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Commercial Insurance Prices Still Rising

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

This year’s Willis Towers Watson Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey (CLIPS) is done. Basically, commercial insurance prices are growing at a much faster rate than a year ago.

The company said it is one more sign of a hardening market.

How hard? Prices jumped — on average — 4% in the second quarter of 2019 when compared to the second quarter of 2018. In fact, in the last five quarters the average quarterly hike has been around 2%.

Alejandra Nolibos — a senior director of the Insurance Consulting and Technology business of Willis Towers Watson — said the price increases rose by double digits in most lines. Property, excess/umbrella and directors and officers rose close to double digits for the first time in years. Commercial auto also say a double digit rise. All account sizes did well but mid-market and large accounts did best.

“After so many quarters of modest increases, we are seeing a pickup, backing up general market sentiment,” Nolibos, said. “Adverse loss trends in auto and D&O, and deteriorating or potentially deteriorating loss trends in other casualty lines, together with the prospect of potentially diminishing reserve releases seems to have pushed carriers to demand higher prices.”

AIG President and CEO Brian Duperreault believes the hardening market can be sustained into the future.

“I would describe this market as one where there is more underwriting discipline and rigor around the deployment of capacity rather than a major decline in capacity,” Duperreault said. “That discipline seems to be playing out through the pricing models and underwriting processes that are recognizing increased loss costs, frequency … and other emerging risks.”

Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg said premiums from its North America commercial operations rose 6% and overseas the jump was 9%.

“We benefited from an improved pricing and underwriting environment, flight to quality from commercial insurance buyers and our various global growth initiatives,” Greenberg said. “Pricing continued to tighten in the quarter while spreading to more classes and segments of business, particularly in the U.S. and London wholesale market. We’re also seeing early signs that market-firming conditions are spreading to more territories around the world.”

 

Source links: Carrier Management, Insurance Journal

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PG&E Settles with Insurers: Critics — It’s Not Enough

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and a group of insurers have reached an $11 billion settlement over wildfire claims paid out from 19 fires in California in 2017 and the Camp Fire in 2018.

The insurers in the group wanted $20 billion. PG&E offered $8.5 billion and change. 

The settlement is some relief for people who’ve lost homes, businesses and family but not much. The deadline to open a claim and be included in PG&E’s bankruptcy is October 21st. However, the last estimate of victim losses from those wildfires is $54 billion.

The plan — however — settles close to 85% of the insurance claims filed against PG&E and the firm’s president and CEO Bill Johnson said this is his company doing what’s best for the victims of those fires.

“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. We are committed to becoming the utility our customers deserve,” he said.

Critics of the plan say the insurers and PG&E benefits them and not the victims of the fires.

Source link: The Press Democrat

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Special Report: ObamaCare — Drop in Insureds, Democrats & Polls, All of Us & a Poll

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

For the first time since 2009 when ObamaCare was implemented there has been a decrease in the number of people in the U.S. without health insurance. That figure rose by two million from 2017 to 2018 to 27.5 million.

The drop — no surprise — is from the number of people that are covered by Medicaid and other programs. The reduction in those insured includes children and that figure rose by 0.6%. So overall 4.3 million children are without insurance.

That’s an increase of 425,000.

Democrats pounced on the figure and pointed fingers immediately at Republicans and President Trump. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this could bring financial ruin to thousands of families.

President Trump’s cruel health care sabotage has left two million more people without health insurance, forced to live in constant fear of an accident or injury that could spell financial ruin for their families,” she said. “Instead of working to lower health costs for the American people, President Trump is asking the courts to destroy protections for the 130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions and erase every other benefit and protection of the Affordable Care Act.”

So what do the people want? What they apparently don’t want is Medicare for All. That’s a for certain for Republicans and a definite no for Democrats. A USC/Los Angeles Times poll found 48% of Democrats favor what is known as a government option or the public option. That’s a federal government health insurance company and an idea that is being pushed by former vice president — and now presidential candidate — Joe Biden.

  48% of Democrats like the government option

  14% oppose the idea

  38% have never heard of a government option

As for Medicare for All — being pushed by Biden’s presidential candidate opponents Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — does not have as much support.

  39% like the idea

  34% oppose

A different poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation says most Democrats and independent that lean a little to the left, like the idea of building on ObamaCare rather than going to Medicare for All.

