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Update: California’s Wildfires

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Before we get to the myriad of problems facing California from wildfire, let’s take a quick look at a bipartisan push in Congress and the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act.


It has been signed into law by the president and explores using drones to manage and fight wildfire, and instructs the Department of the Interior and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to find ways to make it happen.


The law also tells the two departments to work with states to help them with their firefighting efforts. And the PIA Western Alliance states of California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Idaho, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Alaska — all devastated by wildfire — could use that assistance.


Meanwhile, in the Golden State, the California Attorney General’s office and the district attorneys of Sonoma, Napa, Humboldt and Lake Counties say they are not going to criminally prosecute Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) for the fires that devastated Northern California on October 8, 2017.


Those 20 fires killed 46 people and destroyed thousands of structures including homes and businesses. Over 100,000 people had to be evacuated.


While PG&E is off the hook criminally, and since sparks from its power lines during a storm with heavy winds caused the fires, it still faces billions of dollars in civil damage claims. In a joint statement, the district attorneys and the state attorney general’s office said, “Proving PG&E failed in their duty to remove trees was made particularly difficult in this context as the locations where the fires occurred, and where physical evidence could have been located, were decimated by the fires”


Meanwhile, investigators in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties have determined that power lines owned by Southern California Edison (SCE) banging together during high winds are the cause of 2017’s Thomas Fire.


It burned for a month and destroyed hundreds of homes.


In a statement on the 71-page report, the Ventura County Fire Department said, “A high wind event caused the power lines to come into contact with each other, creating an electrical arc. The electrical arc deposited hot, burning or molten material onto the ground, in a receptive fuel bed, causing the fire. The common term for this situation is called ‘line slap,’ and the power line in question is owned by Southern California Edison.”


Unlike, PG&E — who accepts the blame — Southern California Edison immediately refuted the report and said it provided key pieces of evidence that investigators ignored. SCE said the fire started 12-minutes before its system reported any troubles.


“SCE provided this evidence to CAL FIRE and VCFD investigators; however, the report does not suggest this evidence was considered,” the company said and noted the investigators did not take into account the 12 cameras in the vicinity of the fire’s origin but didn’t keep the footage from 11 of them.


“While SCE greatly admires the first responders and members of the firefighting community who bravely responded to the Thomas Fire, the company is disappointed that VCFD’s investigators failed to preserve critical evidence and seemed to ignore best practices in conducting their origin and cause analysis,” the company continued in its statement.


It’s clear to California Governor Gavin Newsom that changes are needed to how energy companies are regulated and is looking at making changes to the California Public Utilities Commission. It has been highly criticized for how it has regulated utility companies that are now being blamed for most of the state’s devastating wildfires.


The governor — says The Wall Street Journal — recently met with key legislators and analysts from S&P Global Ratings. The newspaper says the subject of discussions is energy company regulation.


Source links: FedScoop, Claims Journal, Santa Barbara Independent Record, CNBC



Join us for the 2019 PIA Western Alliance, Oregon | Idaho Conference & Trade show.

Tags:  California Wildfires today  Conservation Management  Insurance content  Recreation Act 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, March 19, 2019



PTSD Comp Bill

 Idaho Governor Brad Little has signed a bill into law to give workers’ compensation to first responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. The responders — says the bill — must prove they have a mental injury related to an event they experience while on the job.


The new law says the responder must be “examined and subsequently diagnosed with post-traumatic stress injury by a psychologist” or similar medical professional. Clear and convincing evidence of PTSD must be demonstrated to get the designation.


Source link: Business Insurance


Medicare Workshops to be Offered in Burley

 A pair of Medicare Workshops for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Monday, March 18, at the Burley Public Library, 1300 Miller Ave., Burley. 


The first of the two free sessions will run from 1 to 3 p.m., followed by an evening workshop from 5 to 7 p.m. Caregivers, those interested in learning how Medicare works, and individuals not eligible for Medicare are encouraged to attend and learn about other health plan options from a local enrollment counselor.


The Medicare 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.  Walk-ins are also welcome.


New Mexico

Recreational Marijuana: The New Mexico Senate is rapidly acting on a recreational marijuana bill passed by the House. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, it will be legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana to use recreationally. You must — however — be 21 or over.

There will be an up-to-17% tax on the sale of pot to consumers.


Source link: Insurance Journal



Health Care Funding

 Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill 2010 into law. The bill is the first piece of her priority legislative proposal for sustainable, long-term health care funding to ensure Oregonians have access to affordable health coverage.


