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Can You Hear Me Now? Maybe Not

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found 40 million of us have some sort of hearing loss because of exposure to noise. This is sometimes of the everyday variety from things like leaf blowers or lawn mowers and sirens to more extreme noise from rock music, rock concerts and other sounds.


That 40 million figure accounts for 25% of people age 20 to 69.


The CDC report is found in the weekly publication the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It says hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the country and it is twice as common as diabetes or cancer.


And what’s oddest about the report is most of the 25% believe they have good to excellent hearing.


Another odd fact. A whopping 53% say they have no regular exposure to loud noise at work. That leaves other environmental factors as the cause like — and you see people on the street, in cars and public transportation wearing them — loud music through headphones and earbuds.


Anne Schuchat is the CDC Acting Director She said, “Noise is damaging hearing before anyone notices or diagnoses it. Because of that, the start of hearing loss is under recognized.”


Back to the earbuds and headphones. Schuchat said 19% of people between the age of 20 and 29 have some form of hearing loss. She calls it alarming.


Hearing loss comes from a combination of volume and length of exposure:


  One minute of hearing a 120-decibel siren will damage hearing

  Two-hours of exposure to a 90-decibel leaf blower will damage hearing

  14 minutes at a 100-decibel sporting event will damage hearing

  Two-minutes at a 110-decibel rock concert will damage hearing

  And if you think it’s too loud at the gym, you are right


Next up for the CDC is studying is the effects of those earbuds and headphones and other personal listening devices. In the meantime, Schuchat says protect your ears. Use earplugs or headphones at noisy events for protection.


What’s also interesting is the federal government has no regulations for noise outside of the workplace. It can’t regulate how loud your earbuds are or — as another example — how loud your auto can get.


One solution — she suggests — is primary care doctors routinely asking patients about hearing loss. Caught early it can be prevented.


Source link: The Washington Post



Tags:  Can You Hear Me Now? Maybe Not  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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ObamaCare Repeal or Reform: Trump says Next Year, Republicans Move Forward

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

During the campaign, President Trump called the Affordable Care Act a total disaster and promised almost instant repeal after the inauguration. The leadership of the Republican Party — and House Speaker Paul Ryan most of all — has promised the same thing only for a longer period of time.


Now President Trump has Republicans scratching their heads. In the annual presidential Superbowl interview, Trump told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that it’ll probably be next year — that’s 2018 — before we see the replacement of the Affordable Care Act.


“Maybe it’ll take till some time into next year, but we are certainly going to be in the process. I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year,” Trump said.


That surprised everyone and was especially disconcerting for Republican leadership because in January and just before the inauguration, Trump said he’d put his plan out simultaneously with the confirmation of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price.


Price was confirmed late last week.


Ryan is working counter to what Trump said and has targeted House replacement action for the end of the first quarter. That’s the end of March.


Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas heads the House Ways and Means Committee. He said his committee is following the Speaker’s timeline and is working toward repeal legislation by

Ryan’s end of March target. “We're continuing on a good, deliberate, but pretty steady pace,” he said.


The House Energy and Commerce Committee — under Oregon Rep. Greg Walden — is already looking at four bills that could be the first replacement pieces.


Walden’s committee has also been talking to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) about the tax credit details, cost of high-risk pool funding and changes in Medicaid.


His plan is to have a bill to mark-up by March 1st.


Sen. John Cornyn — also of Texas — and the second most powerful Republican in the Senate said he has a reconciliation bill on the fast track that could be ready within the next month. Reconciliation — to pass — takes a simple majority.


Responding to the president’s comments, Cornyn said, “We've said all along we're going to start the process using budget reconciliation, but it's not going to be all in one piece of legislation, they'll be multiple steps. You’ll have to ask him what he meant, but I think it's going to take — it's not going to be instantaneous, because there is going to need to be a transition period.”


Then there are Republicans who kind of agree with the president’s statement. They want to slow down and aren’t so sure that repair might not be a better idea than replacement.


Polls show the public is now divided on whether to repeal ObamaCare or repair it so Republicans have to — says Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma — show consumers what’s wrong with the law. And that would be rising premiums and fewer health insurance choices.


Democrats have responded to that and glommed onto Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s claim that Republicans, “Want to make America sick again.” It’s something apparently, a lot of people are embracing.