  40% like the idea of scrapping ObamaCare and doing Medicare for All

  55% want to build on ObamaCare

Looking at how the general public — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — view ObamaCare:

  46% of us like the Affordable Care Act and want to keep it

  40% do not like ObamaCare

  79% of Democrats view ObamaCare positively

  Just 16% of Republicans like the Affordable Care Act

 

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3Kaiser Family Foundation

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Free Financial Seminars — Maybe Not So Free?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) isn’t real fond of those financial seminar invites a lot of us get on a regular basis. You know, these are the ones asking if you’d like a free lunch, or a free dinner, and the event is almost always at a swank restaurant.

The cost — says NAIC president and Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa — often turns out to be much higher than what it would cost you to buy your own high-cost meal. Here’s why:

  20% of us have attended that kind of event

  41% say they actually bought a product or some sort of service

  Of those 18 to 34, that figure leaps to 58%

“We believe that insurance and other financial products are an essential part of an overall plan for a strong financial future,” Cioppa said. “But consumers need to be cautious of one size-fits-all marketing programs and make sure that they understand the products being offered and that they are designed to meet their individual needs.”

And with that, the NAIC offered up some thoughts for consumers — and for insurance professionals — about those seminars. You may want to copy this and send it to your clients.

Personal information is valuable: The information you provide to register for a seminar may be sold to other people intent on selling you other products or investments. Make sure you understand what the sponsors of the event intend to do with your information.

Prepare for a high-pressure pitch: The NAIC survey reports that 57% of those who attended such a seminar felt pressured to purchase something or to provide personal information. The meal does not commit you to anything. If you don’t understand the product, the presenter comes on too strong, or you want to shop around, don’t commit to purchasing a product.

The product offered may not be right for you: Its impossible to assess the nuanced financial needs of any individual or family during a two-hour seminar. Such sessions often take a generic approach to boost sales, which means some people may wind up paying for services that arent a good match to their situation.

Ask if the presenter is licensed: There is no required professional credential for merely hosting a seminar. Research the sponsoring company and the representative on your states Department of Insurance. Are they licensed? Have they been the subject of any formal complaints, lawsuits or enforcement actions?

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is: All investments carry some degree of risk, and many investments cant guarantee a particular return. If you feel you have been wronged by the presenter of a financial seminar, or by any financial professional, your state insurance commissioners office can help.

For additional financial resources and information, visit www.naic.org

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 17, 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

 

Arizona — Phishing Scams: We are warning customers and subscribers to be aware of internet scams that involve email messages falsely claiming to be from the NAIC and notifying recipients of a complaint.

 

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.

Medicare Plan Finder gets upgrade for first time in decade

Idaho — Medicare Finder: 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.

Montana — Insurance Scheme: A short-term health insurance scheme was very active in Montana between 2012 to 2016. It may have scammed as many as 3,645 people who are now eligible to recoup at least some of their losses.

The Montana State Auditor's Office has settled with the call centers, the individuals involved and the insurance companies. Those who were scammed will split $284,500.

Kyle Schmauch handles communications for the Montana State Auditor’s office. He said negotiations have been going on since 2016. “We got the names and addresses of these 3,600 people from company records," Schmauch said. The office — however — is not sure how many policies were sold via misleading sales tactics or false pretenses or what those numbers will be

Source link: Independent Record

Oregon — Work Comp Successes: 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 — Washington Exchange 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%.

 

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange Board is scheduled to certify the approved plans at a meeting later today.

 

“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

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PIA Western Alliance Promotes Kim Legato

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Kim Legato, Senior Vice President of PIA Western Alliance and Association Management Services (AMS)

PIA Western Alliance Executive Vice President announced the promotion of Kim Legato to Senior Vice President of PIA Western Alliance and Association Management Services (AMS). Over the last five years she has served the PIA Western Alliance as its Vice President of Non-Profit Operations.

In his statement Sitzes praised her exceptional management skills and noted her 11 years of service to the PIA. “Her comprehensive experience and knowledge make her the best candidate for the position” he said. “She has a complete knowledge of all internal and external operations, including AMS and PIA systems as well as staff positions and responsibilities.”

Advancement to this position moves her deeper into the day-to-day operations.

“I love working with the members, the staff and management of the PIA Western Alliance and with PIA National. It has been the highlight of my career,” she said. “I’m Grateful and excited for the opportunity, and humbled by the trust that Clark and the board of directors have placed in me.”

Her duties over the next year will be working with Sitzes, the PIA Western Alliance board of directors and the chapter leadership of the four chapters and the nine states in the PIA Western Alliance and on all aspects of the management company and operations of the PIA.

Sitzes said this is a trust that has been earned.

“As Senior Vice President, Kim will be directly involved in organizational governance — working directly with the chairs of the four local chapters — and managing staff on a day to day basis. She will assist in the direction and operation of all association activities and AMS business,” Sitzes said.