“House Bill 2010 is a significant step forward in ensuring every single Oregon has access to affordable health coverage,” said Governor Brown. “But HB 2010 only covers a portion of what we need for our health care system. So, as we celebrate today, we need to immediately turn our focus to filling the rest of the Oregon Health Plan funding gap.”


House Bill 2010 includes:


  A hospital assessment, generating $98 million for the Oregon Health Plan (Oregon's Medicaid program)

  A health insurance assessment and managed care tax, generating $334 million for the Oregon Health Plan and the Oregon Reinsurance Program, which helps stabilize insurance rates for individuals who buy coverage through the private market

  To provide the rest of the needed funding, Governor Brown has proposed an $2-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, a tax on e-cigarettes, and the creation of an assessment on employers that do not provide affordable coverage to their workers.


“Securing this funding package will ensure Oregonians continue to get the health care coverage they need to thrive and will enable a balanced budget for the Oregon Health Plan for the next six years,” Governor Brown said.



Costco & $3.6 Million in Taxes

 NW Re Limited, of Phoenix, has settled (PDF, 3.6 MB) with Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to pay $3.6 million in unpaid premium taxes, penalties, interest and a fine. NW Re’s sole insured and parent company is Costco Wholesale Corp., headquartered in Issaquah, Wash.


NW Re self-reported its unauthorized activity in December 2018 as part of Kriedler’s project to identify all captives that insure assets in Washington state. It provided deductible reimbursement for Costco’s liability and workers’ compensation from 2000 until 2019 without authorization.


It paid $2.4 million in unpaid premium taxes and $1.2 million in fines, tax penalties and interest on March 8.


Kreidler announced a project in December 2018 to identify all captives doing business in Washington state. Captives must self-report before June 30, 2020 to be eligible for reduced fines and premium tax penalties.


Fines and penalties increase every six months for captive insurers that fail to self-report, starting July 1, 2019. Captives that do not self-report before June 30, 2020, will face the maximum fines and tax penalties.


Kreidler’s office has collected about $4.4 million in agreements with captive insurers. He reached a settlement of $876,820 with Cypress, the captive insurer for Microsoft Corp., in August 2018.


State law requires that when risk is insured in Washington state, it be done through an admitted insurer or through an unauthorized insurer placed through a licensed surplus line broker. State law also requires insurance companies to pay a 2 percent tax based on their written premiums. The tax revenue is sent to the state general fund to pay for government operations. 


Source link: Washington Department of Insurance


Opioid Lawsuit

 Washington State has become the 10th state to sue the major distributors of opioids. The suit accuses the distributors of making billions off the sale of opioids while all the while ignoring the thousands becoming addicted to the drugs.


Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed the suit last week in King County Superior Court. The suit involves:


  McKesson Corp.

  Cardinal Health Inc.

  AmerisourceBergen Drug Corp


Washington is also one of many states suing Purdue Pharma.


Ferguson contends the drug firms brought oxycodone, fentanyl and other opioids into the state and failed to comply with requirements that spots suspicious orders destined for the illegal drug market. “For years these companies illegally shipped suspicious orders into our state,” Ferguson said. “Their conduct, put quite simply, fueled the state's opioid epidemic.”


Ferguson notes that between 2006 and 2017 over 8,000 people in Washington died from opioid overdoses, auto crashes or shootings. While all that was happening, he said the drug distributors continued to pour more than two-billion pills into the state.


As it stands now there are over 1,000 lawsuits filed against the manufacturers, distributors and others involved in the crisis.


Source link: Q13 FOX

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Industry news  Insurance Content 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, March 5, 2019



PG&E & The Camp Fire: Shares in PG&E stock continue to plummet. News now is the utility delayed a safety overhaul of the high-voltage utility pole suspected of starting the Camp Fire in Paradise, California.

It killed 86 people and destroyed almost every dwelling in the town.

A filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says the plans to replace components on that line have been in the works since 2013. It was supposed to spend $30.3 million to fix the clearance issues but did not.

Source link: Insurance Journal



Medicare Workshop: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Wednesday, March 6, from 10:30 a.m. to noon at The Bridge at Sandpoint, an assisted living community, 1123 N. Division St., Sandpoint.  Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

The workshop 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 the workshop, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422, or The Bridge at Sandpoint at 208-263-1524.



Speed Cameras: We all hate speed cameras. Apparently, so do a lot of legislators in Nevada. Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson worries a bill to allow cities to install them will see them installed in poorer, low-income communities rather than higher-income areas.


Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Amy Davey says the system reduces crashes and serious injuries and will only be installed for traffic lights and speeding.


