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GAO: Laws Broken in Implementation of ObamaCare

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the Obama administration broke the law in implementing the Transitional Reinsurance Program. It’s the program — that — for the first three years of the program helped insurers with losses suffered in the exchanges.

 

This is the last year.

 

The goal of the reinsurance program is to stabilize rates, keep them down and keep insurers in the game. As Congress wrote the Affordable Care Act, in 2014 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was to collect $10 billion from insurers. HHS was then told to figure out a system to distribute the money back to insurers to help them with losses. It was also instructed to collect another $2 billion to send to the U.S. Treasury.

 

In 2015 the figure for insurers was supposed to be $6 billion and another $2 billion for the Treasury and in 2016 the formula is $4 billion and $1 billion.

 

The share given to the HHS was to be for insurers and the money for the Treasury was to be a guarantee for the taxpayers. It didn’t happen that way. Not even close. Republicans discovered the discrepancy and asked the GAO to investigate.

 

GAO found the HHS wasn’t able to collect enough money and that HHS violated the law by keeping the money without congressional approval or a specific appropriation from Congress because the money shall be deposited into the general fund of the Treasury of the United States and may not be used for the program established under this section”

 

It’s a $5 billion loss for the taxpayers. When total collections for benefit year 2014 — $9.7 billion — fell short of the target amount for reinsurance payments, HHS did not allocate any collections to the Treasury or to administrative expenses,” the GAO said.

 

It went on to say, The agency received $7.9 billion in reinsurance claims and paid these in full, leaving approximately $1.7 billion in collections, which it carried over for reinsurance payments in subsequent benefit years. As a result, HHS did not deposit any amounts collected from issuers into the Treasury.”

 

At the very least, the leftover cash — which was close to the $2 billion — should have gone into the Treasury.

 

When the GAO pushed HHS for an explanation, it said the shortfall meant it was exempted from the law’s language. The GAO disagreed and said the administration broke the law — period. This prioritization of collections for payments to issuers over payments to the Treasury is not authorized. The fact that HHS’s collections ultimately fell short of the projected amounts does not alter the meaning of the statute,” the GAO concluded.

 

Instead, the GAO felt the payments should have been made in the proportions the law intended. But as noted, HHS disagrees. Spokesman Matt Inzeo said, “CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] has implemented the Transitional Reinsurance Program lawfully and in a transparent manner, and strongly disagrees with today’s GAO opinion. This critical program, which expires this year, helps to reduce premiums for consumers.”

 

Many would disagree with Inzeo’s conclusion about the success of the reinsurance program. It has been a total failure and insurers are either leaving ObamaCare or are threatening to do so. A suit has also been filed by insurers wondering where the other $2.5 billion promised in 2014 has gone.

 

As for the seven Republicans who found the discrepancy? The said, “The Administration needs to put an end to the Great Obamacare Heist immediately.”

 

Source links: MSN Money, The Hill

 

 

Tags:  GAO: Laws Broken in Implementation of ObamaCare  Healthcare  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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The Public Option — Pushing a Federal Health Insurance Company

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

With health insurers abandoning the ObamaCare exchanges or — at the very least — threatening to leave, and with those staying in some cases proposing double-digit rate hikes, President Obama has brought up the idea of a public option. So have other prominent Democrats including presidential hopeful Hilary Clinton.

 

The public option is a government health insurance company that those supporting the idea say can provide health insurance to people for far less than insurance companies because the profit motive is eliminated.

 

The latest proponent is California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. He said he’d like California to be a testing ground to see if a public option works. I think we should strongly consider a public option in California. It will require a lot of careful thought and work, but I think it’s something that ought to be on the table because we continue to see this consolidation in an already consolidated health insurance market.”

 

The consolidation he refers to has to do with health insurers Aetna-Humana and Cigna-Anthem proposed mergers. If allowed — and it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen at this point — it would reduce the number of insurers and options available to consumers.

