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Consumers & Insurance — An Unhappy Picture

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Resonate is a consumer website and tracks how consumers feel about things. In this case, it’s how they feel about personal lines insurance. Data released recently says that sometime next year over 25 million people are probably going to switch from carriers GEICO, Allstate, State Farm and Progressive to a different insurer.

Key word: probably.

The conclusion of Resonate is that these 25 million people can still be talked out of jumping ship. However, there are an additional 5.4 million people who will definitely be changing insurance companies and cannot be persuaded to stay with their current insurer no matter what.

In its statement, Resonate said, “This presents an incredible opportunity for leading companies to retain policyholders who might flee and acquire customers that are ditching their competitors; insurance companies have tens of millions of dollars at stake.”

Here is who’s likely to change but can still be talked out of leaving. Most are female. Married. Usually stay at home moms. They range in age from 45 to 54 and they have children under 18.

This average person that can be persuaded to stick with their insurer also watches Showtime on her tablet and spends a ton of time on LinkedIn.

Resonate says there are things insurers can do to salvage the situation. “When developing a marketing strategy to retain persuadable customers, consider incorporating themes of self-discipline, politeness and exciting life challenges into your messaging,” Resonate said. “Since they’re mostly moms, incorporate themes of family and togetherness (that) will resonate well with this group.”

Those that are past being persuaded are older millennials that are married and have at least one child. They also have a job. Most are male. Their decisions are always driven by personal values and wealth acquisition. They are seekers of excitement and tend to exercise creativity.

This group is mainly male and they watch YouTube TV on their tablet and spend a lot of time on Reddit.

“The switcher is also up to 79% more likely than the average US consumer to pay his bills on his phone or tablet, so insurance companies could offer a discount to new customers who use their app to do so,” Resonate said.

And with that Resonate offered one last piece of advice.

“Consider using financial success in your messaging and creative,” Resonate said. “Highlighting that your insurance will always be there for you no matter how far you go in life will speak to their personal goal of attaining influence and seeking creative freedom and excitement.”

Source link: Insurance Business America

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PG&E & Insurers & Wildfire Victims

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Last week Weekly Industry News reported on Pacific Gas and Electric’s $11 billion settlement with insurers. The settlement relates to claims filed for damages and deaths from wildfires caused by PG&E equipment and covers 85% of the subrogation claims included in the Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Lawyers for the insurers say the $11 billion isn’t going to cover the $20 billion of pending claims. It will — however — give PG&E a path toward getting the bankruptcy finished by the 2020 deadline imposed by the California Legislature.

The lawyers for the victims who’ve filed claims are taking a different view. The committee of attorneys handling victim claims said they’ll approach U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali and ask him to not sign off on the deal.

“PG&E is taking money out of the pockets of people whose homes and businesses it burned down and handing the money to insurance companies to buy their cooperation,” the lawyers said. “This settlement violates the rights of the victims under California law to be compensated first. The settlement shows that PG&E puts victims’ needs last.”

The committee has a plan of its own as to what PG&E should be paying to claimants. It comes closer to what they think the victims need and that is $24 billion.

The company — of course — disagrees. PG&E CEO and president Bill Johnson said the insurance deal is one more step the company has made to make communities and businesses whole.

“As we work to resolve the remaining claims of those who’ve suffered, we are also focused on safely and reliably delivering energy to our customers, improving our systems and infrastructure, and continuing to support California’s clean energy goals,” Johnson said and then he continued and pointed out, “We are committed to becoming the utility our customers deserve.”

Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Reuters

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Pharmaceutical Prices — Pelosi’s Plan

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

One of the big challenges any independent insurance agency or insurance company has is health insurance for employees. And one of the huge reasons for sky high rates for companies and individuals is the high cost of prescription drugs.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — as promised — has announced her plan to fix the high costs to consumers for these drugs. The plan starts with allowing the federal government’s Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate the price on 25 to 250 drugs per year on behalf of consumers. The lower prices will be available to those on Medicare and to those on private insurance.

If the pharmaceutical company involved refuses to negotiate a lower price it will be hit with a 65% tax on the company’s gross sales. It could even go higher — like to 95% — if they still refuse to go to the negotiating table.

Pelosi also wants to set a maximum price drug companies can charge for these drugs. It would be 120% of an average price of prices in other countries. This is a concept President Trump has also proposed. A figure of 120% of the price in other countries would be quite low.

Even though many in the senate are open to finding ways to reduce drug prices, Pelosi’s plan is probably already dead on arrival there. Pelosi hopes her plan jibes more with what President Trump wants. In the past he has been very supportive of the idea of lower prescription drug prices.

That could mean Trump might put pressure on Republicans in the Senate to pass something close to Pelosi’s plan. “We do hope to have White House buy-in because that seems to be the route to getting any votes in the United States Senate,” Pelosi said.

Republicans in the House hate the idea and say it’s socialist. They want bipartisan legislation that doesn’t go quite that far. In looking at what Trump might do, House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California said, “I don't see how the president could support this bill.”

Progressives in the U.S. House also aren’t all that happy with the House Speaker. They don’t think Pelosi’s plan goes far enough. Many want negotiations open on all drugs and think the number 25 to begin with is too small. It won’t bring meaningful relief to consumers.

There are — to Pelosi’s advantage — a couple of proposals bouncing around the U.S. Senate to lower drug prices. One is from Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and the other from Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden.

Pharmaceutical companies — as expected — hate the Pelosi plan. Steve Ubl is the CEO of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. He said, “Speaker Pelosi’s radical plan would end the current market-based system that has made the United States the global leader in developing innovative, lifesaving treatments and cures.”