Source link: Insurance Journal



Dennis Richardson: On Tuesday, February 26th Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson's courageous battle with cancer came to a close. Dennis passed away at his home surrounded by family and friends.

From his service in Vietnam as a combat helicopter pilot to his 30-year legal career and 19 years in public service, this father of nine and grandfather of 31 found great joy in serving and taking care of others.

As Secretary of State, Dennis was fiercely dedicated to accomplishing the work the people of Oregon elected him to do. Upon taking the reins of this office in January 2017, Dennis' visionary leadership built on the strengths of the 227 Secretary of State staff members. Together, Dennis and this dedicated team of public servants improved the program business practices of Audits, Elections, Archives, Corporations and Small Business, and the three Administrative Services Divisions of the agency. He also brought many professional and personal gifts and experience to this office. Dennis' focus on transparency, accountability, and integrity coupled with his uncompromising work ethic inspired staff to "up their games" to move mountains.

If you spent time with Dennis, it wouldn't be long before he shared with you his personal motto of "Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus," which means: Having been given much, what will you give in return? This philosophy influenced every aspect of Dennis' life and became the hallmark by which many knew him. His challenge to us in the Secretary of State's office is to give our very best to each other and to Oregon each and every day.

Dennis leaves a legacy of always aiming high, expecting excellence, moving fast, and doing what is right for the people. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such an incredible leader and wonderful friend. He will be greatly missed.



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

 ID 02-2019: Establishment of Oregon Prescription Drug Price Transparency Program

Rules affected: OAR 836-053-0473, 836-200-0500, 836-200-0505, 836-200-0510, 836-200-0515, 836-200-0520, 836-200-0525, 836-200-0530, 836-200-0535, 836-200-0540, 836-200-0545, 836-200-0550, 836-200-0555, 836-200-0560

 Rule Summary:

Adopt additional requirement to include an appendix with specified information regarding prescription drug costs in rate filings for individual or small employer health benefit plans.

 Filed: February, 2019

Effective: March 1, 2019


Permanent Administrative Order

Summary of Testimony and Hearing Officer's Report

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



Revisions to Workers’ Compensation Insurance Test Audit Program


Rules affected: OAR 836-043-0125, 836-043-0130, 836-043-0135, 836-043-0145, 836-043-0150, 836-043-0155, 836-043-0165


Need for Rules:

ORS 737.318 directs the Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) to establish and administer a continuing test audit program for workers’ compensation insurers. The proposed rule makes adjustments to the test audit program to better meet the needs of Oregon’s workers’ compensation insurance market.


The number of insurance policies audited is determined by a risk-based formula that takes into account the premium size of the insurer and the error rates found in past audits. The proposed rule:


  Simplifies the program by reducing the number of premium size tiers used to categorize insurers.

  Reduces the audit rates for insurers who meet the test audit performance standard of 20% error rate for the premium size tiers greater than $2,500.

  The proposed rule adjusts the formula for determining an insurer’s error rate by giving equal weight to the statewide error rate and the insurer’s specific error rate and excluding payroll reports and non-productive audits.

  Improves the error rate and test audit standards by including only the policies in which insurer the insurer performed an audit.

Insurers that do not meet test audit performance standards are required to meet with the DCBS director or a designee to report on its remediation plans. Performance standards vary by the number of policies audited. The proposed rule would simplify the program so that there are fewer tiers used to determine performance standards.

The proposed rule also makes technical changes relating to forms provided by DCBS, the timing and manner of reports provided to DCBS, and the frequency of examinations of the audit program.


Filed: February 26, 2019


Public hearing: March 25, 2019, 10:00 a.m.


Last day for public comment: April 1, 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:


Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance news 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, February 26, 2019



Hand Held Cellphones

 People who’ve lost love ones because of auto crashes caused by people on their cellphones want the Arizona Legislature to ban hand held phones in automobiles. They’ve been ignored year after year. Not this year. The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee has passed a bill banning the use of hand held phones while driving.

The vote was nearly unanimous.

As it stands now, texting and phone calling while driving is illegal for teens. It may soon be — if the wave continues — be so for adults, too. Several cities in the state have enacted the ban as well.

AAA of Arizona and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCI) did a survey and 86% said they support a ban.

Source link: Arizona Center




 Last year in California — unions, businesses and local governments — spent $361 million — lobbying government. Governor Gavin Newsom got about $50 million.

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) spent $9.9 million. Western States Petroleum Association gave $7.9. Edison International gave $4.2 million and the California State Council of Service Employees put out $4.1 million.

The $361 million is an increase of 5% and $60 million more than what was spent in 2014.


