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More Troubles for ObamaCare & Health Insurer Mergers

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Aetna was going to move to the health insurance exchanges of five new states in 2017. Those plans — as of last week — are on hold. And it is going to reassess those states where it is currently participating and serving 838,000 consumers.


All this happened in the light of the U.S. Justice Department nixing Aetna’s planned purchase of Humana. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini put the decision in perspective and said, “in light of updated 2016 projections for our individual products and the significant structural challenges facing the public exchanges, we intend to withdraw all of our 2017 public exchange expansion plans, and are undertaking a complete evaluation of future participation in our current 15-state footprint.”


He told CNN Money that the company is thinking it’s going to lose $300 million — pre-tax — in 2016.


A final decision will be made at the end of September when the firm will be required to let the federal government and the states know what it’s going to do.


The other insurers backing down considerably from involvement are UnitedHealth Care who is leaving almost all of the 1,200 counties in eight states and Blue Cross Blue Shield who still hasn’t made final decisions but will be departing or scaling back in some markets.


In the meantime, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia threw a wrench in the Aetna-Humana and Anthem-Cigna mergers. The Justice Department — as noted earlier — has put the kibosh on both but both firms have the right to oppose the department’s lawsuit.


Aetna and Humana are demanding swift trials — like by the end of the year — so they can get on with the business of insurance. The judge says he can’t do both. I can’t do both. Unless the schedule is put off, I’m sending one of the cases back.”


What he wouldn’t say is which one.


Anthem’s attorney Christoper Curran said if Anthem’s deal is sent back it’ll doom the sale. Cigna won’t wait.


Source links: Two from Insurance Business America — link 1 and link 2


Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  More Troubles for ObamaCare & Health Insurer Merge  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Oregon’s Corporate Business Tax Battle Heats Up

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Gov. Kate Brown

A corporate tax of $3 billion a year will be on the November ballot in Oregon.  Economists at Portland State University estimate the revenue from the tax will add 33,600 government jobs by 2027 and about 13,500 private sector jobs.


Supporters like that the new revenue will stabilize the state’s finances and put education spending into the stratosphere and be a major improvement. Opponents — mostly the state’s business community — worry it’ll raise costs and chase jobs away because it will be much like a sales tax.


If passed the measure will charge C corporations with annual sales above $25 million a 2.5% tax on those sales.


Oregon Governor Kate Brown — a Democrat — stayed out of the discussion for a long time but last week decided to support what is now titled Measure 97. “I support Measure 97 because there is a basic unfairness in our tax system that makes working families pay an increasing share for state and local services, including public schools, senior services, and health care," Brown said.


Some thought the governor was sitting out because she planned on calling the Legislature into special session to pass an alternative. In June she talked about changing the earned income credit, expanding low-income energy assistance and changing how the state classifies the location of some businesses so firms like those creating software would not have to pay the tax on out of state sales.


Brown was also said to be looking at an idea to let businesses deduct a part of their Oregon payroll from the corporate tax bill to reduce the amount of revenue generated.


That didn’t happen. And it won’t. So Brown tossed her support toward the measure and said, “State leaders before me have repeatedly tried and failed to solve the problem of adequate and stable funding for schools and other state services. Every solution has had strengths and weaknesses in terms of fairness and economic impact. None has succeeded in bringing the business community, individual and family taxpayers, service providers, and advocates together.”


Critics say the governor’s largest donor for her reelection campaign is the political action committee Too Extreme for Oregon. It’s funded by unions and headed up by the Service Employees International Union director. Too Extreme gave her $177,500 for political ads when running for Secretary of State and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees gave her $100,000 in January for her governorship campaign.


The Oregon Education Association also kicked in $50,000 in May of this year.


Also supporting the governor — and the ballot measure — is the Oregon PTA. It’s legislative director is Otto Schell. He wrote, “Gov. Brown has a clear vision of Oregon's future and Measure 97 helps fulfill that vision for our schools, our seniors, and for families needing health services. Measure 97 will markedly improve the lives of Oregon families and students.”


