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PIA Western Alliance knows you want to be the best in the field, and the best way to stay on top is to stay informed. PIA Weekly Industry News Brief is an informative e-news brief that delivers the most relevant industry content.

 

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Your Taxes — Paycheck Withholding Changes

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April 15th has come and gone. Hopefully, you didn’t end up having to pay, and by that date all of your 2018 taxes are behind you.

Next up — this year’s challenge.

It appears the IRS will be implementing more changes based on the tax reforms enacted for the 2018 earning year. The change that will impact most of us has to do with what is withheld from your check.

A new W-4 form is going to be issued that the IRS says better balances what is withheld from your check to what ought to be withheld. In other words, you shouldn’t end up owing and the IRS ought not end up owing you.

That form is currently under construction.

Pete Isberg works for the payroll and human resources consulting company, ADP. He says the new form makes the simple more complex, and filling it out will be almost like doing your taxes all over again.

Isberg noted the final form hasn’t been released yet but he and other tax preparation companies and payroll firms have seen a draft. “It’ll be a much bigger pain,” he said. “The accuracy will be 100 percent, but the ease-of-use will be zero.”

The purpose of the release of the draft was to get feedback from them. Isberg said the form asks for:

  Non-wage income like interest and dividends

  What you’ll itemize and other deductions

  Income tax credits expected for the tax year

  Those with multiple jobs to estimate annual wages

“It looked a lot more like the 1040 than a W-4,” Isberg says.

In fact, the new form — he says — is so complex that it references 12 IRS publications that will help you fill it out. The worry of his company and others is confusion. Employers will be confused as to what it should contain and so will employees.

Training will likely be required.

Isberg also noted that some worry that the form probes into issues that workers might not want to share with their employers like how much their spouse makes, or whether they have another job on the side.

IRS spokeswoman Anny Pachner said those concerns are being taken into account and the next version — in May of this year — will make some changes. In the meantime, “We encourage taxpayers to take advantage of that opportunity and send us comments on the redesign,” she said.

Once those comments are received, a changed version will be released mid-summer.

That may not help. Kathy Pickering of the H&R Block Tax Institute said you’ll need a tub load of information to fill out the form. They include past 1099 forms, paystubs from last year’s earnings and more; things like:

  Your filing status

  Number of dependents

  Information about your itemized deductions such as home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable deductions

  Earnings from all jobs

  Information about non-wage income such as business income, dividends, and interest

“If you’re married, and both you and your spouse work, it will also be helpful to know information about your spouse’s income,” she also pointed out.

Plus, adding to the complication, states are also looking at new withholding forms.

Source link: MSN Money

Tags:  2019 insurance content  industry news  Insurance Content  pia western alliance 

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Oregon Mutual & Insuritas — Home & Auto Solutions

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

 

 

Oregon Mutual KKLUB PIA Western Alliance


PIA Western Alliance K-Klub member Oregon Mutual and Insuritas are partnering to integrate Oregon Mutual’s portfolio of property & casualty insurance products into Insuritas’ meta-agency platform.

 

The partnership between the oldest mutual insurance carrier on the West Coast, and one of the nation’s most established insurtech distribution platforms will connect them to over 3 million potential new members across Oregon, Washington, Idaho & California. The point is to further the commitment of both companies to empowering their customers to find the right coverage at the right price for all of their insurance needs.

 

Insuritas COO is Matt Chesky. “We are thrilled to partner with a team like Oregon Mutual’s that shares our passion for protecting and serving our policyholders,” he said. “Oregon Mutual has built a strong reputation for focusing on their roots and advocating for the best interests of their members and the communities they serve, while also embracing technology and thinking progressively about how they can enhance their member experience. We couldn’t ask for more in a partner.”

 

Oregon Mutual VP Sales and Marketing John Jolliff agrees. He said, “Positioning our product on the Insuritas meta-agency platform allows us to help customers buy our products through a highly personalized, digitally rich mechanism that pairs them with professional agents to aid in their purchasing decision. As a mutual company, our mission aligns strongly with that of Insuritas’ credit union partners, and we are proud that through Insuritas we will be able to partner with several of the leading credit unions in our markets.”

