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PG&E, Victims & Insurers — The Battle Heats Up

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Time is running out for the victims of many of California’s wildfires. Rental and other support benefits are expiring soon and many of the victims are still renting home, or staying with others, while their homes are being rebuilt. California state law says insurers have to take care of living expenses for 24 months. After that, the victim is on their own.

To highlight the dilemma, a rally was held in Santa Rosa. That community has 2,500 homes still to be rebuilt. At the end of August just 15% of the victims of the Tubb Fire were living in new homes.

Many of the victims say they can rebuild but finding contractors to do the job is almost impossible.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is leaning on insurers and has asked them to give victims an additional year of coverage. Only Farmers and CSAA Insurance says yes.

The two insurers most picked on at the Santa Rosa rally were State Farm and Nationwide. The latter responded and said it is “applying the appropriate coverage for each individual based on the insuring contract.”

State Farm is going to “see if there is anything more we can do to support them (policyholders) in their recovery process.”

Rex Frazier is the president of the Personal Insurance Federation of California. He said the industry has paid out billions in claims for fires in 2017 and 2018. The rules say they can only bump premiums up 6.9% a year without the insurance commissioner and the department of insurance allowing policyholders to protest.

So he says it takes along time to raise prices and that’s a legitimate concern for insurers.

One of the problems facing the victims — in Sonoma County and also in other parts of California — is underinsurance. United Policyholders said in Sonoma County, for example, 66% do not have enough insurance to recover.

In the meantime, Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) bankruptcy battle is heating up. The company recently settled with a group of insurers and agreed to pay them $11 billion to take care of the losses they suffered because of wildfires its equipment caused. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali will finalize that agreement next month.

Maybe.

Wildfire victims are not pleased with the agreement and want the judge to reject that plan and go with theirs. They contend the agreement benefits insurers and bondholders while ignoring the people most impacted by those fires.

As you know, the law says everyone must be treated equally in a bankruptcy. The victims say what this agreement does is help PG&E bondholders come out of the bankruptcy with their bonds keeping the value they have now.

In other words, it’s putting big business ahead of the victims.

They’re insisting that Judge Montali put forth an edit that says both victims and insurers be treated the same and get the same dollar amount in a settlement.

Source links: The Press Democrat — link 1, link 2, Insurance Journal, Carrier Management

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Men, Women & Disaster

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Men and women respond — generally speaking — differently to situations. Let’s take natural disasters for example. A University of Colorado Boulder study says women are more likely than men to take cover quickly, or immediately prepare for a disaster.

In fact, women — the study shows — have trouble convincing the men in their life to respond when disaster is at hand. On the other side of a disaster, women are also quicker to take care of the home front and often get relegated to the homemaker status while men do the macho things and handle finances and work in the community to repair damages.

Another fact — says researcher and sociologist Dr. Melissa Villarreal— is that agencies involved in assisting natural disaster victims will ask to speak to the man of the house when contacting a family.

Villarreal is the study’s lead author and a student at the Department of Sociology and a research assistant at the university’s Natural Hazards Center. “We found that there are many barriers that disadvantage women in the event of a disaster, leaving them behind when it comes to decision-making and potentially slowing down their recovery,” she said.

The study is titled Women’s Experiences Across Disasters: A Study of Two Towns in Texas. It was done by Texas A&M University Assistant Professor Michelle Meyer and Villarreal. They analyzed interviews with 33 women and 10 men in two Texas towns. The interviews involved the EF-4 tornado that killed six people and destroyed 600 homes in Granbury, Texas in 2013 and the other was from a fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 and totaled 100 homes.

Meyer said the interviews showed common gender-influenced patterns.

“We often assume that men and women are going to respond the same way to these kinds of external stimuli but we are finding that’s not really the case,” she said.

One woman said she and the kids took cover in a closet during the tornado. She begged her husband to join them. He stayed at the window and watched the funnel cloud. Another woman urged her husband to go to a shelter. He — instead — chose to ride out the tornado in a car. She, the kids and he were hit by the tornadoes winds but managed to survive.

