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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

California — Coffee Cancer Warning: Several years ago a lawsuit was filed saying coffee makers like Starbucks and Nestle needed to put a cancer warning on their coffee bags and cups. Not doing so — the suit said — violated state law that requires cancer warnings for toxic substances.

Coffee is toxic? Really?

Ridiculous said retailers — including Target and Whole Foods — and they defended the suit saying the cancer warning is unnecessary. If found guilty all would be fined millions of dollars for ignoring the law.

After eight years or wrangling a judge just decided the warning is not needed. The state just made it official when the Office of Administrative Law made the exemption official.

No word yet on whether the plaintiffs will appeal.

Source link: Insurance Journal

California — Ranch Fire Decision: The largest fire in California history is the Ranch Fire. It burned in July of last year, killed one fire fighter and destroyed 280 buildings. The fire then merged with the River Fire and it became knowing and the Mendocino Complex Fire.

CalFire has now been determined that the Ranch Fire started by accident when a rancher used a metal hammer to drive a stake into a hornet’s nest.

Source link: Press Democrat

Idaho — Medicare Workshops: Free Medicare Workshops for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held:

Boise on June 19 from 10:00am to 11:30am and from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Boise Public Library, 715 S. Capitol Blvd, 3rd Floor, Marion Bingham Room.

Caldwell on July 1 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the College of Western Idaho, 2407 Caldwell Blvd. Room 252.

Medicare workshops are designed to introduce the various parts of Medicare and to share some of the costs and benefits associated with the program.  Sessions cover enrollment timeframes for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans, and how the different parts of Medicare work together.

Staff with the state’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) program, a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, conduct the workshops.  To register for the upcoming session, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.

Montana — Expect a Longer Fire Season: Governor Steve Bullock held the state’s annual fire roundup to prepare for this year’s fire season. The roundup includes state, local, tribal and federal fire officials. Preparedness and finding enough fire fighters to battle this year’s blazes is the reason.

The governor said, “As fire seasons have gotten longer, and by many stretches more severe, the duties that face each of our teams to just from a seasonal issue to actually a year-round responsibility to train, prepare, respond and recover from fires continuously.”

The biggest fire seasons in history — to date — have happened since 2000. Last year the state spent $400 million fighting fire and the expectation is that amount or more will be spent this year.

Source link: Independent Record

Oregon — From the Department of Insurance: The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation seeks public comment on the following Proposed Bulletin:

DFR 2019-02: Applicability of HB 2010 premium assessment to health benefit plans

Summary:

The purpose of this bulletin is to clarify the applicability of the 2 percent assessment on heath benefit plan premiums under Enrolled House Bill 2010 (2019).

Draft Bulletin DFR 2019-02 https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Bulletins/proposed/dfr-2019-02-draft.pdf

Last day for public comment: Monday, July 8, 2019

Comment email: dfr.bulletin@oregon.gov

To read this and other proposed bulletins and get more information, please visit the Division of Financial Regulation's Proposed Bulletins page at: https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/proposed-bulletins.aspx

Oregon — Unlimited Jury Awards: It was a rare event. The Oregon Senate killed House Bill 2014 that would have done away with the noneconomic damages caps in civil suits for pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.

Medical associations and businesses opposed the bill. Trial lawyers wanted it and usually get their way with bills like this.

The votes weren’t there but it came to the floor anyway and was defeated.

In 1999 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled the $500,000 cap was unconstitutional. Late — in 2016 — the court reversed itself and said it is legal and it is now — and still — law.

Source link: OPB

Tags:  Weekly Industry News 

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​ObamaCare Update — The Newest Bandaid & A New Lawsuit

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

It’s called Medicare X. Democrats Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado and former vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine of West Virginia authored the plan and if it passes anyone would be able to buy a Medicare plan for their health care needs.

 

Bennet said this is a more realistic idea than the single payer system, Medicare for All.

 

“I just think this is a much more practical way of trying to achieve the objective of universal coverage, and over time, a reduction in our expenditures on health care, then practically any other proposal that’s been made since the ACA was passed,” he said.

 

Kaine and Bennet’s plan leaves ObamaCare and the current private system intact and just allows people of any age to go the Medicare route if they want to go that way.

 

The plan also expands access to tax credits to help people buy ObamaCare coverage. Those credits can be used to purchase the Medicare plan or ObamaCare-based insurance. Kaine and Bennet also do not want anyone to have to pay more than 13% of their income toward insurance premiums.