Looking to the future, Legato said, “Our continuing goal is to build on the success of the PIA Western Alliance and to provide the products, services and political support the independent insurance agents of the association. That means keeping up with an ever evolving industry and engaging and supporting younger agents whose needs are quite similar to those of older, established agents.”

Sitzes agreed and added, “That means more focus on events that help younger agents understand the value of the networking and the mentoring available from the more experienced members of the PIA. And no one I know working in our nine-state association is more capable of turning that vision into reality than Kim Legato.”

 

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The Joint Washington Conference — September 18 - 20

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The annual 2019 Professional Insurance Agents (PIA) Western Alliance and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington (IIABW) Washington Joint Conference and Trade Show is coming and fast.

The annual conference this year is at one of the best resorts in the Northwest:

The Coeur d' Alene Resort

September 18-20, 2019

If you’re not registered, do it now and don’t wait. This is the only event of its kind in Washington and — if you’ve never been to one, ask anyone who’s attended — it’s an incredible event from the networking to the continuing education to the fun.

This year’s title sponsors are:

Liberty Mutual Insurance

Safeco Insurance

 

Don’t miss the one opportunity this year to network, learn, share and connect with insurance companies, wholesalers and other companies with whom you do business.

Click here for the conference agenda.

Click here to register and attend.

The General session will highlight Heather Day, Progressive’s Agency Sales and Distribution Manager. Heather will share her thoughts on the state of the independent agency channel, including insights about market trends like mergers and acquisitions and the rise of large agencies, the outlook on smaller, local agencies, and the key role independent agents will continue to play as trusted advisors in the industry

And FIRST Insurance Funding’s Vice President of Sales Tim Parenti will speak to The Mind/Body/Health Connection and how “Attitudinal Strength” affects our mental toughness and our performance. Using real-world examples, coupled with Epigenetic scientific evidence, this unique perspective will present sound practices to help manage our Attitudes to improve our financial, physical and mental well-being.

High on the list of why you want to attend is the always packed trade show where agents can attend FREE and — of course — golf.

You arrive at the course in a custom mahogany lake shuttle and are greeted by a personal forecaddie. The breathtaking lake views from nearly every hole eases the tension of the formidable challenge presented by the floating green. The award-winning, expertly groomed course aesthetics compliment the experience.

The superb attention to every need and detail sets the scene for the ultimate round of golf where every guest is considered a member.

The experts at Golf Digest, Golf Magazine and Conde Nast Traveler agree — this is one of the world’s most memorable golf experiences.

As for the business of education, here is a look at this year’s classes:

 

   You don't Know What You Don't Know 3 CE WA — Kathy Fraley

   Personal lines hot topics 3 CE WA — Jerry Kennedy

   How to Leverage Your Sales Velocity — Tim Parenti, First Insurance Funding

   Ethical Solutions for Insurance Professionals 3 CE WA — Kathy Fraley

   Troubles with Toys 3 CE WA — Jerry Kennedy

 

Click here for more information on the CE sessions.

We look forward to seeing YOU.

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Special Report — Disaster Planning is a Disaster Itself

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

September is National Preparedness Month. The federal government, and most state governments, and some local governments, are urging people to always expect the best but to also always be prepared for the worst.

The emergency preparation push is done each year by federal government’s Ready.gov. The website is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and it promotes family and community disaster and emergency planning now and through the year.

This year’s theme is be prepared, not scared.

Last week's focus was to save early for disaster costs. That means people need to check their insurance coverage and making sure it is up to date and that it covers everything. Ready.gov also stressed the need to have a financial plan in place in case there is a disaster.

This week’s emphasis is to make a plan and prepare for disasters. Next week it is to teach youth how to prepare, and September’s fourth week push is to get people to become involved in the emergency preparedness of their community.

Brock Long resigned earlier this year as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agent (FEMA). He worries about the nation’s emergency management system and about state and local governments that he contends are not really prepared for the worst.

Long told CBS’ TV’s Face the Nation that the agency is more-or-less, ineffective. “FEMA faces unrealistic expectations by Congress and the American public, and the standards in which we declare major disaster declarations need to be increased,” he said, “We've got to stop looking at FEMA as 911.”

He pointed a finger at state and local governments and said they need to step up and help FEMA respond to a natural disaster. That means everyday, ordinary people need better training and need to be better prepared.

“If we want to get better and become more resilient and respond better then we have to refocus the training upon how we asked citizens to be prepared, not just going out and having supplies for five to seven days, but, you know, teaching them how to become more financially resilient; teaching them that insurance is the first line of defense, not FEMA; teaching them tangible skills like CPR when they face active shooter events,” he said.