Here’s the amount spent on lobbying state government by each sector in 2018:

Government — $54.9 million

Health — $42. 2 mllion

Utilities — $35.6 million

Manufacturing / Industrial — $26.5 million

Finance / Insurance — $23.7 million

Education — $19.3 million

Oil and Gas — $18.2 million

Professional / Trade — $15.2 million

Labor unions — $12.3 million

Other — $112.8 million


Source link: Sacramento Bee



Auto Phone Ban: The Idaho Senate has killed a ban to use handheld cellphones in autos. The worry was farmers in aging pickups might be too affected.


Republican Sen. Jim Rice of Caldwell is bill’s sponsor. He said, “What this does is it actually protects the primary liberty that we exercise on our roads. The primary purpose on our roads is to exercise our right to travel. … That’s what we design roads for, that’s what their primary use is.”


Source link: Idaho Press



Greenlick Out as Chair

 Rep. Mitch Greenlick is a Portland area Democrat who has chaired the House Committee on Health Care for a long time. Last week he attacked two people testifying. It appalled fellow committee members and caused House Speaker Tina Kotek to remove him from the chairmanship of the committee.

He has also been taken off of the House Conduct Committee. Greenlick chaired that one, too.

Lake Oswego Democrat Rep. Andrea Salinas is the temporary chair of the health committee. In her news release on the matter Kotek said, “Representative Mitch Greenlick made a serious mistake during Tuesday’s House Committee on Health Care when he made demeaning comments toward two individuals who were testifying before his committee. We must always strive to do what is best for the people of Oregon and the Legislature as an institution.”


Source link: The Lund Report



Kreidler Disciplines and Fines

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler disciplined and issued fines in January totaling $5,900 against insurance companies, agents and others who violated state insurance regulations.

Insurance companies

Pacific Blue Health Network, New York City; ordered to cease and desist from selling insurance without a certificate of authority, order 19-0057

Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., Fort Wayne, Ind.; ordered to cease and desist selling insurance through unlicensed producers, order 19-0033


Agents and brokers


Kreidler disciplined the following insurance producers for violating insurance regulations in their dealings with policyholders:

Gregory D. Lone, East Wenatchee, Wash.; fined $3,000, order 18-0443

American Insure All Agency, Inc., Lynwood, Wash.; fined $1,000, order 18-0466

Jeff D. Graham, Puyallup, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0496

Chandler Parker Widman, Spokane Valley, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0532

PBI Insurance Agency LLC, Clackamas, Ore., and Jeremy Lowell Rugg, Wilsonville, Ore.; license revoked, order 19-0009

Luke Smith, Clackamas, Ore.; license revoked, order 19-0010

Kreidler disciplined the following insurance producers for violating state licensing laws:

Raymand Luther McGee, Seattle, license revoked, order 18-0516

Leon Brooks, Spokane Valley, Wash.; license revoked, order 19-0035

Tamara Reinecke Wong or Wong & Associates, Portland; fined $250 and license suspended, order 18-0508

Nikia V. Jones, Chicago; license revoked, order 18-0510

Miranda Eaddy, Windsor, Conn.; license revoked, order 18-0511

D Juane Antoinette Anthony, Las Vegas; license revoked, order 18-0521

Stephanie L. Bale, Lockport, N.Y.; license revoked, order 19-0001

Paul McCaskill, Carrollton, Texas; license revoked, order 19-0003

Deborah Lynn Miner, Woodstock, Ill.; license revoked, order 19-0004

Christopher Lee Pounds, Overland Park, Kan.; license suspended, order 19-0006

Justin David Mann, Phoenix; license revoked, order 19-0011

Brent D. Mann, Chandler, Ariz.; license revoked, order 19-0012

Tracy Lawrence, Creve Couer, Mo.; license revoked, order 19-0021

Higginbotham Insurance Agency., Inc.; Fort Worth, Texas; fined $250, order 19-0036


Other organizations


Regence BlueShield continuing education, Seattle; fined $1,400, order 18-0518


Source link: Washington Department of Insurance



Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, February 19, 2019




Mudslides: Heavy rains last week in California caused floods and mudslides around the state. The effect is called the Pineapple Express. Homes have been swept away and motorists got stranded in their vehicles.


More rain is predicted and with that — more flooding is expected.


Source link: Insurance Journal



Wildfire Starter Sentence to Prison

Brandon McGlover has pleaded guilty to starting nine fires in July of 2018. Those fires destroyed 13,000 acres, destroyed seven homes and caused 7,000 people to flee for their lives in Idyllwild, Anza and Sage, California.


He used a can of WD-40 and a lighter to set the fires.