The Portland Business Alliance opposes the measure and says it is confused as to what the governor really wants “based on her statement, we are not clear where the governor truly stands on her intent should Measure 97 pass. She said she ‘will make sure the funds the measure yields go towards schools, health care and seniors, as the voters expect.’ But just a few weeks ago, she issued an implementation plan that would divert the money to other uses. These statements appear to be in conflict.”


The campaign fighting the measure is also concerned. Its spokeswoman Rebecca Tweed said it will “increase the costs we pay for food, housing, electricity and virtually all other goods and services we buy. It does nothing to guarantee more funds for education, healthcare or anything else.”


Brown’s November opponent Bud Pierce is also against Measure 97. He said, “Kate Brown believes that the government never has enough and always wants more. I believe that the government has enough, if the government spends wisely.”


Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli agrees with Pierce and condemned the governor’s stance and says the governor is playing rope-a-dope. He said for months she pretended to be considering options. Then — no surprise — she gave it a ringing endorsement. “The Governor is a fully owned subsidiary of Big Unions Incorporated. It is disingenuous for the Governor to ask Oregonians to support Measure 97 to fund education when not one penny of new revenue is guaranteed to end up in the classroom. The sad state of our schools is the sole result of years of Democrat mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. Oregonians deserve the truth about Kate Brown's endorsement of Measure 97: it's not for our children. It's about keeping the corrupt relationship between Democrats and public employee unions in Oregon alive and well."


Source links: two from OregonLive.com link 1 and link 2


Tags:  business tax  corporate tax  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Oregon’s Corporate Business Tax Battle Heats Up  Weekly Industry News 

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Airport Security Lacking

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016



Former Transportation Security Administration deputy administrator John Halinski recently made some alarming statements. In his analysis of the nation’s airports, Halinski said security is not adequate enough to prevent a terrorist attack similar to what we saw at the airports in Brussels and Istanbul.


The union representing airport screeners — the 43,000 employee strong American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) — agrees.


Halinski says the biggest problem is a hodgepodge of state and local law enforcement people handling the task. Most countries have a national police force to do the job. So the patchwork is troublesome. It’s a vulnerability. Airport police are really kind of overwhelmed. They just don’t have the budgets, they don’t have the manpower,” he said.


By the way, he now works as an airport security consultant and knows his stuff. Halinski says the biggest problem is departments that are underfunded and understaffed. This is especially a concern at smaller airports. As an example he talked about the 2013 shooting at Los Angeles International Airport. One screener died.


Halinski contends it’s from poor communications that led to delays.


Charity Wilson — who represents AFGE — said, The recent attacks in Istanbul and Brussels have fully alerted the entire world to a different type of terrorist attack. That is attacking an open area at the airport that is usually close to or between checkpoints.”


She believes more agents are needed — as well as more funding — to stop such attacks on U.S. soil.


Halinski agrees. Airport police forces probably can’t prevent all attacks but they can certainly reduce casualties. And police that are more visible and in larger numbers can be a deterrent.


But there aren’t enough police says AFGE National President David Cox. Current airport law enforcement operations have gaps and inconsistencies that leave TSOs and passengers vulnerable. Many airports have no armed law enforcement officers stationed at or in the airport.”


His union wants a special class of TSA officer created to guard screening checkpoints. Those officers — he suggests — would be trained and armed. Today’s screening guards are not.


Is it a good idea? CIA Director John Brennan thinks so. He says the U.S. remains a terrorist target. It would be surprising to me that ISIL is not trying to hit us both in the region as well as in our homeland,” he said.


But it all boils down to resources and Halinski said that’s a huge obstacle to overcome. A lot of this boils down to money and who is going to pay. At the end of the day, quite frankly, everybody is going to have to pay something if we’re going go be more effective in this area.”


Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com


Tags:  Airport Security Lacking  Cyber Breach  Cyber Insurance  Cyber Security  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Security  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 9, 2016

California — Rate Reduction Pressure

Consumer Watchdog wants State Farm’s homeowners rate increase dropped. The group has filed a petition with the Department of Insurance and says State Farm needs to cut it by 40%.


It states 280,000 homeowners are going to be overcharged by close to $100 million.