Reports are showing Republican lawmakers facing increasingly hostile crowds at town hall meetings.


Other problems Republicans are encountering as the president promises instant repeal and then backpedals, and as some in the party use the word “repair” instead of “repeal,” is not being unified on the subject. That’s problematic says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell.


“Until everyone is on the same page, it’s very hard to combat a lot of those allegations. If they’re not looking like they’re walking in a unified front and like they have the perfect solution, it’s going to be very hard to get public support on your side,” he said.


Republican strategist colleague Matt Mackowiak agrees. To get public support for repeal — or even repair — unification is critical. “Finding a bill that Susan Collins and Jim Jordan [who are in opposition to repeal] can support and agree on is difficult. If Republicans are divided and Democrats are unified, that’s a great way to lose this battle before it begins,” he said.


Undaunted and facing hostile crowds, many Republicans believe they have mandate to make the change. And Tennessee Republican Rep. Diane Black agrees. She took a lot of heat at a recent town hall meeting but refuses to back down.


“While there were strong feelings at this forum, there is no mistaking the clear message Tennesseans sent last November at the ballot box when they sent Congressman Black and President Trump to Washington to repeal ObamaCare and put patients back in control of their healthcare choices,” her office said in a statement.


Democrats also continue to be very skeptical about Price and how he’ll do as head of the HHS. Washington Democrat Sen. Patty Murray said, “President Trump is setting up his cabinet to run our country in a way that benefits those at the top and their allies, but really hurts the workers and families we all serve. It’s hard to imagine who in America would be better off under Congressman Price’s leadership at HHS.”


Republicans — who passed Price easily once his confirmation hit the full Senate — think he’ll be terrific. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said, “Dr. Price has extensive insight into our nation’s health-care system, having practiced medicine for two decades in a variety of settings and will put this vast experience to good use and be decisive not only in working with Congress to find solutions but implementing them.”


Source links: Insurance Journal, Insurance Business America — link 1, link 2, Insurance Networking News, The Hill — link 1, link 2, link 3, link 4



Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  ObamaCare Repeal or Reform: Trump says Next Year  Republicans Move Forward  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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An ObamaCare Disaster Rectified? Moda Wins in Court

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Moda Health is an Oregon insurer. It took a risk several years ago, participating in the Affordable Care Act’s risk corridor program, one of the three programs built into the law designed to stabilize the market. Insurers making more than anticipated put money into a pool to help those who earned less and who said they’d take riskier clients.


Most insurers involved in ObamaCare — as you know — lost money in 2014 or had lower returns than expected because of lower signups than predicted and because of unhealthier people signing up. The bottom-line: there was very little money generated for the program. The Obama administration wanted to grab cash from other places to pay what it promised. Congress said no and with no money available a lot of smaller insurers — like Moda Health — suffered.


The dozens of repeals passed went nowhere so the “no” decision was the first salvo the Republicans were able to fire that caused damage to ObamaCare. The shortage ended up to be something like $2.5 billion. The money loss — some say — caused rates to rise and some insurers to wonder about the wisdom of participating.


Of that $2.5 billion available, Moda ended up being owed $212 million over the three-years it participated. But the administration — with no purse strings power — couldn’t pay it all and sent a check for $12 million for 2014. Nothing at all was sent for 2015 or 2016. It caused Moda to almost go under and the company is now under state insurance department supervision.


The company was forced to sell assets and borrow money to pump up capital reserves. it cannot make any business decisions without state permission. The $100 million raised helped stave off receivership.


Last week U.S. Court of Claims Judge Thomas Wheeler gave Moda Health a $212 million-dollar award. It’s what — the judge said — Moda is owed. “The Court finds that the Government made a promise in the risk corridors program that it has yet to fulfill. Today, the Court directs the Government to fulfill that promise. After all, "to say to [Moda], 'The joke is on you. You shouldn't have trusted us,' is hardly worthy of our great government,” the judge wrote in his decision.


Other insurers have filed similar claims.


Source link: OregonLive.com



Tags:  An ObamaCare Disaster Rectified? Moda Wins in Cour  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Special Report: How to do an Employee Engagement Survey

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

O.C. Tanner is a consulting firm specializing in employee production. The firm recently looked at employee engagement survey research and came to some interesting conclusions.