 

Jones has ideas of how he’d like to see the public option done but he’s open to what others might want. I don’t want to begin to prejudge it. I don’t know whether you would start in certain areas of the state and expand from there. I think there would be significant reservations about the state running it. There would be a wide variety of governance models you could come up with.”

 

Obama, Clinton, Jones and other Democrats aren’t alone in supporting the idea. Health groups are lining up. Health Access California’s Anthony Wright put their stance in perspective, This is something we advocated for in its most ambitious form during the debate over health reform and there are elements of the proposal that could be adapted for California.”

 

But within the health insurance community there are concerns. Katherine Hempstead directs the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation health initiatives and she said, I don’t know what would compel other insurers to stay in the market, so the public option could quickly become the only option. I think that is only a clear win when the alternative is nothing.”

 

Some think this was the ultimate goal of supporters of the Affordable Care Act to begin with. It was debated during the law’s formation but abandoned. Now it is back up for discussion. Also interesting to note is much of the discussion has been for a national public option rather than a state system. However, some think — based on a quote — that Clinton might favor that idea and said she would pursue efforts to give Americans in every state in the country the choice of a public-option insurance plan.”

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

 

 

Tags:  Healthcare  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  The Public Option — Pushing a Federal Health Insur  Weekly Industry News 

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Week 1 of Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s Trial

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Maurice “Hank” Greenberg

Maurice “Hank” Greenberg founded AIG and built it into the largest and one of the most successful insurance companies in the world. In 2008 Greenberg was forced out of the chairmanship of the company and soon after was sued by former New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for fraud.

 

Spitzer’s charges were nine. Today they are two and basically are for cooking the books to make AIG’s bottom line look better for investors.

 

It took 18 years from the time the charges were filed for the 91-year old Greenberg and his former CFO Howard Smith to be tried in Supreme Court Justice Charles Ramos’ Manhattan courtroom.

 

Things began last week with Greenberg taking the stand. It focused on the first of the two charges, the alleged cover-up of $200 million in auto-warranty underwriting losses. Greenberg said he was aware of problems in the auto-warranty business as early as 1998 and he took steps to correct them and to punish those responsible.

 

Greenberg said the problem was not a big deal. New York Assistant Attorney General David Nachman disagreed. Greenberg was a hand’s on CEO — he said — who promised reinsurer CAPCO investors if it would accept the auto-warranty losses.

 

This was a small part of our business. It was insignificant. I was trying to teach a lesson to some managers who were involved with it. This was a nonevent at AIG. There are other things that are far more important than this,” Greenberg said in his defending salvo.

 

Nachman countered with, It wasn’t so insignificant that you tried to insert yourself personally into these matters?”

 

As he peppered Greenberg with questions, Nachman entered several memos from senior AIG deputies to Greenberg in 1999 and 2000. The memos — Nachman said — show Greenberg and Smith were told the losses in the auto-warranty business would be hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

Greenberg said the losses added up to just a half a point in the firm’s combined ratio and wasn’t a big concern. Then why get so deeply involved, Nachman countered and pointed to a deposition that Smith gave in 1999 in which he, Greenberg and others looked at finding a reinsurance vehicle to reclassify losses.

 

Not perturbed by the accusation, Greenberg said the whole conversation was hypothetical and “there may be a method of converting underwriting losses to investment losses, that was what I was interested in. The concept of converting underwriting losses to investment losses was intriguing to me.”

 

And then he added attorneys would have to approve it, It had to pass muster. Until that happened, I was not interested.”

 

In the second day Greenberg got admonished by Judge Ramos for not fully answering questions. A heated back and forth between Greenberg and Nachman had Greenberg constantly saying he doesn’t remember details. If you don’t want this trial to last a year we will need direct answers,” Ramos told Greenberg.

 

Day two focused on Greenberg and Smith’s relationship with Joseph Umansky. He is a former AIG senior vice president. Umansky cooperated with the state in the investigation and said he sent a memo to Greenberg that said, The CAPCO structure needs to be revamped in order to put us farther from criticism in today’s environment.”