“Women seemed to have a different risk perception and desire for protective action than the men in their lives, but men often determined when and what type of action families took,” Villareal noted. “In some cases, this put women and their families in greater danger.”

The point — she pointed out — is that women tend to have a much higher perception of the risk but are pegged by men as worriers and are not taken seriously. It was the main complaint of women. Those same women also complained that the recovery organizations helping out often want to talk to the man first when asking what aid is needed.

“Eliminating the male head-of-household model is crucial for speeding overall household recovery,” the two authors concluded. And they pointed out that women are often excluded from leadership roles in the recovery of a community and are pushed into putting the house back together and taking care of the kids while schools are closed.

Villarreal wants government agencies to look deeper into gender differences when putting out disaster warnings. She also wants to see more childcare available to them so they can participate and have a greater role in efforts to put a community back together.

Source link: Insurance Journal

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Department of Labor’s Overtime Rule

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Finally. The U.S. Labor Department has finalized the controversial and very long awaited new rules on overtime. As you might remember, the Obama administration wanted workers earning less than $913 per week or $47,476 a year to be entitled to overtime.

That decision was appealed by business groups and in 2016 the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the appeal and put the issue on hold.

It has been on hold until now.

Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella has issued a final rule that will take effect on January 1st of next year. It requires an employer to pay overtime for anyone making less that $684 per week or $35,568. The current rule is $455 per week or $23,660 per year.

It will affect 1.2 million workers.

“For the first time in over 15 years, America's workers will have an update to overtime regulations that will put overtime pay into the pockets of more than a million working Americans,” Pizzella said. “This rule brings a commonsense approach that offers consistency and certainty for employers as well as clarity and prosperity for American workers.”

Source link: Business Insurance

 

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The Monetary Troubles of Getting a DUI

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

No one wants to get a DUI or a DWI. They’re the same just different initials. As you know, both involve driving while legally intoxicated. In 2010 over 1.4 million of us got nabbed doing just that.

That was nine-years ago and the last year the U.S. Department of Transportation offered statistics. The numbers are no doubt even higher today.

The average cost of a DUI or DWI — depending on what you want to call it — runs about $20,000 in fines and legal fees. When it comes to insurance, premium costs will rise as well. How much depends on the driving history of the recipient but no one — no matter where they live — escapes higher premiums.

Quote comparer CoverHound tracks such things. It says the national average cost hike is 94.13% for the first year. The second and third could see small decreases depending on whether there are additional moving violations.

By small decrease, CoverHound says 63.74% on average. North Carolina is highest at 371%. The lowest is Maryland at 28%.

Here are the other highest premium state. Two of them — California and Arizona — are PIA Western Alliance states:

1.    North Carolina — 371%

2.    Michigan — 249%

3.    Hawaii — 208%

4.    California — 186%

5.    Arizona — 145%

6.    New Jersey — 132%

7.    Delaware — 81%

8.    Georgia — 78%

9.    Rhode Island — 68%

The states with the lowest three-year rates include the PIA Western Alliance state of Alaska:

1.    Maryland — 28%

2.    Indiana and Maine — 37%

3.    Vermont — 41%

4.    Alaska — 46%

5.    Wisconsin — 46%

6.    New York — 47%

The average dollar increase added to premiums after a DUI is $1,163. That brings the average rate cost to $2,610 a year.

The worst part of a DUI — other than the danger one poses to other drivers on the road — is that it stays on a driver’s record for at least five-years and as many as 10. In the PIA Western Alliance state of New Mexico the DUI stays on a driver’s record for 55-year.

In many cases, that’s a lifetime. 

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PIA Oregon’s 2019 CSR of the Year

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Kristi Tanner-Miller 

Kristi Tanner-Miller is PIA Oregon/Idaho’s 2019 CSR of the Year. She works for Barker Uerlings Insurance in Corvallis. Kristi is the firm’s personal lines manager. She’s been with the company since May of 2017 but has been in the insurance business since 2002.

