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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 14, 2018

California — Underwriting Transparency:  This is from the office of the insurance commissioner.

The general counsel for the California Department of Insurance issued a legal opinion, that under insurance reform law Proposition 103, insurers' underwriting rules submitted with a rate application must be made available for public inspection.

 

Underwriting rules are the criteria insurance companies use to determine whom to insure, what they will insure, and whether to renew an existing policy.

 

"Consumers and insurers alike benefit from transparency," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Consumers are able to better understand how insurance companies decide who to insure and who to renew."

 

Voters passed Proposition 103 in 1988 to lower insurance rates and encourage the public to participate in the rate-setting process. Insurance companies seeking a rate increase or decrease must submit public rate applications to the commissioner including their underwriting rules.

 

In the past, certain insurers have contended their underwriting rules are confidential or proprietary information and not subject to public disclosure.

 

In response to a request by a member of the public, the general counsel analyzed the issue and determined Proposition 103 does not allow this practice.

 

California — Jones Appointed to National Cannabis Committee: The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) yesterday voted to establish a Cannabis Insurance Working Group to address the issue of insurance availability for the legalized cannabis industry. Recognizing California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' leadership on the issue, the NAIC appointed Jones chair of the NAIC Cannabis Insurance Working Group.

 

At the NAIC's Summer National Meeting, Commissioner Jones proposed that the NAIC establish this working group to enable state insurance regulators to better understand where there are insurance coverage gaps for the legalized cannabis industry and to share and develop best practices for state insurance regulators to follow to address coverage gaps and cannabis insurance regulatory issues.

 

Jones previously successfully chaired the NAIC Sharing Economy Working Group which developed a template for insurance coverage for ride sharing and home sharing. Like these prior working groups, the Cannabis Insurance Working Group will enable regulators to better understand the legalized cannabis industry and its insurance needs and the role insurance regulators can play in helping to address insurance needs.

 

"Cannabis businesses face insurance availability and insurance coverage gaps - which means that those who shop, those who work in, those who sell goods or services to, or those who own, invest in or operate cannabis businesses may not have access to insurance to help them recover if there are accidents, injuries, property damage, or any of the things insurance typically covers," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.

 

"As state insurance regulators, one of our responsibilities is to understand new legal businesses and their insurance needs, and then work to encourage the availability of insurance to meet these new risks and coverage needs. I look forward to working with my fellow state insurance regulators to better understand the insurance needs of the legalized cannabis industry and the role we can play in helping to address those insurance needs and other insurance regulatory issues."

 

The newly created NAIC Cannabis Insurance Working Group will consider the insurance regulatory issues surrounding the legalized cannabis business from seed to sale, including availability and scope of coverage, workers' compensation issues, and consumer information and protection. The working group will also develop a white paper outlining the issues and make recommendations for the development of regulatory guidance as appropriate.

 

Insurance Commissioner Dave 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 just last week 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.

 

In May, Commissioner Jones hosted a webinar titled "Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry" with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (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.

 

California — Jailed for Threats: A man in Placer County has been arrested and jailed for threatening three Liberty Mutual employees. He was unhappy with the size of a settlement. Lloyd Jones had a restraining order issued against him but he continued to threaten.

 

It was so bad Liberty Mutual hired a security guard to protect them. One threat forced the building to be evacuated.  When he was arrested, police said his home had more than a dozen assault rifles and 6,000 rounds of ammunition. His vehicle — parked close to the Liberty Mutual office at the time of his arrest — was found loaded with guns.

 

A statement from the sheriff’s office said, “They [the Liberty Mutual employees] really feel like that he was dead set on committing this crime if he didn’t get what he wanted. So I feel like we have saved some people’s lives with this arrest.”

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

 

Nevada — Marijuana Sales: The first year of marijuana sales in Nevada totally topped expectations. Sales and the taxes generated from those sales are 25% higher than projected.

 

Sales are expected to exceed $500 million when June’s numbers are finally tallied. That means tax revenues will hit $70 million and $25 million of that will go to schools.

Andrew Jolley of the Nevada Dispensary Association said, “I think it has been a huge success, and I don’t see how anyone could argue with that.”

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

Oregon — Short-Term Health Sales: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation reviewed the federal rule about short-term, limited-duration insurance. Insurance companies and professionals who market, sell, or offer short-term health plans to Oregonians should note that the federal regulation does not limit a state’s ability to establish laws regarding these plans.

 

It is a violation of Oregon law to market, sell, or offer short-term health insurance policies that exceed three months, including renewals, and a new policy cannot be issued to a customer within 60 days of expiration.

 

Anyone aware of the unlawful marketing, sale or offering of short-term health insurance policies in Oregon is encouraged to contact the division at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).

Background

 

On Aug. 3, 2018, the United States departments of Health and Human Services, Labor, and Treasury published a final regulation on short-term, limited-duration insurance, 38 FR 38212. The regulation defines short-term health insurance plans as lasting less than 12 months, and has a total duration of 36 months or less, including renewals and extensions. For purposes of federal law, short-term health insurance is not subject to Affordable Care Act market reform regulations, such as guaranteed availability and coverage for pre-existing conditions.

 

The federal regulation does not prevent states from enforcing stricter requirements for short-term health plans, including shorter duration limits.