The consulting firm said research from Carnegie Management found a lot of employees these days suffer from what it calls “presenteeism.” By definition that is employees working while sick causing productivity loss, poor health, exhaustion and workplace epidemics.


Worldwide it costs companies billions of dollars in lost productivity. Thus, the need for the employee engagement survey. Or maybe the need. O.C. Tanner’s researchers had conversations with HR professionals and 48% say they’re not that credible. Another 58% say they don’t actually help managers gain more knowledge of employee behaviors which ought to help with changes to make them more productive.


In a blog post for a publication called @Management, O.C. Tanner wrote it’s important to know why — since they’re an integral part of management policies for most companies — the surveys are not working.


Part 1

Why They Fail

They’re not comprehensive: “If you want an accurate survey, you should poll everyone in your organization. It’s important to get a census and not just a sample size. This will allow you to understand what is happening not only in each department, but in each position within that department. If you gather insights from every employee in your organization, you’ll be better equipped to help all of them succeed, and your company will advance as a result,” O.C. Tanner concluded.


And don’t make that survey too long. You don’t need that much information. O.C. Tanner’s research found that longer surveys bore employees and they tend to disengage at a time when you want them engaged.


So less is often more.


They’re Irrelevant: Remember the old adage KISS — keep it simple stupid?


“If a question won’t give you information you need to make strategic business decisions, don’t ask it! Try to ask specific questions tailored to each individual employee’s role. If employees find that the questions are annoying, too personal, or irrelevant to their position, they’re less likely to answer honestly, if at all,” O.C. Tanner’s post said.


They’re not Open-Ended Enough: Closed ended questions are easier for those analyzing data. You know, answers to A produces this conclusion, and B this one and so on. Tanner suggests more open-ended questions and not those that are closed.


“Not only will you get a more intimate insight into the mind of each employee, but based on the complexity and time given to complete answers, you may gain further insights into who is most engaged at work. Those who are passionate about what they do typically take the time to give detailed and candid responses,” the company’s researchers wrote.


We Don’t Follow Up: This is a survey killer. If you aren’t going to follow up on the survey, why do it? “Not only should you implement positive change as a result of survey responses, you should also use subsequent surveys to follow up on past surveys. If employees don’t see positive change and progression happening because of their willingness to participate in a survey, they’re likely to feel unheard and unlikely to want to give their opinion in the future. Follow through, and follow up,” O.C. Tanner said.


So, follow up!



Part 2

The Solution — New Ways to Track Employee Engagement

The interesting thing about today’s advanced technology is how easily we can do surveys. Maybe a yearly survey isn’t enough? You can do more and target specific areas more easily than ever.


Interpersonal Interactions: Make sure your survey is personal and that it reaches people where they live — or in this case, work, so to speak. And such a survey is their voice and they want to make sure their voice is heard.


Here’s another novel idea when doing an employee engagement survey: “Speaking to someone face-to-face is typically the best way to understand their feelings about the company and gauge their level of personal engagement,” O.C. Tanner concludes.


The comment continues, “With surveys you lose the body language and the more intimate details people are willing to share with a real human that they might not like sharing in a plain, dry survey. Google is one company that does a great job of employing this kind of communication for an evaluation tool. They use people analytics to capture the human factor. After all, humans are your biggest asset, so it’s critical you understand them.”


Employee pulse surveys: Give surveys on a regular basis …they need to be short and to the point. Even more critically, they need to be relevant.


“Employee pulse surveys are so named because, unlike the annual employee engagement survey, they allow you to keep a real-time pulse on the overall mood within your organization. Knowing where your company stands on a more consistent basis will allow you to make strategic business decisions gradually instead of all at once at the beginning of a new year. This will allow you to naturally adapt to the constantly changing business world of today and maintain a relaxed, yet productive company culture,” O.C Tanner wrote.


Real-Time Engagement Surveys: What a novel idea. Aon Hewitt does this and calls it a “Mood Ring” platform. “The service allows employees to respond quickly and give feedback on specific meetings and events from the ease of their smartphone. With short surveys that take very little time and effort as well as actionable insights generated, employees feel more inclined to give consistent feedback,” the company concluded.


Part 3

The Results

Regularly engaging employees has a bunch of positive benefits.


