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TRIA Extension — Supporters Aiming for 10-Years

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Supporters of the federal government’s terrorism insurance backstop are wanting a 10-year extension when Congress finally addresses the issue. However, they will accept six if they can get that number of years.

The current legislation of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) expires in 2020. It was set up in 2002 and extended in 2003, 2005 and 2015.

Insurers and other supporters speaking at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ summer meeting say they’d like a six to 10-year extension. Aaron Davis  of Aon Property Broking said it is “necessary to create stability in the marketplace and get through the sort of cyclical nature we’ve had with 2003, 2005, 2015 and now 2020,” he said. “It’s no longer a short-term program. It needs to be long-term.”

Jeffrey Czajkowski of the Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR) agrees. He said data shows take up rates in the nation’s Tier 1 cities is somewhere between 80% and 90%. In the Tier 2 cities those rates are between 70% and 80%.

Davis said he’s optimistic that Congress will act on an extension. “We’re seeing a lot more discussions happening to do this sooner rather than later,” Davis said and he pointed to a hearing held by the Senate Banking Committee and another by the House Financial Services Committee.

Both are getting industry feedback.

Davis said right now if a 9/11 happened — and with it’s current dollar estimate of $45 billion in losses — would be absorbed by private insurance. No problem. So the federal government isn’t likely to be out all of that much income if another terrorism attack occurs.


Source link: Business Insurance

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Insurance & Wildfire Risk Help

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

In separate efforts, ISO and Intterra and Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) and the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) are working on helping fix a huge plague that has descended on the West.

That plague is wildfire.

ISO and Intterra are teaming with the Western Fire Chiefs Association (WFCA). They are looking at new ways to analyze and understand the risk of wildfire. Intterra has been working with the WFCA for years and has developed the Fire Data Lab.

The ISO is new to the game.

WFCA CEO Jeff Johnson said the lab is dedicated to finding ways to accelerate the use of data to drive fire service decision making. ISO is going to add insurance data and risk analytics to the lab’s efforts.

“The growth of wildfires is constantly creating new challenges for those on the front lines working to protect people and property,” Johnson said. “With Intterra and ISO, we’ll look to harness the power of fire analytics, environmental data, and insurance innovation to gain new perspectives on how to mitigate and respond to these complex natural disasters.”

The AGCS and the I.I.I. effort is taking a different approach and is helping with wildfire risk mitigation practices for businesses. Looking at data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), AGCS said over 40% of small businesses do not reopen after experiencing a disaster from wildfire. Or any other disaster for that matter.

Another 25% that do reopen only manage to stay open for two years.

Wildfires — the AGCS and the I.I.I. say — cause a lot of issues for businesses:

  Property loss — even if that property is rented, the physical location will be disrupted when faced with an evacuation or a transfer order

  Equipment loss — that’s self-explanatory.

  Vulnerable industries — agriculture, destination wineries, ranching and forestry are very vulnerable to wildfire

  Business interruption / contingent interruption / supply chain — all fires are considered to be a threat to operations even if you’re not in a wildfire prone area


Here’s what the two groups recommend businesses do to mitigate wildfire damage:

  Put a 5-foot no burn zone around the property

  Clear bushes and relocate flammable materials

  Use fire-fighting foam around business property and build with fire-resistant building materials

  Develop an employee safety plan in case of a wildfire

  Have a business continuity plan in place

Scott Steinmetz of AGCS said, “We are dedicated to helping businesses mitigate extreme catastrophes like wildfires with the most advanced techniques and solutions available. Innovative approaches are a part of the new frontier in proactive mitigation response and risk awareness, property resiliency and true customer service.”

I.I.I. Vice President Loretta Worters agrees.

“Financial preparedness is as vital to an organization as business resilience planning,” she said and added that it’s important for business owners to review their insurance coverage to make sure they can rebuild and protect their business in the event of a fire.


Source link: Insurance Journal, Insurance Business America

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This Week’s Cyber Issue — Employees Working from Home

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Do you have employees working from home? There’s a risk. It’s especially important for small businesses that can’t afford some of the cyber protections larger businesses are able to employ.

Those businesses — and large businesses — are even more at risk if their employees are working from coffee shops, airports and other remote locations.

The businesses most at risk, though are small businesses. This information comes from Nationwide’s fifth annual Business Owner Survey. Here’s what it found:

  83% of small business owners allow or offer employees the option to work from a remote location when needed or appropriate

  95% of young business owners — age 18 to 34 — allow this regularly

  Just 50% of small business owners have updated their remote work security policy in the last year

This puts them at risk. In fact, 20% of small business owners have never done formal cybersecurity training with their employees. And just 4% of small business owners have implemented some sort of cybersecurity best practices plan and recommendations from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Those best practices are listed at the end of this story.