 

At that point, Umansky added, Greenberg then sent him to Switzerland to find investors for CAPCO.

 

Greenberg says that’s not true. Umansky didn’t report to him — he said — and worked on the investment side of AIG. On the Switzerland suggestion, Greenberg said he was just trying to help. I had just come back from Switzerland and I said, ‘Why don’t you get in touch with some Swiss banks?’ That was the extent of me helping him.”

 

On day three Judge Ramos jumped into the questioning. The judge said he’s losing sleep trying to figure out why Greenberg would allow a deal like CAPCO to go on, I look at this auto-warranty business. It did not go well at all. But that’s history. That’s what you see in this rear-view mirror. The future is in the windshield. It wasn’t going to bring back the losses. It wasn’t going to correct the mistakes that were made in the auto-warranty business. Why would AIG go through the CAPCO transaction in the first place? What was the motivation?”

 

Greenberg said the deal was done to address the concerns of managers who thought they’d be held accountable for the program’s losses. He said he made a lot of changes to alleviate those concerns. That was the only reason. They wanted this off their back,” Greenberg said.

 

Nachman said the real reason he was involved is because Greenberg’s son Evan headed up the auto-warranty program.

 

The bottom-line — in an answer directed at the judge — Greenberg said he trusted Umansky and other senior managers to make sure any proposed transaction was legal and in line with acceptable accounting practices. And he said the idea of involving CAPCO to convert losses was only proposed by one employee.

 

This week the court is looking at the second allegedly illegal transaction. It was a reinsurance deal between AIG and General Reinsurance to beef up AIG’s reserves by $500 million.

 

What it — allegedly — did is make AIG look stronger to investors and to Wall Street and made it look like the company could handle bigger losses than it actually could.

 

Source links: Carrier Management, Insurance Business America, three links from PropertyCasualty360.com — link 1, link 2, link 3, two links from Insurance Journal — link 1, link 2

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Week 1 of Maurice “Hank” Greenberg’s Trial  Weekly Industry News 

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Client Concerns — Two Reports

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Travelers Companies and the Zurich Group have done separate reports on what is on the mind of — and worry — insurance consumers and businesses. First we look at the Travelers Risk Index.

 

While the index finds fewer of us think the world is riskier, there are challenges. Or so said Travelers’ Senior Vice President of Claim Patrick Gee. Our findings reveal common risks that business leaders and consumers may not be fully prepared to manage. The good news is there are steps they can take to help mitigate those risks and protect their families, finances, homes and businesses,” he said.

 

Here’s some of what the survey found worry consumers:

 

  The top worry is finances

  70% say this is their biggest worry

  It leads the list for the fourth year in a row

  In second place — personal safety at 59%

  Personal privacy loss and/or identity theft is third with 55%

  Fourth is transportation and travel concerns — 54%

  Cyber issues is fifth at 51%

 

Businesses are worried, too:

 

  Coming in first is 59% worrying about medical cost inflation

  Second on the worry list is rising employee benefit costs — 56%

  Cyber concerns are third at 54%

  Legal liability ranks fourth with 51%

  Attracting and retaining talent 50%

 

Half of consumers worry about unauthorized access to personal information via smart devices like phones and appliances and autos. Oddly, 25% of those who’ve been compromised expressed concern but have done nothing more to protect themselves.