It Gives a Good Baseline: In other words, regularly engaging your employees and getting their thoughts gives you a consistent idea of their overall passion and commitment to the company.


Plus, you know where you stand with your employees and can make quick adjustments.


It Can Improve Your Bottom Line: This is one of the best benefits.


“Knowing who’s engaged and who’s not can help you know how to start taking steps to keep the passionate ones going and help the weary and distracted become more engaged. It may even help you cut the fat by bidding farewell to employees who aren’t adding value. Getting each employee engaged and enabled will pay dividends. In fact, according to research from Hay Group, ‘Companies in the top quartile on both engagement and enablement achieve revenue growth 4.5 times greater than their industry peers.’”


It Helps Keep Good Employees: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Investing in new technology is important. No one disagrees. Having a nice office space and big offices or cubicles is nice, too. But nothing tops investing in employees. It is the most vital step an employer can take that will bring success to a company.


“Learning how high the cost of employee turnover can be will help motivate you to regularly monitor and ensure employees are engaged. Using techniques to measure employee engagement more regularly and personally helps not only to identify your best people and understand whether they’re at risk of leaving, but also allows you to act on frequent insight to improve those cultural roadblocks, before it’s too late,” O.C. Tanner wrote.


Last — and Maybe Most Important — Take Action: “The annual employee engagement survey is no longer enough. Now is the time to step back and evaluate the way your company is understanding its employees and implementing positive change accordingly. Make regular efforts to keep your employees engaged, but remember that your tactics should change with times and technologies. Don’t get discouraged as you strive to improve,” the O.C. Tanner blog concluded.


Source link: @Magazine



Tags:  Employees  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Special Report: How to do an Employee Engagement S  survey  Weekly Industry News 

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A New Tax Time Scam: Be Careful

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Scammers never lack for creativity. A new email phishing scam called business email compromise or business email spoofing is trying to get employee names and W-2 information.


An email is being sent to human resources and payroll departments and their employees that looks pretty much like it comes from the company CEO or other high-ranking officials. The body of the email orders the HR person or payroll employee to send the names of all company employees and their W2 forms to them.

Of course, it’s a scam which means the important data of employees ends up in the hands of criminals.


The IRS says schools, non-profits and small businesses are at risk. Scammers now think they can have more success aiming smaller. It says if you get one, forward it to phishing@irs.gov.


Source link: The Fiscal Times



Tags:  A New Tax Time Scam: Be Careful  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  scam  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 14, 2017

California — Insurance Educational Conference

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones part of a conference in March to look at what needs to be done in his last two years as commissioner.


It’s being presented by the WIAA Education and Research Foundation and is called Challenges, Opportunities and Transformational Leadership. Senior members of Jones staff will outline the goals of his last two years and how insurance professionals and the industry can take advantage of them.


Here are some of the speakers:


  Richard Kerr, founder and CEO of MarketScout, giving a big picture view of the insurance industry nationally and worldwide.


   Bill Hartnett, president of Hartnett Advisors, will give a talk titled: “From the Flintstones to the Jetsons: Is Technology Making Insurance Obsolete.” His presentation will explore how rapid advances are combining to give consumers and businesses new options.


  Michael Jans, with Agency Revolution, will discuss how many agents are still relying on “old school” ways to communicate with their customers and how insurance may be getting left behind by the fast-changing consumer.

  James Keating, chairman and CEO of The Keating Group, will discuss how the various trends with technology and other disrupters will require new approaches to management.


  George Mueller, deputy commissioner of the enforcement branch of the California Department of Insurance, and Beth Ossino, claims manager of Golden Bear Insurance Co., will talk about the current enforcement program for the CDI.


  Joel Laucher, a CDI chief deputy of will discuss the major issues facing the CDI and present the main agenda for the remaining two years of Jones’ tenure.


  John Finston, CDI’s general counsel, will cover significant actions by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and other national and international actions that will impact legislative and regulatory agendas in California and the West.


For more information or to register for the conference call (916) 443-4221 or visit www.WIAAconference.com.


Source link: Insurance Journal



Idaho — Idaho State Fire Marshal named to leadership position

 Knute Sandahl, Idaho State Fire Marshal, has been appointed to a two-year term as vice-chair of the Idaho Lands Resource Coordinating Council (ILRCC). Following his term as vice-chair, Sandahl will serve an additional two-year term as Council chair.