When it comes to remote locations, Nationwide’s Catherine Rudow said what seems like a harmless public wi-fi network could pose serious problems for a business. “Many employees may not realize the magnitude of risk associated with a cyberattack as they may not have engaged in a formal training process,” she said. “The scary truth is that many small business owners, even if they are aware of these risks, have not implemented all the proper measures of protection.”

This is what else Nationwide’s Business Owner Survey found:

  65% of business owners say they have been the victim of a cyberattack

  33% of those were computer viruses

  29% are from phishing

  86% of business owners believe the digital risk will continue to grow

  30% of companies with 11 to 50 employees do not provide any kind of formal cybersecurity training

  Even with the simplicity of updating software, 7% of companies still fail to do those updates

  45% of owners say reputational risk is a top reason to invest in or purchase cyber insurance

  35% of business owners that have never experienced a cyberattack are unaware of the financial cost to recover from an attack

The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends the following best practices for employees working remote:

  Security practices and policies need to be established to protect sensitive information

  Educate employees on cyber threats and then hold them accountable for knowing about those threats and ways to deter them

  Require the establishment of strong passwords

  Require the regular changing of passwords

  Set up best practices on payment cards

  Always have a backup of important data and information

  Set up a mobile device action plan

  Protect all of the pages of a website not just checkout or signup pages


Source link: Insurance Journal

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Policygenius Names Best Homeowners Insurance Companies

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

With all the wildfires and earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters happening around the country, homeowners insurance is more under the microscope than the line of insurance has been in years.

Policygenius — an insurance quote company — did a list of the best homeowners insurance companies to help consumers make the best pick. It took ratings from A.M. Best and J.D. Powers, and looked at market share and some other factors to pick what it says are the best companies.

Best and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) gave the company financial health indications and J.D. Powers measured customer satisfaction.

Pat Howard of Policygenius said, “Shoppers are looking for different things when choosing an insurance provider — coverage, claims satisfaction and number of discounts (cost) — which helped influence the categories we looked at to create the list of top insurance companies.”

Of all the companies considered, 22 made the best list for 2019. Here are the 22 listed alphabetically:


J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: 1.17%



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A+

Market share: 8.37%



J.D. Power rating: 5/5

A.M. Best:  A+

Market share: 0.92%



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A++

Market share: 2.87%



J.D. Power rating: 5/5

A.M. Best:  A+

Market share: 1.70%



J.D. Power rating: 2/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: 5.87%



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A++

Market share: N/A



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A+

Market share: 1.00%



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A


Kemper Preferred

J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A


Liberty Mutual

J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: 6.74%



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: 1.12%



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best: A+

Market share: 3.23%


Pacific Specialty

J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A+

Market share: 1.42%



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: N/A


State Farm

J.D. Power rating: 4/5

A.M. Best:  A

Market share: 18.42%



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A


Tower Hill

J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A-

Market share: N/A



J.D. Power rating: 3/5

A.M. Best:  A++

Market share: 3.82%



J.D. Power rating: N/A

A.M. Best:  A++

Market share: 6.25%


“When looking into homeowners insurance companies, you’ll want to consider the company’s financial stability, their customer service, how they handle claims, the level of coverage you’re getting, their sublimits when covering personal property, and policy cost,” Howard said.

Once they had all of that information they compiled data info into seven categories.

Here are the categories and the top insurer in that category:


USAA — Best company for the U.S. military and their families

Marketshare: 6.25%

A.M. Best rating A++


Hippo — Best company for a fast quote

Marketshare: unknown

A.M. Best rating: A-


State Farm — Best company for new homebuyers

Marketshare: 18.42%

A.M. Best rating: A


Travelers — Best company for green homes

Marketshare: 3.82%

A.M. Best rating — A++


Allstate — Best company for discount opportunities

Marketshare: 8.37%

A.M. Best rating — A+


MetLife — Best coverage for companies

Marketshare: 1.12%

A.M. Best rating — A


Amica — Best company for claims satisfaction

Marketshare: 0.92%

A.M. Best rating — A+


Source links: Policygenius, PropertyCasualty360.com

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 13, 2019

California — Hospitals & Earthquakes: A hospital in Ridgecrest, California spent $72 million to help it stay standing and open during an earthquake. It followed California standards set to go into effect in 2030.

