NJ Operators Seek Help To Review Insurance Policies

Posted on November 29, 2011

LUMBERTON, N.J. — New Jersey operators who routinely handle runs in New York are scrambling to make sure their insurance policies qualify under New York Taxi and Limousine Commission rules about carrying adequate personal injury protection.

The flap over the rule erupted after some New Jersey operators were denied NYTLC limousine vehicle registrations and renewals because they didn’t carry the explicit PIP protection required of New York-based operators. The new TLC rule requires that operators who do business in New York City, including the LaGuardia and JFK International airports, have liability insurance policies that carry $200,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

A meeting last week between transportation attorney and former NYTLC Commissioner Matt Daus and officials from the NYTLC resulted in the regulatory authority recognizing the Lancer ISO Line of Insurance Program as meeting its PIP requirement. Lancer is the largest vehicle insurer in the chauffeured transportation industry and has many clients in the New Jersey-New York market. Daus is also general counsel for Lancer Insurance.

“The language in the Lancer policy is like the PIP coverage,” said Barry Lefkowitz, executive director of the Limousine Associations of New Jersey. “It specifically increases automatically to the requirement of the state when [operators] cross the border.”

Now the challenge for New Jersey-based operators under other insurance providers is to make sure the NYTLC would recognize their specific policy languages as similar to that of Lancer’s. Since LANJ alerted its members about the NYTLC change in an e-blast last week, Lefkowitz’s lobbying firm in Lumberton, N.J. has been inundated with calls. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving alone, his offices received at least three dozen calls and a number of e-mails from mostly smaller operators with policies written by smaller insurance providers. They have even fielded calls from operators in Connecticut and Pennsylvania who do business in New York City.

“Some folks are scared to death that they can’t do business,” Lefkowitz said. “A number of non-LANJ members contacting us.”

Lefkowitz has been asking the inquiring operators to send LANJ copies of their policies so they can review them and make sure their ISO forms parallel those of Lancer Insurance. The review often involves talking to multiple insurance agents familiar with the policies. Daus and Lancer agents have been helping LANJ handle the requests.

“Some of our smaller operators are with small insurance companies that we’ve never heard of,” Lefkowitz said. “We’re going through their policies to see that they have at least the language that indicates that when they cross the state line, that coverage increases comparable to the requirements of [New York].”

The NYTLC rule does not affect any operator who has mini-buses and/or motorcoaches in a fleet, since buses are required by New Jersey law to carry insurance policies with language specifying at least $250,000 in PIP coverage. But New Jersey rules do not specifically require PIP language in insurance policies for operators who only run sedans, SUVs, and/or stretch limousines. As the chauffeured transportation industry slowly evolves, more and more operators are running diverse fleets that include mini-buses, which will cause the PIP issue to diminish over time, Lefkowitz said.

Overall, New Jersey state law requires all chauffeured transportation operators to carry at least $1.5 million in insurance liability per vehicle per incident, which also mirrors federal law.

The NYTLC’s PIP requirement stems from a broader recent trend among the Commission’s leadership to pass rules or modify old ones that complicate regulatory procedures for NYTLC-licensed limousine operators. Some of the problems had been resolved during the 10-year NYTLC leadership of Daus, only to re-emerge again under NYTLC Commissioner David Yassky.

“The problem is you have a complete new line up of people that did not do background work to see what had transpired previously,” Lefkowitz told LCT. “Matt Daus dealt with the issue eight or nine years ago. If you don’t do your homework, you don’t know what’s gone on, so you end up in areas that bite you on the buns.”

Lefkowitz, Daus, and LANJ representatives are meeting quarterly with Yassky and NYTLC staff to try to discuss problems and concerns and try to avert further rule changes and reversals detrimental to New Jersey-based operators. The next meeting is Dec. 8.

Any operator with questions or concerns about PIP coverage should e-mail their policy ISO form to Lefkowitz at [email protected]

— Martin Romjue, LCT editor

Related Topics: Barry Lefkowitz, fleet insurance, fleet insurance policies, industry regulations, Lancer Insurance, LANJ, Matt Daus, New Jersey operators, New York Taxi & Limousine Commission, state regulations

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