 

Application of short-term, limited-duration insurance regulation in Oregon

Insurers, health care service contractors, producers, and all other entities transacting health insurance in Oregon are reminded that ORS 743B.005(16) defines the term health benefit plan.

 

ORS 743B.005(16)(b)(H) provides a limited exception from the definition of health benefit plan for “short-term health insurance policies that are in effect for periods of three months or less, including the term of a renewal of the policy.” ORS 743B.005(16)(c) further provides that “renewal of a short-term health insurance policy includes the issuance of a new short-term health insurance policy by an insurer to a policyholder within 60 days after the expiration of a policy previously issued by the insurer to the policyholder.”

 

Accordingly, Oregon law limits short-term health insurance policies to a maximum of three months, including renewals, and new policies cannot be issued within 60 days of expiration. A health insurance policy that is in effect for a longer period violates the exception for short-term health insurance under ORS 743B.005(16)(b)(H), and would need to comply with the Oregon requirements for a health benefit plan.

 

A person who participates in the marketing, sale, or offering of a health insurance policy that does not comply with these requirements may violate the insurance code and be subject to civil penalties.

 

Entities transacting health insurance in Oregon are also reminded that health insurance policy forms, and the rates associated with them, must be approved by the Division of Financial Regulation before issuance of the policy, see ORS 742.003 (forms) and ORS 743.018 (rates). The division’s current product standards for short-term, limited-duration insurance and health benefit plans are available on its website at https://dfr.oregon.gov/rates-forms/health/Pages/health.aspx.

 

The division encourages regulated entities, insurance producers, and consumers to report possible violations of the insurance code. If you are aware of the unlawful marketing, sale, or offering of short-term health insurance policies in Oregon, please contact a consumer advocate at 888-877-4894 (toll-free).


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

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WA Joint Conference — Register Now!

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Washington Conference and Trade Show is September 19 through 21 at the Hyatt Regency, Lake Washington, Renton. It’s an annual event sponsored by the Professional Insurance Agents Washington/Alaska (PIA) and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington (IIABW).

Agents/brokers, CSRs, and marketing reps are urged to attend. It’s the perfect opportunity to learn from industry experts and to network with other agents and with company representatives.

And it’s all at the newest resorts in the Northwest – overlooking beautiful Lake Washington.

It’s the only event of its kind in Washington each year. The conference also has opportunities and education for agents, brokers and others in other PIA Western Alliance states like Oregon, Idaho, California, Alaska and Montana.

There are several highlights during the conference too. One of the biggest is the General Session Breakfast on Friday morning features two exceptional and inspiring presentations. The focus is on the latest in Technology Trends with Ron Berg who is the executive director for the Agents Council of Technology (ACT).

And an uplifting message Here’s Smiling at You from former Seattle TV Personality and Seattle Seahawk's Digital Media Host, Tony Ventrella. Tony’s message deals with everything from gratitude, attitude and team work. Incorporating these traits is key to keeping physically/mentally fit and how to release the thoughts that weigh you down.

Tony tells stories instead of lecturing and uses a lot of humor. The bottom-line is an uplifting, honest, straight forward approach to living every day with a smile, regardless of your situation. You won’t want to miss them.

The other presentation is from Berg who is an expert on changes in technology. He will creatively demonstrate how they are impacting the way insurance agencies organize their operations, sell their products, communicate with their customers and protect themselves.

Click here to view the joint conference sessions.

Click here to see the conference agenda.

Registration is also very easy:

Click here to register.

Click here to register online.

Click here for hotel reservations.

 There is still time to be a part of our trade show and to become an event sponsor:

 Click here to exhibit.

Click here to sponsor.

 Question? If so, click here.

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Special Report — California’s Wildfire Complications

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Two huge fires in California. The Carr Fire — which has killed people — and 16 others are plaguing the Golden State and causing billions in damages. A fire in the Clear Lake area is called the Mendocino Complex Fire. It is now the largest fire in California history and is a raging inferno that is gobbling up all the homes and businesses in its path.

Worse, there are over 60 uncontrolled fires burning in the seven states of the West.

Moody’s says the Carr Fire in the Redding area will cost insurers $1.5 billion. Aon’s risk analysis arm Impact Forecasting agrees. “The July 2018 fires in California follow what was the costliest year ever recorded for the insurance industry with the wildfire peril in 2017. Insurers paid out more than USD14 billion in insurance claims due to fire damage around the world, almost entirely due to the October and December events in California. In the industry’s history, only ten individual fires have prompted more than USD1 billion in payouts (2018 USD),” Aon said in a news release.

Moody’s said insurers selling homeowners insurance will take the biggest hit. With over 40,000 people evacuated, insurers are going to be on the hook for additional living expenses. Commercial insurers will see claims for business interruption rise.

The ratings firm says the average cost per home is close to $991,000. High construction costs from the 2017 fires is driving up the cost per home. Then there’s the hit from the Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan — or FAIR Plan. Insurers are required pay into the insurer of the last resort plan that insurers property in remote locations or with high wildfire exposure.

Those payments are based on marketshare in 2017. That means State Farm with $1.3 billion, Farmers at $1.2 billion, CSAA’s $520 million and Auto Club’s $499 million will pay the most. 

Moody’s also said we’re likely to see insurers “reassessing” how it insurers property in California.

