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In Focus — Part 2: PIA Member Degginger McIntosh & Associates

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Last week Weekly Industry News looked at PIA Western Alliance member agency Degginger McIntosh & Associates, Inc. It is widely known as DMA Insurance. This week we continue the agency’s story.

Co-owner Keith Degginger told us one reason for the firm’s continued success is that it’s old school.

Keith says the industry has changed significantly since he started his career and those changes aren’t necessarily good. “We are very old school; very honorable in how we do things. That’s us and not everybody. There isn’t as much honor in the business as there used to be. There is cut-throat competition out there that will do anything for a sale. That’s because there is too much emphasis on bottom line,” he said.

Lost to the business is an emphasis on exposure identification and treatment.

“We are here for the client,” he said. “We touch the marketplace every year for our clients. We explore carriers who have a sincere desire to work the account rather than shot-gunning an account to block the market, we respect the underwriters time too much to ask them to quote what is not in their wheelhouse.” 

Keith says most agencies only market accounts when they have competition, and he finds that disconcerting. A DMA motto is “we are our own toughest competition.” Translation: DMA is always trying to improve what they provided to the clients the prior year.

“The customer should be given coverage choices from the marketplace other than just a price. Exposures and coverage need to be carefully analyzed each year as new forms and products come out, and very few firms take the approach that we do,” he said. “Timing is important in this business. We explain to the consumer how the industry works and show them how to be in control of the renewal process. Our objective is to present renewals to consumers in an agreed upon timeframe. That date is set well in advance. We are a very transparent about the marketing process and put the consumer in control, which they greatly appreciate.”

Many insurance firm say they specialize in certain market segments, Degginger McIntosh promotes their specialty as being “insurance” itself.  The philosophy is when you know risk management and exposure identification, the proper insurance program will be created regardless of industry.

“Our agents sell in many industries and they are not afraid to jump into new ones. We also train our producers to sell all lines of insurance and not limit them to just one aspect of the business. Our people are exposure and marketing specialists. That’s old School,” Keith noted.

Another concern is how personal insurance market has been turned into — in his words — a commodity.

“In the last decade providing proper consultation for consumer has changed to one of price, price, price. The price push has been brought about by the large advertising budgets of companies like Geico, Progressive and others. They have turned personal insurance into a commodity. Buying insurance is not like buying a loaf of bread, but the big boys tend to make the consumer think it is,” he added.

Keith said the value of the independent agent comes into play here.

“Flo’s ‘price gun’ is a very dangerous weapon for the consumer. With no advice consumers will likely pick the least expensive option and not what they need. This approach leaves the consumers exposed,” he said.

Keith feels it is easy to overcome what the direct marketers are doing. This is done by engaging clients and spending the time to really assess their needs. Once the consumer is made aware that they have deeper needs than price alone, they see the value of the independent agent is far greater that what they can get on on-line.

It’s all about education and Keith’s experience — and that of DMA — is the public wants to be educated. “For commercial clients, we go through a detailed coverage check list that we developed. It started out years ago as a page and a half in large 12-point font. It has expanded to over 200 coverage items and it’s four pages in small 8-point font,” he noted. “I go through this with commercial consumers in detail. We keep expanding this tool, and other services. We go well beyond the current hot buttons of Cyber and employment practices coverages, and our clients and prospects constantly comment that our approach is the deepest dive they have ever experienced in risk management and exposure identification.”

This leads to his last piece of advice on old school insurance and the importance of the education of clients. “People don't often do their own due diligence these days. Getting them to take the time to do it is difficult, when completed they are all appreciative of what we have provided to them. It is critical for agents to be as much of a teacher as an agent. Once people are educated, they tend to value the education over price alone,” he said.

The bottom line, expanding little Walmsley-Degginger to the Degginger, McIntosh & Associates of today boils down to this. “It been a challenging yet fun ride, not without its bumps, but Ken McIntosh and I feel very accomplished with what we have built,” Keith said, “We took small agency with $3 million in premiums and two producers, and together — with the aid of our employees and insurance carriers — have grown to an agency pushing $30 million with nine producers. Best of all, we all have fun. Along the way we brought many new professionals into this industry including our sons Mac, Kyle and Kevin who all chose insurance for their profession.”

It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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September — National Preparedness Month

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Considering the huge number of wildfires experienced in the states of the West this year, sharing information about the 2018 National Preparedness Month with your clients is probably a good idea.

The annual month is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is done so for a number of obvious reasons. One of the points being for us — insurance professionals — to help the individuals, families and businesses that depend upon us.

This year’s focus is planning and the theme is Disasters Happen. Prepare Now. Learn How. Each week of the month features a different topic and the topic of week three — September 16 - 22 — is Check Your Insurance Coverage.