Long pointed a long finger at Congress and said it needs to go to work and do its duty by passing legislation that gives local governments more incentive to modernize building codes. He said state governments are not off the hook either. Long noted that Congress needs to get state governments to better maintain and strengthen the infrastructure.

The need for better preparation — Long concluded — is dire. A survey from Allstate bears that out and found that 60% of us are totally unprepared for a disaster.

  70% said they are concerned about national disasters

  60% said they don’t have a disaster plan because they don’t think one will happen to them

Allstate’s chief claims officer Ken Rosen was shocked at the response and said, “With extreme weather and natural disasters more frequent and severe, communities face a lot of complex issues and real danger.”

As noted at the beginning of this report, most states are following the lead of Ready.gov. This week’s push is planning. It starts with doing that critical home inventory. The Oregon Department of Financial Regulation — that manages the Oregon Department of Insurance — said this is an often overlooked part of disaster preparation.

It recently sent out a news release on the topic, and insurance companies and independent insurance agents are encouraged to copy this list and send it to their clients:

1.    Build a home inventory: Take video or photos of each room in your home, paying close attention to walls, drawers, closets, and storage areas. Recalling your personal property is a daunting task following a disaster. A home inventory eases the post-disaster stress, and enables your insurance company to move forward with processing your claim.

2.    Review your insurance coverage: Take time to discuss your policies with your insurance company or agent. Make sure you have the right coverage and know what to expect when you file a claim for disasters such as fire, earthquake, flood, tornado, theft, and ice storms.

Oregon Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi said, “Recent wildfires and earthquakes reminds us how important it is for [everyone] to build a home inventory and make sure they have the right insurance coverage to protect their families. These projects are easy to do and now is the time to add these money-saving, stress-reducing tasks to your to-do list.”

Marcie Roth is FEMA’s Director of the Office of Disability Integration and Coordination. She agrees with Stolfi and said there is no one-size-fits-all way to prepare. Each of us have individual needs. “What I've learned from this experience is that everyone must be prepared to be their own ‘emergency manager,’” she said. “When disaster strikes, you may have to be able to survive on your own for 72 hours or more without access to power, food, or transportation. You also should think about your own situation and what additional needs you might have.”

Here’s what she says you need to be fully prepared. The PIA Western Alliance encourages you to copy this and — along with the home inventory and insurance assessment suggestions — send it to your clients.

Have an emergency supply kit ready: Make sure you have enough water, food and medications for yourself and your service animal (if you have one) to last at least three days. Think about other items you may need as well — extra eyeglasses, batteries for hearing aids, medical supplies, etc. 

Have an emergency communications plan in place: How will you contact your family members if something happens and you're separated? Share your emergency plan with neighbors, friends and relatives so they know how to contact you if the power goes out.

Develop a map of resources around where you live and work so members of your support network who are unfamiliar with your neighborhood can find and get what you need: You may want to include nearby places to buy food and water. Also, include fire, police, other city agencies and local apartment/commercial buildings with their own sources of power should the citywide/town-wide power be out. Consider adding taxi stands/bus stops/subway stations, and parking regulations/parking lots, etc.

Ask others about what they will do to support you in an emergency: If you are a person who relies on dialysis, what will your provider do if there is an emergency? If you rely on home care or deliveries, such as Meals on Wheels, ask about emergency notifications and their plan to maintain services. If you use paratransit, find out their plans for providing service in an emergency. If you use oxygen or other life-sustaining medical equipment, show friends how to use these devices so they can move you or help you evacuate, if needed. Practice your plan with the people in your personal support network.

Keep assistive devices and equipment charged and ready to go: Consider having an extra battery on a trickle charger if you use a power wheelchair or scooter. If available, have a lightweight manual wheelchair for backup and extra chargers and charging cables for all assistive devices.

Make sure you have access to important documents: Collect and safeguard critical documents. Store electronic copies of your important documents on a password-protected thumb drive and in the ‘cloud,’ and if you feel comfortable doing so, give a copy to a trusted relative or friend outside your area. This way, you'll have a record of critical identification documents; medical information including where and how to get life-saving supplies and medications; financial and legal documents; and insurance information as well as important phone numbers, instructions and email addresses.

Keep an updated version in your ‘go bag’: Go to Ready.gov, Be Smart. Protect Your Critical Documents and Valuables or the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit for more information and a checklist.

“Being prepared is a 365-day-a-year activity. Take charge and take control to be as prepared as possible. Then add your voice to others,” she said and noted the importance of getting more involved in the emergency planning of your community.