Citing Proposition 103, the group says it does not allow “excessive” home, auto and business insurance rates. Consumer Watchdog said the 26% rate increase asked for is unwarranted and State Farm’s own figures show it is not needed.


State Farm had no comment.


Source link: Insurance Journal


California — Uber Arbitration

Uber recently said the $100 million settlement it made with the drivers is a take it or leave it scenario. That’s what it told U.S. District Judge Edward Chen and Seattle University School of Law associate professor Charlotte Garden said Uber asked him to cancel his order protecting the drivers.


Uber is almost daring Judge Chen to go against its wishes. Uber all but says that if he doesn’t treat the issue the way it wants, it will walk away from the deal,” she said.


The judge has two choices. He can approve what he already says is a flawed agreement or he can send both the drivers and Uber back to negotiations. Experts say if that happens the deal goes away and essentially leaves the 350,000 drivers in California and Massachusetts with nothing.


The company continues to maintain the drivers are independent contractors and not employees. Drivers want what is — more or less — employee status.


Source link: Insurance Journal



Idaho — Insurance Fraud

From the Idaho Department of Insurance.


Ashley Monroe, a former Idaho resident, was sentenced on July 25, 2016, on one count of insurance fraud for filing a false claim with her insurance carrier, USAA. The Idaho Department of Insurance fraud unit investigated the claim.


Monroe reported that her diamond engagement ring fell off her hand and into a storm drain while she was getting into her car. USAA paid her $2,955 for the ring. Department of Insurance investigators discovered that Monroe had pawned the ring and that it was still in the pawn shop when the claim was filed. Investigators also learned that she had pawned the same ring at least twice after receiving the claim money.


Monroe was charged with one count of insurance fraud and one count of theft by extortion. She pleaded guilty to one count of insurance fraud and was sentenced in Ada County. She was granted a withheld judgment and placed on felony supervised probation for three years, and was also ordered to pay a fine of $1,240,50 and serve 20 days in jail.


Department Director Dean Cameron says, A fraudulent claim may not seem like a big deal on the surface. But according to FBI estimates, insurance fraud costs the average U.S. family between $400 and $700 per year in the form of increased premiums.”


This case was prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Nicole Schafer of the Idaho Attorney General’s Insurance Crimes Unit.


Washington — Insurance Commissioner Actions

The Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner recently filed the following items with the Code Reviser’s Office.


Action 1


CR-102 for R 2016-06: Rating requirements rule to implement SSB 6536.



The OIC is writing rules to standardize rating requirements under SSB 6536, which the Legislature passed during the 2016 legislative session.



This comment period closes on September 14, 2016


Rule hearing:


Thursday, September 15th at 10:00 a.m.

5000 Capitol Blvd. SE

Tumwater, WA 98501

Driving directions

For questions or comments, please contact Bianca Stoner, Senior Health Policy Analyst, at rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.


Action 2


Code Reviser’s Office:


Notice to start rulemaking

CR-101 for R 2016-22: Prescription drug substitution process.



This rule ensures that the OIC’s regulations are consistent with the federal government’s HHS Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2017 (www.federalregister.gov) regarding drug substitution. The rule creates turnaround timeframes for when an enrollee requests a prescription-drug substitution and clarifies the appeals process.



The comment period for the CR-101 is open until September 15, 2016.

For questions or comments, please contact Jim Freeburg at rulesc@oic.wa.gov.


Action 3


Proposed rule

CR-102 for R 2016-08: Prescription drug substitution process.



Previous rulemaking allows certain prescriptions to be filled on a short-term basis, but the rules did not address how consumers should be notified when such emergency fills occur. Additional rulemaking, per RCW 48.43.510 (leg.wa.gov), requiring insurers to notify consumers of any covered benefits, is necessary to clarify how consumers are to be notified of the emergency fill, including any cost-sharing obligations.


Rule Hearing

September 6, 2016 1:30 p.m.

5000 Capitol Blvd. SE

Tumwater, WA

Driving Directions



The comment period for the CR-102 is open until September 6, 2016.