“If anyone ever asks me what I do, I usually say ‘I sell insurance.’ Truly, I do much more than that as a personal lines account manager at Barker-Uerlings Insurance,” she wrote in her essay for the award. “I advise people, I listen to clients and I sell myself every day. My journey through different insurance agencies, in large cities and small towns, has allowed me to build on my early basic sales training and given me a solid foundation for customer engagement.”

And it is that customer engagement that has made her very popular with her clients. Steve Fuller is one of them. She handles his personal insurance, auto, vacation properties and umbrella liability policies.

"Rather than just presenting numbers, Kristi takes the time to understand my personal situation and the unique needs of myself and my family,” he said.

Taking time to help a client is what Kristi does best.

“I have found that listening is the most essential aspect in creating sales. When a client calls or stops by the office, I always listen and take notes because what they are telling me is important to their situation. By taking the time to focus on each client, I can tailor their insurance to their personal needs, and it doesn’t feel like I’m trying to make a sale,” she said. “I’m helping them protect what they have worked so hard for in their life. My notes, also, help me relate to my clients at a later time, foster communication, and a better understanding of their ‘Big Picture.’”

Steve Uerlings is the president of Barker-Uerlings Insurance. He said Kristi is amazing and pointed to her 2018 numbers. She produced over $164,000 in new premiums while managing half of the personal lines clients in his agency.

“She started out as a Personal Lines Account Manager replacing an employee who retired. Kristi had big shoes to fill as the retiring agent had been with the agency for over 20 years and her clients loved her. She very soon put the client's fears of someone new to rest and easily won their trust.,” he said.

Kristi was nominated by Deb Hermansen, CISR and Steve Uerlings ARM, CIC, CRM.

Before she knew she’d get the award, Kristi said it is quite an honor to even be considered.

“Being nominated for this award by a peer whom I greatly respect is not only an honor, but it is also humbling,” she said. “I take my career as an Insurance Account Manager very seriously and try to lead by example to not only my co-workers, my clients and my community. I don’t consider what I do as sales, it’s being the best advocate for my clients and protecting their assets.”

Part of what makes her so successful is how she combines insurance with community involvement. “Whenever I am at a community event, I’m able to talk about what I do, where I work, and how I can help them or their organization. I’m not really selling them insurance but I’m creating the opportunity for them to think about their needs,” she added. “I have received several call and/or referrals from being involved in the community that have later led to sales.”

Steve Fuller admires Kristi’s approach to community service. He got involved with her in a small business start-up class he teaches at Linn-Benton Community College.

“Kristi does an insurance presentation to potential start up business owners as to what insurance is, what they need to consider in their business start up ideas, and provides several handouts relative to the various business ideas,” he said. “Kristi does this on a volunteer basis and makes herself available to each of the students to email or call her if they have any follow up insurance questions. She emphasizes that they don’t need to be pursuing her or her company for the policy, rather she’s happy to answer any questions as they are trying to determine what their business insurance needs will be.”

The PIA Oregon congratulates Kristi on — first — her hard work on behalf of the agency and her clients, and second, on being awarded the PIA Oregon CSR of the Year.

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Alaska — Fair Treatment of Consumers Following Wildfire Evacuation: Alaska experienced an unprecedented wildfire season and consumers in some areas were under mandatory evacuation orders. Based on the authority given to the Director of Insurance during an emergency under AS 21.06.080(d), the division issued guidance to insurers regarding the treatment of prescription drug or medical supplies. The guidance required early refills and replacements of lost or damaged medication throughout the wildfire season without additional authorization and a relaxation of network requirements.

At this time, the wildfire season is coming to a close, and it appears that civilian evacuations have ceased sufficiently to render the guidance issued in Bulletin B 19-12 no longer necessary. As of September 24, 2019, insurers may resume applying standard cost shares, and authorization and network requirements for prescription drug coverage.

Bulletin B 19-14 supersedes Bulletin B 19-12

If you have any questions relating to this bulletin, please contact Sarah Bailey, Life and Health Section Supervisor at sarah.bailey@alaska.gov or (907) 465-4608.