Here’s what FEMA says about insurance:

  It is the first line of defense

  Coverage needs to be checked and reviewed

Part two of the FEMA formula involves insurance and is titled:

Be Smart. Take Part. Document and Insure Your Property.

Good idea. And after your clients do the insurance double-check, then they need to take a personal or business inventory and get ready for the worst. The America Red Cross says that’s much easier than we think and recommends three basic steps:

Step one — Create a kit and pack these items in an easy to carry container:

  A gallon of water per person, per day

  Non-perishable food

  Flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio

  Extra batteries

  Sanitation and personal hygiene items

  Copies of important papers

  Extra cash

  Any medical or baby supplies family members may need

Step two — Plan:

Meet with family members or business employees — or both — and between you create an emergency plan. Included in that plan ask:

  What emergencies can happen in the area?

  What do all of you do if you’re separated?

  How do you let loved ones or business personnel you’re save?

Step three — Stay informed:

  Like step two, know the area’s most common disasters

  Learn how local authorities pass disaster information onto homes and businesses

Last, the Red Cross says preparation means making sure someone in the family or business is trained in first aid and CPR in case help is delayed and there are injuries. You can go to the Red Cross’s First Aid App at redcross.org/apps to get instant access on how to treat most injuries.

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  National Preparedness Month September 

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Labor Day Post Mortem: Insurance Hiring on the Rise

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Labor Day 2018 is in the books. It’s that day we set aside once a year to honor work and workers. Originally Labor Day was about the American labor movement. It has since morphed into celebrating the contributions of American workers to the nation’s economic strength and prosperity, and the general well-being of the country.

When it comes to the labor of insurance and insurance worker prosperity, the semi-annual job satisfaction report from The Jacobson Group and Aon’s Ward Group passed on some information that will make insurance workers happy. Apparently, insurers are hiring.

In fact, whether it’s getting hired or hiring, the report says things are going to be very, very competitive for the rest of the year.

The two firms found:

  63% of all companies will hire

  72% of personal lines carriers will hire

  66% of commercial lines carriers will hire

  Only 5% of companies say they’ll reduce staff this year

What will they be hiring?

  Technology

  Claims

  Underwriting

Hardest to fill?

  Executive

  Technology

  Actuarial

Jacobson’s Co-CEO Gregory Jacobson said insurance unemployment is about 1.7% compared to the national average of 3.9%. That low figure makes the factors contributing to hiring very tight.

“Expected increases in business volume and expansion into new markets are driving continued hiring. The organizational growth, coupled with a shallow talent pool and virtually non-existent industry unemployment, results in an increasingly competitive labor market,” he noted.

If they can’t hire permanently, many firms are filling holes with temporary staff. The survey found 13% of companies going that route. That’s up from 12% last year.

Here’s what else the study found:

  Look for a .47% jump in employment between now and next year

  P&C personal lines will see a 1.13% rise

  P&C commercial lines hiring will be up .51%

  79% of mid-sized companies will hire new staff in the next year

  That’s 20% higher than small companies

  That’s 24% higher than large companies

  72% of personal lines carriers will increase staffing

  66% of commercial lines carriers will increase staffing

  82% of quizzed companies say they will see revenue grow next year

  That’s 3% higher than January’s survey

  93% of medium-sized companies are optimistic about revenue growth

  80% of small companies are optimistic

  76% of large companies are optimistic

  Of those reducing staff, 11% say it is because of automation

  9% of firms say reorganization caused the job cuts

Carriers surveyed say they’re struggling to find people to replace the aging workforce.

Why so much competition? A huge percentage of us aren’t all that happy with our jobs. The Conference Board’s latest survey said over half of us — 51% — are happy with our jobs.

That means 49% aren’t.

The good news is there are more satisfied employees this year than last, and this is the seventh year in a row that more of us are happy than unhappy. With more hiring happening this year than in the past few years, paying attention to that “unhappy” is growing in importance.

Here’s what the Conference Board says we’re unhappy about:

  Workload

  Education / job-training programs

  The performance review process

  Bonus plans

  Promotion policy

Rebecca Ray authored the report. She’s the Conference Board executive vice president. Her advice? Pay attention.

“To attract and retain the most productive employees in today’s labor market, companies must make a bigger commitment to addressing the factors within their control. Among other steps, that entails addressing the job components with which employees are least satisfied, including job training, the performance review process and promotion policy. As workers continue to voluntarily leave their jobs at a record rate, the need to prioritize components relating to their professional development could not come at a more pressing time,” she said

Here’s what else the survey found:

  Lower income workers are happier with their jobs than those of upper income

  Those happiest on the job also were more likely to like their bosses and co-workers

  Other happiness satisfaction factors:

  The commute

  The work itself

  Their supervisor

  The workplace environment

By the way, those happiest with their jobs are in Minnesota.