 

A similar version was also introduced in the House where it stands a much better chance of being heard.

 

While ObamaCare isn’t likely to be repealed and replaced this year or next by Republicans like President Trump called for, but he’s still fighting in the courts to make changes to the law. One battle shaping up to wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court is the decision by Texas Judge Reed O’Connor that ObamaCare is unconstitutional. His reasoning is based in the tax reforms of 2017 making the individual mandate null and void.

 

Since it’s gone, O’Connor said the entire law is unconstitutional.

 

Two Republican attorneys general — Montana’s Tim Fox and Ohio’s Dale Yost — have filed suit to stop O’Connor’s ruling. They say he went too far and overstepped his authority.

 

"No sound application of neutral rules and precedents — whether based on the Constitution’s original public meaning or Supreme Court precedent — could lead a court to strike down an entire congressional act based on the unconstitutionality of a single, inoperative provision within it," the states wrote.

 

The two attorneys general say it’s clear to them that when the tax reform package repealed the individual mandate, Congress intended to leave the rest of the law intact and that O’Connor knows that. "Congress would have been crystal clear if it had wanted to do something as extreme as making the entire Act rise or fall with the constitutionality of a completely inoperative provision," the brief they filed said.

 

The real worry — of course — is the protection of pre-existing conditions.

 

“The court’s decision, if affirmed, will deprive millions of non-elderly Ohioans and Montanans of coverage for pre-existing conditions. It will also negatively affect countless others who organized their affairs in reliance on the Act’s many unrelated provisions,” Fox said.

 

Fox and Yost say — ironically — even opponents of ObamaCare want to protect pre-existing conditions. “It is understandable that some who dislike the Affordable Care Act would cheer the result below. But they should remember that what goes around comes around. If allowed to stand, the decision ... will be used to invalidate any number of federal and state laws," the brief said.

 

Source links: The Hill — link 1, link 2

Tags:  insurance content  insurance news  joey leffel  Medicare  Obama  pia western alliance  weekly industry news 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019
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Idaho

Health Plans: Non-grandfathered transitional health plans, also known as “grandmothered” plans, will be extended through December 31, 2020, the Idaho Department of Insurance announced.  The announcement follows the latest guidance released March 25, 2019 by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that allows states the option of extending such plans.

 

Most Affordable Care Act (ACA) market reforms took effect January 1, 2014.  Non-grandfathered health policies in existence prior to that date are considered “transitional policies.”  Director Dean Cameron says these types of health policies continue to serve many consumers well.

 

“Numerous individuals and families have held onto these transitional policies since before 2014,” said Cameron.  “We are pleased they will have the option to retain them for another year.”

 

Transitional policies are not fully ACA-compliant; however, they must comply with state law and only specific ACA provisions regarding annual dollar limitations, pre-existing condition exclusions, waiting periods and mental health parity rules.  Carriers are to provide notice at renewal informing individuals or small employers of renewal options, including the opportunity to enroll in ACA-compliant plans.  CMS is permitting states to continue the extension of transitional plans through the “substantially enforcing” provision of the ACA.

 

For further information, click Bulletin 19-02, visit the Department website at doi.idaho.gov or call 208-334-4250.

 

Source link: Idaho Department of Insurance

 

 

Montana

Recreational Marijuana Goes Down: The House Taxation Committee has voted down a bill that would have made Montana the latest state in the union to allow recreational marijuana to be smoked legally.

 

The bill was tabled by a 12 to six vote.

 

Supporters argue the legalized pot would be a good profit center tax wise. The 32% tax could bring in $35 to $55 million a year in revenue.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  Insurance Content  insurance industry  Weekly Industry News 

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Washington House & 9.9% Capital Gains Tax

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Former PIA Washington Alaska President Dick Fournier.

Legislatures are always seeking ways to raise income to support state governments. Name the state and business is almost always a target. In this case the state is Washington and its governor, Jay Inslee — now a candidate for U.S. President — wants a 9% capital gains tax.

Inslee needs it to support his budget — a budget that includes $52.8 billion in state spending.

Democrats in the Washington Legislature are in agreement with most of the governor’s budget raising proposals including the capital gains tax. For weeks, that has been one of the centers of discussion as Democrats in the House and Senate worked on their own versions of a budget.

