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Auto Crashes & Cellphones — Nevada’s Novel Notion

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, March 26, 2019


We all know that most states ban the use of handheld smartphones and texting while driving. The reason is because distracted driving is dangerous. Sometimes people die because of distracted driving.

However, as International Association of Chiefs of Police president and Buffalo Grove, Illinois chief Steven Casstevens says,“If you’re the at-fault driver and you cause the crash because you’re talking on your cellphone, you’re likely not to admit it.”

The Nevada Legislature wants to fix that. It is looking at passing a law that can allow police to use new technology to see if someone was using their phone when the crash occurred.

The device is called a textalyzer.

Police and other law enforcement officials say distracted driving is underreported and the punishment for drivers who text while driving is inconsistent and — often — not all that harsh. So drivers are not held accountable.

The advocate fighting to let police us the textalyzer is Ben Lieberman. His 19-year old son was killed in a crash by a driver who was texting. Lieberman is behind a failed push to enact a similar law in New York two-years ago.

As it stands now, no one is quite sure how the Nevada bill will turn out.

Lieberman says something needs to be done nationwide and that texting and driving needs to have a greater social stigma. “When I was growing up, drunk driving was a joke. Now it’s not a joke,” he told those in Nevada’s Legislature. “Device use is a joke. Make it so it’s not funny.”

The textalyzer was developed by the Israeli company Cellebrite. It has the ability to look for user activity like opening Facebook’s messenger, or the sending or reading of texts. What it cannot do — as opponents fear — is access or store personal content.

The device has not been texted in the field and has not been used by law enforcement. The Nevada bill — if passed into law — would be a much-needed field test.

The American Civil Liberties Union — and others — worry that such a law will violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.

Lieberman says it does not violate anything. Other experts — he notes — say this law is minimally intrusive and does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Nevada’s bill originally had a piece in it that said drivers refusing to have their phones checked would immediately receive a 90-day driver’s license suspension. That quickly led to an amendment by the Democrats doing away with the automatic suspension and forcing police to get a search warrant.

Next up was Democrat Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo wondering if the legislation is needed anyway. Police can already get a search warrant to check phone use if they suspect texting or smartphone use was involved in a crash. 

“Wouldn’t it be better just to give this technology to (the police) and so that they can utilize it after they get the warrant already?” he said. “Nothing in this bill is actually new, ’cause the law enforcement (agency) already has the techniques and tools that we’re providing.”

Casstevens disagrees. He said the practice of checking for distracted driving is hit and miss, and is not a uniform practice among law enforcement officials nationwide.

The bill’s sponsor is Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow. She is a Democrat. Gorelow wants the police only to be able to see if — after a crash — someone has been using social media, texting, browsing the Internet or playing games.

“It’s like a Breathalyzer that only detects tequila,” Gorelow said. She does not want the technology to go much deeper than that.

The bill is being amended and so far these things have been taken off the table:

  Gone is the automatic suspension if a motorist refuses to turn over the phone

  Gone is the implied consent provision that makes it mandatory that drivers turn over their phones

  Added is the driver being able to refuse

  Added is if the driver refuses, the police must obtain a warrant

The bill also has been modified to say that the textalyzer can only be used in the event of a crash that kills someone or seriously injures them.

Weekly Industry News is curious about what you think of the bill.

  Should laws that require a cellphone check in the event of a crash be enacted?

  Would you like to see such a law in your state?

  Does it violate the intent of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

  Other comments?

Send your comments to Weekly Industry News Editor Gary Wolcott at garywolcott@piawest.com.

Source links: Associated Press, KOLO TV

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Workplace Injuries — Assaults and Women

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The National Safety Council regularly puts out information on workplace safety. As part of National Women’s History Month, the council put out information on women and safety in the workplace.