Source links: Insurance Journal, PropertyCasualty360.com, Carrier Management

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Weekly Industry News 

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Foremost Rebrands as Bristol West

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Farmers Insurance Group’s Foremost Insurance Group is going to change — sort of. It will be rebranded as Bristol West and the change will happen gradually over the next couple of months.

At the same time, Bristol West President Eric Kappler said independent agents and their customers need to know that nothing changes except the name. Then he pointed out that in a number of states Foremost is already being sold under the Bristol West name.

“We believe the brand change will allow for better alignment of our customer service and claims handling operations, which will ultimately enhance the customer experience for Foremost and Bristol West policyholders. We look forward to continuing to provide drivers the high-level of customer service they have enjoyed under the Foremost brand, while offering a competitive auto product to new customers,” he said.

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Bristol West Insurance group  Foremost insurance  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Will People Buy Amazon or Google Homeowners Insurance?

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


The answer to that question is a disconcerting maybe.

J.D. Power & Associates took a look at the idea that both Google and Amazon may be the insurer of the future. Google has already failed once at selling auto insurance but rumors are running rampant that they may give the concept another shot.

This time it will be homeowners.

The J.D. Power survey found that 80% of those responding already have insurance with a major carrier. Company spokesman Tom Super said 20% of those they talked with said they’d consider picking up homeowners from one or the other.

Name recognition — he said — is the ace in the hole. “They may present a greater threat to home insurers if they decide to move into that space. It’s Amazon and Google that are potentially a bigger threat if we’re thinking about outside disruptors,” Super said.

He calls it a wake-up call. But Alex Hageli of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) said insurers are already “awake” and noted the last time around Google was gone before it even got started.

Plus, he notes, insurance can compete.

“I feel like the insurance industry has fully embraced technology. It’s on par with anyone else that would engage online. The industry is well-equipped to weather competition from other possible entries into the market. I feel that the insurance industry is much better prepared, much better prepared,” he said.

Super did note that Millennials do find both companies more interesting than older individuals. The survey said 33% of Millennials would consider buying such insurance from Amazon and 23% said they would from Google.

An impressive 34% said they’d switch homeowners insurers to one that offers smart home technology insurance to take advantage of loss and protection options. That makes sense since 64% of those polled say they have some sort of smart-tech device in their homes.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  amazon  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Renters insurance  Weekly Industry News 

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Phishing — The Trusted Individual Problem

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


The email security firm Mimecast said there has been an 80% jump in phishing attacks where the hacker impersonates someone we know. To come to that conclusion the company checked 142 million emails. It found one in 50 had an unstopped malicious link.

That’s a staggering figure.

Mimecast Cybersecurity Strategist Matthew Gardiner said of those 142 million emails, 19 million had pieces of spam in them. Of the 19 million, 13,176 had dangerous files. Another 15,657 had attachments. All were missed by the email providers and sent to the boxes of users.

 

“Targeted malware, heavily socially-engineered impersonation attacks, and phishing threats are still reaching employee inboxes. This leaves organizations at risk of a data breach and financial loss. Our latest quarterly analysis saw a continued attacker focus on impersonation attacks quarter-on-quarter,” he said.

There are things that can be done to prevent this — says Osterman Research President Michael Osterman — and they come in simple steps:

  Conduct an audit of the current security and compliance environment

  Establish detailed and thorough policies

  Implement best practices for users to follow

  Provide adequate security awareness training

He said to combat phishing we need to train employees on how to spot and avoid those emails.

Source link: HealthIT Security

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  phishing 

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Health Issues — Not Enough Sleep & We’re Smoking Less

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 4, 2018


If you’re an employee you’re not getting enough sleep. Are you in management? You’re not getting enough sleep either and neither is your staff.

The National Safety Council’s report Fatigue in the Workplace: Risky Employer Practices says close to a third of the employers it quizzed say employees are reporting injuries or near misses. A full 50% say they have found employees sleeping on the job.

In fact, 13% of workplace injuries are attributed to fatigue. The council says that’s a byproduct of the personal risk factors that impact a society that operates 24/7. 

Another fact. An employer with 1,000 employees will lose $1 million or more each year in missed work days, dropping productivity and increased healthcare costs because of that fatigue. The workplace practices that contribute to that are:

Night shift and overtime schedules

A lack of time off between shifts

Inadequate rest areas in the workplace

National Safety Council CEO Deborah Hersman said, “This survey shows that employers are waking up to a hidden workplace hazard — too many employees are running on empty. Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and addressing fatigue in workplaces will help eliminate preventable deaths and injuries.”