Sandahl has over 33 years of fire service experience including career and volunteer fire fighting. He earned the Arson Investigator Certificate from the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Office in 1993. In 2006, he joined the Idaho State Fire Marshal’s Office as a plans reviewer, and was appointed State Fire Marshal in December 2015. Sandahl continues his frontline fire service experience by volunteering with Gem County Fire and EMS, currently serving as a Station Captain.


The ILRCC facilitates strategic natural resource management across Idaho land ownerships and assists the State Forester with implementing Idaho’s Forest Action Plan, a long-term coordinated strategy for reducing threats to Idaho’s forests while increasing the social, economic, and environmental benefits they provide.


Council members include representatives from city, county, state, and federal governments. Members also represent land trust organizations, green industry, tribes, private forest landowners, forestry consultants, universities, and public utilities.



Oregon — Retirement Plans

 In just a few months Oregon will launch the first stat4e sponsored retirement plan. No other states have tried this so Oregon is exploring heretofore unexplored territory.


Republicans in Congress aren’t comfortable with the plan and are trying to head it off at the proverbial pass. Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg and Florida Republican Rep. Francis Rooney say the plan will force people to participate and will create another bureaucratic burden for employers.


They have introduced a bill to put an end to the decisions in the U.S. Department of Labor that cleared the way for this to happen. “Our nation faces difficult retirement challenges, but more government isn't the solution. A better way is to reduce costly red tape and make it easier for small businesses to band together to offer retirement plans for their employees,” Walberg said.


Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read can’t understand the opposition. He contends there are millions of baby boomers 55+ who haven’t planned for retirement and doesn’t expect that their children will do much better.


“It's frustrating to me. We’re leading the way as a state. We've got a tidal wave coming at us. I just don't understand why Republicans would want to make it harder for people to accumulate a retirement nest egg,” he said.


And groups like AARP disagree, too. There is nothing that forces anyone to participate but they do need to willingly say they don’t want to be a part of the plan.


Source link: OregonLive.com



Oregon — From the Oregon Department of Insurance

Proposed Rulemaking: Adoption of Annual and Supplemental Statement Blanks and Instructions for Reporting Year 2016


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


Adoption of Annual and Supplemental Statement Blanks and Instructions for Reporting Year 2016


Amend: OAR 836-011-0000


Repeal: OAR 836-011-0000(T)


This rulemaking prescribes, for reporting year 2016, the required forms for the annual and supplemental financial statements required of insurers and health care service contractors under ORS 731.574, as well as the necessary instructions for completing the forms.


This rulemaking repeals and replaces the current unexpired temporary rule of the same number.


Public hearing: A public rulemaking hearing may be requested in writing by 10 or more people, or by an association with 10 or more members, within 21 days following the publication of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Oregon Bulletin or 28 days from the date Notice was sent to people on the agency mailing list, whichever is later.


Public comment: The agency requests public comment on whether other options should be considered for achieving the rule's substantive goals while reducing the negative economic impact of the rule on business.


Last day for public comment: March 24, 2017, 5 p.m.


For more information on this proposed rule, please visit the Division's website:



Recently Adopted Rule ID 02-2017 (temporary):


Adoption of Annual and Supplemental Statement Blanks and Instructions for Reporting Year 2016


The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently adopted the following rule:


ID 02-2017 (temporary): Adoption of Annual and Supplemental Statement Blanks and Instructions for Reporting Year 2016


Amend: OAR 836-011-0000


This rulemaking prescribes, for reporting year 2016, the required forms for the annual and supplemental financial statements required for insurers and health care service contractors under ORS 731.574, as well as the necessary instructions for completing the forms.


Adopted: January 31, 2017


Effective: January 31, 2017 to July 1, 2017


For more information, please visit the Division's website:




Washington — Kreidler Issues Fines

 Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued fines in January 2017 totaling $15,000 against insurance companies, agents and brokers who violated state insurance regulations.


State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Bloomington, Ind.; fined $10,000, order 16-0288

State Farm failed to notify 151 farm-ranch homeowner policyholders that flood damage was not covered by their policies, as required by state law. The company also failed to notify 141,001 people who purchased homeowner, renter, condominium unit or manufactured home policies, but later provided notification when the policies renewed.