Ubl’s current market-based system is not all that popular with the American public. It has reached a new Gallup poll low.

  27% have a positive view of the industry

  58% are negative on pharmaceutical companies

  That gives it a negative 31 points

Here’s how this compares to others:

  The federal government is a negative 27 points

  The advertising industry sit at minus 1

  The legal field is a plus 5

  Airlines sit at plus 19

That said, Pelosi hopes for a vote on her proposal in the House by late October or early November.

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2

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The Most Dangerous Jobs in the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

There are a lot of dangerous jobs. How dangerous is based on the number of deaths per 100,000 full-time employees. At least that’s how the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics measures them in the National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

Here were the top killer jobs of 2017 per 100,000 workers:

  Fishing industry workers — 99.8

  Logging workers — 84.3

  Aircraft pilots & flight engineers — 48.6

  Roofers — 45.2

  Refuse & recycle material collectors — 35.0

Type of incidents 2017 per 100,000 full-time employees:

  Transportation incidents — 2,077

  Fatal falls — 887

  Contact with objects & equipment — 695

  Unintentional overdoses due to the use of drugs or alcohol at work — 272

  Confined spaces — 166

  Caught in running equipment or machinery — 76

  Crane-related incidents — 33

Cost to employers from unintentional deaths and injuries in 2016:

  Total cost — $151 billion

 

  Wage & productivity losses — $49.5 billion

  Medical Costs — $33.8 billion

  Administrative expenses — $48.3 billion

Total workplace fatalities from unintentional injuries in 2017:

  4,398 total deaths

  792 homicides

The most dangerous occupations in 2017:

  Non-construction labors — 7.3%

  Truck drivers — 5.4%

  Janitors and cleaners — 4.0%

  Nursing assistants — 3.9%

  General maintenance & repair workers — 3.5%

 

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

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Special Report: Life Expectancy — Highest, Lowest & Why

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Lifestyle behavior and genetic factors are what determine most of how long we live. Accidents and some other oddities come into play from time to time but most of the length of our lives is based in lifestyle and genetics.

Dr. Stewart Newlove is the managing director at medical research firm Antibodies.com. He looked at 30 nations to figure out why the highest life expectancies are the highest and the lowest the lowest. For most countries vaccinations, sanitary conditions and air quality were big factors in lifespan.

“Lesotho, for example, has one of the highest child vaccination rates at 93%, but the shortest life expectancy, due to such high instances of AIDS and tuberculosis,” he noted. “Australia, on the other hand, has the highest prevalence of drug disorders, rate of meat consumption and second most common instances of obesity on the list, but has the world’s fourth longest life expectancy.”

Work hours also impact life length. Those working 48 hours a week or more shortened their life expectancy by nine years. Every hour per week spent above the recommended 48 hours takes off 2.25 years of life.

The average lifespan in the U.S. is 78.7 years.

The average worker in the U.S. works 33 hours. We do have — however — the highest meat consumption average of the 31 countries studied. Consumption is 115.13 kilograms per person per year.

The U.S. has the highest prevalence of obesity at 36.2% and the highest body mass index average at 29.1.

  In 1980 the average life expectancy was 73.7 years

  That compares to 74.5 years in comparable countries

  Since 1980 the U.S. has gained 4.9 years

  The average in comparable countries is 7.7 years

A troubling factoid from research done by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) comes in rising death rates among younger age groups. Between 2014 and 2016 the death rates rose:

  15-24 — 14.4%

  25-34 — 19%

  35-44 — 9.7%

Drug overdoes is the leading factor in those death increases. It jumped to 19.8 per 100,000 people in 2016. That’s a 36% higher rate than 2014’s number of 14.7.

Looking at the life expectancy of all U.S. states, two of the PIA Western Alliance states — California and Washington — are in the top 10 healthiest and longest life states. The shortest life spans are mostly found in Southern states.

Unhealthy behaviors like obesity, smoking, lack of exercise and education are big contributors to the lower life expectancy of the 10 lowest life expectancy states:

50. Mississippi — 74.7 years

49. West Virginia — 75.3 years

48. Alabama — 75.4 years

47. Louisiana — 75.6 years

46. Oklahoma — 75.7 years

45. Kentucky — 75.8 years

44. Arkansas — 75.8 years

43. Tennessee — 76.1 years

42. South Carolina — 76.8 years

41. Indiana — 77.2 years

Here are the top-10 longest life expectancy states. The PIA Western Alliance states — California and Washington — are in bold:

1. Hawaii

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 81.3 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 76.8 years (the highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.5 years (23rd smallest)

2. California

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.9 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.3 years (20th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 6.6 years (3rd largest)

California has the third lowest obesity rate in the nation and the fifth lowest number of adults that exercise regularly. It also has the lowest number of adults that smoke.

3. Minnesota

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.8 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 76.0 years (2nd highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.8 years (24th largest)

4. Connecticut

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.8 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.9 years (14th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 6.0 years (6th largest)

5. New York

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.5 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 73.2 years (17th lowest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 7.3 years (the largest)

6. Massachusetts

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.4 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.7 years (16th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.7 years (9th largest)

7. New Jersey

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.2 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 73.5 years (22nd lowest)

 •  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 6.7 years (2nd largest)

8. Colorado

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.2 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.2 years (8th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.0 years (19th largest)

9. Washington

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 80.2 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.1 years (10th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.1 years (17th largest)

 

In the last 40-years Washington has seen longer life expectancies than other states. Experts think it is because it has one of the highest shares of those regularly engaging in physical activity. Just 17.1% of the population DO NOT exercise. That’s the third lowest in the nation and compares to the national average of 23%.