Here’s what else the report found:

  55% of employers say they’ll adjust an employee’s schedule or tasks to address causes of fatigue

  73% do not talk to their employees about fatigue

  Even if those employees would talk, 61% of employers don’t think they’d be comfortable explaining they are too tired to perform the job in a safe manner

  51% will let an employee work a night shift before or after a day shift

  60% of employers admit to not having good areas for employees to rest

Speaking of health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released details recently on the number of us who smoke. Those 18 and over smoking runs close to 14%. That’s down two points from the 16% of the 2016 survey.

The 14% is an all-time low. In 2006 the rate of smokers was 21%. In 1964 when the surgeon general began the war on smoking, 42% of us admitted to smoking.

The huge drop makes this one of the most impressive public relations campaigns — not the most successful — in history.

Next up for the CDC is e-cigarettes and their regulation. Authorities are trying to make sure children can’t get access to flavors that would entice them to e-smoke.

Source links: Insurance Journal, The Hill

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 4, 2018

California

Wildfire Survivor Bill: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced that four additional bills he sponsored to protect California wildfire survivors have passed the Legislature and are headed to California Governor Jerry Brown. SB 894 (Dodd), AB 1772 (Aguiar-Curry), AB 1800 (Levine), and AB 1875 (Wood) aim to address critical issues facing wildfire survivors including underinsurance, rebuilding, and recovery.

"These bills will help consumers trying to get back on their feet after devastating wildfires," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Fire survivors deserve maximum assistance in their insurance recovery efforts. I'd like to thank Senator Dodd and Assembly members Aguiar-Curry, Levine and Wood for all their efforts to help fire survivors."

SB 894 (Dodd) will help homeowners reduce the huge financial burden of being significantly underinsured and unable to afford to rebuild. Underinsurance is not only a financial blow to disaster survivors, it is economically devastating to communities because, as one of the most challenging obstacles to loss recovery, it delays claim settlements which delays rebuilding. Insurers have failed to address this significant issue through any efforts of their own. Some consumers have found themselves uninsured by hundreds and thousands of dollars.

The bill still provides survivors the option to combine some coverages within their homeowner policy to help offset some of the underinsured amount in their home, but only in a limited fashion after significant narrowing at the hands of much of the insurance industry. Consumers only qualify for this provision if they meet three tests: 1) It is following a declared disaster; 2) They suffer a total loss; 3) They are underinsured in their primary dwelling or Coverage A.

SB 894 also provides homeowners suffering a total loss from a fire two years of renewal offers, instead of the current one year of renewal. This provision reflects the reality that it takes most survivors more time than currently permitted to rebuild or replace their property. This provision of the bill would have applied retroactively to July 1, 2017 to help 2017 fire survivors; however, many insurance companies insisted SB 894 not help 2017 or 2018 wildfire survivors and they succeeded in getting the Assembly Insurance Committee to remove that provision.

"Ultimately, SB 894 makes important improvements that will help people rebuild their homes and help communities recover," Senator Dodd said. "While we fought for even greater protections for victims who've had to struggle with their insurers, this bill will help consumers going forward. I will continue fighting for reforms to stop insurance companies from stacking the deck against policyholders."

After losing a home or business in a fire resulting in a declared state of emergency, current law provides a policyholder at least two years to rebuild their property and receive the full replacement cost coverage they paid for. However, experience shows that two years is often insufficient time for families to rebuild the insured property. AB 1772 (Aguiar-Curry) extends the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from two to three years after a declared wildfire emergency and receive the full replacement costs to which they are entitled.

The 2017 fires also revealed that some insurers were withholding the additional Extended Replacement Cost coverage purchased by policyholders unless the policyholder actually rebuilt on the same lot. This is against the law. In the event of a total loss, AB 1800 (Levine) would clarify the current law that an insurer must pay out the full extended replacement cost benefit covered under the provisions of a plan, regardless whether the policyholder chooses to rebuild at the same location, rebuild at a new location, or purchase an already built home.

AB 1875 (Wood) addresses confusion surrounding extended replacement cost coverage (ERC), which allows property owners to purchase limits above the estimated cost to replace their home. However, ERC limits can vary dramatically and many consumers are never provided these options by insurers nor are they told how the coverage options, would impact their premiums. AB 1875 would require an insurer who does not provide at least 50 percent ERC to help direct the consumer to an insurer that might. The bill also includes a provision creating a home insurance finder to help consumers locate possible residential property insurance options.

Jones also saw SB 824 pass the senate. It keeps insurers from cancelling insurance in areas declared an emergency.