Here is Bulletin B19-14:  https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/11/Pub/INS_B19-14.pdf

Idaho — Medicare Workshop: A free Medicare workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held in Post Falls on Thursday, October 10th from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm at Real Life Ministries, 1866 N. Cecil Rd, Post Falls, ID  83854.  Everyone, including caregivers, interested in learning how Medicare works is encouraged to attend.

Medicare workshops are designed to introduce the various parts of Medicare and to share some of the costs and benefits associated with the program.  Sessions cover enrollment timeframes for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans, and how the different parts of Medicare work together.

Staff with the state’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program, a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, conduct the workshops.  To register for the upcoming session, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.

Idaho — Medicare enrollment begins October 15: The Medicare Annual Enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th.

People with Medicare looking to make changes to existing Prescription Drug or Medicare Advantage plans, or those seeking to enroll in new plans in Idaho can do so during the annual Medicare Open Enrollment period, October 15 through December 7.

Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) from the Idaho Department of insurance are available statewide to meet with Medicare beneficiaries and those eligible to join the federal health care program.  SHIBA representatives can provide free Medicare information, including reviewing Medicare coverage options.

“Medicare can be confusing.  However, Idaho consumers have options for plans that best fit their medical needs,” said Director Dean Cameron.  “I strongly encourage consumers to seek guidance from our SHIBA representatives and a licensed agent.”

SHIBA offers information on Medicare Open Enrollment, including a calendar of events offered statewide where Medicare counselors will be available to provide assistance during the Open Enrolment period.

Call toll free (800) 247-4422 to make an appointment or to speak with a SHIBA counselor.

Oregon — From the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation: Proposed Rulemaking Hearing: Relating to the licensing of insurance adjusters and insurance consultants

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking hearing:

Relating to the licensing of insurance adjusters and insurance consultants

Rules affected: OAR 836-071-0101, 836-071-0113, 836-071-0118, 836-071-0120, 836-071-0127, 836-071-0130, 836-071-0135, 836-071-0140, 836-071-0145

Need for Rules:

Senate Bill 251 (2019) repealed the insurance adjuster and insurance consultant licensing provisions that were commingled in ORS Chapter 744, and separately re-enacted such statutory provisions. Rulemaking is necessary to implement such re-enacted provisions – which now mandate that the form and manner of application for adjuster and consultant licensing, and for issuance of a temporary adjuster permit, be specified by rule, and that the examinations that are acceptable for purpose of licensing be recognized by rule.

The proposed rulemaking will amend the current rules to specify the form and manner of making application for an adjuster or consultant license, or for a temporary adjuster permit, and recognize certain examinations as adequately testing applicant qualifications, competence and knowledge. The rulemaking will also make technical corrections to the rules, by substituting reference to the 2019 Session Laws for the statutory provisions that have been repealed and re-enacted in such Session Laws.

Filed: September 26, 2019

Public hearing: October 22, 2019, 1:30 p.m.

Last day for public comment: October 29, 2019, 5 p.m.

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.

For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website: http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbXNpZD0mYXVpZD0mbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTkwOTI3LjEwNzg3NzMxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE5MDkyNy4xMDc4NzczMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE2NzkzODQ0JmVtYWlsaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ1c2VyaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ0YXJnZXRpZD0mZmw9Jm12aWQ9JmV4dHJhPSYmJg==&&&101&&&https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/proposed-rules.aspx

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following Proposed Rulemaking hearing: Amendment to Custodial Agreement Rules

Rules affected: OAR 836-027-0200

Need for Rules:

Oregon Revised Statute 731.574(6) requires DCBS to maintain NAIC accreditation, and uphold the laws and standards of the accreditation. Oregon Administrative Rule 836-027-0200 requires insurance companies to have any investment assets that are not in their direct possession to be held in a bank or trust company. The insurance company has to enter into an agreement with the bank or trust that will provide certain requirements of the banks and trust to protect the assets, which is the custodial agreement.