For questions or comments, please contact Jim Freeburg at rulesc@oic.wa.gov.


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

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PIA & the Washington Joint Conference

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016


The PIA Washington/Alaska and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Washington annual joint conference and trade show will be September 14 - 16 at the Davenport Grand Hotel in Spokane.


It is — as every year — the only annual statewide insurance event that gives agents, brokers, CSRs and insurers, wholesalers and other companies the opportunity to meet. Plus, the event has some of the best education available in the state.


Click here to access the joint conference website.


On the joint conference website the two agent associations said, “We encourage agents/brokers, CSRs, and marketing reps to attend to learn from industry experts, network with fellow agents and company representatives as you enjoy one of the finest resorts in the Northwest.”


Click here to register.


Exhibitor space is still available and so are sponsorships. It’s not too late for your company to be part of this great event!


The Washington Joint Conference is in its 6th year and has gained a reputation that vendors simply must not miss. This is the only statewide annual industry event which gives insurance companies, wholesalers, technology vendors, finance companies and others the unique opportunity and access to the largest group of agents and CSRs all under one roof.


And of course, the trade show is a real advantage to agents, agencies and the representatives of companies wanting to network. “Agents learn the latest in products and services while vendors get introduced to the best in the business.”


Reserve your booth online right now in real time. No log in required.


To sponsor, click here to print the sponsor form then Email or fax us at 888-346-4466. Check out the current availability of sponsorships here.


6th Annual PIA - IIABW Washington Joint Conference Agenda


Wednesday, September 14

1 pm – 7 pm 

Golf Tournament


6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Welcome Reception


9:00 pm - 11:00 pm

Hospitality Suite


Thursday, September 15

8:00 am - 9:30 am

IIABW & PIA Board Meetings      


9:45 am 11:45 am 

Concurrent Workshops: (choose 1 to attend)


Session A                                                                        

Understanding How Emerging Technology Has Affected Insurance Fraud (And How the Industry Can Fight Back (2 WA CE)

Doug Osborne, Kemper Special Investigation Unit


Session B

Revitalizing Your Sales Efforts

Brandie Hinen, Power House Learning


11:00 am - 3:00 pm

Exhibitor Set Up


12:00 pm-1:00 pm

Group Lunch


12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

IIABW Past Presidents Lunch


1:15 pm - 3:00 pm

General Session


IIABW & PIA Presidents


Discover your PPFE; Shaping a Positive, Productive, Fresh and Enthusiastic Work Culture

Matt Zolbe, Motivus LLC


Command and Control Over Chaos

Brandie Hinen, Power House Learning     


3:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Trade Show 


7:00 pm Exhibit Tear Down

Dinner On Own


8:30 pm - 10:30 pm

Poker Tournament


Friday, September 16

8:00 am – 8:50 am

IIABW Annual Business Meeting

PIA Anuual Business Meeting


9:00 am – 12:00 noon

General Session

An Errors and Omissions Mock Trial: Bushwood Country Club vs Danny Noonan’s No Risk Insurance Agency (3 WA CE)


12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Awards Luncheon


1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Concurrent Workshops: (choose 1 to attend)


Session A

Eliminating IT: Putting Technology Where It Belongs... Back In Your Hands

Matt Slade, Slade.Guru


Session B

Additional Risk of Hoarding and How It Changes A Claim (2 WA CE)

Chelsea Chase, Just Right Cleaning and Construction




Tags:  Insurance Conference  Insurance Conference and Trade Show  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  PIA & the Washington Joint Conference  WA Joint Conference  Weekly Industry News 

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Anthem-Cigna, Aetna-Humana Respond to DOJ Merger Denial

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Department of Justice has filed suit to stop the Anthem-Cigna and Aetna-Humana mergers or sales, or however you want to define them. Next stop for the four firms is court.


After learning of the DOJ decision, Aetna issued a statement that it will vigorously defend the $37 million merger and noted the department is wrong that the merger will significantly reduce competition. A combined company will result in a broader choice of products, access to higher quality and more affordable care, and a better overall experience for consumers,” Aetna said and its CEO Mark Bertolini said, I like my chances in front of a judge.”