“As extreme wildfire risk grows, data from insurers detailing and documenting this risk has not kept pace,” said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. “Requiring insurers to provide wildfire risk data will give the Department of Insurance an important additional tool to help protect the 3.6 million Californians living in the Wildland Urban Interface. This data should help Californians living in high-risk areas access insurance products protecting their homes and communities.”

Cannabis Work Comp: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced a new workers' compensation insurance program for California's cannabis industry. The program was created by Atlas General Insurance Services to serve businesses and workers in the cannabis industry.

"Cannabis businesses should have insurance coverage available to them just like any other California business," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "As Insurance Commissioner, my mission is insurance protection for all Californians, which includes insurance for California's legalized cannabis businesses and its workers. This new program from Atlas is a crucial step in the right direction for this evolving industry. I encourage more insurance companies to offer cannabis business insurance products with the department to meet the needs of this emerging market."

This program can accommodate workers' compensation risks involved in all aspects of the cannabis industry - including growers, extractors, analytical labs, medicine manufacturers, food & beverage products manufacturing, packaging, warehousing & distribution, transportation and dispensaries. Atlas provides all of the distribution and underwriting as well as the carrier backroom functions on behalf of Accredited Surety & Casualty. The program will be rolled out to over 1,700 Atlas appointed agents in California and another 4,000 agents in the other states with legal cannabis operations.

"Atlas has been studying the cannabis industry well before it became legalized in California," said Bill Trzos, CEO of Atlas General Insurance Services. "Through our research we recognized the opportunity to be proactive in entering the cannabis market and are excited to be one of a few work comp platforms in the state."

Commissioner Jones launched in California an initiative last year to encourage admitted commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. As a result of Jones' initiative, in California the first filing and approval of an admitted commercial insurer offering insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November 2017, the first surety bond program for the industry was announced in February 2018, the first coverage for commercial landlords for the industry was announced in May 2018, the first standardized cannabis policy forms and program filed by the American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) was approved in June 2018, and earlier this month three more insurance carriers were approved by Commissioner Dave Jones to offer surety bond coverage for the cannabis industry in California.

Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance company executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.

In October of last year, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, insurance gaps in coverage remain, and, until the approval announced last November, no admitted insurance carriers were offering insurance products to cannabis businesses. Jones also announced that he has directed Department staff to devote the resources necessary to timely review the cannabis product and rate filings.

Earlier this month, Commissioner Jones was appointed chair of the newly established National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Cannabis Insurance Working Group. In May, Commissioner Jones hosted a webinar titled "Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry" with the NAIC Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR). In April, Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has overruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement against state legalized cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.

Earthquake Warning: California’s still under construction early warning earthquake system works. A 4.4 quake hit La Verne last week and was felt over a wide area. No damage is being reported.

What is significant is a system that sent out a warning three-seconds before the quake started and earlier this year Californians got a 10-second warning from a 5.3 shake on the Channel Islands.

Seismologists are happy about the 850 sensors they have online now but say they need about 800 more. Congress has approved $22.9 million to continue building the system.

Source link: The Los Angeles Times

Oregon

From the Department of Insurance: 2019 Workers' Compensation Premium Assessment Rates

Each year, the Department of Consumer and Business Services adopts by rule the workers’ compensation premium assessment rate that is paid by employers to fund workers’ compensation and workplace safety and health programs. The rule also adopts the rate for an additional amount that is collected from all self-insured employers and self-insured employer groups to fund the Self-Insured Employers Adjustment Reserve and the Self-Insured Employer Group Adjustment Reserve. These funds ensure worker benefits are available in the event of a financial failure of a self-insured employer or self-insured employer group.

Before recommending the 2019 rate, the department must analyze financial data and review and authorize a proposed workers' compensation pure premium rate filing by the National Council on Compensation Insurance. The proposed premium assessment rate for 2019 is expected to be announced by mid-September.

Additional assessments to fund the Self-Insured Employer Adjustment Reserve and Self-Insured Employer Group Adjustment Reserve are also expected to remain unchanged. These are preliminary rates and are subject to change during the rule making process. This rule making will adopt the assessment rates that will be in effect from Jan. 1, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2019.

A hearing on the proposed workers' compensation premium assessment rates will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, in Room F (Basement) of the Labor & Industries Building, 350 Winter St. NE, Salem, Oregon.

Written testimony will be accepted through 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018 by the Director's Office of the Department of Consumer and Business Services, 350 Winter St. NE, P.O. Box 14480, Salem, OR 97309-0405.

Text of the proposed rules, as well as the other rulemaking documents, can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/cost/Pages/rulemaking.aspx

Address questions to Amy Hilgemann, Rules Coordinator; phone 503-947-7872; fax 503-378-5969; or email amy.k.hilgemann@oregon.gov.