Washington also has the highest concentration in the nation of primary care doctors, dentists, and other health care providers per 100,000 people.

10. New Hampshire

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.9 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.9 years (12th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.0 years (21st largest)

Here are the rest of the nine PIA Western Alliance states:

18. Oregon

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.8 years (15th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.8 years (25th largest)

The state’s very good health care system is credited for the longer life expectancy. Oregon is in the top 10 for the most medical providers. For every 100,000 Oregonians there are:

  95 primary care physicians

  81 dentists

  454 mental health providers

 

19. Arizona

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.5 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.1 years (23rd highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.4 years (14th largest)

Surprisingly, the poverty rate and the uninsured rate of Arizona are among the highest in the nation. They are 11th each, yet the state does fairly well in life length:

  15% live in poverty

  10% don’t have health insurance

 

24. Idaho

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 79.1 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 75.2 years (7th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 3.89 years (13th smallest)

Idaho’s rate has dropped a lot since 1980. It went from 7th to 24th. Idahoans have smoking, drinking and obesity rates that are close to the national average. The contributing factor to lower life expectancy is probably lack of health insurance.

Just 10.1% are insured compared to 8.7% nationwide.

27. Montana

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.9 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.3 years (21st highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 4.7 years (25th smallest)

Alcohol is the contributor to almost half of Montana’s road deaths. That’s the second highest in the nation and well above the national average of 29%. Montana also has the fourth highest injury mortality rate of 91.3 per 100,000. That compares to 65 pr 100,000 around the country.

33. Alaska

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.1 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 72.5 years (6th lowest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.6 years (11th largest)

The good news for Alaska is a rising life expectancy. Since 1980 it is among the highest in the nation. Much better medical care in remote areas is a contributor. Alaska does — however — have the third highest number of people without health insurance and the seventh highest share of preventable hospitalizations. It sits at 36.05 per 100,000 residents.

34. Nevada

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 78.1 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 72.7 years (7th lowest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 5.4 years (12th largest)

The state has one of the highest uninsured rate in the nation. It also sees the one the highest rates of adults that don’t exercise. Part of the reason is a lack of exercise facilities and one cannot count pushing buttons or pulling handles at slot machines as exercise.

Nevada also is one of the least educated states with one of the lowest shares of adults without a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Education is a big factor in good health and life expectancy. People that are educated ask more questions and have a better idea of how to interpret medicine labels and properly take medication.

37. New Mexico

  Life expectancy at birth in 2015: 77.8 years

  Life expectancy at birth in 1980: 74.0 years (24th highest)

  1980-2015 life expectancy change: 3.76 years (11th smallest)

The life expectancy in New Mexico has dropped since 1980 by 13 places. It went from 24th highest to 14th lowest. A big part of that is the poverty levels. New Mexico has the highest number of people living on $10,000 a year or less and has one of the highest levels of food stamp users in the country.

The poverty rate is 19.7% is the second highest in the U.S. The average rate in the country is 13.4%

What do things look like around the world? And how does the U.S. compare? Here are the top five nations in life expectancy. By the way, the United States — at 16 — is not one of them:

1. Japan — 84.2 years

Japan's high life expectancy is mostly due to the healthy diet of its citizenry. To go along with the great diet, Japan has the lowest mean body mass index and the lowest number of obese citizens on the planet.

The Japanese consume 45.9 kilograms of meant annually. That is slightly higher than the global average.

An oddity found among most of the healthiest nations, Japanese citizens have one of the world's highest smoking rates. They consume an average of 23.8 cigarettes a day.

2. Switzerland — 83.3 years

The country has a higher prevalence of alcohol use and alcohol consumption than the rest of the world and has the highest number of working hours on the high life expectancy list. The Swiss work 15 more hours per week than the French.

It does — however — have one of the lowest air pollution levels on the planet.

3. Spain — 83.1 years

Spain has the second highest number of smokers at 46.2% of the population smoking and they consume an average of 20 cigarettes per day.

Drug use disorders are also quite high and a body mass index average that is 4.6 points above healthy.

Spaniards also consume one of the highest levels of meat in the highest life expectancy nations at an average of 92 kilograms per year. That is more than double the planet's average.

4. Singapore — 82.9 years

Singapore has a very low alcohol consumption usage rate when compared to the other high life expectancy countries. It also has the lost level of drug disorders and the lowest obesity rate at 6.1%

The country does have the highest number of working hours in the high life expectancy group at 44 hours per week on average.

5. France — 82.9 years

France has the highest alcohol use, the largest annual alcohol consumption and the most smokers in the countries with the highest lifespans. Smokers in France smoke an average of 14.4 cigarettes per day.

The high life expectancy may be due to France having the lowest number of working hours on the top-5 list. French workers work 35 hours per work week — 13 hours less than the highest permitted amount.

France also has the highest vaccination rate at 98%

Here is the bottom-five nations for life expectancy:

27. Chad — 54.5 years

The people in Chad aren't big smokers and average just one per day. It also has one of the lowest body mass indexes at 21.5. That's 0.5 points below the recommended average. However, just 55% have been vaccinated and only 10% have access to basic sanitation.

28. The Ivory Coast — 54.6 years

The Ivory Coast has one of the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the nation's with low life expectancy. Citizens come in at 8.4 liters. Just 30% of the population has access to basic sanitation.

29. Sierra Leone — 53.1 years

Sierra Leone has the highest provenance of alcohol use among the countries with low life expectancy. It sits at 44.7% and drinkers consume an average of 5.7 liters of pure alcohol a year.