The existing rule provides for minimum standards in the custodial agreement that protect the assets for the insurance company. The rule also indemnifies the insurers for any loss of the insurers’ securities, allows for examinations of the records and sets parameters on the timing for indemnification. The rule requires contracts if the custodian accesses a clearing corporation through an agent and requires the custodian to notify DCBS of termination of the agreement within three days of the termination. The NAIC accreditation program states that department’s policies and procedures for the conduct of examinations should generally follow those set forth in the Financial Condition Examiners Handbook. This proposed rule language is in the Handbook and by adopting it, we will be strengthening our level of oversight and maintaining compliance with NAIC standards, while enhancing the financial protection of the Oregon Insurance industry.

Filed: September 25, 2019

Public hearing: October 22, 2019, 11:00 a.m.

More information is on this link: http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbXNpZD0mYXVpZD0mbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTkwOTI3LjEwNzg1NjIxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE5MDkyNy4xMDc4NTYyMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE2NzkzODMyJmVtYWlsaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ1c2VyaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ0YXJnZXRpZD0mZmw9Jm12aWQ9JmV4dHJhPSYmJg==&&&100&&&https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Proposed/custodial-agreement-rules-notice.pdf

Last day for public comment: October 29, 2019, 5 p.m.

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

For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website: http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbXNpZD0mYXVpZD0mbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTkwOTI3LjEwNzg1NjIxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDE5MDkyNy4xMDc4NTYyMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE2NzkzODMyJmVtYWlsaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ1c2VyaWQ9c3Vlc0BwaWF3ZXN0LmNvbSZ0YXJnZXRpZD0mZmw9Jm12aWQ9JmV4dHJhPSYmJg==&&&101&&&https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/proposed-rules.aspx

Arbitration Clauses, Choice of Law, and Choice of Venue Provisions in Insurance Policies

The Division of Financial Regulation is preparing to issue a bulletin regarding the use of arbitration clauses in insurance contracts. The division requests feedback from all stakeholders on the attached guidance. Please submit all comments to raven.V.Collins@oregon.gov.

Purpose

The purpose of this bulletin is to remind insurers of the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) Division of Financial Regulation’s (DFR) policy with regards to pre-dispute mandatory arbitration clauses, choice of law provisions, and choice of venue provisions in insurance policies.

Draft Bulletin: Arbitration Clauses

Last day for public comment: Friday, October 11, 2019

dfr-20190919-draft.pdf — https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Bulletins/proposed/dfr-20190919-draft.pdf

Washington — Alaska Airlines Fine: Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler ordered ASA Assurance Inc., a captive insurer for Alaska Air Group, to pay more than $2.5 million in unpaid premium tax and penalties owed to Washington state for the unauthorized sale of insurance.

ASA Assurance is a captive insurance company formed by Alaska Air Group for the purpose of insuring its risk in states including Washington . It issued four policies for Alaska Air Group and its subsidiaries, Alaska Airlines, Inc., Horizon Air Industries, Inc., and McGee Air Services, Inc., collecting $91 million in premiums. ASA is not admitted to sell insurance in Washington state.

A captive insurer is an insurance company established by a parent company for the purpose of insuring its risk. State law requires insurance companies to pay a 2% tax based on their written premiums. The tax revenue is sent to the state general fund to pay for government operations. ASA paid no premium tax on the insurance it unlawfully sold.

Washington state does not currently license captive insurers. Companies must buy insurance from either an admitted insurer or through a licensed surplus line broker and they must pay premium tax on the insurance they buy.

Kreidler determined in December 2018 that many large Washington companies are using captives to purchase their own insurance and failing to pay premium tax. His office is working to identify all captives doing business in Washington state. To date, nine captives have self-reported and two captives have paid $2.9 million in unpaid premium taxes and $1.4 million in fines, tax penalties and interest.

Kreidler reached a settlement of $876,820 with Cypress, a captive insurer for Microsoft Corp., in August 2018. 

Kreidler reached a settlement with NW Re Limited, captive insurer for Costco Wholesale Corp., on March 8. It paid $3.6 million in premium taxes, tax penalties, interest and fines.