 

Washington

From the Department of Insurance: Notice of rulemaking: Adverse notifications

We recently sent out notification that we are starting rulemaking R 2018-09 to increase consumer awareness of agency help for consumers with their insurance-related questions as well as to promote fair and efficient regulation of insurance by requiring contact information for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner on adverse notifications sent by insurers.

In that notification the comment deadline was incorrect. The correct comment deadline for the CR-101 on this rulemaking is October 23, 2018; please send comments to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the notice to start rulemaking (CR-101), please visit the rule's webpage. — https://www.carriermanagement.com/news/2018/08/30/183542.htm

Notice of rulemaking on health plan coverage of reproductive healthcare and contraception

We recently sent out notification that we are starting rulemaking R 2018-10 to update applicable WACs and add new sections to align with SSB 6219, now codified in RCW 48.43.072 and RCW 48.43.073, which discusses requirements for coverage of reproductive health care and contraception.

In this notification the comment deadline was incorrect. Comments are due October 23, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the notice to start rulemaking (CR-101), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.carriermanagement.com/news/2018/08/30/183542.htm

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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A New Business Reality — Demotion

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. A lot of companies are seeing increasing costs and decreasing profits. Since profit is the point, many executives and small business people — like many of you — are doing what they can to cut costs to thrive and stay alive. 

Many times that means changing the structure of the company and those changes often mean demotions for some employees. Demotions also come poor performance. A survey from the Robert Half Company’s OfficeTeam said 47% of human resource managers say they’ve had to demote one or more employees.

Reasons vary:

  39% of the HR managers said poor performance is the reason

  38% said the person didn’t succeed at the job once promoted into it

  16% noted the company was restructuring or eliminating the position

  6% said the demotion was voluntary

Brandi Briton is Office Teams district president. She said, “A demotion may happen for a variety of reasons, including performance issues, organizational changes and an employee requesting fewer responsibilities due to personal or career priorities”

She said demotions are a tough but a new reality. “It’s never easy to accept a lower role, but workers can show their professionalism and bounce back by keeping their emotions in check, understanding the root cause and performing at a high level to position themselves for future advancement,” Briton added.

Bouncing back includes:

  Understanding why the downgrade happened

  Seeking detailed information about the new job

  Asking how they can improve

  Asking if training is available

  Asking if the demotion can eventually be reversed

Briton said an employee needs to weigh all the options and decide whether they want to make the most of the new position or to look for work elsewhere.

Other findings:

  Men — 19% — were more likely to be demoted than women — 7%

  HR managers said 22% of employees aged 18 to 34 were more likely to be downgraded

  Just 10% of those 35 to 54 suffered downgrades

  Only 3% of people 55 and over were demoted

  One in 10 — 14% — of the work population have been demoted

  Of those demoted, 52% quit

  The other 48% tried to make a go of it

  47% of those demoted said they lost interest in work

  41% took the news well and focused on excelling in the new job

The survey was done by OfficeTeam and touched over 300 HR managers in U.S. companies with 20 or more employees. The company also talked with 1,000 workers aged 18 and over working in offices.

Source link: Carrier Management

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 28, 2018

 

California

Work Comp Pure Premium: The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) has submitted a new pure premium rate and one that is lower than the one approved last year by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

This one will — if approved — go into effect January 1, 2019. It will average $1.70 per $100 of payroll. That is eight-cents or 4.5% less than the average approved for this year on July 1st.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Cannabis Coverage: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones approved a filing from Golden Bear Insurance Company amending its California Cannabis program product to lower rates, expand coverage options, and expand the classes of business they will cover.

"Golden Bear continues to lead the industry by being the first to offer coverage for cannabis businesses and now by expanding their coverage choices at lower prices," said Commissioner Jones. "Cannabis businesses and consumers will benefit from the new and expanding coverage options and lower rates."

Last November Insurance Commissioner Jones approved a Golden Bear filing making the company the first admitted commercial insurance carrier to file cannabis business insurance in the state. Since then, the department has approved five additional insurance companies to write cannabis-related insurance products in the California market.

"We are very excited to roll out Equipment Breakdown coverage among other new coverages to our Cannabis package policy," said Michael Brown Vice president and Underwriting Property Manager at Golden Bear. "This additional endorsement will provide our insureds with vital coverage for losses to inventory and income caused by the failure of refrigeration equipment, HVAC equipment, and manufacturing equipment so important to the cannabis industry. This coverage enhancement provides Golden Bear insureds with even more peace of mind as they operate their businesses.

Earlier this month, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) established a Cannabis Insurance Working Group to address the issue of insurance availability for the legalized cannabis industry. Recognizing Jones' leadership on the issue, the NAIC appointed the California commissioner chair of the NAIC Cannabis Insurance Working Group.

Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance company executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.