Source links: ready.gov, CBS News, Insurance Business America, Oregon Department of Insurance, Federal Emergency Management Agency

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A Big Congratulations to Craig Stahl

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

New CIC Designee, Craig Stahl, Bisnett Insurance

Craig Stahl, CIC

Bisnett Insurance | Oregon City, OR

"CIC has been a huge learning experience for me in my daily activities and adding to my skills-set and knowledge in Insurance and coverage principles. It is helpful in helping me identify learning needs for myself and the agency. It has helped me with a more in-depth understanding of complex risks and how to address them best."

Craig started in the insurance field in 1990 in Claims, Claims Management, Marketing and has been a licensed Property and Casualty agent now for 5 years. He is the Director of Sales at Bisnett Insurances in Portland, OR. Craig is a graduate of Oregon State University and enjoys boating, fishing, camping, photography, snowboarding and traveling with his wife and two sons. His boys (a freshman and 8th grader) keep him busy with sports; football, wresting, and track. He grew up in Salem but has live in Tigard, Lake Oswego, and now Oregon City, also referred to as the OC.

 

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California Insurance Commissioner Issues an Apology

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Ricardo Lara, California Insurance Commissioner

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has officially apologized for taking campaign contributions from insurance industry representatives. The San Diego Union-Tribune started the investigation when it found Lara’s 2022 election campaign took in $54,300 in campaign donations. It identified the people making the contributions as being associated with Applied Underwriters and Independence Holding Co.

At that time the California Department of Insurance was dealing with regulatory issues involving both companies.

He did so by sending a letter to groups that have been highly critical of his campaign’s actions. They include United Policyholders, Public Advocates, Health Access and Consumer Watchdog.

In his letter the commissioner admitted that his campaign solicited those contributions in spite of a pledge from him not to ask for industry support. “But during my campaign and first six months in office, my campaign operation scheduled meetings and solicited campaign contributions that did not fall in line with commitments I made to refuse contributions from the insurance industry,” the letter said. “I take full responsibility for that and am deeply sorry.”

While apologizing, and saying he has severed the relationship with those who did that fundraising, Lara pointed out that no laws were broken and no rules violated.

“I must hold myself to a higher standard,” he concluded.

Lara says he has returned the money and has outlined some reforms he’s planning to implement:

  I am implementing rigorous vetting protocols and am retaining experts to develop new processes for the screening and reporting of all outside political activity — to ensure greater transparency and no direct connection to the insurance industry or Department-regulated entities — consistent with best practices.

  I am placing a strict moratorium on all fundraising activity for my re-election campaign until at least the end of this calendar year, while these new processes are being implemented.

  I am requesting that Department attorneys develop new publicly-available protocols for scheduling and conducting meetings with external stakeholders, especially Department-regulated entities.

  I am ordering regular public release of my official calendar of meetings with external stakeholders.

Lara concluded his letter by saying, “I look forward to the work ahead, and renew my commitment to hold myself to the highest ethical standards as your state Insurance Commissioner.”

That’s not good enough for the San Francisco Chronicle and for the groups demanding that Lara produce the public records that involve the meetings he held with the companies that reportedly gave him the campaign contributions.

They — says Consumer Watchdog — still have not received those records.

Lara’s explanation is not good enough according to an editorial written by the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board. The newspaper says the commissioner has admitted to being deeply sorry and has said he takes personal responsibility but at the same time, he is suggesting it is staff — and not him — that are to blame.

“The commissioner’s belated apologia, issued in a letter to consumer groups Tuesday, doesn’t seem to be motivated purely by further reflection,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote and it noted that the amount of money Lara’s campaign took in from the insurers is now estimated to be much higher than the $50,000 and change noted by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The figure is now estimated to be — says the Chronicle — around $250,000.

“The newly detailed contributions include more than $20,000 associated with a lawyer for Applied Underwriters, a workers’ compensation insurer at the center of dozens of disputes and a pending sale being reviewed by the Insurance Department,” the newspaper wrote. “Last month, two companies moved to overturn department decisions favoring Applied, arguing that they were influenced by contributions linked to the insurer.”

Lara continues to maintain that the decisions he has made involving the insurers conforms to precedents set by the department before he became commissioner.

“But it hasn’t helped that the commissioner took the money and met with Applied’s chief executive,” the editorial said. “That could be why he has hesitated to respond to press requests for his calendars or come to terms with the full extent of his compromising contributions. Lara’s mea culpa would be more convincing if it were accompanied by transparent and unflinching accountability for his past and future behavior.”

 

Source links: Insurance Journal — link 1, link 2, San Francisco Chronicle

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