It also has the second highest smoking numbers of the low life expectancy nations. Citizens smoke an average of 4.5 cigarettes a day. Sierra Leone also has the lowest level of meat consumption at just 7.3 kilograms a year which is below the global average of 35.7 kilograms.

30. Central African Republic — 53 years

Citizens consumer just 33.5 kilograms of meat per year. That's considerably below the global average. It is one of the poorest nations on Earth, has high malnourishment and poor healthcare. Obesity sits at 7.5% and the rate of vaccination is low. Just 47% of people in the Central African Republic get vaccinated.

The Central African Republic also has a very, very high level of air pollution.

31. Lesotho — 52.9 years

This is the lowest life expectancy country in the world. Yet, Lesotho has a very low alcohol consumption average at 30% and lower alcohol consumption levels that many nations with high life expectancies.

It has a very low prevalence of drug use disorders and obesity and smoking.

 

Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Health System Tracker, USA Today

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Alaska — Notice of Public Scoping: The Alaska Division of Insurance (division) is holding a public hearing to seek input about what changes are needed in 3 AAC, the regulations of the Division of Insurance, and what regulations can be repealed altogether.

The division is in the information gathering stage and seeks comments and recommendations from members of the public for proposed changes before a decision is made on what changes to make to 3 AAC. The division is not proposing any changes to the regulations for the hearing. There are no draft regulations to review. Please note that this is for all of 3AAC, and not specifically focused on the 80th Percentile Regulation. The division has held multiple hearings on that particular regulation, and will not be discussing it during this hearing.

The division invites you to attend the public hearing to be held on November 6, 2019, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. to share your oral or written comments on proposed changes to the regulations of the Division of Insurance. The hearing will be held in Conference Room 1560, at the Atwood Building, 550 West Seventh Avenue, Anchorage, Alaska and in Conference Room C on the ninth floor of the State Office Building, located at 333 Willoughby Ave., Juneau, Alaska.

The hearings may be extended to accommodate those present before 3:00 p.m. who did not have an opportunity to comment. If you are unable to attend a hearing in person and would like to participate by teleconference, please call 1 (800) 315-6338 and enter access code 42070 followed by the # (pound sign).

To submit a comment or proposal through the mail, via email, or the Alaska Online Public Notice System, parties submitting suggestions for rule changes should send a clear and concise statement with the following information:

The citation for the specific rule on which you are commenting.

  Why the rule should be reviewed, revised, or repealed.

  The issue the rule causes and why changing it should be a priority for the division.

  A brief description of your idea for improving the rule.

You are also invited to submit written comments to the Alaska Division of Insurance, Attention Jackson Willard; P.O. Box l 10805, Juneau, AK 99811-0805 or by e-mail to jackson.willard@alaska.gov or by fax to (907) 465-3422. All comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m., November 6, 2019.

If you are a person with a disability who needs a special accommodation in order to participate in this process, please contact Sian Ng-Ashcraft at sian.ng-ashcraft@alaska.gov or (907) 269-7892 not later than November 1, 2019, to ensure that any necessary accommodations can be provided.

Notice of Public Scoping: https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/11/Pub/INS_Notice_09.2019.pdf

Alaska — Bulletin B19-13: Liability for Assisting in the Transaction of Unauthorized Insurance

The Alaska Division of Insurance (division) reminds all insurance licensees and third-party administrators (TPAs) assisting a company engaged in the unauthorized transaction of insurance may put their licenses or registrations at risk and that they may be held responsible pursuant to Alaska Statutes AS 21.27.410(a)(13) and AS 21.33.037 (a), (c), and (d).

The division has noted new types of health insurance or insurance products are being marketed to Alaska consumers. While some of these products, including self-funded single employer health plans under ERISA and recognized health care sharing ministries are exempt from state regulation and do not need a license, certificate, or authorization from the division, other products are subject to the provisions of Title 21. Specifically, companies may claim to be a health care sharing ministry or other innovative organization without complying with the requirements of the claimed exemption. The division advises licensees and TPAs to carefully evaluate all new products and organizations. You may check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or Alaska Division of Insurance websites to verify a company’s license or certificate of authority. If you have questions about a company or product, call the division at 907-269-7900.

Insurers and consumers may review the division’s bulletin B02-14 available at https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/portals/11/pub/Bulletins/B02-14.pdf for additional information regarding ERISA plans, multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs), and the characteristics of unauthorized and unlicensed health insurance plans.

If you believe an organization may be engaged in the unauthorized transaction of insurance, please notify the division at (907)-269-7900 or insurance@alaska.gov.

If you have questions relating to this bulletin, please contact Chris Murray at (907) 465-2545 or chris.Murray@alaska.gov.

 

Bulletin B19-13: https://www.commerce.alaska.gov/web/Portals/11/Pub/INS_B19-13.pdf

Arizona — From the Arizona Department of Insurance: The State of Arizona’s Department of Insurance (AzDOI) technology team is advising insurance agents and company personnel of a phishing scam. It is based on information gathered from National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and Arizona Department of Administration Security Operations Center (AZSOC) and Security Privacy and Risk groups.

This phishing scam targets insurance professionals claiming that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners received a complaint against the professional for submitting a falsified claim. This fraudulent email displays the NAIC and CIPR logos, can originate from what appears to be an naic.org or gmail.com email account, and instructs the recipient to click on a link to download the complaint notification.

Certain antivirus products will detect this as a malicious email.  If you receive a similar email and have any concerns, contact the NAIC Service Desk at (816) 783-8500 or help@naic.org.