The information says women are the targets of 70% of all of the non-fatal workplace assaults. This conclusion comes from 2017 totals:

  12,820 assaults upon women

  That’s a 60% increase since 2011

  5,530 men were assaulted

Other work-related — and non-assault — injuries and illnesses also disproportionately impact women:

  59% are accidentally caused by another person

  57% are from falls

  61% are from ergonomic causes like repetitive motion

The National Safety Council’s statistics also say some sectors have disproportionate numbers as well:

  80% of non-fatal injuries to women happen in the healthcare sector

  61% come from education

  60% from management, business and financial companies

National Safety Council President and CEO Nick Smith said, “Our workplaces should be safe havens for everyone, and these data show us we can do more to protect women in the workplaces. As employers examine the biggest risks facing their workforce, we urge them to consider these trends and make sure safety is extending to all employees.”

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Cyber Criminals Take an Easy Path — Small Business

Posted By PIA Western Alliance, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Chubb just released a study that is setting off alarms in the small business community. Cyber criminals are increasingly switching targets. Where they used to focus on large corporations and government, they are now finding small business to be much more fertile territory.

Spokesman Patrick Thielen — the senior president of Chubb’s financial lines — said the report looks at the new types of ransomware that blocks businesses from accessing their own networks until a ransom is paid.

“Cyber criminals typically don’t target specific small businesses, but they increasingly use tools that target their vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities are at times technical, like unpatched software or poorly configured hardware,” he said. “But even more common are those vulnerabilities involving employees who may use weak or compromised passwords, or may inadvertently click something they shouldn’t have.”

These are the cyber claims reported to Chubb last year:

  21% of cyber incidents are phishing

  20% due to errors

  14% came from hacking

Chubb’s head of North American claims is Anthony Dolce. He agrees with Thielen and says businesses need to be aware. And more importantly — small business needs to take preventative steps.

“Cyber criminals know that SME leaders may mistakenly think that cybersecurity services are beyond their means, which makes SMEs more vulnerable to an attack,” he said. “However, we are living in an age where cyberattacks are constantly evolving and threatening businesses of all sizes, but especially small to mid-size businesses. Therefore, it remains critical for companies to understand this present age and develop strong risk-mitigation strategies to lessen the impact of cyber threats.”

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Cyber Security  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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The Trump Administration & Flood Reforms

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

People worried about global warming and the Trump administration have finally found some common ground. The administration wants an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that forces communities in flood prone areas to do a better job of planning for extreme weather.

The changes are coming through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is the NFIP’s administrator. Those changes will tie premiums to the actual risk instead of whether a home is inside or outside a 100-year flood plain.

The changes are set to go into effect in 2020.

Union of Concerned Scientist spokeswoman Shana Udverdy said, “This is badly needed” and added it is “a huge step in the right direction, so we can let communities, particularly those communities that have been repetitively flooded, know what their actual risk is.”

Not totally gung-ho, she also says the union worries about the issue of affordability. There is the worry that the push will increase homeowner  insurance rates. “How do we protect those people that are historically disadvantaged and low-income, and that are also on the front lines of flooding?” Udverdy asked.

FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation David Marstad calls its new plan Risk Rating 2.0. The concept comes from the flooding caused by hurricanes in 2017 and from a large flood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. That flooding caused damage to homes that didn’t have flood insurance because the NFIP didn’t accurately measure risk.

So a new system of mapping, pricing and risk will be implemented. “The new rating plan will help customers better understand their risks,” Maurstad pointed out and added, “I believe that will actually increase the demand for our product.”

As you know, most people with flood insurance get that insurance from the NFIP. It has 5 million policyholders and 3.5 million of those are single-family dwellings. And in spite of the large increase of losses from flood on a national level, the NFIP says it is selling 10% fewer flood policies than it did in 2009.

Marurstad isn’t quite sure how the new system is going to impact rates. “We’re not going to design it to either increase or decrease revenue,” he said. “Our effort is to improve our product and price it more fairly.”

FEMA’s press secretary Elizabeth Litzow said whether rates go up or down isn’t the point. “Risk Rating 2.0 will be introducing new sources of flooding, such as intense rainfall, that have not been previously considered in the rating structure,” Litzow said. “While these new sources of flooding have a lesser impact on risk and rates than those already considered, their introduction could result in the increased premium levels.”

Risk Rating 2.0 will use private-sector data to calculate the real flood threat to individual homes. In a test done last October on two homes, FEMA found a home on the edge of a 100-year flood plain had a lower flood risk than one closer to the center.

