most PIA members, are exempted from these requirements. PIAW lobbied for a strong small business exemption because the cost of hiring a consultant to create an information security plan would be a burden for businesses without their own IT staff. The exemption says that if your business has fewer than 25 employees, or annual revenues below $5 million, or assets less than $10 million, you do not have to comply. Even for businesses that do not have to comply, the legislation lays out a roadmap for good information security practices.
The entire insurance industry in Wisconsin worked together with OCI and with lawmakers to pass this legislation. By getting out ahead on this issue and becoming one of the early states to adopt a cybersecurity law, we were able to design a law that accommodated the small businesses that are members of PIAW.
Tax Credit for Crop Insurance Proceeds
When a farmer has a disastrous crop season, the last thing he or she needs is a higher state tax bill, to boot. This is why PIAW has backed a bill to include crop insurance claim payments in the calculation of the manufacturing and agricultural tax credit.
That bill, Senate Bill 387, has cleared both houses of the Legislature as of Thursday, February 20th. If the bill is signed into law, Wisconsin farmers will be able to avoid having their state income tax shoot up during a bad-weather year, because they had income from crop insurance claims rather than crop sales.
If you would like to ask Governor Evers to approve any or all of these bills, you can contact his office at (608) 266-1212 or EversInfo@wisconsin.gov.