Campaign Details:

  The email subject line reads “National Association of Insurance Commissioners” and the email contains a link.

  The email displays the NAIC and CIPR logos.

  The email presents itself as from a gmail account or consumerprotection@naic.org.  The latter is not a valid NAIC address.

  The audience originally included producers in Wisconsin, and has been expanded to include Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington.

This has been identified as phishing attempt because the obvious characteristics (e.g., use of NAIC/CIPR logo and naic.org email address). Clicking on the link would have downloaded a malicious payload that has now been identified as a Remote Access Trojan (Lime RAT). Lime RAT can be used to perform various nefarious functions, one of those being ransomware.

Idaho — Medicare Plan Finder Gets an Upgrade: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a modernized and redesigned Medicare Plan Finder, making it easier to compare coverage options and shop for Medicare health and drug plans.

Medicare Open Enrollment is the time for people with Medicare to review their health coverage, which runs from October 15, 2019 to December 7, 2019. There are more than 60 million people with Medicare coverage

What’s new about the Medicare Plan Finder?

The updated Medicare Plan Finder provides a personalized experience through a mobile friendly and easy-to-read design that will help customers learn about different options and select coverage that best meets their health needs.  However, the online tools do not replace Medicare’s traditional customer service options.

Benefits of the new Medicare Plan Finder helps customers with the following:

Compare pricing In Medicare Advantage Plans, Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, Medicare Advantage plans, and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies side-by-side

Provides tech savvy support to compare options on smartphones and tablets

Get plan costs and benefits, including which Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits

Build a personal drug list and find Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage

For more information, visit Medicare.gov or call 1-800-MEDICARE. In addition, staff with Idaho’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) Program, a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, is available to answer questions at 1-800-247-4422.

Idaho — Medicare enrollment events to be offered statewide: The Medicare Annual Enrollment period begins October 15th and ends December 7th.

Medicare health and prescription drug plan costs and coverage can change every year.  SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors) highly recommends people with Medicare review their coverage before the enrollment period ends.  Failing to compare and review coverage plan options increases the risk of spending more money on unnecessary health care costs down the road.  In addition, with coverage changes, medications and services may no longer be covered by a previous year’s health plan.

Beginning the first week of October, Certified Medicare Counselors from The Department of Insurance’s SHIBA Program will be available across the state. Medicare beneficiaries will have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with a trained Medicare counselor to compare and review their current Medicare Advantage plans, prescription drug plans, and new options available in 2020.  In short, SHIBA counselors help people make informed decisions about their specific health insurance needs.

SHIBA counselors will be available in these Idaho cities: Boise, Jerome, Mountain Home, Nampa, Parma, Fairfield, Cambridge, McCall, Gooding, Blackfoot, Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Preston, Coeur d’Alene, Moscow, Kellogg, St. Maries, Lewiston, Sand Point, and Post Falls.

To make an appointment with a SHIBA Medicare Counselor near you, call 1-800-247-4422.

Montana — Work Comp Dividend: The Montana State Fund will pay out a $30 million dividend to workers’ compensation policyholders. They will go out by mid-November.

The $30 million is a return of 22% of the premiums paid by Montana businesses this year. The Montana State Fund — as the largest work comp company in the state — insures 25,000 businesses. The $30 million — however — is down from 2017 and 2018 when the dividend hit $40 million each year.

Source link: Business Insurance

Oregon — Work Comp Cost Drop: Oregon’s long-running success in managing the workers’ compensation system continues as businesses will see yet another drop in costs in 2020 as the key factor behind annual cost changes dips yet again. The numbers are indicative of a long-term trend:

  Employers, next year, on average, will pay $1.02 per $100 of payroll for workers’ compensation insurance, down from $1.11 in 2019, under a proposal by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). That figure covers workers’ compensation claims costs, assessments, and insurer profit and expenses.

  The pure premium rate – the base rate insurers use to determine how much employers must pay for medical claims and lost wages – will drop by an average 8.4 percent, under the proposal. In fact, the pure premium – filed by a national rate-setting organization and approved by DCBS – will have declined by 45 percent during the 2013 to 2020 period.

This will mark the seventh year in a row that businesses will experience an average decrease in their workers’ compensation costs. Those costs have steadily declined over the years, even as workers continue to receive good benefits. The ongoing decline in costs reflects Oregon’s comprehensive approach to managing the system, including efforts by the Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD) and Oregon OSHA. For example, WCD enforces requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeps medical costs under control, and helps injured workers return to work sooner and earn their pre-injury wages. At the same time, Oregon OSHA enforces on-the-job safety and health rules, identifies hazards so they can be corrected, and advises employers about how to boost worker safety and health.

“The steady decline in workers’ compensation costs is about more than just the numbers,” said Cameron Smith, DCBS director. “It demonstrates the hard work of employers, workers, insurers, and government to maintain essential worker protection programs and robust benefits for injured workers while keeping business costs low.”

Although average workers’ compensation costs have experienced upticks from one year to the next, the overall trend line is one of continuing cost decreases. Average wage replacement and medical costs for injured workers “are showing a long-term downward trend,” according to the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), the U.S. rate-setting organization whose recommendation DCBS reviews. Meanwhile, “Oregon’s lost-time claim frequency has generally been decreasing moderately over the past few policy years,” according to NCCI.

Employers’ cost for workers’ compensation insurance covers the pure premium and insurer profit and expenses, plus the premium assessment. Employers also pay the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment, which is a cents-per-hour-worked rate.