ASA Assurance, domiciled in Honolulu, Hawaii, has demanded a hearing before an administrative law judge. A prehearing telephone conference has been scheduled for Sept. 30.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Washington — From the Department of Insurance: Balance Billing Protection Act Implementation – Applicability of the Law to Health Plans

The Balance Billing Protection Act requires that health care providers have a way to determine whether a patient's health insurance plan is subject to the requirements of the act.  Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal government has established "standard transactions" for how health care providers communicate with insurers.  The OIC is proposing that the requirement of the act be accomplished through the HIPAA transaction known as the X12 271 Eligibility and Benefits Response Transaction. OneHealthPort, the organization that has the lead in Washington State on health insurance administrative simplification, would develop the details around the use of that standard transaction after consulting with the Washington State Administrative Simplification Business & Technology Workgroup comprised of insurers and health care providers.  OneHealthPort is seeking comments on the draft.

Comments are due October 10, 2019; please send them to OneHealthPort at wec3@viaconsulting.com.

For more information, the draft has been posted on the OneHealthPort website.

Rescheduled - status update on development of dataset

The commissioner says thank you for your interest in surprise billing and the Balance Billing Protection Act. The Office of Financial Management is holding two stakeholder meetings on the dataset that will be used once the new law takes effect.

The first stakeholder meeting on the development of the dataset for the Balance Billing Protection Act is has been rescheduled to allow more time for the work group to complete its work.  The meeting will be Oct. 9 from 9-11 a.m. at the Helen Sommers Building, 106 11th Ave SW, Olympia – Room G015C

Call in option:

Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/2303203875  

Conference line: +1 669 900 6833

Meeting ID: 230 320 3875

One tap mobile: +16699006833,,2303203875#

The second meeting is a training on the dataset and takes place Nov. 1 from 9-11 a.m. Location will be announced soon.

For more information about the background and progress of the dateset, read the status report — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/sites/default/files/documents/status-report-dataset-for-balance-billing-protection-act.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

For more information, please contact Thea Mounts at OFM at either (360) 9020552 or thea.Mounts@ofm.wa.gov

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PIA Montana & IIAM Annual Conference

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The fourth annual Montana Joint Conference is coming to Bozeman on October 10-1. It will be held at Bozeman Best Western Plus. This is a joint effort hosted by PIA of Montana and Independent Agents of Montana (IIAM). 

This year's joint conference — like those in the past — is for agency principals, producers, support staff and carrier representatives. They come together for the largest insurance gathering and trade show in Montana.

It’s a two-day affair packed with useful workshops, motivational speakers, continuing education and discussions designed to engage and inspire all that attend.

Click here to open the agenda.

Here is information on the annual awards luncheon:     

Speaking at the annual luncheon is Beasley Reece. He spent 9 years in the National Football League and has been honored with five Emmys for sports broadcasting. Reece has also been inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.

He is currently the CEO of the NFL Alumni Association.

Reece brings a unique form of expertise in the setting and achieving goals.

On any personal or professional path, life can change in an instant. In Beasley Reece's case, his path was changed by Old Jim, a worker on his family's farm. Jim was the first to nurture his passion for football. Their connection set Reece's career, and life, in motion.

Join us for Lunch on Thursday and learn how Old Jim will change your life too. His noontime presentation involves: 

  How to nurture laser-focused motivation to achieve goals

  How to use that motivation to work toward success every day

  How to success in highly competitive environments

  How to react to failure

Beasley provides valuable insights regarding the importance of maintaining motivation every day in order to work steadily toward success. With his unique experience in both his personal and professional life, he is both an expert in chasing success with an inspiring voice for the necessity of hard work.

Check the agenda for the luncheon schedule and for the CE class schedule.

Click here to open the agenda.                   

Click here to register.

Click here for more information on the entire conference.

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PIA Washington/Alaska Awards Agent of the Year & Company Person of the Year

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

At the recent PIA Washington/Alaska and Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington joint conference, the PIA awarded its highest honors to two very deserving individuals.

The awards are the Agent of the Year and the Company Person of the Year.

Karl Garringer of Garringer Insurance in Colville, Washington exemplifies the best in an independent insurance agent and was named the 2019 PIA Washington/Alaska Agent of the Year.

The award is the PIA’s way of saying thank you, and recognizing that special individual whose accomplishments exemplify the best qualities an independent insurance agent can possess: integrity, dedication and commitment to the members and goals of the PIA.