In October of last year, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, insurance gaps in coverage remain, and, until the approval announced last November, no admitted insurance carriers were offering insurance products to cannabis businesses. Jones also announced that he has directed Department staff to devote the resources necessary to timely review cannabis products and rate filings.

In May, Commissioner Jones hosted a webinar titled "Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry" with the NAIC Center for Insurance Policy and Research. In April, Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has overruled Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement against state legalized cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.

Commissioner Approves Insuretech: New technology is revolutionizing many lines of insurance-the latest to benefit is title insurance, as California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones approves a license for States Title. States Title is the first insurtech title insurer licensed and domiciled in California. States Title is replacing a manual and labor-intensive process of writing title insurance which often involves days of waiting, with an automated data-driven approach, which should lead to reduced wait times, modernized title insurance transactions, increased competition, and reduced costs for home buyers and others in need of title insurance.

"California consumers benefit when new competitors enter our insurance market and they use technology to provide more efficient services at a lower cost," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I am pleased to approve a license for States Title to not only sell title insurance in California but also to be domiciled here. Title insurance transactions are often labor intensive and suffer from delays-States Title uses a digital platform which is data driven and automates the process which in turn should bring benefits for consumers."

States Title Insurance Company of California will use data-driven technology to predict the risk and severity of a title defect on a particular property, aiming to deliver title insurance more efficiently and at lower costs.

"We are incredibly pleased to be doing business in the state of California," said States Title CEO Max Simkoff. "We look forward to bringing much-needed innovation and efficiency to the title insurance industry, as well as top-notch service to our customers."

The Silicon Valley start-up is domiciled in California with its first office located in San Francisco's Mission District improvement zone.

Idaho

 

Medicare workshop to be offered in Salmon: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Thursday, September 6, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Salmon Public Library, located at 300 Main St., Salmon, Idaho.  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.

Montana

ObamaCare Rates Approved and Finalized: Insurance Commissioner Matt Rosendale announced that 2019 Obamacare individual and small group market health insurance rates are finalized following the Montana rate review process.

Finalized overall average rate changes are nearly identical to the rates initially filed with the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance, Office of the Montana State Auditor (CSI) in June.

Commissioner Rosendale sent letters to the companies earlier today informing them that their 2019 rate filings contain no deficiencies in accordance with 33-22-157, MCA. Under Montana law, the commissioner’s office reviews rate changes for accuracy and justification, but CSI can’t set the prices and cannot reject rates unless they are unfairly discriminatory. Companies set their rates based on market conditions and mandates contained within the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare.

Final overall average rate changes for 2019 are as follows:

Individual market

  Blue Cross: 0.0% for plans covering about 18,900 Montanans

  PacificSource: 6.0% for plans covering about 12,400 Montanans

  Montana Health CO-OP: 10.3% for plans covering about 22,700 Montanans

Small Group market

  Blue Cross: -4.2% (decrease) for plans covering about 25,000 Montanans

  PacificSource: 1.8% for plans covering about 19,300 Montanans

  Health CO-OP: 4.7% for plans covering about 250 Montanans

As part of the rate review process, CSI solicited formal public comment from Montanans. CSI received no public comments for 2019 rate changes.

Open enrollment for 2019 Obamacare health plans will begin on November 1, 2018 and run through December 15, 2018.

More information on 2019 rate changes and the rate review process can be found HERE.

Nevada

State Liable for 2017 Wildfire: The Nevada Division of Forestry has been found at fault for the loss of 23 homes and 17 other buildings from a wildfire in 2016. The jury deciding the case said the supposedly controlled burn got out of control because of state negligence.

The state said it was an unfortunate accident.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Washington

Federal Government Grant: Washington is one of 30 states plus the District of Columbia to receive a portion of an $8.6 million grant awarded through the State Flexibility to Stabilize the Market program created under the federal Affordable Care Act.

Washington received $284,135 of the total grant funding. Our state chose to focus the use of the funding to bolster access to mental health and addiction treatment services.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler applied for the grant to conduct a thorough analysis of whether health insurers in Washington offer comprehensive and affordable health coverage for mental health and substance use disorder treatments. Under the grant, his office will study health plan benefit design, insurers’ policies and procedures for coverage of these services, and claims data.

“This grant will help us do the research needed to uncover any barriers to behavioral health services that may exist for Washington consumers,” said Kreidler. “We are committed to doing our part to fight the opioid crisis facing many communities today. If changes are needed to improve insurance coverage for people, this grant will help inform our work and the efforts we’re taking as a state.”

“To save lives and make an impact on the opioid crisis, state and local government agencies will need to work together,” Gov. Jay Inslee said. “I am grateful to Commissioner Kreidler for his efforts to ensure that individuals and families have access to mental health and addiction resources. If we want to end this crisis, we need to break down all treatment barriers people may face, and insurance coverage is critical.”