The decrease in the pure premium of 8.4 percent is an average, so an individual employer may see a larger or smaller decrease, no change, or even an increase depending on the employer’s own industry, claims experience, and payroll. Also, pure premium does not take into account the varying expenses and profit of insurers.

The average decrease in the pure premium reflects a long-term trend of lower medical care costs and less severe claims. Helping sustain the trend is the stability of Oregon’s workers’ compensation system. The system includes the Workers’ Compensation Division, Oregon OSHA, the Workers’ Compensation Board, which resolves disputes over the state’s workers’ compensation and workplace safety laws, and injured worker and small business advocacy services.

Those successful programs are funded by the premium assessment.

The premium assessment is a percentage of the workers’ compensation insurance premium employers pay. It is added to the premium. It would increase from 7.8 percent this year to 8.4 percent in 2020. The increase is needed to partially offset the decline in pure premium and to keep pace with a growing economy. This modest increase maintains stable funding for state workers’ compensation  regulation and worker protection programs that preserve historically low costs.

The Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment provides benefit increases to permanently disabled workers and to families of workers who died from a workplace injury or disease. It also supports Oregon’s efforts to help injured workers return to work sooner – through incentive programs to employers – and earn their pre-injury wages.

The fund’s revenue comes from a cents-per-hour-worked assessment. It would decrease from 2.4 cents per hour worked in 2019 to 2.2 cents per hour worked in 2020. The fund is healthy, made so by a growing economy, which allows the rate to be reduced.

The decrease in the pure premium is effective Jan. 1, 2020, but employers will see the changes when they renew their policies in 2020. The assessment changes are effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Oregon’s workers’ compensation premium rates have ranked low nationally for many years. Oregon had the sixth least expensive rates in 2018, according to a nationally recognized biennial study conducted by DCBS. That was an improvement from Oregon’s ranking as the seventh least expensive state the last time the study was done in 2016. Oregon’s experience of declines in workers’ compensation costs is part of a national trend.

The following chart summarizes all of the changes and includes the date, time, and place of the assessment public hearings: https://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Documents/wc-summary.pdf

Annual Oregon average pure premium rate changes and average changes by industry: https://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Documents/pure-premium-rate.pdf

More information about Oregon workers’ compensation costs:  http://www.oregon.gov/DCBS/cost/Pages/index.aspx

Washington — Health Insurer Plans: Eight health insurers have been approved to sell health plans in Washington state’s 2020 Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder, with a record low average rate decrease of -3.27%.

“I’m pleased to see the average rate change go down and that many will see lower premiums next year,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “This comes in the face of continuing efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle the Affordable Care Act with no replacement plan. We still have work to do to lower the underlying cost of health care and to help lower out-of-pocket costs, but these new rates are welcome news.”

One additional Exchange insurer — Providence Health Plan — is still under review. Four insurers — Regence BlueShield, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Asuris Northwest Health and Health Alliance Northwest Health Plan — intend to sell only outside of the Exchange and are also still under review.

How much someone will pay depends on the plan they choose, if they qualify for any financial help, where they live, their age, whether or not they smoke and how many family members are covered, and their family members' age. 

Approximately 241,000 people who don’t get coverage from their employer must buy their own health insurance through the individual market, with most shopping through the Exchange. In Washington, 65% of people who buy Exchange plans qualify for subsidies that help lower their monthly premiums.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Washington — Surprise Billing: Section 23 of the Balance Billing Protection Act (Chapter 427, Laws of 2019) gives self-funded group health plans the opportunity to participate in the Act, and protect their enrollees from balance billing for the services included in the Act.

We are seeking stakeholder input on the forms and process that self-funded group health plans would use to elect to participate in the Act.

Please submit comments by October 4, 2019 to the OIC Rules Coordinator — Balance Billing Protection Act Implementation - Self-funded group health plan plans

Section 23 of the Balance Billing Protection Act (Chapter 427, Laws of 2019) gives self-funded group health plans the opportunity to participate in the Act, and protect their enrollees from balance billing for the services included in the Act.

We are seeking stakeholder input on the forms and process that self-funded group health plans would use to elect to participate in the Act.

Please submit comments by October 4, 2019 to the OIC Rules Coordinator.

Learn more about our work on surprise or 'balance' billing — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/surprise-medical-billing?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= 

Washington — Surprise Billing: The Washington Department of Insurance posted a stakeholder letter on the Surprise Billing webpage: https://www.insurance.wa.gov/surprise-medical-billing?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Washington — Work Comp Rates: The price of workers’ compensation insurance in Washington would drop for the third year in a row under a proposal by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.

The L&I on Wednesday proposed a 0.8% decrease in the average premium employers would pay for the coverage in 2020.

“Workplace injury rates in Washington are declining, and we’ve had great success in recent years helping injured workers heal and return to work,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a statement. “That’s good for everyone and is helping us keep the price of workers’ compensation insurance down.”

In 2018, the average workers’ comp premium rate dropped by 2.5%. L&I lowered the 2019 rate by another 5%, the largest decline in more than 10 years.

The proposed decrease would mean Washington employers, as a group, pay a total of $21 million less in premiums. According to L&I, the price drop would result in employers paying an average of about $15 less a year per employee for workers’ comp.

Employees would see a very small increase in the amount they pay because of a rise in costs related to the supplemental pension fund, due to an increase in the average wage in Washington. The supplemental pension fund supports cost-of-living adjustments for long-term time-loss and pension benefits.

The public will get an opportunity to provide input about the rate proposal before a final decision is made in late November.