Health Alliance Northwest Health Plan, Wenatchee; fined $5,000, order 16-0305

Washington law requires health carriers to indemnify certain health care services with an insurance policy, bond, securities, or cash deposit. The company allowed the surety bond it was using to meet this requirement to lapse and did not replace it with another form of indemnity until the insurance commissioner contacted the company. It ultimately corrected the problem by depositing funds in a special trust account that met the indemnity requirement.


Walmart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Ark.; ordered to cease and desist, order 17-0016

Walmart sold tire warranties to consumers without being a registered service contract provider. It sold 112,561 warranties worth $1.1 million to Washington consumers from June 2014 through July 2016. As of the date of this order, the company has not yet registered as a service contract provider in Washington state and has stopped selling the warranty to Washington state consumers.


Thomas C. Johnson, Tacoma; issued probationary license, order 17-0009

Thomas applied for a Washington state insurance producer’s license in October 2016 to sell life insurance. He disclosed two military offenses in 2005 on his application. The probationary license means he must be accompanied by another licensed insurance agent or broker anytime he meets with a client; he must submit a list of clients he met with quarterly to the insurance commissioner; and his license will be revoked if he violates any insurance or state laws other than minor traffic violations.



Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Insurers 2016 Underwriting Loss & Direct Writing Increase

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017


A.M. Best thinks the property and casualty insurers — overall — will see a small underwriting loss for 2016. The report is titled Profitability Slides, Surplus Growth Slows and Competition Intensifies for Property/Casualty Insurers and it says insurance will see the first loss after three years of underwriting profits. Quoting information generated from the ISO and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), Best said January through September saw a net loss of $1.7 billion.


Many reasons are pegged in the report:


“The primary drivers are the increase in losses due to catastrophes and weather; the deterioration in personal auto liability, and continuing challenges in commercial auto liability from … distracted driving, increased miles driven and vehicles on the road due to lower gasoline prices, higher repair costs, and increased severity of liability claims. Intensifying competitive conditions in commercial lines … have pushed premiums down and driven loss ratios up,” the report said.


A.M. Best predicts a 100.7 combined ratio for 2016 and a 100.3 combined ratio for 2017. That’s down from the terrific rations from 2013 to 2015 of 96.4, 97.4 and 98.3.


On the positive, A.M. Best said the poor underwriting performance will be balanced by a solid capital base and investment income improvement. This is especially the case as rates start to increase moderately and invested assets start growing.


The ratings firm also says:


  Net written premiums will go up 2.7% for 2016

  We’ll see them jump 2.5% this year

  That compares to 4.4%, 4.3% and 3.3% in 2013, 2014, 2015


Source links: Carrier Management, Insurance Journal




Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Insurers 2016 Underwriting Loss & Direct Writing I  Weekly Industry News 

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Dodd-Frank & FIO & Trump & PIA

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017


President Trump has ordered that two regulations must be eliminated for every new one put into place. Whether that’s going to happen is anybody’s guess. What isn’t a guess is what Trump wants to do with regulation. He thinks there is too much federal regulation and it’s slowing down business.


Anything that slows down business must go.


And that’s anything like in the Dodd-Frank Act. Trump, see it as a heavy burden — in some cases — for banks and other financial institutions like insurance. Via an executive order, the president has ordered the Treasury Secretary to review Dodd-Frank and report on what changes are needed. And Trump has made it no secret — as in this comment to small business leaders early last week — he’s not a fan of the law.


“Dodd-Frank is a disaster. We’re going to be doing a big number on Dodd-Frank. It’s almost impossible now to start a small business and it’s virtually impossible to expand your existing business,” Trump said.


Congress got into the act as well and repealed a regulation that requires oil and gas companies to disclose payments made to U.S. or foreign governments for commercial development.


Trump is expected to sign it into law.


The president has also signed a presidential memorandum that orders the labor department to not implement President Obama’s rule requiring financial professionals who charge commissions to put their clients’ best interests first when giving advice on retirement investments.


The idea behind the rule is to prevent these advisors from moving their clients toward higher fee and commission investments and thus eating away at potential retirement dollars.