“Several recent academic studies have concluded that wildfire exposure for the Western U.S. has increased in recent years because of drier forests, a longer burning season, and higher average temperatures. After record losses in 2017, California homeowners and commercial property insurers will likely continue to reassess their exposures, pricing and reinsurance arrangements with regard to wildfires,” the Moody’s report concluded.

So far this year losses from wildfire in California have topped $12 billion. It’s a test case of sorts for the seven states we mentioned earlier in this story. Verisk Insurance Solutions said more than 13% of the homes in those states are at risk for wildfire.

Insurance commissioner Dave Jones calls it a “growing problem.” The “new normal” is Governor Jerry Brown’s definition as over two-million California homes are among that 13%. Both men worry that insurers will be leaving the state or will seriously restrict where they will insure. 

It’s a claim Mark Sektnan of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) denies. “California insurance companies are well-regulated, well-capitalized, and heavily reinsured to protect consumers and ensure claims are paid following major catastrophes like the current 2018 California wildfires. California continues to have a competitive and healthy homeowner's market,” he said.

However, there are rumors of non-renewal. Liberty Mutual and one other insurer have said they’re going to make restrictions on what they insure.

In its statement, Liberty Mutual said, “Catastrophic wildfires pose a significant risk to our customers and our company. Our primary goal is to ensure that we are there for our customers when they need us the most and can deliver on our promise to handle claims quickly and fairly. Unfortunately, due to California’s wildfire experience in recent years, we have had to take the difficult but necessary step to responsibly manage our overall catastrophe exposure, safeguarding our ability to pay policyholders’ homeowner claims. This is the same approach we use to manage our business throughout the country. As a result, we expect to non-renew about 1 percent of our California property customers this year. These policies are all located in areas with high levels of wildfire exposure and will have met specific physical conditions.”

That led to a bill sponsored by State Sen. Bill Dodd that will restrict cancellations to two-years after a disaster like wildfire or mudslides.

However, the California Department of Insurance says cancellations are hard to track and it believes non-renewals in California jumped 15% from 2015 to 2016. There are no estimates from 2016 to now. 

Meanwhile, Governor Brown said the state can expect even more fires before the official wildfire ends. “We’re in for a really rough ride, and it’s going to get expensive and it’s going to get dangerous. We have to apply all our creativity to make the best out of an increasingly bad situation, not just in California but all over America and all over the world.”

With that Commissioner Jones set out some policies to help insureds with their claims. In a statement issued last week Jones said, “Survivors of these destructive wildfires need all the help we can provide. I am asking California insurers to adopt the expedited claims handling procedures, move quickly to expand their claim adjuster teams to handle the large volume of claims and make sure those professionals are properly trained on California laws and regulations. We are focused on helping survivors, as they begin the long process of rebuilding their homes and their lives.”

He has ordered insurers to give insureds who are displaced an advance payment for up to four months of additional living expenses and 25% of policy limits for personal property as well ordering them to set up an expedited process for debris clearing as a first-step for rebuilding.

Source links: Artemis, Insurance Journal, CBS News, The Hill, CBS Sacramento

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Weekly Industry News  wildfires  Wildfires: The West Burning Out of Control 

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Your Clients & Wildfire — Some Suggestions

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The West is on fire. People are dying in those fires.

One Redding, California man — Ed Bledsoe — told CBS News his family didn’t get warned when fire attacked Redding. He left the house to run an errand and left his wife and great grandchildren at home. About 15-minutes after leaving his wife called to say fire was approaching. One of the kids told his great grandmother that fire was at the back door.

The man tried to return. A roadblock stopped Bledsoe’s trip back by car and a wall of flames kept him from getting to the house. His wife and great grandchildren died in that fire.

Bledsoe said they were not warned of the danger. If he’d been warned, he would not have left on that errand.

The sheriff’s department said they notify people a number of ways and that includes going door-to-door and using loudspeakers from emergency vehicles. News media is used as well as the integrated Public Alert and Warning System. It sends warnings to cellphones.

Bledsoe and his family didn’t get the message.

That leads to the first important piece of advice to share with your clients. When there is wildfire in your area, pay attention. When fires burn at that speed, warnings become critical and so does being prepared and aware.

Another danger is not leaving. Too many people choose not to leave. Reports from the Carr Fire — and other fires around the Western states — say some stay to fight the fire and save their property. Also not the brightest thing someone can do when facing a wall of fire.

That brings us to some important tips we found in a story done on the PropertyCasualty360.com website. These are the should not do and the should do things your clients need to know:

Do

1. Listen to authorities to find out when it is safe to return, and whether water is safe to drink.

2. Use caution when re-entering a burned area — flare-ups can occur. If you find fire, call 911 immediately.

3. Wear a mask rated N-95 or better while cleaning up.

4. Put on gloves, long pants and a long sleeve shirt. Wear boots with good soles.

5. Walk carefully. When ash gets wet, it can be slippery.

6. Check you property for hot spots: smoldering stumps and vegetation, ash pits (holes created by burned trees filled with hot ash).

7. Check the roof and exterior of your house for sparks and embers. Be sure to check rain gutters, under decking, in crawlspaces and in any piles of debris for embers.

8. Check for the smell of gas. If you smell gas, leave the house and turn the supply off at the tank or outside valve. Open the doors and windows and contact your utility provider.