Three public hearings are scheduled:

  Tukwila, Oct. 29, 10 a.m., Deptartment of Labor & Industries Tukwila office

  Spokane Valley, Oct. 30, 9 a.m., Spokane CenterPlace

  Tumwater, Nov. 1, 10 a.m., Tumwater Labor & Industries office

People can also comment in writing to Jo Anne Attwood, administrative regulations analyst, at P.O. Box 41448, Olympia, WA, 98504-4148; or email joanne.attwood@Lni.wa.gov. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 5.

More information about the proposal is available at www.Lni.wa.gov/Rates. Final rates will be adopted by early December and go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

L&I workers’ compensation insurance covers about 3 million workers and nearly 180,000 employers in Washington.

Source link: The Washington Department of Labor & Industries

 

 

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More Controversy for California Commissioner Lara

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Another controversy has hit California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. In response to a report from the publication POLITICO, Consumer Watchdog has asked California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the district attorneys in Sacramento, San Francisco and Los Angeles to investigate.

Lara is already under scrutiny for controversial campaign contributions from representatives of insurers.

At the center of this storm is Lara’s charging of the cost of his apartment in Sacramento, and travel to and from his Los Angeles home to the taxpayers. POLITICO broke down the expenses Lara has submitted for reimbursement:

  Lodging and rental — $1,925 to $3,270 from January to June

  Railroad fare — $570 to $700 per month

Lara earns $161,342 per year for the commissioner post.

Michael Soller is a spokesman for Lara. He said these expenses are justified and are not in violation of state law. “The department staff vetted this and found it not only violated no laws but it also had the potential to benefit taxpayers by saving on hotel costs,” Soller said.

Some government watchers like Jessica Levinson — a law professor at Loyola University — say Lara’s decision is at least a gray area.

“For some jobs, you have to move — as millions of Californians will tell you,” she said. “The rent is high, and a good percentage of their salary goes to it — and that’s how it goes. They don’t get the taxpayers to pay for it. And frankly, neither should the insurance commissioner.”

Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court and litigation director Jerry Flanagan agree and sent a letter to Becerra and the attorneys general from the cities. “We are deeply troubled to report that California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara appears to have committed crimes punishable by up to four years in prison by using public funds for his personal benefit and fraudulently representing expenses for his second home in Sacramento as a legitimate public expense,” they wrote.

Back to Soller’s comments on Lara saving the taxpayers money on hotel costs. Soller said the apartment rental is $700 a month on the apartment and it is the same one he rented when he served as a senator in the California Legislature. “The costs captured represent the monthly lodging costs for the commissioner to conduct official state business in Sacramento,’’ Soller said.

The publication looked in the Department of Human Resources manual and how executive branch employees are to be reimbursed. The manual says those employees “shall only use commercial lodging establishments such as hotels, motels, bed and breakfast inns, public campgrounds, or short-term rentals (such as Airbnb) that cater to the general public.”

Soller said a Department of Insurance lawyer disagrees and pointed out that Lara has not violated the regulations in the manual because Lara is only billing the state for the days he spends in Sacramento. “Department staff determined he could apply this lodging reimbursement to his rental rather than hotel bills,” Soller noted. “His true costs for lodging would be higher if he weren’t renting.”

What Soller would not do is name that lawyer.

California Controller is Betty Yee. Her spokeswoman Jennifer Hanson said this is not unusual. Each agency makes its own decision on reimbursements and have “an internal accounting team that reviews travel claims and maintains receipts for auditing purposes.”

Court, Flannagan and Consumer Watchdog disagree with her assessment of the situation and believes Lara is breaking the law.

“The public has a right to know what really happened,” they said in their letter’s conclusion. “Only an investigation by the office of a public prosecutor can compel answers about whether the insurance commissioner engaged in criminal activity. No public official should be above the law. All state workers should know that every state employee, including elected officials, are held accountable to the law.”

In a recent interview Court said Consumer Watchdog is terribly disappointed with Lara’s decisions. “The job of the insurance commissioner does not come with a second home in Sacramento,” he said. “It’s perfectly permissible to get reimbursed for overnight stays but if these living expenses are related to setting up a second home, then this crosses the line of using public funds for private benefit.”

By the way, members of the California Legislature get $201 per day in per diem in addition to their salary. Assembly members earn between $110,000 and $127,000 per year and senators take home around $110,000.

The commissioner’s decision to ask for these reimbursements is a break from the two previous office holders Dave Jones and Steve Poizner. As for other office holders, When Arnold Schwarzenegger held the governorship he lived at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento and those costs were paid by a foundation.

Current governor Gavin Newsom has moved to Sacramento from San Francisco. He did so at his own expense.

 

Source links: POLITICO, Insurance Journal

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Wildfire — An Insurance Assessment

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The 2019 CoreLogic Wildfire Risk Report says close to 776,000 homes are in serious risk of damage by wildfire. The value of those homes is $221 billion and the report breaks down the likelihood of damage to them by wildfire into three categories: extreme, high, moderate and low.

Most of the focus — however — is 13 Western states where most of the danger lies (in alphabetical order). Eight of those states are in the PIA Western Alliance and are in bold:

  Arizona

  California

  Colorado

  Idaho

  Montana

  New Mexico

  Nevada

  Oklahoma

  Oregon

  Texas

  Utah

  Washington

  Wyoming

CoreLogic said 8.7 million acres burned in 2018. Here are the top three states and all three are PIA Western Alliance states:

  Califorina — 1.83 million acres

  Nevada — 1.0 million acres

  Oregon — 898,262 acres.

Tom Jeffrey is a senior hazard specialist for CoreLogic. He notes that 924,623 residences are in the high risk category and the reconstruction cost of those residences will hit at least $318 billion.