As an organization, we offer no greater recognition than the PIA Agent of the Year.

Check out these quotes about Karl from people in his community. These are people who purchase their insurance through his agency and through him.

  “Karl is the guy willing to bend over backwards to help his insured clients and his family. Real A++ kind of guy and friend.”

  “We have had all of our insurance with Karl for years. Karl is so great to work with. He is easy to talk to and always so nice! He also supports our community. He just purchased my daughter’s steer at our local fair. My whole family just loves him!!”

  “Having Karl as an insurance agent is a win win situation! Karl is caring and goes up and above the call of duty whenever needed. Within two months of each other we had lost our house to a fire and my husband got in a wreck with his log truck and Karl was there every step of the way making a hard situation as good as it could be. He’s a great man, a hard worker and beyond supportive of our community and our youth especially our kids at fair time!”

The last comment says it all. In addition to all he does for the PIA, this is why he is the PIA Washington/Alaska agent of the year. Karl is the the third generation of his family to own the agency. He worked there for several years and then purchased it in 2013.

Like many of you, Karl doesn’t just do just insurance. He lives in his community and is practically a professional volunteer. His current list of community work is impressive. Karl works as a volunteer for the local fire department and has for a decade. In the last eight years he’s been on a rescue unit the department established to extract people from serious accidents.

He is a lifelong member of Kiwanis and has worked on behalf of children in his community in that respect, and in 4H and with the Future Farmers of America and other projects benefitting children.

Karl Garringer you exemplify the very best in an independent insurance agent and this association is proud to name you the 2019 PIA Washington/Alaska Agent of the Year.

The Company Person of the Year award was given to Shelley Rogers of Progressive.

Each year PIA members benefit from the contributions of time, money and expertise that come from our insurance company partners. In recognition of those contributions, the PIA honors one individual whose active involvement with PIA helps drive their company to support our efforts with our members.

One of the most amazing statistics we learned about Shelley is that she’s been with the same company — Progressive — for almost 33 years. There have been a couple of different jobs within Progressive but always with Progressive.

That — in itself — is award worthy.

The real award though goes for this: always and without fail Shelley does the right thing for the agents from her company that work for you and with you. In other words, that’s a huge positive for the independent insurance agents of the PIA Washington/Alaska.

Best of all, we love how Shelly communicates. These days a lot of us hide behind voicemail and email and texting. We get a business call, email or text and we aren’t sure we want to work on it right now, so we ignore it. Voicemail, email and texting allow that. The excuse always goes something like, “Oh, darn, I forgot” to call you back, or I didn’t see that email, or text, and so on.

Shelly returns phone calls. All phone calls. And she returns emails and texts, and returns them promptly. It’s the 21st Century, who does that? Plus, if you’re in a meeting with her, Shelly shuts off her phone. No distractions means the work gets done.

Again, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of how much work she does behind the scenes on behalf of the independent insurance agents of the PIA. Shelley trains and manages the people from Progressive who work with you. Her vast insurance knowledge and ability to find ways to place business is a huge plus.

When her staff encounters a problem, Shelley helps them solve that problem so you can place the business and give your customers the insurance they need.

In our award ceremony, we always try to tease our award recipients. We try to ask about strange habits or odd hobbies. The person we contacted about her didn’t know of any and then laughed and said, “Yes, one. Progressive.”

At that we laughed as you might now. But it is our honor to give Shelly Rogers of Progressive the 2019 Company Person of the Year award. Thank you for all you do for the PIA. 

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Shock! Motor Vehicle Departments Selling License Data

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

We start with a question. Isn’t one of government’s main responsibilities to protect the private information you must give to this department or that? Most of you will answer yes. The information you give to — let’s say — a motor vehicle department ought to stay with that department and not be shared with anyone.

Or — worse — sold.

Several news services are reporting a shocking story from the online publication Vice. It found that some motor vehicles departments across the country are selling the private information it gathers from consumers.

The story — from Vice’s Motherboard — said the DMVs are selling to insurers, insurance agencies, towing companies, private investigators and others.