 

Tags:  Insurance content 2019  Insurance News  KKLUB  Oregon Mutual  PIA Western Alliance 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

PIA is now an official appointed agency for SAIF program

 

Arizona

Distracted Driving: SB 1165 — sponsored by Republican Sen. Kate Brophy McGee — has passed the Senate and is now lounging in the Arizona House. It addresses the distracted driving of people texting or talking on their phones while driving.

The bill — if passed by the House and signed into law by the governor — would make that illegal unless they’re pulled over or at a stop sign or stop light.

AAA of Arizona says its survey says 85% of Arizonans are in favor of the ban. Spokeswoman Michelle Donati-Grayman said, “Voters from across the state agree that it is time that we take a statewide approach to this issue and ensure that everyone operates under the same rules. Legislators should rest assured that this is something their constituents overwhelmingly support.”

Source link: Your Valley

California

 

Work Comp Premiums Down: The California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says California’s workers’ compensation rates continue to drop. They fell 4% in 2018 over 2017 and 6% below 2016.

Other findings in the WCIRB report:

  The average rate per $100 of payroll of $2.25 is 11% below 2017 and 24% below the peak in 2014

  The projected combined ratio is 91% and is six-points above 2017

  Indemnity claims were settled faster and the ratio of claims to closure is at a 19-year high

Source link: Insurance Journal

Insurance Diversity Bill: The California Senate Insurance Committee has approved Senate Bill 534, which encourages the $310 billion insurance industry to use its buying power to benefit diverse small businesses. SB 534 is authored by Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.

SB 534 extends innovative programs that bring increased transparency and opportunities for partnership between the nation’s largest insurance market and woman-, minority-, LGBT- and veteran-owned businesses.

"California’s nation-leading insurance industry can be an engine of prosperity for diverse businesses, benefiting our communities and the customers they serve,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “SB 534 will continue to leverage the rapid growth of the insurance sector’s role in contributing to vibrant local economies.”

“California is a diverse state and becomes more diverse with each day,” said Senator Steven Bradford. “Ignoring that fact also ignores the proven value diverse businesses have and the importance of making our economy more inclusive. Insurance spending on diverse businesses increased 93% over the few years the supplier survey was administered. I think that difference speaks to the enormous impact this measure will have.”

Since 2011, the California Department of Insurance’s Insurance Diversity Initiative has aimed to increase supplier and governing board diversity in the insurance industry. Through surveys administered by the Department to insurers since 2012, critical data has revealed important findings on diversity in the industry.

The Department’s surveys have seen procurement between insurers and California’s diverse-owned businesses increase by 93% over a five-year period, from $930 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2017.

SB 534 will reauthorize the Insurance Supplier Diversity Survey, which expired in January 2019, and expand it to include LGBT- and veteran-owned businesses. In addition SB 534 will continue the Department of Insurance’s governing board survey and extend the Insurance Diversity Task Force, comprised of up to 15 members representing insurance companies, experts in supplier and governing board diversity, and minority, women, disabled-veteran or veteran, and LGBT business enterprises.

Source link: California Department of Insurance

 

 

Idaho

 

Medicare Workshop to be Offered in Coeur d’Alene: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Thursday, April 18 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Hospice of North Idaho Community Building, 2290 W. Prairie Ave., Coeur d’Alene.  Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

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

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

Idaho — Cease & Desist Order: A cease and desist order for soliciting health insurance clients without being properly licensed to do so in Idaho has been issued to Makina Health, the Department of Insurance announced.  

The order immediately prevents Makina Health or any entity with the word ‘Makina’ in its name from engaging in the business of transacting insurance in the state of Idaho.  The actions of Makina, which operates as a private purchasing cooperative based out of Texas, are in violation of Idaho Code § 41-213(1)(a). 

Acting on a tip from the public, the Department began investigating Makina this past December following an allegation the company was soliciting self-funded health care plans in the Gem State.  The company maintained a website touting health plans labeled “fantastic options for the value.” Idaho Code § 41-4003(3) provides that self-funded plans, including multiple employer welfare arrangements (MEWAs) that operate within Idaho must be registered with the Department.  Makina violated this code by acting as a MEWA in the state of Idaho.