McGlover was sentenced to 12-years and four-months in prison. He will be required to register as an arsonist for the rest of his life and will be required to pay restitution to his victims.


His victims were allowed to comment at his sentencing. One woman — whose husband died of a heart attack while they were fleeing — made an impassioned plea for a harsh sentence. Her statement was written since she was too upset to make it herself.


Others who lost everything in the fires made similar statements.


Source link: MSN



Cease and Desist Order

 The California Department of Insurance (CDI) issued a Cease and Desist Order effective immediately upon NexGen Insurance Services, Inc., Riverstone Capital, LLC dba Riverstone Capital Insurance Services, LLC and its owner/operators Travis O. Bugli, James C. Kelly and Robert M. Clarke.


A joint investigation by CDI and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) revealed that NexGen and Riverstone have been operating as an unauthorized MEWA (Multiple Employer Welfare Association), an arrangement that offers or provides health and welfare benefits to employers and their employees.


The Cease and Desist Order alleges that NexGen and Riverstone were marketing, soliciting, and selling purported “self-insured” health plan arrangements to employers, not health insurance, in violation of California law. NexGen and Riverstone failed to pay medical provider claims totaling approximately $24 million dollars, exposing employers and their employees to risks and significant financial liabilities. The investigation revealed NexGen’s and Riverstone’s business practice of pooling and commingling contributions received from its employer clientele into its own corporate accounts.


“This company and its owners misrepresented their ability to pay medical claims, putting employers and their employees in immediate danger,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “We took action to stop these illegal practices and ensure the safety of California workers and employers.”


Under CDI’s Cease and Desist Order, NexGen and Riverstone are to immediately stop operating any MEWA directly or indirectly or acting as an insurance agent, producer, insurer, or any other capacity in the State of California for which they do not hold a valid license, permit, or Certificate of Authority to do so. The companies are to immediately cease and desist from receiving any money, commission, fee, rebate, payment, remuneration, or any other valuable consideration whatsoever, directly or indirectly, in connection with any MEWA transactions.


Source link: California Department of Insurance

Tags:  9 state alliance  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance industry  weekly industry news 

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Cyber Attacks — Consumers Want More from Insurance

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Consumers want more insurance help with their cyber woes, and potential cyber woes. The why is easy. From automobiles to interconnected homes, just about every aspect of people’s lives are impacted by technology, and that technology is a sieve and easy for hackers to access.

Take automobiles for example. Asaf Ashkenazi of the software company Inside Secure said hackers can use connectivity to access private information and can even use it to steal the car. “The worst-case scenario is that they can completely take over and control anything in your car, from the brakes to the steering wheel,” he said. “The scariest scenario is that you're driving and they make your car crash.”

Then there’s the loss of personal records. The Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2018 End of Year Data Breach Report said 447 million consumers had their personal records compromised last year. That is a 126% increase from 2017.

What’s ironic is the total number of data breaches in 2018 fell by 23%.

Paul Robinson of GreyCastle Security said, “It’s very difficult now to avoid these attacks, even if you're taking the precautionary measures, such as managing your bank account and things of that nature. Now please do that, don't neglect watching your accounts and keeping an eye on your medical records, but the horse has left the barn per se.”

Assurant’s new study, The Connected Now says the connected lifestyle isn’t connecting with everybody. This is where insurance might be helpful. More on that in a bit.

The risk management firm said like it or not, nearly 40% of consumers identify themselves as technophobes. They own an average of 1.3 connected products. These range from smartphones and computers to equipment to manage things in the home.

Those same people — or 78% of them — worry about ID theft and the compromising of their personal information. They point that worried finger at interconnectivity — connectivity they are not that happy with.

Yet, 69% do admit this technology makes their lives easier. 

This is where insurance has an opportunity to shine. Parks Associates — an Internet of Things marketing and consulting company — said its research finds that 40% to 50% of households with access to broadband Internet want additional insurance services.

Parks Associates said this applies to those who own their homes and those renting.

Of those interested, 35% want insurance services that are proactive and that communicate the potential risk of the smart devices in their homes. They want to be updated and warned ahead of time.

Parks Associates spokesman Brad Russell said the insurance they want will take care of the restoration of those services and repair their home after the damage occurs.

“A restoration service that repairs damage is the most appealing service among insured households, but there is strong interest in proactive services, which would be enabled by smart home devices and AI capabilities to detect and prevent risk situations,” he said.

And he noted that advances in technology now let the insured and the insurer connect and interact more easily than ever. “Connected devices are reshaping the way consumers think about many traditional services and how they interact with their service providers,” he added. “These trends in consumer expectations, combined with the wealth of data derived from IoT solutions, are opening significant market opportunities for the insurance industry.”