In its response to the court, Aetna told U.S. District Judge JohnBates that 91% of Medicare Advantage participants have five carriers to choose from. And the broader Medicare market is still dominated by the government’s program.


Anthem says its $48 billion merger with Humana will create what it calls “efficiencies.” They will give better, more affordable products to consumers. Company CEO Joseph Swedish said, “The acquisition of Cigna will significantly increase consumers’ access to the exchanges with the combined firm entering into new territories in nine states where the two firms are not currently participating.”


Swedish is also pushing for a quick trial and wants Judge Bates to schedule proceedings to begin in 88 days. He then proposes a decision being made with 35 days of the conclusion of the trial.


As expected, the Justice Department disagrees. This case challenges the largest merger ever proposed in the health care industry,” the government said.


Source: Insurance Networking News, Insurance Business America


Tags:  Aetna-Humana Respond to DOJ Merger Denial  Anthem-Cigna  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Update: Cover Oregon

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cover Oregon — the failed Oregon ObamaCare exchange — wasted over $300 million. The exchange didn’t register one single person and eventually was scrapped. Oregon has since sued the Oracle Corporation for bungling the project. Oracle — of course — denies it is responsible and blames several state agencies and governing bodies vying for control.


To date — says the Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office — Oregon has spent almost $16 million in the legal battle. And it’s not close to finished. Trial doesn’t begin until January and the price tag by that time is estimated to be $27 million.


The case has been shrouded in secrecy. Oracle has asked the court — and received permission — to keep thousands of pages of evidence out of public view. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Courtland Geyer has agreed. The Oregonian/OregonLive has pushed the judge on the secrecy and said the public has a right to know.


Courtland recently agreed so future hearings could be more public than those in the past.


Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum thinks the spending is worth it since the state could end up recouping most of that money. She’s resisting to calls for her and Governor Kate Brown to settle out of court and move on.


“This case is about making sure Oregonians are paid back fairly for the miserable job performance of a corporate contractor that we hired. We paid $240 million to Oracle to produce a health exchange that never worked,” Rosenblum said.


By the way, Oracle has filed counter suits — five of them to be exact. Its attorney Ken Glueck said Oregon is stalling and not providing Oracle with information it needs to fight the original suit. “The case is a complete fabrication. The Attorney General has committed fraud on the court and we intend to ask for sanctions,” he said.


The Oregonian thinks there may have been a $25 million settlement that was close to being agreed upon. Oracle was ready to give most of that money to the state in software and the agreement was between the firm Governor Kate Brown’s chief of staff. For some reason it was taken off the table.


Meanwhile, Republican House leader Rep. Mike McLane is shocked at the cost and thinks the state is throwing money away. He agrees with Oracle. The problem is the state’s and not Oracle’s. “I had feared it [the cost] would be extremely high, but my God, I'm shocked by that number,” McLane said.


Source link: OregonLive.com


Tags:  Cover Oregon  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Update: Cover Oregon  Weekly Industry News 

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Special Report: Texting, Smartphones and Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

How important is it to connect with the world via your smartphone? Absolutely critical says TextRequest.com. Statistics gathered by the firm in 2015 found 84% of us can’t even go one day without checking what’s happening on the smartphone. That’s texting, email, Googling, etc.


But mostly it’s texting.


Some even admit to checking their phones as many as 150 times a day. Assuming you sleep eight hours and ignore the phone when sleeping, that’s checking it over nine-times an hour. And the surveyed say they check it last thing before going to bed and immediately upon waking up.


So how does this apply to insurance? Google’s VP of Marketing Lisa Gevelber said the industry — even those companies and agencies with super evolved marketing systems — is missing out on a great opportunity.


Our research shows that marketers who try to reach their audience solely on demographics risk missing more than 70% of potential mobile shoppers. Why? Because demographics don't help us understand what we really need to know — what consumers are looking for in an exact moment or where they are looking to find it,” she said.


Companies — she continued — that respond to the intent of those checking their phones are more likely to be “there” when the customer is there and to be of more use to them. So it’s critical to target everybody and not just certain ages and genders.