Earlier this week one was finally submitted in the Washington House. It calls for $1.4 billion in new revenue. Much of that money will come from 9.9% capital gains tax on the earnings from the sale of stocks, bonds and other assets.

House Democrats have added 0.9% to the governor’s request. The 9.9% comes into play for individuals with taxable incomes of $100,000 or more, and it sits at $200,000 for couples. Members of the House Finance Committee say the tax will only impact 14,000 households.

Among the 14,000 impacted are the independent insurance agents and agencies of PIA Washington/Alaska. The “other assets” part of the equation is the sale of their businesses.

Former PIA Washington/Alaska President Dick Fournier — the head of the Fournier Group — said the independent insurance agents of the PIA, “are among the hardest working people in the state. This is a top-heavy tax that is not fair and that will reduce the value of the business built by hard-working entrepreneurs.”

That comment came earlier this year when he testified at a Senate Ways and Means Committee hearing on a 9% capital gains tax. Fourier told the committee that hundreds of small businesses will be hurt if the capital gains tax passes.

“For many of us decades of work began small. We worked nights and on weekends, and sometimes seven days a week,” he told committee members. “Our client lists often came from a phone book and we reached them via telephone. As the business grew the plan was to eventually sell and use the profit of that sale for retirement.”

He said a 9% capital gains tax wasn’t factored into his business plan.

PIA Washington Lobbyist Mel Sorensen agrees the 9% tax is oppressive and said it will adversely affect PIA members, many of whom have spent their entire business careers building their business. He pointed out that this tax is “very, very unfair and — in a way — punitive. For many, they have spent their entire professional careers building their businesses. The value in their business is frequently what they plan to rely on for their retirements. It’s simply damaging to expose them to a new 9% capital gains tax.”

It is for those reasons — and others — that the PIA Washington/Alaska opposed the 9% proposal in the Senate and this proposal.

Our opposition faces stiff opposition. Rep. Gael Tarleton is a Democrat and chairs the House Finance Committee. She said the 9.9% capital gains tax is an attempt to bring “tax fairness” to Washington, one of the few states without a personal income tax.

“Wealth continues to concentrate in the hands of fewer and fewer individuals who pay less and less into critical public investments as a proportion of their accumulated wealth,” she said. “This wealth is not generating the revenue we need to serve the interests and needs of 7 1/2 million Washingtonians.”

In an interview earlier this year with Weekly Industry News, Sorensen noted the comments about tax fairness leads to another problem with a capital gains tax. It is based on an income tax system and Washington State’s constitution does not allow one.

“Federal law defines the measure of tax on NET capital gain income,” he said. “Although the Governor's capital gains tax plan may call it an ‘excise tax and ‘for the privilege of selling or exchanging long-term capital assets, or receiving Washington capital gains,’ the departments of revenue for every state with a capital gains tax classify it as an income tax.”

Experts say the tax — if passed and signed by the governor — will undoubtedly end up on court.

Republican Rep. Drew Stokesbary serves on the House Finance Committee. He opposes the idea and says even if the courts make it legal, passing this kind of tax is irresponsible. “If we have a recession coming up, it will be difficult to balance the budget if we're dependent on capital gains as part of state revenues,” he said. “The fact of the matter is we can fund all of our priorities without raising taxes.”

By the way, the House budget exempts retirement accounts, primary residencies and the sale of agricultural and timberlands, cattle, horses and other breeding stock.

The target date for passing the budget and sending it to the Senate is this Friday and if a Senate budget has not been submitted by the time you read this story, you can expect one very soon.

Source links: Weekly Industry News — link 1, link 2, The Tri-City Herald

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Auto Crashes & Cellphones — Nevada’s Novel Notion

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 

We all know that most states ban the use of handheld smartphones and texting while driving. The reason is because distracted driving is dangerous. Sometimes people die because of distracted driving.

However, as International Association of Chiefs of Police president and Buffalo Grove, Illinois chief Steven Casstevens says,“If you’re the at-fault driver and you cause the crash because you’re talking on your cellphone, you’re likely not to admit it.”

The Nevada Legislature wants to fix that. It is looking at passing a law that can allow police to use new technology to see if someone was using their phone when the crash occurred.

The device is called a textalyzer.

Police and other law enforcement officials say distracted driving is underreported and the punishment for drivers who text while driving is inconsistent and — often — not all that harsh. So drivers are not held accountable.