In 2017-2018 insured losses in the Golden State hit $33 billion so Jeffrey said the biggest worry — these days — is California. “When you look at new homes, you know they’re likely to be built in the high-risk area or close to it,” Jeffrey said. “New homes in these very densely populated areas in Colorado and California, they’re having to push out into those more dangerous high-risk areas.”

And then he pointed to the three highest risk areas in the state. They are Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego. Jeffery said 42% of the residences in those three areas are in the high to extreme wildfire risk categories.

Other metro areas with very high risk:

  Sacramento — $27.5 billion

  Austin, Texas — $16.35 billion

  Denver, Colorado — $15.32 billion

No surprise, when it comes to reconstruction costs and the number of residencies in the high to extreme risk category, California and Texas lead the way. High population numbers and the sheer size of the two states — along with terrain that has high concentrations of fuels close to high risk areas — account for that figure.

And while California, Texas and Colorado are being most closely watched, Jeffrey says other states need some attention as well.

“What we’ve seen in the last 10 years are wildfire records being set in Washington, in Oregon, in New Mexico,” he said. “We’re seeing a lot of fires in areas where it’s high-risk, but not top of mind, like Idaho and Montana. The message is, it’s not just California.”

As for the report, CoreLogic’s conclusion is also important.

“Wildfire is a unique peril because the level of damage is often binary — a home is either left untouched by the fire or a total loss occurs,” the report states. “A patchwork of devastation occurs as fires pass by some properties indiscriminately while surrounding homes are reduced to ash. Unlike flooding or hail, it can and often does result in a 100% loss of the structure. Post-event studies have shown that structural hardening increases a home’s resistance to fire, but all too often luck seems to play a part, too.”

The report also pointed out the number of acres burned on average from 2002 to 2018. Here are the top five states. Four of the five are PIA Western Alliance states. Only Texas is not:

  Alaska — an average of 1.62 million acres

  California — an average of 710,268

  Idaho — an average of 586,513

  Texas — 546,415 acreage average

  Oregon — 486,803 average acres burned

 

Source links: Forbes, Insurance Journal

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2021 Cyber Losses — Huge Even by Today’s Standards

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Aon recently released its annual cyber disaster report. The report details are gleaned from statistics gathered by Cybersecurity Ventures. By 2021 losses worldwide will hit $6 trillion a year.

Spending on cybersecurity will be close to $1 trillion but it apparently won’t be enough. As bad as the dollar losses will be  — says the Aon report — the loss of reputation will be even worse.

“The reputational crisis resulting from an attack can erode a company’s market value, destroy brand loyalty, limit companies’ digital transformation efforts and even lead to a credit-rating downgrade,” Aon said. “An effective cyber resilience strategy can help mitigate both immediate and long-term financial losses.”

Yet companies — says Onno Janssen, Aon’s CEO of Risk Consulting & Cyber Solutions EMEA — still don’t quite comprehend the impact a cyber attack can and will have on a business.

“Understanding the worst-case scenarios and their impact to a business is crucial to developing an effective resilience strategy in which cyber is managed as an enterprise-wide risk across the entire organization,” he said. “The cyber threat is amorphous, and the technology it exploits is advancing at a dizzying pace, so the risk landscape is never going to stand still.”

Janssen suggests businesses make defending against cyberattacks a priority and not an afterthought. “The C-suite will have to aim to constantly improve its holistic cyber risk management strategies to prevent, prepare for and be able to respond to a cyber crisis,” Janssen pointed out and then said, “Ultimate responsibility for all risk management efforts resides in the boardroom.”

The Aon report suggests that businesses take four important stances to stave off — or at least reduce the damage — of an attack:

1.    Everyone in the company needs to be involved in protecting the company from cyber attacks, the ultimate responsibility rests with the board of directors, or company management if there is no board.

2.    Cyber attacks are a threat to every part of a business. An attack means a response needs to happen on every level and to every stakeholder.

3.    Be ahead of the game. In other words, don’t wait for an attack to happen. Be proactive. Train staff to prepare for and effectively respond to an attack.

4.    And definitely purchase cyber insurance to protect the company and the pre-loss and post-loss services that accompany such insurance.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

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Insurance Industry Employment — Hiring Spree on the Way

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Jacobson Group — Aon’s professional services firm — did a study on insurance employment hiring in the next 12-months. The report is titled the U.S. Insurance Labor Outlook Study.

If you’re looking for work, the report says things are looking good. That, however, depends on your job skills. Most job growth will be in insurance technology. Companies will increase staff in that area at a rate not seen in over six years.

Those jobs — however — will be the hardest to fill. Next most difficult are actuarial and executive positions.

Currently — says firm CEO Greg Jacobsen — insurance unemployment is 1.6%. That’s way lower than the national average of 3.7%. “Insurers plan to continue growing their staffs to accommodate increases in business volume and expansions into new markets, similar to January’s iteration of the study,” Jacobsen said. “However, the candidate’s market perseveres, fueled by mass retirements, job growth influenced by modernization efforts and virtually non-existent industry unemployment.”

Insurers are expecting to hire more people because of an increase in business volume and any reduction in staff will be because of automation.

The Jacobsen study found most vacant jobs are moderately to significantly tough to fill and eight of the 12 categories tracked are much more difficult than this time last year.

Here are some more statistics from the study:

  The insurance workforce grew 1.31% last year

  The predicted rate was supposed to be 0.6%

  Employment in insurance is expected to rise by 1.34% in the next 12 months

  79% of the companies are looking at revenue growth in 2020

  17% think revenue will be flat

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

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