The current system says both homes pay the same premium rate. Under Risk Rating 2.0, the home on the edge would see a 57% drop in its rate and the one closer to the center will have a rate that doubles.

No doubt the proposed changes will receive attacks from politicians. A few years ago when Congress raised premiums to look like actual risk, public and political opposition was instant. Two-years later the changes were rescinded.

Maurstad said the big difference now — and the real need for change — is flooding that has grown worse. “We’re seeing more intense events,” Maurstad said. “We’re going to have a program that’s going to be able to serve the nation better in the years to come.”

Source links: Carrier Management, Insurance Journal

Tags:  Flood  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Wildfires — California Gets a Head Start

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019


In an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure move, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of wildfire emergency over the entire state. He’s ahead of the wildfire game. It makes one wonder if other governors in the nine PIA Western Alliance states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — might be thinking the same thing.

Newsom said his decision means the state — via Cal Fire — can speed up 35 projects designed to protect over 200 communities.

Involving tree clearing and other forest management tools, the decision skirts a lot of environmental protections that have been important to environmentalists in California for decades. Sierra Club of California director Kathryn Phillips said she worries about the ramifications of such a hasty decision.

“In this case, we worry that the lack of review and oversight might result in unintended environmental and public health harms,” she said.

Yes, yes, yes, Newsom said. He knows this is going to upset some of his environmental allies. However, the governor said something needs to be done since wildfires last year destroyed 1.9 million acres and totally destroyed the entire town of Paradise. That fire — he also notes — killed 85 people.

“I’ve made no bones that if we can fast-track CEQA for arenas and football stadiums, we certainly should be able to do so to save peoples’ lives,” Newsom said. At the same time he emphasized the decision will bump these projects up to being done in two months instead of two years.

“It’s a controversial one. I’m not naive. Some people want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols. But I am going to push back on that,” Newsom said.

Officials from cities around the state are thrilled with the governor’s action. State Sen. Mike McGuire — also a Democrat — is the mayor of Healdsburg. McGuire said, “The state must speed up the removal of dead and dying trees and vegetation management. The quicker we move, the safer our communities will be.”

Other environmentalists have also jumped on the wagon and are calling Newsom’s decision “Trumpian” in reference to the way the president has acted with some issues. Of course, the governor took exception to that comparison.

“I think this is the right thing to do because there is a deep sense of urgency and anxiety… he noted and then said, “The values we hold dear in terms of environmental practices, we can do both. It’s not one or the other.”

And while the governor is looking at getting ready for a wildfire season early, California Sen. Bill Dodd is looking at getting the state more involved in how the state’s utilities manage vegetation around their equipment.

He’s introduced legislation — SB 247 — that addresses current law. Regulations now say the utilities can decide what does or does not need trimmed. Obviously, they’re not all that successful. Under Dodd’s new bill, if the utilities don’t do the managing, the state will and — if his bill is passed — the utilities will pay the cost of that maintenance.

“It’s clear that the current standard is not working,” Dodd said. “We need to make sure appropriate tree trimming and line maintenance occurs. The well-being of California communities and our very lives depend on it.”

SB 247 will instruct Cal Fire to tell the utilities what to trim and will — after — inspect the work to make sure it is done correctly. “The public needs to know that there is real, independent oversight, not just someone in an office reviewing paperwork submitted by utilities,” Dodd said. “This bill will help prevent future wildfires and ultimately reduce costs (to) ratepayers.”

By the way, a separate bill would ban utilities from spending the money they budget for maintenance to other sources.

Source links: The Press Democrat, Daily Republic

Tags:  insurance content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  Wildfires 

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Data Sharing & Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019


California has a new data sharing law called the California Consumer Privacy Act. It goes into effect next year and places heavy restrictions on how companies can share the data they gather about you and what they need to tell you about what they’ve collected.

Congress is looking at a similar law to apply to the entire country.

Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and others oppose what Congress is doing and what California has already done. They say the benefits of what is practically free access to the Internet or to other services they provide outweigh what is done with the data. If more restrictions are placed, then people will have to pay more for those services.

Maybe a lot, lot more.