 

Business leaders also had other concerns:

 

  45% worry about increased automation and internet connectivity

  Few of them — as with consumers — have not done much to prevent a cyber attack

  27% of consumers worry about having enough skills to be of demand in the workforce

  50% of business leaders — as noted earlier — worry about not being able to attract the workers worrying about not being skilled enough to be in demand

  49% of businesses find both aging workers and millennials entering the workforce are a disruption

 

Zurich’s survey doesn’t look much different. It checked in with 2,600 C-suit executives and with managers at small and mid-sized businesses in the U.S. and around the world:

 

  Worldwide 11% worry about cyber crime

  That’s three-times the 4% from 2013

  14% worry about the damage to reputation that comes from a cyber attack

  That’s up from 8% in 2013

 

Here are some insights from the U.S.:

 

  18% of small and medium-size businesses worry about theft

  That’s up from 9% in 2013

  14% worry about damage related to corporate transport

  That’s up from 6% three-years ago

  31% worry about the impact of competition on margins

  That’s down from 2013’s survey

  The second greatest risk to them — 30% — is lack of demand for their goods and services by consumers

  That’s up from 24% in 2013

  Last, just 7% of small and medium businesses don’t see any risks in the near future

 

Source links: Insurance Business America, Carrier Management

 

 

Tags:  Client Concerns — Two Reports  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Workers’ Compensation & Obesity

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) is the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The magazine just put out a report from Dr. Edward Bernacki of the University of Texas at Austin.

 

In the report Bernacki and his colleagues connect obesity and workers’ compensation.

 

They compared the work comp costs and outcomes of 2,300 injured workers in Louisiana over a three-year period. Some were considered obese and others had normal body weight. Obese — by the way — is defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Overweight had a BMI between 25 and 30.

 

Major injuries like fractures and tendon tears were still open in 11% of the cases and those workers had not returned to work. Obesity and overweight conditions were not associated with that delay.

 

However, for workers with major injuries, a high BMI was associated with the cost of treatment:

 

  The BMI obese group costs averaged $470,000

  The BMI overweight group compensation costs hit $270,000

  Normal weight worker costs were $180,000

 

The conclusion is that obese and overweight workers with a major injury are twice as likely to have costs of $100,000 or more. On the other side of the issue, body mass index — however — had no effect at all for less-severe injuries.

 

Dr. Bernacki said other studies have come to the same conclusions as this study when it comes to obesity and being overweight and the length of time off work. Costs — however — were not understood. This study clarifies the compensation issue as more than 3/4 of the workers’ compensation claimants in the study were overweight or obese.

 

In the future Dr. Bernacki and his crew are going to look deeper into the issue and hope to prove that high BMI is more related medical costs than the cost of lost work time.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Workers Compensation  Workers’ Compensation & Obesity Weekly Industry Ne 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Arizona — Yarnell Fires Suit

 People who lost their homes in the Yarnell Fire in 2013 are asking the Arizona Court of Appeals to allow them to sue the state. They’re appealing the rejection of a case they filed against Arizona’s Forestry Division. A judge said the state has no obligation to protect the property of residents.

 

The state — at a hearing last week — continues to maintain that position and contends people are on their own if they chose to live in areas next to a wilderness. Plaintiffs are arguing since the state fought the fire it — by action — has agreed to protect them. The attorney for the plaintiffs is also asking the appeals court for the right to a jury trial.

 

The Yarnell Fire killed 19 firefighters and burned more than 120 homes.

 

 

 

California — Insurance Bills Signed by Governor

 Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that lets insurance customers do more business with companies online or electronically. The Association of California Insurance Companies (ACIC) is among those praising the governor for his signature.

 

Assembly Bill 2591 lets policyholders to opt into a paperless policy to add a new driver or a new car to a policy without having to do paperwork. ACIC’s Armand Feliciano said, This bill will also preserve existing consumer protections in the California Civil and Insurance Codes while reducing unnecessary paper waste.”

 

Another bill Brown signed is Senate Bill 1092 and it requires online hosting platforms to give notice to homeowners and renters so they can review a policy for appropriate coverage. It gives them a way to protect assets and clarifies who pays for what and the amounts.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

California — Pure Premium Filing

 The Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) has done its pure premium rate filing with the California Department of Insurance for next year. The WCIRB recommendation is $2.26 per $100 of payroll. That’s 11% less than the filing of July 1st of this year.