9. Check the attic and throughout the house for hidden burning sparks and embers.

10. Give your pets a bath to get rid of ash.

11. Wash toys before children play with them.

12. Throw away frozen food that might’ve thawed during a power outage. Also, throw away food, beverages or medications that were not in airtight containers. This includes products that have been stored in cardboard or other soft packaging.

13. Toss plastic bottles, like bottles of water, that have ash on the caps. Rinsing bottle caps is not enough to decontaminate the containers.

14. Place any ash you collect into a plastic bag, so it doesn’t blow away.

15. Document property damage with photographs or video. Conduct an inventory and contact your insurance agent for assistance.

16. Ask your insurance provider what you should do about covering broken windows, doors, and other exposed areas, pumping out water and any other activities you may need to do to secure your home.

Don’t

1. Don’t start cleaning or throwing away anything until you have contacted your insurance company.

2. Don’t turn on a flashlight inside a damaged home. The battery may produce a spark that could ignite leaking gas, if present.

3. Don’t turn on your electricity if you seen any damage to your meter.

4. Don’t try to fix any damaged gas meters, gas lines or propane tanks. If you find damage, call your local utility provider.

5. Don’t touch any downed wires. Again, call your utility provider.

6. Don’t let kids play in the ash whether its dry or wet.

7. Don’t let ash linger on our skin. If ash does get on your skin, wash it off using warm water and soap.

8. Don’t eat the food in your refrigerator if there was a long power outage.

9.  Don’t kick up more ash into the air. Avoid using your leaf blower to clean up the ash. The Los Angeles County Department of Health suggests sweeping the ash carefully, and then using a wet mop.

10. Don’t use your average home vacuum cleaner to clean up ash unless it has a HEPA-filter. Regular vacuum cleaners will just blow the particles back into the air.

11. Don’t plug a generator directly into your home’s electrical panel or power meter — the power can flow back out onto the wires on the street and give workers a bad shock.

12. If you have a safe or strong box, do not try to open it. It can hold intense heat for several hours. If the door is opened before the box has cooled, the contents could burst into flames.

13. Cleaning products, paint, batteries and damaged fuel containers need to be disposed of properly to avoid risk.

14. Don’t use water that you think may be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula.

15. Don’t attempt to open or save any container of potentially hazardous material (or of unknown content) that has been burned or is bulging.

16. Don’t assume the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the only financial assistance you need. A Presidential Disaster Declaration must be established in order for a community to become eligible for FEMA funding. Ensure your expectations of FEMA are realistic. FEMA does not replace homes or businesses (except in extremely rare cases). FEMA assistance, when provided, is not a substitute for insurance but rather will provide minimum assistance to get people on their feet after a disaster.

Lastly, the website — who got most of this information from FEMA/Ready.gov, Colorado State University Extension, the American Red Cross, the Ready For Wildfire, Los Angeles County and the British Columbia government — urges you to tell your clients to use caution and good judgement when confronted by wildfire.

Ultimately — PropertyCasualty360.com — says, you are responsible for your own safety and well-being.

Source links: Insurance Business America, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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A Flood Insurance Extension — Now What?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

PIA National is pleased the U.S. Senate passed a four-month extension of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is extended to November 30th. The House passed the same measure last week.

President Trump signed the extension into law. PIA National Vice President of Government Relations Jon Gentile said by doing so helped Congress avert a lapse of the NFIP by a matter of hours.

“The passage of a clean extension by the House and Senate is positive. That said, waiting until the last minute to act should be a thing of the past. Congress now has four months to work to find a way to provide a long-term reauthorization of the program. That work should begin today,” he said.

An extension is one thing. Fixing the NFIP permanently is quite another. The program remains about $25 billion in debt. Critics say the program is not sustainable and radical reforms need to come about and come about soon. PIA National agrees with some of that criticism and wants reforms that include the expansion of more private insurers into the market.

Those same critics also point out that five-million or so properties are insured by the NFIP and those insureds often pay premiums that are way below market value. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says 85% of the policyholders in the highest risk areas are in that category.

Howard Kunreuther, the co-director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center said, “No question about it, this is a new era of catastrophe. Some of it has to do with climate change, some of it has to do with people moving into hazard prone areas and thinking they're safe. 

Another report done in 2017 by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found over 30,000 of them are considered severe repetitive loss properties. That means they’ve had four or more separate claims totaling $5,000 or more. Some have had two or more claim payments that exceeded the value of the property.

The NRDC says repetitive loss properties account for just 6% of the properties insured by the NFIP. They account — though — for 9.6% of the payouts. From 1978 to 2015 that was $5.5 billion.

That same report also shows 75% of those classified as moderate value — that’s less than $250,000 — have few options when it comes to what is now being called flood, build, repeat. They’re trapped into high risk properties and have no escape.

Attempts at reform in 2012 included rate increases but with some rates doubling and tripling the reforms were quickly — themselves — reformed. That led to rules that say rate hikes are limited to a maximum of 18% in a year.

Kunreuther said another problem is people not understanding the danger of flooding. Part of it is how the system is explained to them. “Don't tell a person that there's a 1-in-100 chance of a flood next year, they'll say, ‘I'm not going to worry, it's so small.’ Tell them that over 25 years, even without climate change, that probability is greater than 1-in-5, and then they pay attention,” he said.