So what do consumers think about the whole thing? Not as much as regulators think. Or says a new study from Accenture. Its Global Financial Services Consumer Study said that 60% of us are okay with sharing location data and our lifestyle information. Anything to keep the price of those services down.

Over half say they’d share their data for benefits like faster loan approval and personalized offers on things like gym memberships and more. For us — insurance professionals — we find consumers are interested in premiums that are personalized for them and with pay as you go insurance.

Here’s what the study of the opinions of 47,000 people had to say:

  64% are interested in adjusted car insurance premiums based on safe driving

  52% are interested in exchanging lower life insurance premiums for sharing data on their lifestyle

  60% like pay as you drive auto insurance where the less you drive, the lower the rate

  81% are willing to share income, location and lifestyle habits for the rapid approval of a loan

  57% like the idea of savings tips based on spending habits

Who is the most and least willing to share data depends on where you are:

  67% of the Chinese surveyed don’t mind personal data sharing

  50% of people in the U.S. don’t mind data sharing

  In the U.K. and Germany that figure is 40%

Meanwhile, the privacy management company TrustArc says 86% of the companies working in California aren’t ready for the California Consumer Privacy Act. Spokesman Chris Babel said complex tools are needed to identify the data collected, organize it and give consumers easy access to what data they company has belonging to them.

“It’s expensive, time-consuming, and difficult,” Babel said. “And there’s a host of things people are looking toward to help.”

Source links: Digital Insurance, Fortune

Tags:  data sharing  insurance content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Taxes — People Still Slow on the Tax Filing

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In the last few of months Weekly Industry News has reported on this subject from a couple of different angles. This story is straight-ahead. The Internal Revenue Service says filings are 2.5% below normal.

That’s 1.9 million returns.

The now-called Trump tax cuts are the reason. Some people are confused by the changes. Those preparing taxes say they’re spending a lot more time on filings this year than in the past. They’re having to give longer and more detailed explanations about what has changed.

Another group of people is worried they’re not getting as large a return as in the past. Data from the IRS says that’s probably true but the question is how much less. The average refund is down a little but the word “little” is an average of about $3.00 less than last year.

But — as we all know — whether you get a bigger, smaller or no refund, or if you end up owing money depends on the individual situation.

One change that many CPAs are discussing is itemizing. The changes — for some — makes it less profitable to itemize than it was before. Many are better off just taking the standard deduction.

The National Association of Enrolled Agents did a survey mid-month last month and found more people are asking the IRS for extensions. The association said 45% of its members said they have seen an increase in the number of people asking for them.

Source link: The Hill

Tags:  insurance content  Taxes  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Arizona — Department Consolidation: Arizona Governor Doug Ducey wants Department of Insurance head Keith Schraad to lead the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions on a temporary basis.

Actually, it’s not all that temporary. The two agencies are being consolidated into one.

Bob Charlton — who has led that agency for 32 years — is retiring.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Idaho — Medicare Workshops: A pair of Medicare Workshops for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will take place in Coeur d’Alene the final week of March. The first session will be held Tuesday March 26 from 1 to 3 p.m., with a second session scheduled for Thursday, March 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.  Both workshops will be held at the Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1765 W. Golf Course Road.

Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

The workshops will be led by Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance.  SHIBA presenters will introduce the various parts of Medicare and explain some of the vocabulary associated with the program. 

Topics to be covered include:


  Timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

  Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

  How the different parts of Medicare work together — and when they don’t

To register for either workshop, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.

Oregon — From the Department of Insurance: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently adopted the following temporary rule:

ID 04-2019: Amendment to 2020 standard bronze and silver health benefit plans (Temporary)

Rules affected: OAR 836-053-0013

Rule Summary:

Refiled to remove the word "Draft" on Exhibits.

Need for the Rule:

ORS 743B.130 requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to prescribe by rule the form, level of coverage, and benefit design for bronze and silver health benefit plans that must be offered by insurance carriers. These plans must meet federal requirements issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Each year, HHS updates the actuarial value (AV) calculator used for determining coverage levels. Changes may include costs, plan designs, populations, developments in the function and operation of the AV calculator and other actuarially relevant factors.