 

It complies with the 5% reduction upheld by California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in July.

 

 

California — Consumer protection improved

 This came to Weekly Industry News from the California Department of Insurance.

 

Senate Bill 488, authored by Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), was signed into law Thursday by Governor Brown. Sponsored by Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, the bill establishes fair practices standards for public insurance adjusters (PAs) and enhances consumer protections.

 

After filing a claim, homeowners have the option of working with their insurance company's adjuster or hiring their own public adjuster. PAs are customarily compensated by receiving a percentage of the settled claim amount.

 

SB 488 clarifies several provisions in the PA statutes, most of which came directly from cases and complaints handled by California Department of Insurance investigators. Three significant issues that were revealed through these investigations demonstrated that some public adjusters were unfairly charging consumers when taking over partially settled claims, entering disaster areas prematurely to solicit work from homeowners, and inappropriately using high-pressure tactics to coerce distraught consumers to enter into contracts. 

 

"I'd like to thank Governor Brown for signing this consumer protection measure," Commissioner Jones stated. "These reforms enhance public protection so consumers using a public adjuster can feel confident that their best interests will be protected and that fair practices will be adhered to. We have worked on some recent cases that highlighted the need for additional protections. I'd also like to thank Senator Block for authoring this bill in his last year in the Legislature."

 

In order to address these issues and provide further protection to these often vulnerable consumers, SB 488 has an added value provision that would prohibit public adjusters from charging a fee that would result in the consumer receiving anything less than the amount previously paid to them by the insurer prior to the involvement of the public adjuster.

 

In addition, in responding to complaints regarding unlawful practices by public adjusters, CDI determined that consumers devastated by California wildfires were contacted by either an unlicensed individual working for a licensed PA or by an attorney to solicit a PA contract. Some consumers discovered, weeks after signing a contract, that the public adjusters were unlicensed, were providing inaccurate information, and were not handling claims in a satisfactory or timely manner. These practices resulted in multiple consumer and insurer complaints to CDI.   

 

One recent case involved a public adjuster, Jose Manuel Villa, of San Clemente. Villa is a formerly licensed public adjuster who allegedly forged claim checks from insurers and stole the proceeds, meant to rebuild fire victims' homes, from several homeowners and pocketed the money for his own use. One of Villa's victims was left homeless and living in a trailer while they struggled to rebuild their home.

 

SB 488 also increases consumer protections by:

  Requiring public adjuster license applicants to complete pre-licensing education, pass a qualifying examination, and pass a fingerprint-based background review.

  Allowing California to be reciprocal with other states by streamlining the process for non-residents to obtain public adjuster licenses.

  Prohibiting a public adjuster from contacting or soliciting a consumer during a disaster if:

                        (a) the emergency is still present;

                        (b) emergency responders are still present and/or

                        (c) an evacuation order is still in effect.

 

 

Idaho — Navigating the Medicare Maze class offered in Blackfoot

 This is from the Idaho Department of Insurance.

 

Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, is offering Navigating the Medicare Maze, on Wednesday, October 5 at the Bingham County Senior Center, 20 E. Pacific St., Blackfoot, from 9:30 to 11:30.

 

This workshop is especially designed for:

 

  People who are turning 65 or otherwise 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

 

A Department of Insurance Consumer Affairs Officer will also be on hand to help attendees understand how to get the full benefit from the different types of insurance they carry and where to get answers to their insurance questions.

 

Anyone interested in attending this workshop is encouraged to contact SHIBA at 1-800-247-4422 to enroll.