Some say part of the reforms Congress needs to take is to help property owners in high-risk flood zones by buying them out. Others think mitigation like vouchers, loans or lowering flood insurance premiums could help. Mitigation means adopting building codes and help owners beef up homes to survive harsh weather.

The National Institute of Building Sciences says for every $1 spent on mitigation, $6 is saved for future disasters.

Those are some ideas. Others have other ideas. But what it really comes down to is communities in the future having to make hard decisions on where things are built and what the NFIP is going to be willing to insure for affordable prices.

Chris Hackett is the senior director of personal lines policy at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). He said, “Any time you see a major flood or devastating event, a lot of times you may see politicians come in and say, ‘We're going to rebuild.’That may be very popular at the time, but I think it's important to maybe take a moment and think about, is it really the best use of resources to rebuild in this exact location after this disaster struck?"

Source link: PIA National, U.S. News and World Report

Tags:  flood insurance  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Weekly Industry News 

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Millennials & Vacations — An Interesting Observation

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Millennials get a lot of knocks for being self-absorbed employees and sometimes for not even being good employees. It’s a generalization but the knock is there. Here’s an interesting observation of millennials from a study done by the staffing firm Accountemps.

It found, millennials might be much better employees than the myth that surrounds that generation. For one thing, they are more apt to check in with the office while on vacation than their older counterparts.

Here is the info:

  70% of those 18 to 34 say they maintain some contact with the office while on vacation

  Just 39% of those age 55 and over do the same

  56% of all workers say they check in with the office while on vacation

  44% do not check in at all

While checking in with the office while on vacation seems weird to some of us, Michael Steintz of Accountemps said the results show some employees need to check in once in awhile to fully relax. Cutting contact completely is a bit more than they can handle.

“Employees need time away from work to rest, relax and recharge. Yet for an increasing number of people, totally disconnecting from the office can have the reverse effect and add stress,” Steintz said.

Professionals on vacation in Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Charlotte check in the most. Those in Cleveland, Minneapolis, Denver, Philadelphia and Salt Lake City check in the least.

A last note. Employees plan on taking an average of nine-days off this summer. That’s down from 10 last year.

Source link: Carrier Management

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Millennials & Insurance  Weekly Industry News 

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American Family Insurance — Are Agents Employees or Not?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

In April of last year the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio said American Family Insurance Group improperly classified thousands of agents as independent contractors. The advisory jury in the case determined they are employees. 

That case has since been sent to the 6th U.S. Court of Appeals who heard arguments by opposing attorneys on the case on July 31st.

Four former agents filed the suit that could impact 7,200 current and former agents. Their case stands on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA,). It has to do with retirement and retirement benefits that the agents say American Family avoids by making them independent contractors.

The agents also say their case comes down to control American Family has over them.

Here’s the history. In July of last year Judge Donald Nugent affirmed the jury ruling and said the “evidence supports a finding that the American Family agents defined in the class description should have been classified as employees and not independent contractors.”

However, the judge also said the two parties can file an interlocutory appeal. For those not knowing, that is an appeal of an aspect of a ruling by a trial court before the trial is concluded.

Here is the judge’s conclusion. He started by saying an appeal may “materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation because:

  Evidence is there to support both parties

  Prior case law almost unanimously says insurance agents are independent contractors

  The repercussions of the finding could be far-reaching

  As a result of a positive ruling the damages could be very complicated

The judge also noted: “In order to determine employment status under ERISA, courts are instructed to look at the degree to which the hiring party retains the right to control the manner and means by which the service is accomplished.”

The employment agreement with American Family says the agents are private contractors and are responsible for paying their own taxes. It also says they have the right to determine how they conduct their business.

What they aren’t entitled to — under that agreement — is workers’ compensation and unemployment benefits.

The attorneys for the agents say the company’s agreement is paper only. Managers regularly tell agents how to do their jobs and are sometimes forceful in those instructions. The agents disagree and say the company requires them to buy their own supplies, offices, etc. but will not let them sell their agency when they terminate the relationship.

American Family responded by saying the managers merely work with the agents to set sales goals and monitor the outcome of those goals. The company does not care how the agents achieve them.

In his ruling, Judge Nugent addressed the retirement plan and noted “testimony showed that agents were offered an ‘extended earnings’ benefit based on their years of service. This plan offered a lifetime annuity, and was described to the agents as a retirement plan.”

American Family also told state insurance regulators that the company defined those extended earnings as a benefit. How much money an agent makes from that benefit depends upon the number of years worked plus the amount of money earned during the last six-months of the “exclusive relationship” with American Family.

The quizzing of the attorneys on the 31st indicated the appeals judges will be looking at the degree of control the company has over the activity of the agents. Also at issue is whether an agent can be looked at as an employee when it comes to retirement benefits yet be considered an independent contractor for tax purposes.

The judges also want to explore the far-reaching implications of a decision for the plaintiffs.

Source links: Insurance Journal, Insurance Business America

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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The Top Insurance Brand in the Country

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Over the last couple of weeks Weekly Industry News has looked at insurance company income and the top-writers in the country. We’ll look at those again when we finish examining which insurers have done the best job branding themselves.

YouGov is a public opinion and data company that operates globally. It has done a year’s worth of research and has come up with the top insurance company when it comes to branding. That company is — no surprise — State Farm.