Source links: PropertyCasualty360.com, USA Today, WHEC-TV, Insurance Business America

Tags:  cyber breach  Cyber Security  insurance content  insurance news 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Around the PIA Western Alliance 


Uber Crash Lawsuit: Last year Elaine Herzberg was hit and killed by an autonomous vehicle owned by Uber. The suit isn’t against Uber, but against the city of Tempe.

Herzberg’s husband and daughter each want $5 million in damages and say the city of Tempe created a dangerous situation when it installed a brick pathway across the median where people aren’t supposed to be crossing.


Source link: Insurance Journal



From the Idaho Department of Insurance

A tip from a social media post helped lead to an insurance fraud conviction for a Bingham County resident.  Danielle Collins was sentenced in Bingham County District Court last week after pleading guilty to one count of insurance fraud following an investigation conducted by the Idaho Department of Insurance.

In court proceedings, Collins admitted to purchasing car insurance after damaging her vehicle.  She was placed on three years of supervised probation by Judge Darren B. Simpson and ordered to pay $800 in fines, $245 in court costs, $500 to the Public Defender’s office, and $536 in restitution to the DOI.  She also must complete 100 hours of community service.

Court records show Collins purchased an auto policy through Progressive Insurance on August 25, 2017.  Three days later she submitted a claim for an accident in which her vehicle sustained damage to its front end and both driver’s side tires.  However, Progressive officials discovered a Facebook post dated days prior to the reported date of the accident and claim submission in which Collins asked her friends and followers, “Who gets not one but two flat tires?? Meeee!!  The social media gaffe helped DOI investigators close the case against Collins.

“This is an example of how insurance fraud comes in all shapes and sizes,” said Director Dean Cameron.  “I’m proud of the work of our investigators because every case of fraud, no matter how big or small, adds up and becomes costly for all Idaho consumers.”


Medicare Workshop to be Offered in Idaho Falls

A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Thursday, February 14, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Senior Center, 535 W. 21st St., Idaho Falls.  Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

The workshop 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 the workshop, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.



Minimum Wage

Montana Democrat Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell of Helena wants the state’s minimum wage to go up from $8.50 an hour to $15. If her bill — HB 345 — gets passed, the wage will go to $12 an hour on July 1st of this year, and rise to $15 on July 1st in 2020.

The AFL-CIO and the Montana Federation of Public Employees and the Montana Department of Labor and Industry are supporting the bill.

Opposing the bill is the Montana Retail Association and the Montana Restaurant Association.

Source link: Independent Record



Marijuana Audit

An audit done by the secretary of state’s office has found the inspections conducted in Oregon’s marijuana industry and not up to speed. The state says the testing system is weak and threatens consumers with contaminants.

Just 3% of the retailers have been inspected and just one-third of the state’s marijuana growers. Also — the report said — marijuana regulators are not doing much to address the black market sales.

However, so far, the legal pot market has generated $207 million in taxes for the state coffers.


Oregon’s Innovation Hub

The Department of Consumer and Business Services’ Division of Financial Regulation has opened its Innovation Hub to help insurance, financial, and technology companies bring innovative products, services, and tools to Oregonians.

Experts, thought leaders, and businesses are encouraged to visit dfr.oregon.gov/innovation to connect with the division’s Innovation Liaison and learn more about Oregon’s Innovation Hub.

“We want to engage and collaborate with businesses that are poised to leverage technology in a way that will benefit Oregonians.” said Andrew Stolfi, division administrator. “The Innovation Hub is here to help the businesses we regulate deliver emerging products, and services to Oregon consumers.”

The Innovation Liaison helps companies navigate regulatory guidelines in a way that enables new technology flourish within the state. The liaison helps the division develop and maintain a structure that that can adapt to innovation both now and in the future.

For more information or to connect with the Innovation Liaison visit dfr.oregon.gov/innovation



Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance industry  pia western alliance 

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M&A in 2018 — Record Setting

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, February 5, 2019

OPTIS Partners is a mergers and acquisitions expert. It advises companies on how to successfully sell or merge. In a release on M&A activity for 2018, OPTIS said there were 626 deals done during the year. That’s a record.

In 2017 there were 611.

OPTIS spokesman Timothy Cunningham said the 2018 total had 330 of them done in the second half of the year. In the fourth quarter alone 148 were completed. “The M&A market for insurance agents and brokers continues to surprise and exceed expectations,” he said. “There are no signs of anything changing in the near term, either.”

