Alaska — Plate Tectonics Research
Earthquake-wise Alaska is a busy state. It has around 40,000 of them a year. Alaska also has the highest rated quakes on the Richter Scale than any of the other states.
The state has so many that the National Science Foundation — a consortium of U.S. universities — is completing the installation of a huge array of seismometers to help map just what is happening under the North American crust.
It all started in 1964 after the 9.2 quake dubbed the Great Alaska Earthquake. At the time, there were just two seismometers in the state. By the end of the summer there will be 260.
Alaska state seismologist Michael West calls it a “big freaking deal. This footprint of instrumentation rolled across the country and is now wrapping up this grand, 15-year project.”
Source link: Insurance Journal
California — Cannabis & Insurance
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones convened 63 insurance-related stakeholders to make sure they have time to comment on cannabis-related regulations with insurance provisions currently under consideration by other state agencies.
"As Insurance Commissioner, my goal to make sure all Californians, including emerging cannabis businesses, have insurance protection," said Commissioner Jones. "The department has an important role to play as new industries emerge and the market adapts to meet the changing needs of all insurance consumers."
Jones is working to identify ways in which the department may help the insurance and cannabis industries by providing insurance-related regulatory guidance and resources.
California has recently grappled with insurance requirements for other emerging industries - notably ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft and autonomous vehicles. With so many agencies working to develop regulations and oversight on the emerging cannabis market, the Department of Insurance has found it useful to inform insurance stakeholders about the insurance-related provisions under consideration by other state agencies, and provide stakeholders with details about how to formally comment on those proposed regulations.
"Cannabis businesses need to insure property, crops, vehicles and employees, just like any other business. They have the same insurance needs," Jones added.
California — Work Comp Pure Premium
California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has dropped the state’s workers’ compensation pure premium rate. As of July 1st, it will be $2.02 per $100 of payroll. That’s 16.5% less than the average rate of $2.42 filed by California insurers on January 1st.
Jones said while he has no power to require a reduction, he thinks it is a good idea. “A reduction in the pure premium rate reflects a reduction in the cost to insurers of providing workers’ compensation insurance, which benefits California’s business economy if insurers lower their pricing. However, there is no legal requirement that these insurers pass these cost savings onto employers, so workers’ compensation insurers continue to file pure premium rates that are higher than the pure premium rate warranted by their costs,” Jones said.
The commissioner based his decision on the data provided to his department by insurers and they indicate medical costs were lower in 2016 than predicted so lower rates are in order.
Meanwhile, Jones said data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) says California work comp insurers wrote $12.96 billion in direct written premium in 2016. That’s up $628 million or 5.1%.
Source links: Insurance Journal — link 1, link 2
California — W.R. Berkley Settlement
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the enforcement action taken against W.R. Berkley Corporation entities and operating units has resulted in a $12 million settlement.
Admiral Insurance Company, Admiral Risk Insurance Services, Inc. nka BXM Insurance Services, Inc., and other self-disclosed entities agreed to settlements for licensing violations and unlawfully transacting surplus line insurance in California.
"Businesses and individual consumers should have confidence that companies selling insurance in California are doing so in compliance with our consumer protection laws," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Our enforcement action has resulted in Admiral and W.R. Berkley Corporation paying a substantial monetary settlement for their licensing violations and ensures that they are now complying with all of California's insurance laws and regulations. Failure to continue compliance will result in additional automatic penalties and sanctions."
The case came to the California Department of Insurance as a referral from the Surplus Line Association of California (SLA). The original parties involved Admiral Insurance Company, an operating unit of W.R. Berkley Corporation; Admiral Risk Insurance Services, Inc.; and, three of Admiral Risk's now-former employees. The department began its investigation in 2011 and found that Admiral Risk and its employees transacted surplus line insurance without holding requisite surplus line broker licenses from approximately November 2003 through June 2011. Further, Admiral Risk impermissibly acted as a managing general agent for affiliated company Admiral Insurance Company, an insurer not admitted transacting business in California.
After the department began its investigation, Admiral Risk and its employees obtained the necessary licensing. W.R. Berkley Corporation later hired outside counsel to conduct an independent review of its operations, and self-disclosed compliance issues to the Department.
"As California's largest consumer protection agency, we must ensure that consumer protections laws are followed," added Jones. "The department's duties also include helping companies come into compliance. W.R. Berkley Corporation has taken the right steps toward remediating its former practices."
The settlement agreement specifies that Admiral Risk Insurance Services, Inc. nka BXM Insurance Services, Inc., in lieu of license suspension, will pay a monetary settlement of $1.5 million and pay a cost recovery fee of $42,500 to reimburse the Department for expenses incurred. Admiral Insurance Company will pay the same monetary settlement and cost recovery fees for its actions.
W.R. Berkley Corporation has also agreed to pay a $9 million settlement and $15,000 for cost recovery. In recognition of the self-reporting and remedial actions already implemented by W.R. Berkley Corporation, the settlement provides that $6 million of the settlement is suspended.