“We have a responsibility to protect Idaho consumers by making sure the insurance producers with whom they do business are properly licensed under the Idaho Insurance Code,” said Director Dean Cameron.

Makina may file a request for a hearing in this matter.  A copy of the Makina Order is available on the Department website.

 

 

Montana

 

Asbestos Superfund Removal: Montana’s asbestos-filled vermiculite mine in Libby has been taken off of the Superfund list. It appears — at least to the federal government — that the 17-year project is finished.

Or at least close to finished.

It’s a processing plant owned by W.R. Grace. The mine polluted the Montana cities of Libby and Troy until it was closed down in 1990. Over 400 people are said to have died because of asbestos exposure and another 3,000 became sick. People in that area are still being diagnosed with asbestos poisoning today.

The cost of the cleanup has been estimated at $596 million. Two other sites in the area are still on the superfund list.

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Oregon

 

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

Network Adequacy Compliance Requirements

Rules affected: OAR 836-053-0320, 836-053-0330

Need for Rules:

Oregon adopted its network adequacy requirements through House Bill 2468 in 2015 and adoption of related administrative rules in 2016. The Oregon process allows insurers to demonstrate its networks are adequate by submitting to the department evidence of compliance with a nationally-recognized standard.

Acceptable nationally-recognized standards were established in administrative rule and included federal network adequacy standards applicable to Medicare Advantage plans, adjusted to reflect the age demographics of the enrollees in the plan or federal network adequacy standards applicable to Qualified Health Benefit Plans as outlined in the Final United States Department of Health and Human Services Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters and Letter to Issuers in the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) no longer conducts network adequacy compliance reviews for Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and now defers to state processes to determine compliance. CMS relies on insurers’ accreditation with an HS-recognized accrediting entity for states without authority and means to conduct network adequacy reviews.

At the time Oregon’s current network adequacy rules were adopted, the rulemaking advisory committee considered whether accreditation with an HHS-recognized accrediting entity would be an acceptable nationally-recognized standard and determined the accreditation process would not provide sufficient evidence that networks are adequate.

The proposed amendments to the rules remove the federal network adequacy standards applicable to QHPs as an acceptable nationally-recognized standard to use in demonstrating network adequacy. The proposed rules also provide clarification requested by the external rulemaking advisory committee on:

  The applicability of the annual report required in OAR 836-053-0320 to networks associated with health benefit plans currently in force and to those health benefit plans currently being sold.

  The evidence of compliance with a nationally-recognized standard should be based on compliance as of December 31 of the calendar year immediately preceding the March 31 reporting date.

  How the Medicare Advantage network adequacy standards must be adjusted to reflect the age demographics of the enrollees in the plan.

Filed: April 5, 2019

Public hearing: May 23, 2019, 10:00 a.m.

Last day for public comment: May 31, 2019, 5 p.m.

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

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

dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/proposed-rules.aspx

 

 

Washington

 

Surprise Medical Bill Passes: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s proposal to end the harmful practice of surprise medical billing passed the Senate today on a vote of 47 to 0. It now goes back to the House of Representatives for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor’s desk.

Second Substitute House Bill 1065 (www.leg.wa.gov) prevents consumers from getting a surprise bill when they seek either emergency treatment at an out-of-network emergency room or medical services at an in-network hospital or facility but are treated by an out-of-network provider. 

“I’ve heard from hundreds of people  with health insurance who received a surprise medical bill on top of what they expected to pay,” said Kreidler. “We learned this year of two Washington families facing surprise medical bills of $100,000 and $227,000. Both feared bankruptcy and losing their homes. Something is clearly wrong with our system when you have health insurance, follow what’s required by your health plan, and you still face medical bankruptcy.”

Kreidler added, “Thankfully, everyone involved this year worked really hard on bill language that everyone can live with – and most importantly, that protects consumers from being caught in the middle. I’m grateful to Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle, and Sens. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, for their critical work on this legislation and to the other legislators who supported this important consumer protection."