And do it with immediacy.


Customers want what they want at the exact moment they want it. Intent beats identity. Immediacy trumps loyalty. When someone has a want or need, they turn to their smartphone for help. When a need arises, people turn to search and YouTube to look for answers, discover new things, and make decisions. We call these intent-filled moments, micro-moments. And they're the best opportunity marketers have to connect with people at the exact moment they are looking for something,” she said.


So what do you do? There are lots of options says TextRequest.com blogger Kenneth Burke. He’s an expert in the art of texting and notes insurance is starting to use more social media and doing some cross-marketing everywhere from pop-ups to YouTube and combining that with traditional email. It works — kind of.


What you’re missing is the most underused tool of all — Burke said — and that is texting. It’s an art form that insurance needs to learn. Here’s why:


  Just 33% of emails are opened

  Texts have an open-rate of 97%

  95% of texts are read within three-minutes of being sent

  Nurtured leads have a 47% better purchase rate than those not nurtured


Burke added, The customers you have text conversations with will be the same ones you see spending more on your products and services.”


People are now mobile dependent. Translation: smartphone addiction. And Burke said that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Like when the radio came out, and everyone depended on it for news and music, and then the television for news and music and cheap entertainment, mobile phones actually improve our daily lives and what we're able to do with them,” he said.


Want to know how well this mobile dependence works for insurance? Check out what GEICO is doing. It dominates the delivery of auto insurance products via mobile channels. GEICO uses texting for:


  Payment due reminders

  Info on towing benefits

  Instructions for claims reporting

  And all kinds of info on how to use the GEICO mobile app


And Burke concludes, if people can’t go a day without checking their smartphones and if some of them are checking them 150 times a day, and if the number-one use of the smartphone is texting, then doesn’t it make sense to use texting as corporate or agency marketing?


It makes sense to your customers says a new survey from Harris Poll. The pollsters found the online insurance channel has become the fastest growing of all in businesses in the financial services sector. Nielsen (who owns Harris Poll) VP of Brand Solutions Joan Sinopoli said, “We’re seeing anything tech-based having more positive momentum. It’s pervasive across all industries, and you don’t need much of a crystal ball to see that brand equity among online channels is going to increase.”


Generation X and Millennials are responsible for this new-found popularity. And as these two age groups age, their insurance needs will become more complex. That means more of them will need an agent and may bag the online approach to insurance purchases.


Sinopoli said marketing to them now is a good idea because from high school to middle age “those 18 years are a very active time of your life filled with huge triggers like buying a home, having a family or starting a business. That’s the perfect time for an agent to reach out and engage.”


Harris Poll has discovered that consumers do a lot of — what it calls — “showrooming.” This is where consumers — 38% of them at this point in time — do their insurance needs research online and compare prices. When it comes time to buy, they go to an agent.


The whole idea of honesty, transparency, community involvement and social responsibility — all of which engage and excite Millennials — are the sorts of things an agent-based model should be able to excel in,” Sinopoli said.


Insurance Technology Corporation is an insurance software firm. Its president Laird Rixford said millennials are a tremendous opportunity for agents willing to do the work to reach them. Do the work and you’ll have — what he says — is a seat at the table for years to come.


One thing we’re seeing across all industries is that brand loyalty is eroding, but if you look at companies that do enjoy brand loyalty — like Amazon or Netflix — you see that they make their product easy to use. That’s where a lot of carriers are missing the boat,” he said.


And it’s where agents and agencies are also missing the boat. He said smaller agencies have huge advantages over those that are larger and over carriers because they can hyper-localize branding and target messaging.”


In other words — Rixford added — they can reach select audiences like younger consumers much more easily than larger agencies or companies. Millennials and GenX-ers are more apt to look at price evaluation rather than branding, and the technology that allows them to do that is available to agents on a local, regional level. Right now, producers are able to put something up on their website that allows customers to get rates from multiple brands at once, and to buy those policies directly on the site. Making it work and making it easy to do business with you, whatever the customer’s preferred method — that’s the key,” he said.