 

 

Idaho — Bulletin 16-06

2017 Operative Date of the Principle-Based Valuation Manual:

 

Here is a link to the bulletin: http://www.doi.idaho.gov/DisplayPDF2.aspx?Id=2120

 

B U L L E T I N NO. 16-06

 

The Idaho Standard Valuation Law (SVL), Idaho Code § 41-612, establishes a principle-based methodology applicable, subject to specified exemptions, to life, accident and health, and deposit-type insurance contracts following the operative date” of the uniform valuation manual, as adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

 

To ensure uniform and simultaneous implementation by participating states, the SVL instructs that the evaluation manual will only become operative once a sufficient number of states have adopted substantially similar valuation laws prior to July 1 of the year preceding the operative date. Pursuant to Idaho Code § 41-612(14)(b), the operative date shall be the first day of January of the first calendar year after the first July 1 following the occurrence of all of the following events:

 

i. The valuation manual has been adopted by the NAIC by an affirmative vote of at least forty-two (42) members, or three-fourths (3/4) of the members voting, whichever is greater;

 

ii. The Standard Valuation Law, as amended by the NIAC in 2009, or legislation including substantially similar terms and provisions, has been enacted by states representing greater than seventy-five percent (75%) of the direct premiums written as reported in the following annual statements submitted for 2008: life, accident and

 

health annual statements; health annual statements; or fraternal annual statements;

 

iii. The Standard Valuation Law, as amended by the NAIC in 2009, or legislation including substantially similar terms and provisions, has been enacted by at least forty-two (42) of the following fifty-five (55) jurisdictions: the fifty (50) states of the United States, American Samoa, the American Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico.

 

The NAIC adopted the valuation manual on December 2, 2012, with forty-three (43) member jurisdictions voting affirmatively. In 2016, the number of states adopting principle-based valuation laws at the state level reached the requisite supermajority. As of today, forty-five (45) states, including Idaho, enacted laws substantially similar to the model SVL, including language using the same three (3) triggers to define the operative date. These states represent more than seventy-nine percent (79%) of the applicable premium volume. On Friday, June 10, 2016, after conducting an extensive analysis of these states’ laws, the state and jurisdictional members of the NAIC voted unanimously to recognize all three (3) triggers defining the operative date have been satisfied.

 

Accordingly, I hereby determine the operative date of the uniform valuation manual, for purposes of the Idaho Standard Valuation Law, Idaho Code § 41-612, is January 1, 2017.

 

 

Oregon — SAIF Guidewire Software

The SAIF Corporation — Oregon’s workers’ Compensation insurer — has selected Guidewire BillingCenter to manage its payment operations and PolicyCenter for underwriting. As part of the agreement SAIF will also adopt the firm’s rating, data management and business intelligence platforms.

 

Customers will be converted to the new system when policies are renewed.

 

Source link: Insurance Networking News

 

 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance StatesWeekly Indus  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News 

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Oregon Mutual CEO Brian Steffel Defends State Regulation of Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Brian Steffel

Oregon Mutual Insurance president and CEO Brian Steffel wrote a defense of state regulation of insurance for Salem, Oregon’s Statesman-Journal newspaper. Steffel and Oregon Mutual are important supporters of PIA Oregon and the PIA Western Alliance.

 

His editorial is quite eloquent and started saying the U.S. has a 150-year record of success in the regulation of insurance. Now international regulators are pushing new and untried standards on this country’s insurance regulation system.

 

It’s — he wrote — not a good idea to do that to the most competitive, resilient and pro-consumer regulation system in the world.

 

“Action by Congress is urgently needed to preserve our system because by the end of this year alone, nearly three dozen closed-door international meetings will have taken place with the purpose and potential to create new standards that may limit choices for U.S. consumers while increasing costs,” Steffel said.

 

He noted Congress continues to think state regulation works and another bill defending it has been introduced. “Common-sense legislation has been introduced that directs U.S. federal negotiators from the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board, who engage in these international regulatory discussions, to work with state insurance regulators and to speak with one voice in advocating and protecting the state-based insurance regulatory. Unfortunately, the job will not be done until this [international] legislation becomes law.”