In part, under the proposed legislation:

  A consumer who receives emergency care in an out-of-network emergency room or who has a non-emergency medical procedure in an in-network hospital or facility cannot be balanced billed.

  An insurer cannot balance bill a patient if they seek emergency care at an out-of-network facility in a state that borders Washington.

  Insurers must pay the out-of-network provider or facility directly for care their enrollee receives.

  If the insurer and provider or facility do not agree on a commercially reasonable payment for out-of-network services within 30 days, their dispute goes to binding arbitration.

  A disclosure template will be developed to describe when a consumer can and cannot be balanced billed.

  Insurers, providers, and facilities must include provider network information on their websites.

  Any provider who continues to illegally balance bill may be referred to the state Department of Health for enforcement.

“We are close to enacting one of the strongest surprise billing laws in the country,” said Kreidler. “It strikes a good balance and does what everyone agrees should happen – it takes the innocent consumer out of the middle of these billing disputes.”

Learn more about our efforts to end this practice, Watch one Clark County resident’s story about how she dealt with a surprise bill of over $100,000 and read about one Washougal couples’ struggle (www.time.com) with a $227,000 surprise bill and what it took to bring them relief.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content 2019  insurance news April 16 2019 

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Have you seen what Liberty Mutual has to offer independent agents, lately?

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
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PIA Member Agents - Start selling SAIF today!

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
PIA is now an official appointed agency for
SAIF's Workers Compensation program

 

PIA is now an official appointed agency for SAIF program

 

 

Tags:  PIA Western Alliance SAIF program 

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Earn up to 20% Commission for writing a Hartford Flood Policy

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

PIA Western Alliance Hartford Flood program earn 20% commission

 

MEMBER BENEFIT

While there are benefits for your clients, there are also benefits for you as a PIA member:   

 

Guaranteed renewal through the NFIP 

 NFIP Policy accepted by banks

Cannot be dropped mid-term or during hurricane season

Not leaving the market

Unlimited capacity

Will write business anytime, no moratoriums

Backed by the Federal Government

An ease of doing business with The Hartford’s easy online quoting and issuing

Hands on service from a dedicated flood sales executive and transfer specialist

Free zone determinations

On demand training and continuing education credits

Competitive PIA member commission rates

 

Read more

Tags:  PIA Western Alliance Hartford Policy 20% commissio 

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Oregon Young Insurance Professionals - join us in Salishan!

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Oregon Young Insurance Professionals 2019

Tap the banner above for more information!

 

SPECIAL OYIP REGISTRATION PRICE

ONLY $199.00

 

Tags:  2019 oregon idaho conference and tradeshow  Oregon young insurance professionals  OYIP  PIA Western Alliance 

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Ever lose a direct appointment because you didn't meet the minimum premium required?

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Multi rater insurance pia western alliance

5 COMPELLING FACTS ABOUT

PIA'S MARKET ACCESS PROGRAM

 

Fact #1

Write just a few Market Access policies in a year and it will pay for your PIA membership.

 

Fact #2

PIA's Market Access Program is available in all 50 states.

 

Fact #3

PIA members enjoy lower monthly fees while benefiting from 2% more in commissions than going direct.

  

Fact #4

Personal and commercial lines markets from a number of admitted “A” or better-rated companies.

 

Fact #5

Receive quotes from many of these companies through technologically advanced personal and commercial lines rater. 

 

Learn more?

Tags:  insurance agents near me  insurance near me  market access insurance  Multi-rater insurance 

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COUNTDOWN: 2019 PIA Oregon Idaho Conference & Tradeshow May 5 - 7

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
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Feedback — No to Oregon Governor’s SAIF Raid Plan

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rich Kingsley was PIA Oregon/Idaho’s president from 2004 to 2005. He was, and still is very savvy politically. He recently sent Portland, Oregon’s daily newspaper, The Oregonian, a letter to the editor.

 

His concern? Governor Kate Brown’s plan to raid the reserves of the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation (SAIF) to pay for the shortfall in the state’s PERS fund. PERS — as we all know — is not properly funded and the state is desperate to find a way to give the money promised by PERS to retired public employees.