Source links: Insurance Networking News, Insurance Business America


Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  smartphone insurance  Smartphones and Insurance  Special Report: Texting  Weekly Industry News 

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S&P on the Rest of 2016 — It’s Going to be Tough

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Standard & Poor’s Global Marketing Intelligence put out its annual mid-year report titled the 2016 U.S. P&C Insurance Market Report. Catastrophe losses — says the ratings firm — combined with problems in auto insurance and falling bond yields cutting into underwriting results and profitability will make 2016 a fairly rough year for the property and casualty industry.


S&P predicts pre-tax return on equity will fall by 2% and the combined ratio will rise to 99.5. That’s the highest its been 2012.


Looking at combined ratios the report said:


  Commercial lines will go to 95.1 from 93.4 last year

  Workers’ compensation had no prediction but won’t do as well as the 93.9 from 2015


Personal lines doesn’t look much better. Private passenger auto insurance will be less profitable because we’re driving more since gas prices have fallen. No improvement is expected until new rates go into effect in 2017.


  Look for the combined ratio for auto to go from 104.6 in 2015 to 105.1.


Loss ratios in a bunch of commercial insurance lines will have a negative impact on loss ratios and that includes homeowners which have done fairly well the last few years.


So what does all this mean? S&P researchers Tim Zawacki and Terry Leone said auto accounts for 34.4% of the industry’s direct premiums and has a huge impact on all underwriting. Profit margins are projected to be much narrower than they have been in the last few years, unless something dramatic happens. While insurers have wisely accounted for the fact that they haven’t been able to depend on investment gains to subsidize underwriting losses, they still need to practice restraint as they seek growth.”


Source link: Insurance Journal


Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  S&P on the Rest of 2016 — It’s Going to be Tough  Weekly Industry News 

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Data … Numbers Mean Everything & Everyone Wants Them

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 2, 2016

If you own a newer vehicle then that vehicle’s navigation system knows every mile you drive. It even remembers your daily route to work. That system is smart enough to tell you how to avoid traffic. Some can tell you how much the driver and front seat passenger weigh.


Soon the technology is expected to advance to being able to track your shopping patterns.


Essentially, your vehicle — car, truck or whatever — knows a lot about you and a lot of companies and especially insurance companies, want that data. Hackers want it, too. So a lot of focus these days is protecting your vehicle with cyber security. That also complicates the tracking system.


So what you have is a terrific source of data for the driver — you — and for your insurer and others. It is also turning out to be an interesting battle. Automakers want to keep data away from Google and Apple’s iPhones and other smartphone devices that use the systems they build for the vehicle. Google, Apple and others are fighting that.


Invictus iCar CEO Tony Posawatz was one of the Chevy Volt developers. He said, Everyone is trying to control the screens in the car. There is tremendous value in the data, and they are trying to figure out how to get it.”


Down the road — no pun intended — we’re going to see more self-driving vehicles and at the very least, vehicles with parts that self-drive. Dashboard technology will also improve. And with that comes more data that Ford and other auto builders want to keep for themselves and for you.


Or so says Ford executive Don Butler. “We’re not in a position of turning over our vehicles to a Google or Apple experience. We want to make sure our customers have a chance to give informed consent. And, we want to share in any value created [with them],” he said.


This doesn’t mean these automakers want to keep Google and Apple and others out. Ford, BMW AG, General Motors and other automakers have systems that will host the Googles and the Apples of the world. But what they won’t allow is information from the vehicle and the date generated from the use of those products to be piped back to Google, Apple and others.


And how are Google and others reacting? They’re building their own vehicles with driverless technology. And the communications technology industry — says consulting firm CarLab president Eric Noble — is far more capable of doing this than a car company. What are the odds that carmakers will come out with anything that will compete with a phone? They’re chasing a rainbow,” he said.


Back to insurance. No doubt insurers would love to know more about what’s going on with the driver and passengers. A heavy foot in traffic could increase risk and be a reason for higher rates.


Currently Ford and GM are tracking stats and giving them to insurers but anonymously. So if a consumer wants to and thinks their driving habits will lower their insurance rate, they can point this out to their insurer.


Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com


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