The annual review looks at brand health in these ways:

  Impression

  Value

  Quality

  Reputation

  Satisfaction

  Recommendation

These scores were calculated between July 1, 2017 and July 1, 2018.

Top Index Rankings

1. State Farm — Score: 17.6

2. AAA — Score: 14.2

3. USAA — Score: 12.9

4. GEICO Score: 11.5

5. Allstate Score: 11.4

The YouGov ranking also include how insurance companies improved in the last 12-months:

The “Top Index Improvers” list:

1. Progressive

2018 — 8.0

2017 — 6.5

Change in score — 1.5

2. GEICO

2018 — 11.5

2017 — 10.2

Change in score — 1.2

3. AIG

2018 — 0.0

2017 — -1.1

Change in score — 1.1

4. Allstate

2018 — 11.4

2017 — 10.5

Change in score — 0.9

5. Liberty Mutual

2018 — 8.3

2017 — 7.8

Change in score — 0.5

As promised earlier in the story, here is the top 10 insurance company rankings overall.

1. State Farm

2. Berkshire Hathaway

3. Allstate

4. Liberty Mutual

5. Progressive

6. Travelers Companies

7. USAA

8. Nationwide Mutual Group

9. American International Group (AIG)

10. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies

We’ve also examined who is tops in these categories. The top insurer is listed after the category:

  Personal auto — State Farm

  Commercial multi-peril — Travelers

  Workers’ compensation — Travelers

  Fire — AIG

  D&O — AIG

Source link: Insurance business America, Weekly Industry News — link 1, link 2

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Trump Insists on ObamaCare Changes — Short-term, Lower Cost Plans

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

In its continuing effort to undo the Affordable Care Act, the Trump administration is close to allowing insurers to sell short-term, lower cost health insurance plans. Health And Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said they’re an alternative to the very expensive policies mandated under ObamaCare law. Some people — he says — are struggling to pay those premiums, make too much money for subsidies and need an alternative.

What those policies don’t have to do is cover pre-existing conditions and they can offer limited benefits. While that sounds ominous, Azar said not all that many people are going to find it appealing.

“For many who’ve got pre-existing conditions or who have other health worries, the Obamacare plans might be right for them. We’re just providing more options,” he said.

Plans — under this plan — can last 12-months and be renewed for as many as 36-months. They are expected to be about a third the cost of comprehensive coverage. As it stands now the silver plan under ObamaCare is $481 a month for someone 40 who is a non-smoker. Under this plan it would run $160 a month or less.

However, there is no guarantee that insurers have to renew and the plans have a disclaimer that they don’t meet the ACA’s requirements.

Jim Parker who is an advisor on ObamaCare for the HHS said, “We make no representation that it’s equivalent coverage. But what we do know is that there are individuals today who have been priced out of coverage.”

President Trump is enthusiastic about the plan and with a typical Trump response said, “Much less expensive health care at a much lower price. Will cost our country nothing. We’re finally taking care of our people.”

Democrats immediately attacked. Washington Sen. Patty Murray called this “a new sabotage step that will do even more to let insurance companies offer junk plans.”

Azar disagrees. “It may not cover every condition, but it’s a really important option for a lot of people in transition between jobs, those gig economy workers who work on their own as independent contractors or the folks who are struggling with three part-time jobs and don’t get insurance through any one employer.”

Wisconsin Democrat Sen. Tammy Baldwin is going to introduce a resolution of disapproval in the Senate. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer noted it all Democrats will back the resolution but the real question is how many Republicans will jump on board. “All it takes is one or two Republicans who claim to support preexisting condition protections,” Schumer said.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) thinks close to six-million more people will enroll in these plans once they are offered. The Trump administration estimates aren’t so high. It is estimating 1.6 million.

Source links: Insurance Business America, The Hill

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Arizona — Traffic Deaths Rise: For the third straight year — says the Arizona Department of Transportation — traffic fatalities have risen. The 2017 total was 1,000. In 2016 it was 952 and 2015 saw 897 deaths.

 In 2018 the state saw the most deaths since 2007 when 1,071 people died on Arizona roads, highways and streets.

The department said a quarter of those who died last year in crashes were pedestrians. Of those dying, 320 were killed in alcohol-related wrecks and 285 people died in speed-caused crashes.

The number of vehicle crashes stayed relatively static at 127,000 or so and 55,474 people received traffic tickets.

Source link: Insurance Journal

California — Commissioner Says No to Merger: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued his finding that the proposed merger of CVS Health and Aetna, Inc. would have significant anti-competitive impacts on American consumers and health care and health insurance markets. Jones formally recommends that the United States Department of Justice sue to block the proposed merger.

On June 19, 2018, Jones held a public hearing at which executives of CVS and Aetna testified about the proposed merger. Expert testimony was provided by a panel of academics in the area of health care competition, with additional testimony from consumer and medical provider representatives, and members of the public. Reports prepared by the expert witnesses and comment letters from members of the public, as well as the hearing transcript, are available on the California Department of Insurance website. Jones reached his findings and recommendation regarding the proposed merger after he and the Department of Insurance conducted an in-depth review and analysis of the testimony, studies, and written comments.

Jones found that the proposed merger poses competitive concerns in the Medicare Part D market, where both companies currently compete, as well as in the highly-concentrated market for Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) services, and in the retail pharmacy market. These anti-competitive impacts pose a risk of higher costs for California consumers.