Criticism was quick. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said, “The DOL rule protects consumers and creates a level playing field in the market for financial advisors who want to do right by their clients. Instead of doing favors for the big bank CEOs he invited to the West Wing this morning, President Trump should stand with working families by protecting this critical rule.”


While no one is certain how much of Dodd-Frank will survive, what many insurance agent associations — like PIA — hope is that the Dodd-Frank created Federal Insurance Office (FIO) does not. Housed in the U.S. Treasury, the FIO was supposed to give Congress advice on insurance.


It didn’t turn out that way.


The FIO never hit it off with insurers or with state regulators, both of whom feel insurance is best regulated by the states and who see the FIO as a federal intrusion into that regulation.


PIA National — and other agent and insurance associations — were critical of the FIO when it was discussed as Dodd-Frank was being formed. In an article written for National Underwriter and its online publication PropertyCasualty360.com, PIA National Vice President of Government Operations Jon Gentile wrote, “For more than 150 years the state-based system of insurance regulation has worked, successfully protecting consumers and creating a competitive and diverse U.S. insurance market. In fact, a report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June 2013 found the state-based system of insurance regulation helped to mitigate the negative effects of the 2007-2009 financial crisis on the insurance industry.”


So PIA — and others — want the FIO gone because insurance does not require the level of government interference put into the office. And recent FIO actions — Gentile wrote — prove it needs to be eliminated. “In November 2016, it issued a report recommending that Congress consider prescribing a uniform national standard for state guaranty association coverage limits. This report only validates our concerns that the FIO’s ultimate aim is to federalize or itself become a federal regulator of insurance,” he said.


PIA is also concerned about the Financial CHOICE Act which was just introduced in the new Congress. It creates an Office of the Independent Insurance Advocate to also be housed in the U.S. Treasury.


“The proposed Independent Advocate office would have the power to have its own budget, hire staff and engage attorneys. It is expected to coordinate federal efforts on international insurance matters, including at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), and assist in negotiating covered agreements, monitor the insurance industry, recommend insurance companies to be designated for heightened prudential standards and supervision and administer the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program. This office would have the potential to morph into an FIO on steroids,” Gentile wrote.


But PIA says neither the FIO or an insurance advocate are needed. Gentile said, “If the goal of the new Congress is to eliminate unnecessary federal regulation, getting rid of the FIO makes solid sense. Doing so would reaffirm that regulation of insurance should continue to be the responsibility of the states.”


Jimi Grande is the senior vice president of federal affairs for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies. He agrees with the PIA.


“The office as it exists should be eliminated. We believe that any financial reform should take a long and hard look at whether or not we can remove redundancies and streamline the way our businesses operate. Not having a Federal Insurance Office located within the Department of Treasury is something that should be considered in any new legislation,” Grande said.


He said anything the FIO does for Congress could also be found in the Treasury or provided by the nation’s state regulators.


Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, Carrier Management, OregonLive.com



Tags:  Dodd-Frank & FIO & Trump & PIA  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Online Security: It’s Getting Worse

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Pew Research just released the results of a frightening online survey. It found that we — Americans — are not only worried about cybercriminal threats but also by unauthorized surveillance by corporations and by our own government.


The report clearly shows that Americans believe their personal data has become less secure in the last few years. On top of that, they don’t believe those responsible for keeping it secure can actually get the job done.


You’d think what Pew Research found would cause us to slow down and take a new look at how we use our information. Nope. Not the case. We’re making even greater use of the Internet these days and are connected or connecting to all kinds of Internet connected devices.


Two things drive it. The first is our own convenience and the second is we must keep up or be left behind. The Internet is ubiquitous and we have to stay connected for business and personal reasons.


Here’s what Pew found:


  64% of us have been personally been victims of a data breach or breaches

  41% have had fraudulent charges on our credit cards

  35% have received notices of some type that our sensitive information has been compromised

  16% say someone has hacked into and taken over their email account or accounts

  13% say someone has hacked into and taken over a social media account

  15% say they’ve received notice that their Social Security number has been compromised

  14% say someone has tried to take out loans or a line of credit in their name

  6% say someone has impersonated them to file a fraudulent tax return


The cure — or at least a strong deterrent — to cyber attacks is encrypting important information that needs protected. Not doing so makes your company — or you as an individual — vulnerable.