While most of the departments that are selling information say they aren’t selling Social Security numbers or images from the driver’s licenses, they’re still — no excuse — selling personally identifiable information (PII) data. No images or SS numbers but they are unloading names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, vehicle information, birth dates and other personal information.

Even more shameful, many of these departments are selling the personal information of minors — drivers under the age of 18.

To add insult to consumer injury, it appears that DMVs have been selling this data for years and no one knew, and they’ve been profiting from that data for as little as a penny per record. On the dark web, add a Social Security number and some banking information and the piece of data will bring in a dollar or more.

The result — however — is millions in DMV coffers. Here are some examples:

 

  South Carolina made $42 million in 2015

  Wisconsin took in $17 million in 2018

  Florida brought in $77 million in 2017

 

The data is a total cash cow but one that could end up backfiring.

Google just paid a $170 million fine for the violation of the privacy of children. So those states that have been selling the data — and we’ll list them in a bit — will no doubt face lawsuits. Most legal experts consider this a violation of the federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) that was passed in 1994.

Here is a look at what the DMVs in the nine PIA Western Alliance states are doing:

  Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho and Nevada  — no

  Alaska — yes

  California — The possibility of the sale of data is available

  Arizona and New Mexico — Motherboard was unable to determine if data was being sold

The states where license info is sold:

  Utah

  Texas

  Oklahoma

  Nebraska

  Wisconsin

  Michigan

  Tennessee

  Georgia

  Florida

  Maine

  Vermont

  New York

  Connecticut

  Virginia

  West Virginia

States where that information might be being sold but Vice was not able to make a solid determination: 

  Ohio

  South Carolina

  North Carolina

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden — a Democrat — said it is time for changes.

“Congress should take a close look at the Driver's Privacy Protection Act, and, if necessary, close loopholes that are being abused to spy on Americans,” Wyden said.

Erica Olsen of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) agrees and says the practice by these states are endangering lives. “The selling of personally identifying information to third parties is broadly a privacy issue for all and specifically a safety issue for survivors of abuse, including domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and trafficking,” she said. “For survivors, their safety may depend on their ability to keep this type of information private.”

Source links: Dig-In.com, Newsweek

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Controversy Update — California Commissioner’s Calendar Revealed

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The controversy surrounding California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara continues to heat up.

It appears Lara may have taken contributions and had contact with an insurance company representative seeking his approval to change control of the company. He also may have made contact with a work comp firm embroiled in controversy requiring decisions from the California Department of Insurance and Lara in particular.

Lara blames a fundraiser for the faux pax but Consumer Watchdog says his calendar and other documents show it was Lara who made first contact with the insurers.

The consumer group says it came to that conclusion when it asked for and received copies of the commissioner’s calendar under the Public Records Act. That deduction is based on information received from the California Department of Insurance. However, Consumer Watchdog maintains what it received is incomplete.

This led the group to contend that Lara has been less than forthcoming about how the meetings came about and what happened in them.

“For example, the only email produced from Lara himself is one sent to Consumer Watchdog’s president,” a press release stated. “Lara did not produce his texts, but a phone record from a Department official includes Lara’s response approving a key meeting with principals in the scandal. Consumer Watchdog asked the Department to provide a privilege log of all the calendar entries and documents withheld to assess a potential Public Records Act challenge.”

The California Department of Insurance disagrees with the Consumer Watchdog accusation. In a statement it said, “The insinuations in Consumer Watchdog’s latest press release cannot hide the fact that the Department of Insurance has released the Commissioner’s calendar and public records that clearly show all these meetings and their purpose.”

Two newspapers — the San Diego Union Tribune and the Sacramento Bee — have both reported on meetings Lara had with the insurance company executives. In addition to those meetings Lara picked up $54,300 in campaign donations from the two companies involved, Applied Underwriters and Independence Holding Co.

In the meantime, Lara has apologized for breaking his campaign promise and has said that he has done nothing wrong. The relationship with the fundraising person he said made the contact has been severed.

Lara’s own statement on the matter: “I must hold myself to a higher standard.”

Source link: Insurance Journal

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