"The proposed merger of CVS and Aetna will significantly reduce competition in the PBM and Medicare Part D markets, affecting millions of health care consumers throughout the country," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "A merger of this size and type, according to experts on health insurer and health care mergers, will likely lead to increased prices and decreased quality. Further, partial divestiture or other remedies traditionally used by the Department of Justice will not adequately protect consumers or address the adverse consequences of a merger of CVS and Aetna. Traditional methods to avoid market concentration will not address potential impacts on service quality, the power to charge excessive rates, or the creation of barriers to block a potential market participant with the resources to enter into new markets.

Finally, the CVS-Aetna merger will eliminate Aetna as an important potential competitor in the PBM market. In the present health insurance and health care markets, it is impossible to create de novo a PBM competitor with the strength, experience, and provider relationships that Aetna has established. Loss of Aetna as a potential competitor in the PBM market is an irreplaceable loss of competition because of the extraordinary concentration of the PBM market and high barriers to entry. If there are any other entities considering entry into the PBM market, they will now have to enter the market in conjunction with a health insurer. Single entry PBMs will no longer be feasible to compete with these behemoths.

For these reasons, I conclude that the proposed merger of CVS and Aetna will have anti-competitive effects and not be in the interest of consumers or health insurance and health care markets in California and nationally. The CVS and Aetna merger will harm Californians and our health insurance market, and is likely to increase drug prices for consumers rather than reduce them. The CVS and Aetna merger will harm consumers in markets across the United States. Accordingly, I request that the United States Department of Justice sue to block the CVS-Aetna merger."

Jones' findings and recommendations are contained in a detailed, comprehensive 15 page letter formally submitted today to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has an open investigation regarding the proposed merger.

California — Jones Okays Cannabis Carriers: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he has approved three more insurance carriers to offer coverage for the cannabis industry in California. The North River Insurance Company and United States Fire Insurance Company will begin offering coverage today and White Pine Insurance Company will begin offering coverage later this month. All three insurance carriers will write surety bonds for the cannabis businesses.

"The approval of these new products means California cannabis businesses have more options for insurance coverage available to them," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "I continue to encourage more insurance companies to file cannabis business insurance products with the department to meet the needs of this emerging market." Cannabis business operators are encouraged to check the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) regulations to determine the applicable cannabis surety bond requirements for the applicable licensing categories.

Commissioner Jones launched an initiative last year to encourage commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. This first filing and approval of commercial insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November of last year as a successful result of Commissioner Jones' initiative. 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 approve the cannabis product and program filings.

Commissioner Jones hosted a national webinar titled Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (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 abandoned Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement of cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.

Idaho: Idaho Department of Insurance Publishes 2019 Health Insurance Rates: The Idaho Department of Insurance (DOI) has posted on its website the proposed health insurance premium rates and the requested increases for plans sold starting January 2019.

Here is the link: https://doi.idaho.gov/consumer/RateReview/

Health insurance carriers have submitted their rating information including explanations for the rate increases. The DOI will continue to review the insurance carriers’ submissions. The DOI has the authority to determine the rates “unreasonable” if the requests are not adequately justified. In past years, the DOI has successfully negotiated lower rate increases with carriers to avoid having them labeled “unreasonable.” Final rates will be publicly available around mid-September or early October.

“While the proposed rate increases are not nearly as extreme as some prior years, any increase to health insurance premiums make it that much more difficult to afford,” said DOI Bureau Chief Wes Trexler. “We are still reviewing these increases, and welcome examination and comments from the public.” Comments, questions, or ideas can be submitted electronically or mailed to the following:

2019 Rate Comments

Idaho Department of Insurance

PO Box 83720

Boise ID 83720-0043

ratecomments@doi.idaho.gov

The DOI encourages consumers to carefully review all of their options with a licensed insurance agent whether purchasing coverage on or off the exchange (Your Health Idaho) once the final rates are published.

For questions about this or other insurance-related topics, contact the Idaho Department of Insurance by visiting doi.idaho.gov or by calling 208-334-4250 in the Boise area or 800-721-3272 toll-free statewide.

Idaho — Medicare Workshops from the Department of Insurance: Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, is offering a Medicare Workshops:

  Tuesday, August 28th at the Kroc Center , 1765 Golf Course Road, Coeur d’ Alene ID 83815 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

  Bonneville County on Wednesday, August 22, 2018 and Thursday, August 23, 2018

  Both workshops will take place at the Community Family Clinic, 2100 Alan St., Idaho Falls, ID 83404, from  6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

  The Thursday workshop is in Spanish

  Monday, September 10th at the Shoshone Medical Center, 25 Jacobs Road, Kellogg ID 83837 from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm

  Wednesday, September 12th at the Bonner General Hospital, 520 N 3rd Ave, Sandpoint ID 83864 from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm

This workshop is especially designed for:

  People who are turning 65

  Disabled individuals under 65 or others approaching Medicare eligibility

  Caregivers

  Anyone who would like to learn more about how Medicare works

Presenters will explain some of the vocabulary that is associated with Medicare and introduce the various parts of Medicare. Attendees will learn about:

  Important timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

  Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

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

Anyone interested in attending this workshop is encouraged to call the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422 to RSVP.  You can also find more information on the SHIBA website: www.shiba.idaho.gov

Idaho — Medicare Workshop at Home: The Idaho Department of Insurance Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) has announced that it is providing Medicare Webinars on a monthly basis. “You can now learn about the terminology of Medicare, the timeframes for making decisions, and Medicare basics from the comfort of your own home via the Internet,” says Colleen Van Winkle, who hosts the webinar each month. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for people who live in remote areas, or who prefer to log into the webinars to get the same information as people who can attend one of several presentations made throughout the state each month.”