 

The loser in this push — if it is successful — will be the consumer. “As the CEO of Oregon Mutual Insurance Co., a small regional carrier on the West Coast, I’m proud to be able to say that the property casualty insurance industry and its regulation have continuously worked well in protecting insurance consumers. Unfortunately, international financial regulatory standard-setting forums are continuing to operate with little transparency, but with growing scope and impact on sectors that did not cause or contribute to the financial crisis, including home, auto and business insurers.”

 

And he said that pressure is intensifying and — again, if successful — will put a one-size-fits-all, bank-like global regulatory system in place for all. That might be good for federal agencies and international regulators but it’s a disaster for the country’s insurance system. “But while imposing a one-size-fits-all, bank-like global regulatory system may make it easier for federal agencies and international regulators, it could also increase regulatory costs and burdens, which could artificially force market concentration, limit choices for consumers and increase consumer costs,” he wrote.

 

In conclusion, Steffel wrote, “As a smaller company that has a legacy of serving customers faithfully for 122 years, regulation that brings about consolidation of the marketplace and reduces the number of carriers is not in the interest of consumers or the men and women who work to serve them here at Oregon Mutual… The American state-based insurance regulatory system has proved to be reliable and successful. Congress needs to act quickly and pass legislation this year to defend this proven system.”

 

Source link: Salem Statesman-Journal

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Oregon Mutual CEO Brian Steffel Defends State Regu  Weekly Industry News 

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Lawsuit on a Possible Industry Problem — Overtime

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

A new federal overtime rule goes into effect on December 1st. Employers will be forced to pay overtime to salaried workers making less than $47,500 a year. It’s a drastic change and close to double to today’s $23,660.

 

The Obama administration’s rule is not sitting well with Republicans and with business groups. All are calling it a federal overreach. Critics say it is going to force employers to put more salaried workers into hourly positions. Layoffs are a likely result because salaried executive, administrative, professional and computer employees are now eligible for overtime.

 

Early last week — led by Texas and Nevada and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — 21 states filed a lawsuit to stop the rule. They’re saying it is going to place a very heavy burden on state budgets for one, and business budgets for another.

 

Speaking for the states and the Chamber, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, Once again, President Obama is trying to unilaterally rewrite the law. And this time, it may lead to disastrous consequences for our economy.”

 

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez isn’t too worried about the suit being successful. He says the government is on sound legal and policy footing. And as proof, Perez said today only 7% of full-time salaried workers are entitled to collect overtime. In 1975 that figure was 62%. “I look forward to vigorously defending our efforts to give more hardworking people a meaningful chance to get by,” Perez said.

 

The suit contends the U.S. Labor Department overstepped its authority and increased the salary threshold way too drastically. It also believes the department failed to account for the cost of living variables from region to region.

 

Source links: MSN Money, The Hill, Insurance Journal 

 

Tags:  Employees  Employment  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  jobs  Lawsuit on a Possible Industry Problem — Overtime  Weekly Industry News 

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Millennials & Insurance: The Future is Brighter than You Think

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

We keep hearing about the deep trouble insurance has as its workforce ages. By 2018 — a scant less than 18 months from now — close to 25% of the industry is going to retire. So hiring millennials — those who became adults around the year 2000 — is critical to filling jobs.

 

Rumors persist that millennials hate insurance and don’t want to work in the business.

 

That said, some millennials are already working in the biz. Vertafore did a survey of 4,000 of them aged 19 to 35 and found most love their jobs and love the industry. How much? A lot. Over 90% said an insurance career meets important criteria for job satisfaction:

 

  Work-life balance

  Career development opportunities

  Financial stability

 

That means there are some happy millennials working in insurance already and hopefully they’ll share the news:

 

  81% of those surveyed said they plan on remaining in insurance as long as possible

  That’s up from 77% in 2015

  70% say they’ll recommend an insurance career to their friends

 

Vertafore vice president of marketing is Guy Weismantel. He put the survey in perspective. The insurance industry has turned over a new leaf with millennials, and we are in the midst of a technology revolution that is disrupting insurance and attracting a new generation of tech savvy talent that is optimistic about the future. Coupled with the qualities that a career in insurance offers, we see why the millennial generation is thriving in this industry and why more young professionals are looking at insurance for fulfilling, long-time careers,” he said.