Kreidler’s office intends to form an advisory committee of consumers, medical and behavioral health providers and insurers to begin work this fall. The project will include two phases:

Phase one: Create and issue two successive market scans that will be used to identify any barriers, including access barriers, to mental health and substance use disorder treatment services. The project will also contract with a consultant to review insurers’ medical necessity and prior authorization criteria and procedures related to selected behavioral health services.

Phase two: Conduct more detailed claims analysis, informed by the results of the market scans, using All Payer Claims Database data as well as supplemental substance use disorder and denied claims data.

Analysis of the data will reveal if there are any coverage gaps or disparities in how behavioral health is covered compared to other health services and identify possible solutions.

Any issues uncovered during the data collection and Kreidler's recommendations will be part of a detailed report produced at the end of the two-year grant.

Source: https://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/federal-government-awards-washington-284000-study-improvements-mental-health-addiction?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

New Chief Deputy Commissioner: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler announced that AnnaLisa Gellermann will serve as the agency’s new chief deputy commissioner beginning Aug. 27.

Gellerman is currently the deputy commissioner for the Policy and Legislative Affairs division. She joined the Office of Insurance Commissioner in 2013 as the deputy commissioner for Legal Affairs.

She previously served as an executive manager of Insurance Services at the Washington state Department of Labor and Industries beginning in 2007. She managed Legal Services, Return to Work Services, Policy, and Pension programs. She also supervised the Self-Insured Program, overseeing regulation of almost 400 of the largest companies in the state that self-insure for workers’ compensation coverage.

Gellermann began state service in 1999 as an assistant attorney general in the Washington state Office of the Attorney General. She earned her law degree from Seattle University.

“AnnaLisa has a wide range of knowledge and experience that will serve the consumers in our state well,” Kreidler said. “She’s also crafted an excellent working relationship with the industry and our legislative partners. I have every confidence in her ability to honor our mission to protect consumers and regulate the insurance industry in Washington fairly and efficiently.”

Source: https://www.insurance.wa.gov/news/kreidler-names-annalisa-gellermann-new-chief-deputy-commissioner?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= 

From the Department of Insurance: Proposed rule posted: Short-term medical plans

We have released the proposed rule language on R 2018-01. In response to federal rulemaking related to short-term limited duration health insurance, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner is clarifying its standards and processes for short-term limited duration medical plans offered or sold to  Washington consumers.

We have scheduled a public hearing on the rule:

When: September 26, 2018, at 1:00 p.m.

Where: 5000 Capitol Blvd. SE, Tumwater WA, 98501

Comments on the proposed rule language are due September 24, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the proposed rule language (CR-102), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/short-term-medical-plans-r-2018-01?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Notice of rulemaking: Adverse notifications

We are starting rulemaking R 2018-09 to increase consumer awareness of agency help for consumers with their insurance-related questions as well as to promote fair and efficient regulation of insurance by requiring contact information for the Office of the Insurance Commissioner on adverse notifications sent by insurers.

Comments are due September 13, 2018.; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the notice to start rulemaking (CR-101), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/adverse-notifications-r-2018-09?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Notice of rulemaking on health plan coverage of reproductive healthcare and contraception

We are starting rulemaking R 2018-10 to update applicable WACs and add new sections to align with SSB 6219, now codified in RCW 48.43.072 and RCW 48.43.073, which discusses requirements for coverage of reproductive health care and contraception.

Comments are due September 13, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the notice to start rulemaking (CR-101), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/health-plan-coverage-reproductive-healthcare-and-contraception-r-2018-10?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Proposed rule posted: Updating citations concerning fraternal mutual property insurers

We have released the proposed rule language on R 2018-03. The rule will amend WAC 284-36-010 regarding domestic fraternal mutual property insurers’ agents and directors. The current rule cites RCW 48.36.410, which has been repealed. Therefore, this section should be amended to reference RCW 48.36A.390, which is the current statute.

We have scheduled a public hearing on the rule:

When: September 27, 2018, at 9:00 a.m.

Where: 5000 Capitol Blvd. SE, Tumwater WA 98501

Comments on the proposed rule language are due September 26, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the proposed rule language (CR-102), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/updating-citations-concerning-fraternal-mutual-property-insurers-r-2018-03?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Notice of rulemaking on risk mitigation

We are starting rulemaking R 2018-11, the OIC is considering rulemaking that would allow risk mitigation and emergency response activities for property insurers of non-commercial properties.

Comments are due September 30, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the notice to start rulemaking (CR-101), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/risk-mitigation-r-2018-11?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

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

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