Those standards didn’t help. In the earthquakes over the July 4th holiday, damages to electrical equipment and flooding forced an evacuation of the hospital.

The hospital in Ridgecrest is not alone. Most hospitals in California — all but 160 of the 3,000 hospitals — have met the 2020 standards. Those fixes are costly. The 2030 standards are even more expensive and to date just 23 have met them.

One of those hospitals is Ridgecrest.

Its CEO Jim Suver said, “Just having a building is a very narrow thing of what it takes to have health care. That’s why I think it makes some sense, personally, for us to look at the 2030 standards. It’s not that they are bad, (but) they are tremendously expensive.”

And in the case of his hospital, it didn’t help.

To offset the 2030 standards expenses hospitals want the Legislature to make some changes. Among them is having taxpayers help finance the construction fixes. Another idea is to only require a few hospitals in a region to meet the standards.

One desperate thought is to do a cap and trade type system where a hospital can buy permits to allow them to have noncompliant beds.

Source link: Associated Press

California — PG&E & 2nd Quarter: The bankruptcy has been costly for PG&E. The company says it has posted a $2.6 billion second quarter loss since the bankruptcy has wiped out its earnings.

The loss includes a $3.9 billion pre-tax charge for the claims related to the fires.

The the investors, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said, “We recognize we are operating from a deficit when it comes to public trust, and to regain that trust, we must sustain excellent operational performance day after day, month after month, year after year.”

Source link: Insurance Journal

Oregon — Governor Signs Paid Family Leave: This from Oregon Governor Kate Brown. She has signed into law Oregon's Paid Family Medical Leave bill into law. House Bill 2005 is the country's most progressive family leave policy, and was passed in the legislature with bipartisan support.

"Oregon families no longer need to make the difficult choice between paying the rent and staying home with their newborn, or between chemotherapy and keeping food on the table," said Governor Brown. "It's absurd that our society values someone clocking in and out of their job above holding a loved one's hand — and that will change under HB 2005, where all families who need and care for each other will be recognized."

Under the legislation, workers will receive up to 12 weeks of paid time off that can be used to care for a new baby, recover from a serious illness, or support newly adopted or foster children. It also provides paid time off for victims of domestic violence and guarantees 100% of wages to low-income workers.

Washington — Bell-Anderson’s New COO: Kathie Watson has been named the new chief operating officer of Renton’s Bell-Anderson Agency. She has been promoted from her position as the company’s commercial lines manager.

Watson has held that position since 2014.


Source link: Insurance Journal

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A Big Congratulations to Drew Hodgson!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 6, 2019

New CIC Designee, Drew Hodgson, Western Insurance Associates 

Drew Hodgson, CIC

Western Insurance Associates | Spokane, WA

Drew grew up in the small farming town of Dayton, WA. As a graduate of Dayton High School, he went on to earn his Business Management degree with a focus in leadership, from Whitworth University. Drew's commitment to providing his community with prime service is expanded with his lifetime membership in the Leadership Spokane Legacy Society. He is a proud graduate of both Leadership Spokane and Leadership Coeur d'Alene. He has also obtained his Agribusiness and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS) certification from the international Risk Management Institute.

Drew enjoys volunteering in the community and has served on the Board of Directors for the Chase Youth Foundation. He is a lifetime member of the Waverly Masonic Lodge, is an EI Katif Shriner and volunteers as a judge at the regional and state FBLA events. He says he works a lot and his wife claims it is his hobby. Drew is married to his lovely wife, Emily, and have two boys, Cameron and Kaden, who are the center of their universe. When Drew isn't working, he and his family enjoy spending time at their family lake house and attending WSU football  games.

Entrepreneurialism runs deep for Drew; he obtained his business license when he was 10 years old for a baseball card shop. Drew@westerninsurance.com

"I am a committed, life-long learner and strive to improve myself each day. To me, obtaining the CIC designation is a symbol of this commitment in my industry. It means that agents that achieve this designation want to be leaders in their field and set themselves apart from their peers. I believe that agents who possess their CIC are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their clients are properly protected and I am proud to be a part of this elite group."

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Special Report — Wildfire Bill in Congress

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Two senators from PIA Western Alliance states think the federal government can do more to protect the West, and the cities within from devastating wildfires. Pointing to the fire that devastated Paradise, California and killed 85 people, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein — a Democrat — and Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana say they are introducing a bipartisan bill on the subject.

The bill will be introduced into the Senate after the August recess.