 

Technology is a big reason many are attracted to the business and 86% of those surveyed say technology is improving and making it easier for them to sell and is giving them the tools to compete.

 

Here’s the survey’s breakdown:

 

  81% are in the business for financial stability

  79% like the idea of insurance providing work and life balance

  74% like career growth

  54% are joining the industry and discovered it via personal relationships

 

Millennials are also highly optimistic about the industry:

 

  86% are somewhat or very optimistic

  70% recommend a career in insurance to their friends

  81% plan on staying as long as possible in insurance — that’s up 5% from a year ago

 

Millennials rely on efficient technology:

 

  86% say technology increases efficiency by enabling them with the tools to compete

  1/2 of the 86% rate technology usage as very important to staying in the industry

 

Millennials use social media to build their brand:

 

  33% use Facebook and LinkedIn at least once a day for professional use

 

Here’s the top uses for social media:

 

  50% brand awareness

  41% professional development

  39% lead generation

  33% customer support

  17% use it to search for new jobs

 

Last. When it comes to getting hired by insurance, millennials are twice as likely to be recruited via Facebook or LinkedIn or other social media than traditional means.

 

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Millennials  Millennials & Insurance: The Future is Brighter th  Weekly Industry News 

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Fires: Still Raging as We Move into Fall

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 27, 2016

 

Wildfires are still burning throughout the West. California alone has seen 5,000 fires since the fire season began. The Big Sur fire — as we’ll discuss in a bit — is still burning and is now the most expensive fire in history. The U.S. National Park Service says 90% of fires are human caused from unattended campfires, the burning of debris when it ought not be burned and cigarettes tossed out of vehicles or while walking.

 

There’s also the very disturbing intentional setting of fires.

 

The state is aggressively seeking those causing fires and some are charged with crimes. Police arrested a man — Damin Pashilk — and charged him with 17 counts of arson including the 4,000-acre Clayton Fire. He has a lengthy list of similar arrests police say.

 

In Oregon the state is going after four people and want them to pay the $4.5 million it took to put out fires they’ve been accused of starting. The first is against 64-year old Joe Askins and his wife and stepdaughter. They are accused of building a campfire in an area where it was banned.

 

The state said he was napping while the fire burned and it eventually took over 200-acres and cost $892,000 to extinguish.

 

The second suit is for $3.6 million and it’s against Eastern Oregon rancher John Habberstad who drove his utility vehicle on extremely dry grass with an exhaust system in need of repair. Sparks — the officials say — ignited a 2,700-acre fire.

 

Mother Nature’s lightning strikes — cold and hot — and in tinder dry areas of the West also cause fires but not that many compared to the human causes. A U.S. Forest Service report said, Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970. The U.S. burns twice as many acres as three decades ago and Forest Service scientists believe the acreage burned may double again by mid-century. Increasing development in fire-prone areas also puts more stress on the Forest Service’s suppression efforts.

 

Meanwhile the Big Sur fire also knowns as the Soberanes Fire has been burning for two months and as of late last week the price tag is $208.4 million. That price is going to go way up because as of last Friday, the fire is only 71% contained.

 

And it is now the most expensive fire in history. The reason is the amount of time burning and not the 121,000 acres burned so far. By the way, the amount just listed is the cost of fighting the fire. It does not include the cost of the homes, businesses and other structures burned.

 

It is human caused. An unattended — and worse, illegal — campfire is the cause. Cal Fire is still looking for the person responsible and is encouraging people to call 800-468-4408 if they know anything or anything about someone causing a fire.

 

Source links: National Park Service, Think Progress, OregonLive.com

 

Tags:  fires  Fires: Still Raging as We Move into Fall  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  wildfires 

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