Osterman Research did a study on email encryption for a firm called Echoworx. It’s titled Enterprise Encryption and Authentication Usage: A Survey Report and it asked 165 IT managers about encryption. Each manages 14,000 email users or more. The study found 53% said that encryption is critical or at the very least, very important.


Yet just 40% said they make extensive use of encryption in emails, file sharing and confidential records. The good news is — up 10% from 2015 — 53% consider encryption to be a priority.


Echoworx senior director Jacob Ginsberg said the reason cited by most for not encrypting is asking too much of email recipients. “Despite the necessity of encryption and the benefits it offers, there is still the common misconception that the technology is suited for only the technically savvy,” he said.


Ginsberg — however — cautions that business needs to get on top of this and soon, and he doesn’t think it will be that hard if we all concentrate on the task at hand.



“The challenge in the security industry today is that, despite the ever more complex threat vector, solutions must remain dead simple to use. Human nature is to look for the easiest path to accomplish a task, and that path also must be the most secure. Creating more efficient, easy-to-use, cloud-based encryption systems will help drive adoption forward,” he said.


The problem is very few of us — including IT people — understand the nuts and bolts of cybersecurity. Or worse, don’t care. “Data breaches are inevitable, and companies will continue to be hacked. The worry is that many organizations remain reactive to cyber security, waiting until their reputation is questioned or legislation forces them to act. Encryption reduces vulnerabilities and allows individuals to stay one step ahead if a security lapse occurs,” Ginsberg said.


One last growing problem is the newest — and growing in popularity — cyber attack scheme. It’s ransomware. That’s where someone takes control of your computer or smartphone or even your entire computer system and will not give up that control until you pay a ransom.


Beazley is a specialty insurer and it predicts ransomware instances are going to double in 2017. The prediction is based on the 1,943 breaches its breach response unit handled in 2016. It was up from 1,247 in 2015.


Source links: Telecompetitor, Insurance Business America, Health Data Management



Tags:  Cyber Breach  Cyber Insurance  Cyber Security  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Online Security: It’s Getting Worse  Weekly Industry News 

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Modernizing Flood Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 7, 2017

For years PIA National has advocated for changes in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Your organization — recognizing that the NFIP is, pun intended, drowning in billions in debt — says reforms should include allowing more private insurer participation in the flood insurance, changes in pricing and changes in how flood zones are characterized.


A group called SmarterSafer.org is also pushing for reforms and it wants to start with how flood zones are defined. Among others, the group includes Chubb Ltd. and Swiss Re AG, Reinsurance Association of America, National Taxpayers Union, Union of Concerned Scientists and National Wildlife Federation. 


SmarterSafer has introduced a plan to require the NFIP to use cutting-edge technology to make flood zones more precise which will lead to the pricing of premiums equal to the risk. The group is also urging incentives for communities to take steps to restore natural flood buffers like wetlands and forests.


SmarterSafer is — like PIA — urging the federal government to let more private insurers into the game.


As the NFIP’s September renewal date approaches, the group noted why changes are needed. The NFIP owes the U.S. Treasury $24.6 billion. Most of that comes from claims from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.


PIA National — in its position paper said — “NFIP has been subjected to many financial challenges in recent years that have necessitated reforms, such as the Biggert-Waters Reform Act of 2012 and Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014. PIA participated actively in both 2012 and 2014 reform efforts for the NFIP and continues to work actively to support strategies for ensuring a stable flood insurance market for property owners.”


Here is what PIA National is doing:


  Working with members of Congress to support legislative solutions to create sensible options for growing the private flood insurance market, promoting flood risk management policies, transitioning to risk-based rates and reforming the NFIP.


  Working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support solutions for eliminating the NFIP's debt and putting the program on a path to fiscal stability ahead of September 30, 2017, when the program is up for reauthorization.


  Participating in the Flood Insurance Producers National Committee (FIPNC), an advisory committee to the federal government on issues concerning the NFIP.


Meanwhile, as changes are made, PIA National will make sure independent agents play a strong role in the delivery of flood insurance to homeowners and businesses needing that insurance and that means changes to the NFIP. 


Source links: PIA National, Insurance Journal




Tags:  Flood  flood insurance  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Modernizing Flood Insurance  Weekly Industry News 

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