The advocate fighting to let police us the textalyzer is Ben Lieberman. His 19-year old son was killed in a crash by a driver who was texting. Lieberman is behind a failed push to enact a similar law in New York two-years ago.

As it stands now, no one is quite sure how the Nevada bill will turn out.

Lieberman says something needs to be done nationwide and that texting and driving needs to have a greater social stigma. “When I was growing up, drunk driving was a joke. Now it’s not a joke,” he told those in Nevada’s Legislature. “Device use is a joke. Make it so it’s not funny.”

The textalyzer was developed by the Israeli company Cellebrite. It has the ability to look for user activity like opening Facebook’s messenger, or the sending or reading of texts. What it cannot do — as opponents fear — is access or store personal content.

The device has not been texted in the field and has not been used by law enforcement. The Nevada bill — if passed into law — would be a much-needed field test.

The American Civil Liberties Union — and others — worry that such a law will violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It protects us from unreasonable search and seizure.

Lieberman says it does not violate anything. Other experts — he notes — say this law is minimally intrusive and does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

Nevada’s bill originally had a piece in it that said drivers refusing to have their phones checked would immediately receive a 90-day driver’s license suspension. That quickly led to an amendment by the Democrats doing away with the automatic suspension and forcing police to get a search warrant.

Next up was Democrat Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo wondering if the legislation is needed anyway. Police can already get a search warrant to check phone use if they suspect texting or smartphone use was involved in a crash. 

“Wouldn’t it be better just to give this technology to (the police) and so that they can utilize it after they get the warrant already?” he said. “Nothing in this bill is actually new, ’cause the law enforcement (agency) already has the techniques and tools that we’re providing.”

Casstevens disagrees. He said the practice of checking for distracted driving is hit and miss, and is not a uniform practice among law enforcement officials nationwide.

The bill’s sponsor is Assemblywoman Michelle Gorelow. She is a Democrat. Gorelow wants the police only to be able to see if — after a crash — someone has been using social media, texting, browsing the Internet or playing games.

“It’s like a Breathalyzer that only detects tequila,” Gorelow said. She does not want the technology to go much deeper than that.

The bill is being amended and so far these things have been taken off the table:

  Gone is the automatic suspension if a motorist refuses to turn over the phone

  Gone is the implied consent provision that makes it mandatory that drivers turn over their phones

  Added is the driver being able to refuse

  Added is if the driver refuses, the police must obtain a warrant

The bill also has been modified to say that the textalyzer can only be used in the event of a crash that kills someone or seriously injures them.

Weekly Industry News is curious about what you think of the bill.

  Should laws that require a cellphone check in the event of a crash be enacted?

  Would you like to see such a law in your state?

  Does it violate the intent of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

  Other comments?

Send your comments to Weekly Industry News Editor Gary Wolcott at garywolcott@piawest.com.

Source links: Associated Press, KOLO TV

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Workplace Injuries — Assaults and Women

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The National Safety Council regularly puts out information on workplace safety. As part of National Women’s History Month, the council put out information on women and safety in the workplace.

The information says women are the targets of 70% of all of the non-fatal workplace assaults. This conclusion comes from 2017 totals:

  12,820 assaults upon women

  That’s a 60% increase since 2011

  5,530 men were assaulted

Other work-related — and non-assault — injuries and illnesses also disproportionately impact women:

  59% are accidentally caused by another person

  57% are from falls

  61% are from ergonomic causes like repetitive motion

The National Safety Council’s statistics also say some sectors have disproportionate numbers as well:

  80% of non-fatal injuries to women happen in the healthcare sector

  61% come from education

  60% from management, business and financial companies

National Safety Council President and CEO Nick Smith said, “Our workplaces should be safe havens for everyone, and these data show us we can do more to protect women in the workplaces. As employers examine the biggest risks facing their workforce, we urge them to consider these trends and make sure safety is extending to all employees.”

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Cyber Criminals Take an Easy Path — Small Business

Posted By Kim Legato, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Chubb just released a study that is setting off alarms in the small business community. Cyber criminals are increasingly switching targets. Where they used to focus on large corporations and government, they are now finding small business to be much more fertile territory.

Spokesman Patrick Thielen — the senior president of Chubb’s financial lines — said the report looks at the new types of ransomware that blocks businesses from accessing their own networks until a ransom is paid.