Most of the transactions were sellers of property and casualty insurance, employee benefits and employee benefit agencies. Private equity and hybrid purchasers numbered 424 or 68% of the total.

Cunningham noted that’s up from 383 transactions in 2017. “The concentration of PE/hybrid buyers has grown steadily since we began tracking deals in 2008, when only 21% of the transactions involved private equity buyers,” he said.

Here are the top purchasers from 2018:

  Acisure — 101

  HUB International — 58

  AssuredPartners — 37

  Gallagher — 36

  Broadstreet Partners — 34




There were 107 transactions involving privately owned companies. That’s down from 137 in 2017 and is the first drop since 2013.

The most sellers were from property and casualty insurance agencies.

  They number 345 transactions or 55% of the total

  Employee benefits brokers were 146 or 23% of the total

  That’s down from 174 in 2017


Other findings:

  2018 had 142 unique buyers

  That’s down from 177 in 2017

  The top-10 buyers accounted for 62% of the transactions

  That’s up from 56% in 2017


Cunningham also added:

  Those wanting to buy can find attractive properties to buy

  The value of agencies is rising to levels not seen before

  Internal perpetuation is becoming a growing challenge because of rising values and the prices third-party buyers are willing to pay

“The actual number of agency acquisitions was far greater than the number reported, as many buyers and sellers do not report transactions, and some acquirers do not report small transaction,” he said.

As for the future? OPTIS Partners offered this advice:

  If you’re purchasing, watch out for cash flow and don’t overpay

  If you’re selling, find the best cultural and operational fit

  Sellers need to take care of strong pricing before it drops


Source links: Insurance Business America, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Insurance Content  OPTIS Partners is a mergers and acquisitions  Timothy Cunningham 

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An Employee Perk — Pet Insurance

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A lot of younger people are bagging the idea of having kids. Since the cost of family health insurance is quite high, a lot of employers are adding pet insurance for these childless employees.

And for other employees, too.

In fact, in the last decade or so, pet insurance has grown from a boutique benefit to the hottest growing employee benefit. In 2016, over 5,000 companies were offering pet insurance. That number has likely grown since.

Among companies offering such insurance are Microsoft, T-Mobile, Levi-Strauss, Hewlett-Packard, Xerox, Ikea and Yahoo. Nationwide’s Scott Liles said, “Since 65% of Americans own at least one pet, almost two-thirds of employees may be shouldering sizable veterinary costs.”

As business in pet insurance grows, companies writing pet insurance are trying to cut costs and are tracking what makes pets healthy and unhealthy. Not surprisingly, like with humans, obesity is a huge pet insurance problem.


Market Access

Nationwide found nearly 20% of its pet insurance claims are because of obese pets. The number of that type of claim has risen 24% in the last eight years and the cost in vet expenses has risen to $69 million.

As an exercise in helping to lower those costs, Nationwide noted the top 10 conditions that are related to — or made worse by — obesity and are encouraging pet owners to address the issue.


For dogs:


  Bladder/urinary tract disease

  Liver disease

  Low thyroid hormone

  Torn knee ligaments

  Diseased spinal disc


  Chronic kidney disease

  Heart failure

  High blood pressure


For cats:

  Bladder/urinary tract disease

  Chronic kidney disease



  Liver disease


  High blood pressure

  Heart failure

  Gall bladder disorder

  Immobility of spine

Nationwide’s Carol McConnell said, “Obesity can be detrimental to the livelihood of our pets. The new year presents a perfect opportunity to create regular exercise routines for our pets, and to effectively manage their eating habits to avoid excess weight gain. Scheduling a routine wellness exam with a veterinarian is an effective way to get started on monitoring your pet’s weight.”


Source links: Fortune, Insurance Business America

Tags:  cost of family health insurance  insurance content  pet insurance 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By staff reporter, Tuesday, January 29, 2019



Montecito Mudslides: Edison International says poorly designed and maintained debris basins are the reasons for the deadly mudslides that hit Montecito last year.

Over 20 people died. Damages to property is estimated at between $177 million and $204 million. The mudslides happened on January 18, 2018 when the first heavy rain of the season hit the top of the mountain above the city and loosed tons of mud and boulders onto the city.

Edison International has been sued for causing the mudslides because its equipment may have been responsible for the fire at the top of the mountain. The company — and its subsidiary Southern California Edison — countersued and blamed the city, the county and its inadequate infrastructure, and how that infrastructure was maintained.

