California — Earthquake Authority Evaluator:
The California Earthquake Authority (CEA) has developed a new tool to help home inspection specialists evaluate vulnerability to an earthquake online.
It’s called QuakeGrade and CEA CEO Glenn Pomeroy says it analyzes information entered by a home inspector and the collects data about the geological risks compared to the home’s structure. Then it calculates a vulnerability score and puts it in a report sent to the homeowner or buyer.
“We want to help Californians learn more about their risks for earthquake damage to their homes. QuakeGrade is a great new tool and will help homeowners see what specific steps they can take to lower the risk of shake damage to their house,” he said.
The great thing about QuakeGuard — Pomeroy said — is it can be used on desktop computers, tablets and smart phones.
Source link: Insurance Journal
California — Jones Approves State Farm Inland Marine Reduction:
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has approved rate reductions for two State Farm inland marine policies that will bring millions of dollars in premium savings for tens of thousands of boat owners and homeowners with jewelry and higher value collections.
"The department's rate analysts reviewed State Farm's rate filings and determined that the rates should be lowered, resulting in an estimated total premium savings of $18 million annually to California consumers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Once again, Californians have benefited from the insurance commissioner's rate regulation authority."
As part of the department's annual Excessive Rates Review Project, letters were sent to insurers where there was concern that existing rates for a given line of insurance may be excessive. Companies in receipt of an excessive rates letter were asked to demonstrate that its rates were not excessive or submit a rate decrease filing to be reviewed by the department. The department's rate analysts reviewed the State Farm rate filings and found that the company's requested rate decreases needed to be further reduced. The company lowered their rates on those insurance products where the department found the data supported a reduction.
The first rate reduction is for State Farm's standalone boat owner's policies that can cover liability, medical payments and physical damage for a variety of watercraft including sailboats, outboard, inboard and inboard/outboard boats. The second is State Farm's standalone Jewelry and Personal Articles program used to insure higher values and variety of items including scheduled jewelry, silverware, fine arts, sports equipment, memorabilia and collectibles like stamps and coins, which offers more deductible options than are offered with their standard homeowner policies.
California — State Farm Issues Refunds:
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced today that State Farm has issued refunds totaling $13,335,701 for overcharged premiums to 241,356 California consumers-finally complying with the Commissioner's rate reduction order after losing twice in court.
The refunds with interest resulted from an order by Commissioner Jones that State Farm reduce its homeowners' and renters' rates by seven percent overall. Jones issued the order, which went into effect on December 8, 2016, after an extensive public hearing and found that State Farm's rates were excessive. Instead of complying, State Farm sued the Commissioner and asked the court for a stay while State Farm challenges the order over the next year or years in court proceedings. The court denied State Farm's request to stall reducing its rates, and ruled that the Commissioner's rate reduction order should go into effect immediately. Even though State Farm lost the motion, the company still refused to comply with the order. The Department of Insurance filed a notice of noncompliance threatening an enforcement action, and State Farm again asked the court to intervene and block the notice of noncompliance. The court again rejected State Farm's request, and finally State Farm started complying with the Commissioner's rate reduction order, including issuing refunds with interest to policyholders overcharged since December 8.
"California voters gave me the responsibility under Proposition 103 to make sure that insurance companies do not charge consumers rates that are excessive," said Commissioner Jones. "Rather than reduce its excessive rates for its customers as ordered, State Farm chose to sue. We have used all our legal remedies to make sure State Farm's customers are not overcharged and to make sure that State Farm complies with the rate reduction order. It is past time that State Farm's rate payers receive the rate reductions to which they are entitled."
As a result of the lawsuit and delay, approximately 250,000 California consumers were charged excessive rates from approximately December 8, 2016 through approximately mid-February 2017. Overcharged State Farm policyholders should receive an average savings of $54.92 per policy in refunds of overcharged premiums with interest.
The Commissioner and his staff are working to ensure that all consumers who were overcharged for their homeowners' premiums after December 8, 2016, receive a full refund or a credit as appropriate. Of those approximately 250,000 State Farm policyholders who were overcharged, 191,746 have received or should be receiving refund checks in the mail. Another 49,610 have elected to receive their refunds in the form of credits on their account with State Farm. Additionally, there are approximately 10,000 State Farm policyholders still owed refunds that State Farm says it is experiencing difficulty in contacting.
Nevada — Marijuana DUIs:
Nevada — like a lot of states — is trying to figure out how to measure whether someone is under the influence of marijuana while driving. A new measure has hit the Legislature to eliminate urine samples as one way.
The proposal — which is bipartisan — says police will need to use blood tests only and the THC content cannot exceed 5 nanograms per milliliter.
Source link: Insurance Journal
Oregon — From the Department of Insurance:
The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking hearing:
Amendment to 2018 standard bronze and silver health benefit plans
These proposed rules establish the requirement that the standard bronze health benefit plan be HSA eligible, in order to promote consumer choice. HSA plans are high deductible plans that allow consumers to pay for medical expenses with tax-free dollars. Consumers are responsible for initial health care costs until the deductible is met. The proposed rules further clarify that the insurer or health care service contractor shall clearly indicate on any applicable plan and benefits template or other plan or product specific filing document that the plan is HSA eligible.