“Cyber criminals typically don’t target specific small businesses, but they increasingly use tools that target their vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities are at times technical, like unpatched software or poorly configured hardware,” he said. “But even more common are those vulnerabilities involving employees who may use weak or compromised passwords, or may inadvertently click something they shouldn’t have.”

These are the cyber claims reported to Chubb last year:

  21% of cyber incidents are phishing

  20% due to errors

  14% came from hacking

Chubb’s head of North American claims is Anthony Dolce. He agrees with Thielen and says businesses need to be aware. And more importantly — small business needs to take preventative steps.

“Cyber criminals know that SME leaders may mistakenly think that cybersecurity services are beyond their means, which makes SMEs more vulnerable to an attack,” he said. “However, we are living in an age where cyberattacks are constantly evolving and threatening businesses of all sizes, but especially small to mid-size businesses. Therefore, it remains critical for companies to understand this present age and develop strong risk-mitigation strategies to lessen the impact of cyber threats.”

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Cyber Security  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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The Trump Administration & Flood Reforms

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

People worried about global warming and the Trump administration have finally found some common ground. The administration wants an overhaul of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that forces communities in flood prone areas to do a better job of planning for extreme weather.

The changes are coming through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It is the NFIP’s administrator. Those changes will tie premiums to the actual risk instead of whether a home is inside or outside a 100-year flood plain.

The changes are set to go into effect in 2020.

Union of Concerned Scientist spokeswoman Shana Udverdy said, “This is badly needed” and added it is “a huge step in the right direction, so we can let communities, particularly those communities that have been repetitively flooded, know what their actual risk is.”

Not totally gung-ho, she also says the union worries about the issue of affordability. There is the worry that the push will increase homeowner  insurance rates. “How do we protect those people that are historically disadvantaged and low-income, and that are also on the front lines of flooding?” Udverdy asked.

FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation David Marstad calls its new plan Risk Rating 2.0. The concept comes from the flooding caused by hurricanes in 2017 and from a large flood in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. That flooding caused damage to homes that didn’t have flood insurance because the NFIP didn’t accurately measure risk.

So a new system of mapping, pricing and risk will be implemented. “The new rating plan will help customers better understand their risks,” Maurstad pointed out and added, “I believe that will actually increase the demand for our product.”

As you know, most people with flood insurance get that insurance from the NFIP. It has 5 million policyholders and 3.5 million of those are single-family dwellings. And in spite of the large increase of losses from flood on a national level, the NFIP says it is selling 10% fewer flood policies than it did in 2009.

Marurstad isn’t quite sure how the new system is going to impact rates. “We’re not going to design it to either increase or decrease revenue,” he said. “Our effort is to improve our product and price it more fairly.”

FEMA’s press secretary Elizabeth Litzow said whether rates go up or down isn’t the point. “Risk Rating 2.0 will be introducing new sources of flooding, such as intense rainfall, that have not been previously considered in the rating structure,” Litzow said. “While these new sources of flooding have a lesser impact on risk and rates than those already considered, their introduction could result in the increased premium levels.”

Risk Rating 2.0 will use private-sector data to calculate the real flood threat to individual homes. In a test done last October on two homes, FEMA found a home on the edge of a 100-year flood plain had a lower flood risk than one closer to the center.

The current system says both homes pay the same premium rate. Under Risk Rating 2.0, the home on the edge would see a 57% drop in its rate and the one closer to the center will have a rate that doubles.

No doubt the proposed changes will receive attacks from politicians. A few years ago when Congress raised premiums to look like actual risk, public and political opposition was instant. Two-years later the changes were rescinded.

Maurstad said the big difference now — and the real need for change — is flooding that has grown worse. “We’re seeing more intense events,” Maurstad said. “We’re going to have a program that’s going to be able to serve the nation better in the years to come.”

Source links: Carrier Management, Insurance Journal

Tags:  Flood  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Wildfires — California Gets a Head Start

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 

In an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure move, California Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of wildfire emergency over the entire state. He’s ahead of the wildfire game. It makes one wonder if other governors in the nine PIA Western Alliance states — Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — might be thinking the same thing.

Newsom said his decision means the state — via Cal Fire — can speed up 35 projects designed to protect over 200 communities.

Involving tree clearing and other forest management tools, the decision skirts a lot of environmental protections that have been important to environmentalists in California for decades. Sierra Club of California director Kathryn Phillips said she worries about the ramifications of such a hasty decision.

“In this case, we worry that the lack of review and oversight might result in unintended environmental and public health harms,” she said.