In its complaint, Edison said, “With this cross-complaint we seek to ensure that there is a comprehensive review of the role many parties may have played in the large and tragic losses suffered by the community during the Montecito mudslides,” the company said. “It is well known that the Montecito area has always been at high risk for mudslides and debris flows. We believe that city, county and state governments, including flood control, water and transportation agencies, failed to ensure that Montecito’s infrastructure was adequate to reduce the impact of such natural disasters.”


Source link: Insurance Journal



Medicare Workshops to be Offered in Bonners Ferry: A series of three (3) free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Friday, February 1 at the Fry Healthcare Education Center, located across from the main hospital building of the Boundary Community Hospital, 6640 Kaniksu St., in Bonners Ferry.  Workshops will be held at 2:30, 4:30 and 6 p.m.

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

The workshop 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 the workshop, please contact the SHIBA office at 1-800-247-4422.



Wildfire Mitigation Plan: Public Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz has unveiled a 10-year, $55 billion wildfire control plan and given it to the Legislature. The plan will add 30-full time and 40 seasonal firefighters to the Department of Natural Resources. It also adds two helicopters to the firefighting air fleet.

A wildfire training academy that can be used by other agencies will also be set up.

Source link: Claims Journal


Commissioner’s Legislative Priority

Click here for Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s legislative priorities.

Actions by the Commissioner

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued fines in December 2018 totaling $192,050 against insurance companies, agents and brokers who violated state insurance regulations.

Insurance companies

Accordia Life and Annuity Co., Des Moines, Iowa; fined $130,000, order 18-0250

Kreidler received 57 complaints about the company in 2016 and 2017 and started an investigation into its practices. The law violations included:

 Failure to maintain full and adequate records of more than 8,600 customer accounts.

Underpaid interest on the death benefit of a policy and failed to correct the problem until the consumer complained to Kreidler’s office. State law requires that insurance companies pay 8 percent interest.

Failed to provide annual statements to 21 consumers.

State Farm Life Insurance Co., fined $10,000, order 18-0410

The company failed to pay the correct amount of interest on death benefits to 1,251 Washington consumers. State law requires that insurance companies pay 8 percent interest.

Kreidler fined the following companies for violating Washington state insurance regulations:

    GPM Health and Life Insurance Co., Spokane, Wash.; fined $2,000, order 18-0468

    Monterey Insurance Co., Monterey, Calif.; fined $30,000, order 18-0490

    American Automobile Insurance Co., Earth City, Mo..; fined $10,000, order 18-0494

    Unified Life Insurance Co., Dallas; fined $4,500, order 18-0529


Agents and brokers

Kreidler revoked the licenses of the following insurance producers:

  Romaine Smith, Prosser, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0146

  Francisca Yadira Rios, Pasco, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0507

  Jacqueline Cone, Washougal, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0515

  Jodi S. Campbell, Lonoke, Ark.; license revoked, order 18-0475

  Gary M. Enciso, Long Beach, Calif.; license revoked, order 18-0476

  Rachel Glover, Collins, Iowa; license revoked, order 18-0477

  Drucilla Clorene Wilson, Las Vegas; license revoked, order 18-0479

  Paul B. Wells, Las Vegas, license revoked, order 18-0498

  Deandre Maze-Carter, Phoenix; license revoked, order 18-0499

  American Underwriting Services LLC, Kennesaw, Ga.; license revoked, order 18-0503

  Romeo Evan Fulton, North Riverside, Ill.; license suspended, order 18-0504

  James Luis Vasquez, Bothell, Wash.; revocation rescinded, license surrendered, order 18-0480


Kreidler fined the following insurance producers for violating state laws:

  David M. Connolly and David Connolly Insurance Agency, Silverdale, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0355

  Ryan M. Focht, Pullman, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0482

  Alina Frenkel, Bellevue, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0483

  Robert L. Johnston, Spokane, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0491

  Paul F. Dent and Griffin Mac Lean, Inc., Bellevue, Wash.; fined $1,000, order 18-0488

  John C. Haskell, Jr., Mill Creek, Wash.; fined $250, order 18-0397

  Xandrea Powell, Suwanee, Ga.; fined $250, order 18-0395

  Terran Watters-Fletcher, Lawrencville, Ga.; fined $250, order 18-0401

  Benchmark Administrators LLC, Wayzata, Minn.; fined $250, order 18-0429

  Lawrence M. Koresko, Collegeville, Penn.; fined $250, order 18-0436

  George Lewis Kengle, Springfield, Ore.; fined $250, order 18-0478

  Thomas A. Dus, Elyria, Ohio; fiend $500, order 18-0506


Continuing education providers

  Risk & Insurance Managers Society of Washington, Seattle; fined $800, order 18-0513





Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

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

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