To attend a webinar, a person will need a computer or tablet, an email address, and access to the internet. To register, call 1-800-247-4422 and ask to be signed up for the statewide webinar. An invitation with instructions on how to register on the Webinar site will be sent to the caller, along with updates prior to the webinar.

SHIBA is the statewide program to assist people with Medicare and is funded by the state and the federal Administration on Community Living. For more information, call 1-800-247-4422 or visit the SHIBA website at shiba.idaho.gov.

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

Updates references related to FINRA Series examinations

Rules affected: OAR 441-175-0120, 441-175-0130

Amended to include a reference to the FINRA Series 66 exam.

The proposed rulemaking would update references to the FINRA securities Series examinations in order to reflect new and changed examinations. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) is the self-regulating body for broker-dealers. Under contract with the North American Securities Administrators Association and the Securities and Exchange Commission, FINRA also coordinates licensing exams for investment advisors. The licensing exams change periodically. Most recently, the new “Series 66 exam,” allows a person to be licensed as an investment advisor representative and a broker-dealer salesperson affiliated with brokerage firm. The Series 66 was developed to include competency questions both on the brokerage side and the investment advisory side. Oregon law provides for dual licensure; however, current securities rules do not reference the new examination.

Filed: July 30, 2018

Public hearing: August 23, 2018 11 a.m.

Last day for public comment: August 30, 2018, 5 p.m.

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

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

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

Washington — Risk Mitigation rulemaking (R 2018-11) stakeholder meeting correction:

It has come to our attention our email notice sent on July 23, regarding the Risk Mitigation rulemaking (R 2018-11) working draft and stakeholder meeting, listed the meeting date as August 10, 2018.  This date is incorrect.

Please note the correct date and time of the Stakeholder meeting as follows:

When: August 9, 2018 at 11:00 a.m.

Where:  5000 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater, WA  98501

We hope you can attend on August 9th. If our error has caused a scheduling conflict, but you still wish to attend, a member of the rulemaking team will be available on August 10th at 11:00am to go over the meeting agenda again.

Our sincerest apologies for the error and any confusion it may have caused.

If you have any questions, please contact us at rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

Washington — From the Department of Insurance: Title rating and advisory organization rule adopted

We adopted the title insurance rating and advisory organization rule (R 2017-06) on July 26th, 2018. The rule will take effect on August 26th, 2018. The adopted rule establishes the following; the fee for a license as a title rating organization, the licensing requirements that an applicant for a license as a title rating organization must comply with, require a title rating organization to periodically update its title insurance rate filings, and enable the Commissioner to recover the costs of the Commissioner’s examination of a title rating organization from the title rating organization.

For more information, including the adopted rule (CR-103P) and the concise explanatory statement, please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/title-insurance-rating-and-advisory-organizations-r-2017-06?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Notice expedited rule on definition of earned surplus

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has proposed an expedited rule on the definition of earned surplus (R 2018-05). The rule seeks to remove outdated references to an old form. The new language will still provide updated information without reference outdated documents.

This rule is being proposed using an expedited rulemaking process that will eliminate the need for the Commissioner to hold a public hearing. If you object to the use of the expedited rulemaking process, you must express your objection in writing by October 2, 2018 and submit it to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the expedited rule (CR-105), please visit the rule's webpage — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/definition-earned-surplus-r-2018-05?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=

Washington — Kreidler Tells Kaiser to write policy to treat transgender women fairly: Under the direction of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, Inc. have reversed their practice of denying breast augmentation, or chest reconstruction, for transgender women. View the agreement.

Kreidler started an investigation into the companies earlier this year when three consumers sought help from his office. The companies specifically excluded breast augmentation as a treatment for gender dysphoria, the clinical diagnosis for transgender men and women. The companies did not consider individual cases, but instead issued blanket denials based on exclusions in their policies.

As a result of Kreidler’s investigation, the companies will now cover chest reconstruction for transgender women. A physician must write a prescription for the treatment. 

In addition, both companies will review all denials of this treatment since January 2016, and will complete the assessments by Oct. 28.

“People who are transgender should not be barred from medical treatments because of their gender identity,” Kreidler said. “I’m glad the companies ultimately did the right thing to ensure they are treating their transgender enrollees fairly.”

Kreidler’s investigation found that the companies treated transgender women differently than they treated transgender men and cisgender women. The companies pay for chest reconstruction for transgender men and for cisgender women who have had a mastectomy. The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover services for transgender individuals if they cover the services for cisgender individuals.

In addition, Washington state’s mental health parity laws don’t allow insurers to categorically deny a treatment that is medically necessary to treat a mental health condition.

If you have been denied insurance or treatment based on your gender or gender identity, you should file a complaint with Kreidler’s office.

Consumers in Washington state can get help with their health, property, life and other types of insurance from Kreidler’s office. Help is available online or by phone at 1-800-562-6900.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

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

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