They are talking about it now instead of waiting until September because now is the peak of the wildfire season in the West. In a statement the senators said, “Unfortunately, millions of acres of forests in our states and across the West remain at high risk of catastrophic wildfires, and there is strong consensus that fire seasons will only get worse. We believe additional resources are urgently needed to protect our communities and tackle these emergency conditions.”

When it comes to California, President Trump has been highly critical of the Legislature, previous governors and environmentalists, and blames them for the increase in the state’s fires.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has fired back at the president and said the state has 35 high-priority forest thinning projects happening now to protect close to 200 communities sitting in fire-dangerous areas. The governor said 33 of them will be completed by the end of the year and on schedule.

He cut through environmental red tape to make the projects happen and — like the president — complained that getting permission and permits from private landowners is very difficult. In spite of the red tape cutting, Newsom said one project required obtaining 719 permits.

As for the projects that sit next to federal land, Newsom said, “there's nothing happening on the other side of that line. We need a more robust commitment. We need more support.”

That support may come from the bill being introduced by Feinstein and Daines who have worked together for years on reforming federal forest management. Daines thinks what happened at Paradise will push a divided Congress toward a bipartisan reforms.

“We have a strong friendship and we’ve worked together on other issues,” Daines said. “Both of our states are dealing with serious wildfire issues, and particularly public safety issues.”

The bill they will submit prioritizes large-scale forest management projects that includes more logging in endangered areas, and will require the removal of more dead and dying trees, debris and bushes around roads, trails and transmission lines.

Feinstein and Daines also want the Forest Service to jump into the reforestation and restoration of burned land in a much more timely manner — like immediately.

The two senators also want to slow down — or even completely stop — the lawsuits by environmentalists and conservation groups that block logging projects on federal land. Daines and Feinstein say these groups have abused the legal system with frivolous lawsuits.

The groups disagree and say they’re needed to protect the habitat of endangered species.


Source links: Press Democrat, Associated Press

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The PIA Western Alliance & the Insurance Industry Says Goodbye to Liberty Mutual’s Jim Anderson

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Jim Anderson worked for Liberty Mutual for 44 years. Anderson died a couple of weeks ago. To say he will be missed is an understatement.

Dave Butler is the Senior Territory Manager of Liberty Mutual’s Northwest Region Business Lines. He and Jim Anderson were very good friends. Butler said he worked two different jobs for the company starting in commercial underwriting and moving later into a territory manager marketing position.

That’s where he was when he retired three-years ago.

“He was a big supporter of insurance in general, and a huge supporter of independent agents not only in his duties as marketing person. He also taught contractural liability courses for agents and CE credits,” Butler told Weekly Industry News.

He was very dedicated to the independent agency system. Jim Anderson was also old school in his views of insurance and life. That knowledge — and old school wisdom — was passed on to others.

“Jim was a mentor officially, and unofficially of newer and younger marketing people and producers. He loved sharing his knowledge of the industry and his company with people,” Butler said. “Talk to any of the agents that worked with him. They could not have asked for a better advocate. They had no better representation than Jim.”

Plus, he had this unique understanding of this amazing industry called insurance.

“He was an expert at that kind of science of balancing company representation with the agents’ interest. He was very good at that,” Butler added. “Jim Anderson was a friend of his agents. Talk to anyone, he was not one to follow company protocol. He did what he thought was best. This isn’t to say he didn’t respect company protocols. He did. But he was old school and believed in relationships.”

Sometimes relationships trumped company. To Jim Anderson, relationships were always face to face or on the phone. He wasn’t much on using email for contact.

As you know — or at the very least guessed — he loved his job. The best example of how much comes from a story he told about one of his daughters having to do a school project that described what her father did for a living. After several minutes of explaining what he did, it was obvious she didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about.

The conversation ended with Anderson telling his daughter that he got in his car every morning and drove all over the place talking with his friends.

That’s Jim Anderson. Practical. To the point. Unique.

Butler said, “He was an advocate. A mentor. A resource. He did it all and did it his own way. He was one of a kind. And that is meant in the best possible light. They don’t make them that way anymore.”

Jim Anderson — husband, father, friend, insurance professional — will be deeply missed by all who knew him and all he touched.

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A New Study — Bully Bosses & Workplace Safety

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The study was done by professors at Portland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It says bosses that are bullies don’t just cause negative employee morale and a negative sense of well-being, but they can also cause problems with workplace safety.