Yes, yes, yes, Newsom said. He knows this is going to upset some of his environmental allies. However, the governor said something needs to be done since wildfires last year destroyed 1.9 million acres and totally destroyed the entire town of Paradise. That fire — he also notes — killed 85 people.

“I’ve made no bones that if we can fast-track CEQA for arenas and football stadiums, we certainly should be able to do so to save peoples’ lives,” Newsom said. At the same time he emphasized the decision will bump these projects up to being done in two months instead of two years.

“It’s a controversial one. I’m not naive. Some people want to maintain our processes and they want to maintain our rules and protocols. But I am going to push back on that,” Newsom said.

Officials from cities around the state are thrilled with the governor’s action. State Sen. Mike McGuire — also a Democrat — is the mayor of Healdsburg. McGuire said, “The state must speed up the removal of dead and dying trees and vegetation management. The quicker we move, the safer our communities will be.”

Other environmentalists have also jumped on the wagon and are calling Newsom’s decision “Trumpian” in reference to the way the president has acted with some issues. Of course, the governor took exception to that comparison.

“I think this is the right thing to do because there is a deep sense of urgency and anxiety… he noted and then said, “The values we hold dear in terms of environmental practices, we can do both. It’s not one or the other.”

And while the governor is looking at getting ready for a wildfire season early, California Sen. Bill Dodd is looking at getting the state more involved in how the state’s utilities manage vegetation around their equipment.

He’s introduced legislation — SB 247 — that addresses current law. Regulations now say the utilities can decide what does or does not need trimmed. Obviously, they’re not all that successful. Under Dodd’s new bill, if the utilities don’t do the managing, the state will and — if his bill is passed — the utilities will pay the cost of that maintenance.

“It’s clear that the current standard is not working,” Dodd said. “We need to make sure appropriate tree trimming and line maintenance occurs. The well-being of California communities and our very lives depend on it.”

SB 247 will instruct Cal Fire to tell the utilities what to trim and will — after — inspect the work to make sure it is done correctly. “The public needs to know that there is real, independent oversight, not just someone in an office reviewing paperwork submitted by utilities,” Dodd said. “This bill will help prevent future wildfires and ultimately reduce costs (to) ratepayers.”

By the way, a separate bill would ban utilities from spending the money they budget for maintenance to other sources.

Source links: The Press Democrat, Daily Republic

Tags:  insurance content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News  Wildfires 

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Data Sharing & Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 

California has a new data sharing law called the California Consumer Privacy Act. It goes into effect next year and places heavy restrictions on how companies can share the data they gather about you and what they need to tell you about what they’ve collected.

Congress is looking at a similar law to apply to the entire country.

Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and others oppose what Congress is doing and what California has already done. They say the benefits of what is practically free access to the Internet or to other services they provide outweigh what is done with the data. If more restrictions are placed, then people will have to pay more for those services.

Maybe a lot, lot more.

So what do consumers think about the whole thing? Not as much as regulators think. Or says a new study from Accenture. Its Global Financial Services Consumer Study said that 60% of us are okay with sharing location data and our lifestyle information. Anything to keep the price of those services down.

Over half say they’d share their data for benefits like faster loan approval and personalized offers on things like gym memberships and more. For us — insurance professionals — we find consumers are interested in premiums that are personalized for them and with pay as you go insurance.

Here’s what the study of the opinions of 47,000 people had to say:

  64% are interested in adjusted car insurance premiums based on safe driving

  52% are interested in exchanging lower life insurance premiums for sharing data on their lifestyle

  60% like pay as you drive auto insurance where the less you drive, the lower the rate

  81% are willing to share income, location and lifestyle habits for the rapid approval of a loan

  57% like the idea of savings tips based on spending habits

Who is the most and least willing to share data depends on where you are:

  67% of the Chinese surveyed don’t mind personal data sharing

  50% of people in the U.S. don’t mind data sharing

  In the U.K. and Germany that figure is 40%

Meanwhile, the privacy management company TrustArc says 86% of the companies working in California aren’t ready for the California Consumer Privacy Act. Spokesman Chris Babel said complex tools are needed to identify the data collected, organize it and give consumers easy access to what data they company has belonging to them.

“It’s expensive, time-consuming, and difficult,” Babel said. “And there’s a host of things people are looking toward to help.”

Source links: Digital Insurance, Fortune

Tags:  data sharing  insurance content  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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