The proposed rules also bring the standard bronze and standard silver plans into compliance with federal law by amending the exhibits for the plans for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2018, to meet federal minimum actuarial value (AV) requirements. The amended rule does not contain new requirements, but rather adjusts certain benefits within these plans.
The Agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule’s substantive goals while reducing negative economic impact of the rule on business.
Public hearing: June 22, 2017, 10:00 a.m.
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
Last day for public comment: June 29, 2017, 5:00 p.m.
For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website:
The agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.
Washington — Kreidler disciplines, fines insurance companies and professionals for law violations:
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler in April disciplined and issued fines totaling $14,000 against insurance companies, agents and brokers who violated state insurance regulations.
Amco Insurance Co., Des Moines, Iowa; fined $5,000, order 16-0249
The insurance commissioner found that Amco charged some commercial customers rates that had not been filed and approved by the OIC, resulting in some overcharges and undercharges. The company also didn’t properly apply some rating factors, issued policies with incomplete underwriting information and was employing producers whose appointments and affiliations were expired.
American Strategic Insurance Corp.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; fined $4,500, order 17-0044
The company allowed 108 insurance producers whose appointments had lapsed to conduct 584 transactions totaling more than $151,000. State law requires insurers to file a notice and pay a fee to the insurance commissioner for each licensed producer who will act as an agent of an insurer. A total of 359 of its producers had lapsed appointments for 22 days.
5 Star Life Insurance Co., Baton Rouge, La.; fined $2,000, order 17-0045
The company allowed seven insurance producers whose appointments had lapsed to conduct 106 transactions totaling more than $6,153. State law requires insurers to file a notice and pay a fee to the insurance commissioner for each licensed producer who will act as an agent of an insurer. A total of 62 of its producers had lapsed appointments for 21 days.
Great Northwest Insurance Co., St. Paul, Minn.; fined $2,000, order 17-0047
The company allowed five insurance producers whose appointments had lapsed to conduct 41 transactions totaling more than $8,041. State law requires insurers to file a notice and pay a fee to the Insurance Commissioner for each licensed producer who will act as an agent of an insurer. A total of 22 of its producers had lapsed appointments for 17 days.
American Home Guard, Philadelphia; ordered to cease and desist, order 17-0085
The company sold service contracts, also known as warranties, to Washington consumers for home appliances and home systems. The company is not registered in Washington state, as required by state law.
Donna K. Stephenson, Everett; license revoked, order 17-0039
Stephenson ran an insurance business, Newcastle Insurance LLC dba Glen Gay Agency, with her husband, John Glen Gay.
Stephenson and Gay made an agreement with a client that they would pay his monthly health insurance premium to Premera in exchange for the client placing an ATM machine owned by the couple at his marijuana business. It is illegal for an insurance producer to pay a client’s premium.
Stephenson made the payments to Premera by forging the client’s signature on money orders, a violation of state law.
The couple stopped paying the client’s insurance premium after six months because of a dispute with the client, so Premera canceled the policy for nonpayment. The client complained to Premera, which in turn reported the case to the insurance commissioner. Premera canceled its affiliation with the agency in June 2016.
Stephenson’s license was revoked on March 17. The insurance commissioner has separate actions against Gay and Newcastle Insurance.
Jeffrey Byron Gordon, Tulalip; license revoked, order 17-0041
Gordon applied for an insurance producer license in November 2015. He disclosed eight felony charges and was issued a probationary license under the guidance of a mentor. In November 2016, the mentor notified the insurance commissioner that Gordon had again been charged with a new felony and would no longer be his mentor. The probationary license requires Gordon to report future charges or convictions against him. Gordon did not report the charges or resulting plea. As a result, his license was revoked on March 24.
Larry D. Andre, Puyallup; fined $250, order 17-0060
Andre sold a customer a Medicare Advantage Plan that was not suitable for the customer’s needs. Andre failed to get complete information about what types of health plans the customer needed and qualified for, and also misrepresented the benefits of the plan the customer bought. The customer filed a complaint with the insurance commissioner, and Andre agrees to pay the fine.
Joshua D. Hemstreet, Bremerton; fined $250, order 17-0053
Hemstreet applied for an insurance producer’s license in March 2017 and said he had no criminal history. The background check revealed two previous convictions. He agrees to pay the fine in order to obtain his license.
Ella Hipes, dba Measured Wealth, Spokane; ordered to cease and desist, order 17-0051
Hipes is not licensed as an insurance producer in Washington state. She solicited business in Washington state and sold four annuities for nearly $600,000 to three Washington consumers along with another unlicensed producer, Justin W. Smith. Hipes kept nearly $35,000 in commission and paid over $4,400 in commission to Smith. She has failed to respond to all inquiries from the insurance commissioner and refused delivery of the final notification letter. The state of Tennessee is also taking action against Hipes for allegations of misappropriation and fraud.