As a result of changes made to the federal AV calculator for 2020, the AV for the standard bronze and silver plans prescribed in OAR 836-053-0013 exceeded federal requirements. Failure to update the rule would result in DCBS requiring carriers to submit plans that are illegal with respect to federal law.

This year, HHS released the AV calculator later than in previous years. As a result, rulemaking would not be able to be completed in time for carriers to submit plans in May for review.

Filed: March 21, 2019

Effective: March 21, 2019 through September 13, 2019

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

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PIA Member Agents - Start selling SAIF today!

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, March 19, 2019


PIA of Oregon is pleased to offer our PIA Agent Members licensed in Oregon and non resident Oregon agents direct access to SAIF's Workers Compensation program.


This new program is intended for PIA Agent Members 
who do not already 
have a direct SAIF appointment.


How do I get started?

Are you a member?


You will need to submit the following:

kkkRequired documents for Agency Membership         

Current E & O Dec page

Current Oregon Agency Insurance License

Limited Agency Agreement  (signed)

Termination Policy

Oregon Affiliation of Producer form (no fee required)


SAIF's Submission requirements

Completed Workers Compensation Acord form

Loss runs for 5 years; if in business less than 5 years, loss runs for all years in business

Current experience mod worksheet (if experience rated)

 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxContact us with your questions or to submit an Acord Form.                                 

Required Documents to receive commissions

Submit the following:


ACH authorization form

Commission of 5.25 % will be paid out, once a month, on the third Friday of the month

The PIA Western Alliance does not issue checks – Direct Deposit only required.



Not a PIA Member?

Lori Elston | PIA Western Alliance

(888) 246-4466 x124 . email



PIA Member?

Have questions, comments, need help?

Sue Smith | PIA Western Alliance

(888) 246-4466 | FAX: 888-246-4466
    3205 NE 78th St Ste 104, Vancouver, WA 98665



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PIA National Opposes — Trump Administration & Health Insurance Sales Across State Lines

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a 60-day request for comment on selling health insurance policies across state lines. PIA National will definitely comment and is opposed to the decision as it has been since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

The PIA believes the Trump administration decision violates the clear separation of the regulation of insurance as set by the McCarren-Ferguson Act of 1945. It specifically designates the individual states as the regulators of insurance.

The controversy began after an executive issued by President Trump in October of 2017. He instructed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the CMS to find ways to make health care choices more competitive.

CMS is just now acting and said it is seeking “recommendations on how to eliminate regulatory, operational and financial barriers to enhance issuers’ ability to sell health insurance coverage across state lines.”

This — it says — will give “Americans relief from rising premiums by increasing consumer choice and competition.”

PIA National sees it as a push by the federal government to control health insurance at the state level and is the latest in a long set of steps taken toward federal regulation of all insurance. Another example is the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) that was created by the Dodd-Frank Act.

It made several attempts to usurp the power of the individual state insurance regulators.

In a statement on the CMS — and Trump administration decision — PIA National said it reaffirms its “long-standing opposition to proposals that would encourage insurance sales across state lines. Such proposals constitute a clear threat to the successful state-based system of insurance regulation, which PIA supports.”

The administration — obviously — sees this differently. CMS Administrator Seema Verma said Americans are desperately seeking health insurance options. She sees the elimination of state barriers as a way to make health insurance more competitive and more affordable.

“We are looking for information and ideas from the public on how to create a more dynamic health insurance market with more insurers participating and competing to meet the needs of the American people just like we see in markets for so many other products and services that enhance our daily lives,” Verma said.

PIA National disagrees and said McCarran-Ferguson gives states the authority over insurance sales and removes the federal government from the equation. It needs to stay that way. “Allowing the sale of insurance across state lines could strip the states of their authority over health insurance and undermine the regulatory structure set up by McCarran-Ferguson,” PIA National’s statement said.

PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile said, “In its notice, CMS seeks to dismiss these concerns, but we don’t find their assurances credible.”

There is a 60-day window to submit testimony for or against the CMS proposal.

Source links: PIA National, CMS



2019 PIA Western Alliance

Oregon / Idaho

Conference & Trade show

May 5 - 7 2019

Salishan . Oregon Coast


Tags:  McCarren-Ferguson Act of 1945  Medicare and Medicaid Services 

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