 

The governor — and her SAIF fund-grabbing supporters — say SAIF has $1.4 billion in surplus that can be used to shore up PERS. 

 

Here are parts of Rich Kingsley’s letter to the editor. He asks some great questions. Some of which we will answer after you read what he wrote.

 

I was an Independent Insurance Agent in the insurance business for 37 years, writing mostly commercial policies for clients. I not only feel frustration, but extreme anger with the Democrats who want to raid SAIF.

 

In the late 1980's the legislature did just this same stupid “Raid SAIF” stunt. I think it was in 1996 or 1997 that a lawsuit against the State for ‘robbing’ funds from SAIF was settled, and the State was found culpable for taking money from SAIF. The State had to refund money to SAIF AND refund money to commercial clients that had to pay higher work comp rates thru SAIF, due to the State's robbing of those funds in the 1980's. The State not only had to return the funds, but interest for all the years the lawsuit went on.

 

When the funds were sent to be repaid back to commercial clients who had paid higher premiums, SAIF sent the checks to the agents who had assigned our work comp clients to SAIF, and we hand delivered the checks to our clients, who knew that we and our agent association [PIA Oregon/Idaho] had been highly in favor of penalizing the State for their act of stupidity in 'robbing' SAIF. Those businesses that had bought their work comp directly from SAIF received their checks in the mail.

 

It was a stupid stunt then, and to think of doing it again is still stupid, and reckless.

 

He then praises the newspaper for bringing to light the problems with this blatant theft of money that belongs to the state’s employers.

 

Kingsley is correct that the dollars in the fund that aren’t used for claims belong to employers. Many governor and Legislatures in states around the country are looking at their own versions of SAIF and those surplus funds to balance budgets.

 

The PIA Western Alliance state of Montana is the other state in our association where the Legislature has made a grab. PIA Montana and other groups and employers in the state oppose the taking of those surplus funds and a lawsuit was filed.

 

It will be heard in the Montana Supreme Court later this year or early next. Experts in Montana law believe the taking of the money from the Montana State Fund will be found unconstitutional and it will have to be returned.

 

To answer Rich Kingsley’s question. In the early 1980s, the Oregon Legislature had a budget crisis. It grabbed $80 million of SAIF’s reserves. A lawsuit followed and the Oregon Supreme Court said the state acted illegally and ordered the money returned.

 

With interest, $225 million was returned to SAIF and its policyholders. The attorneys fees and the cost of the litigation totaled a staggering $20 million.

 

The group opposing the Oregon governor’s SAIF funds plan includes PIA Oregon/Idaho. In their response to Brown’s plan the group said, “Doing so is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. They [the governor and the Legislature] are literally stealing from one pot to cover liabilities in another and hoping that you can pay it back before something bad happens. That’s a dangerous game.”

 

In its response document, the group pointed out that those reserve funds are good for Oregon’s employers and Oregon’s economy.

 

“The premiums paid by Oregon employers are some of the lowest in the nation thanks to SAIF. It’s one of Oregon’s few competitive advantages. SAIF’s board and leadership are 100% local,” the group wrote. “They don’t operate like big corporate insurers and that’s proven to be a good thing for Oregon workers and employers alike.”

 

In addition to PIA Oregon/Idaho, these are the groups opposing Governor Brown’s plan.

Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon

Oregon Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors

Oregon Economic Development Association

National Federation of Independent Businesses

Oregon Business & Industry

Economic Development for Central Oregon

Oregon Farm Bureau

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association

Oregon School Boards Association

Oregon Trucking Association

Oregon Home Building Association

Oregon Vehicle Dealer Association

Northwest Grocery Association

Oregon Metals Industry Council

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Wheat Growers

Oregon Seed Council

Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers

Oregon Power Sports Association

Northwest Automotive Trades Association

Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce

Far West Agribusiness Association

Oregon Association of Nurseries

Oregon Concrete & Aggregate Producers Association

Associated Oregon Loggers

Tags:  insurance content  insurance industry  insurance news  PERS  Raid the reserves of SAIF  SAIF 

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