Professor Lin-Qin Yang and her associates checked in with airline pilots and manufacturing technicians. The information they culled from interviews say when they are treated badly by bosses it causes them to not bond and work as a group.

Boss behaviors and support, or lack of — she said — will either strengthen or weaken a team by impacting individual sense of belonging. Treating employees badly can make them feel they are not valued. When that happens, employees can become more self-centered. They sometimes, then, forget about safety rules and don’t notice places where a safer work environment can be promoted.

This — Yang noted — is very true of employees that aren’t certain of where they stand socially within the group of employees. “When people are less sure about their strengths and weaknesses, and their status within a group, they become more sensitive,” she said. “They're more likely to respond negatively to their boss' bullying behaviors.”

Yang and her colleagues think the negative behavior of supervisors can create circumstances where people are likely to be injured. “Organizations need to understand how important it is to curb leaders' bad behavior and to create positive team dynamics, so that there will be fewer negative safety consequences for employees or customers,” Yang pointed out. “It's really critical to manage such leader behavior, support victimized employees and prevent such issues.”

This is what her study recommends:

  Training programs that will improve the skill of supervisors in interactions with employees

  Programs that show supervisors how to provide feedback and discipline that is not offensive or threatening

  Training to promote a more civil and engaged work environment, and one that strengthens the social bonds of employees

  Programs that create — for employees — buffers from the negative consequences of the bad behavior of bosses

  A more transparent performance evaluation process so employees have less uncertainty about their social status within the workplace


Source link: Science Daily

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Update — ObamaCare, Underinsurance & Medicare for All

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 6, 2019

The Medicare for All debate has piqued the interest of the public. The Kaiser Family Foundation has tracked how we feel about the concept since it was introduced by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders a couple of years ago.

Support appears to be slipping. Today 51% of us like the idea. In April that figure was 56%. People view a government option — the government health insurance company — more favorably at 65%.

Democrats and independents leaning toward the Democratic Party like expanding coverage in the Affordable Care Act rather than replacing it with a Medicare for All plan.

  55% favor of expansion of ObamaCare

  39% oppose it

The reason many think we need Medicare for All is because we keep hearing — especially from politicians — about how ObamaCare is failing and how Americans are losing their insurance. That — says statistics from the Commonwealth Fund — is not true. In fact, it says 90% of us now have health insurance.

The Commonwealth Fund believes half of the 30 million people that are not insured could get insurance through the programs that currently exist. They choose not to.

The real problem — says Colorado Sen. Michael Bennett, a Democratic Party candidate for president — is that people are not lacking insurance as much as they are underinsured. Deductibles and copays are also way too high and people often can’t pay them.

It is one reason why this publication — Weekly Industry News — has often referred to ObamaCare as the Unaffordable Care Act. When passed in 2010 — and as it has been since modified — did not address the high cost of health care and really is more like the Affordable Insurance Act than the Affordable Care Act.

“We need to have a debate about coverage and cost, and we have seen less focus on cost than we have on coverage,” Bennett said. “The cost issue is a huge issue for the country and for families.”

The Commonwealth Fund study said in 2018 a whopping 44 million Americans were underinsured. That compares to 29 million in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was passed. That’s a jump of 50%.

That fact isn’t lost on Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman.

“When you have 90 percent of the American people covered and they are drowning in their health care bills, what they want to hear from politicians are plans that will address their health care costs, more than plans that will cover the remaining 10 percent,” he said. “When Democrats talk about universal coverage more than health care costs, they are playing to the dreams of activists and progressives … much less to the actual concerns of the 90 percent who have coverage today.”

Keane Bhatt is a spokesman Sanders. He said Sanders’ plan would solve the underinsurance problem because there will be no copays and no deductibles. “The simple answer is that our health care system becomes more unmanageable for more and more Americans every year,” Bhatt pointed out. “This is not a system that needs a few tweaks. This is a system that needs a complete overhaul.”

Sara Collins is an economist for the Commonwealth Fund and led the study. Collins agrees with the Sanders camp that cost and coverage problems are intertwined. Her — and the fund’s position — is that the Democratic Party debate over Medicare for All is missing something important. And that is more targeted and incremental policies addressing cost.

That approach — she points out — will improve the financial situation of millions of people.

Medicare for All is supported by several Democrat candidates for president including Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Others — like former Vice President Joe Biden — favor the government option.

Here are more stats raised by Kaiser Family Foundation survey:

  83% of us like and favor Medicare

  76% of us favor employer-sponsored insurance

  Medicaid is backed at 75%


Source links: The Hill, Insurance Journal

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