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NARAB & Insurance: What is the hold-up?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In January last year Congress passed the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers Reform Act of 2015. It established the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB).

 

Its purpose is to reduce costs and increase competition.

 

The law says the president — in this case President Obama — will appoint 13 members to the licensing board. Eight of them must have a regulatory background. The other three will be experienced in P&C insurance and licensing. Two members must be experts in life and health.

 

After that, the Senate approves the nominations and it’s off to the races.

 

All of this was supposed to have been done within 90 days of the passage of the bill. Unfortunately for NARAB and for the independent insurance agents of the nation, President Obama’s nomination process is slower than a snail. Earlier this month he nominated three more members but the board is still three members short.

 

And the Senate has not acted on any of the nominees.

 

A functioning NARAB is critical to the insurance industry. The National Association of Independent Financial Advisors (NAIFA) did a study and found the average producer spends 29 hours a year and $225 for licensing to meet legal requirements. One of NARAB’s purposes is to lower those costs.

 

Steve Riggs is a Kentucky legislator and the vice president of the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL). He said, The purpose of NARAB II is to allow agents and brokers to find the best available deal for their clients. This delay by the administration and the Senate continues to make it more difficult to ensure customers can purchase what’s best for them. It causes a lot of unneeded frustration and I know they can do better on this.”

 

NCOIL CEO Tom Considine also commented. He is ticked and wants the president to finish the nomination process and the Senate to get going.

 

It is disconcerting that, 18 months after enactment and 15 months after the statutory deadline to appoint members, a sufficient number of members have not yet been appointed and confirmed so the committee can even meet. Because the Obama administration and the United States Senate have not fully acted, consumer and producer benefits remain unavailable,” Considine said.

 

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) is also being vocal and has voiced concern. In a news release NAMIC said it strongly urges the administration to continue filling out the NARAB board and for the Senate to swiftly take up and approve these appointments.”

 

Considine agrees and added, Because the Obama administration and the United States Senate have not fully acted, consumer and producer benefits remain unavailable.”

 

Here are the three nominees recently added to the board:

 

  John Huff — Missouri Insurance Commissioner and current president of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

  Robert Suglia — Senior VP and general counsel of Amica Mutual Insurance Company

  Lori Wing- Heier — Alaska Insurance Commissioner

 

Here are the other — and still non-confirmed — members:

 

  Marguerite Salazar — Colorado Insurance Commissioner

  Angela Ripley — President of VW Brown Insurance Service

  Susan Louise Castaneda — Assistant VP and compliance officer for The Hartford

  Robert Farmer — South Carolina Insurance Commissioner

  Michael Rothman — Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce

  Thomas McLeary — Founder and president of Endow Insurance Brokerage

  Heather Ann Steinmiller — General counsel for Connor Strong & Buckelew

 

Farmer, Rothman, McLeary and Steinmiller were all nominated in January of this year. That is one full year after the passage of the NARAB bill and nine-months after the deadline established in the law.

 

Source Links: Insurance Business America, Insurance Journal

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  NARAB & Insurance: What is the hold-up?  Weekly Industry News 

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Harris Poll: Insurers not Popular with Consumers

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A new Harris Poll says insurers are even more unpopular with consumers than banks or other financial institutions. And this survey was huge. It took in 97,000 consumers and had them rate 3,800 brands in 500 categories. Insurance is one of them.

 

Businesses were rated on a 100 point scale and insurance ranked close to the bottom:

 

  Auto insurance — 53.2

  Home insurance — 53.1

  Life insurance — 52.4

 

As a comparison the nation’s banks picked up a score of 54.1 and slightly above insurers. Payment card vendors did even better at 66.6.

 

Harris Poll spokeswoman Joan Sinopoli said, Despite some fresh and interesting ad campaigns in recent years, Harris Poll’s research shows that consumers are challenged when it comes to feeling a connection with insurance brands.”

 

Those insurance brands — and the company looked at 56 — that have membership-based and captive agents made the best connection with consumers. The best on the list were:

 

  USAA

  State Farm

  Farmers

  Nationwide

 

For auto and home add:

 

  American Family

  Transamerica

  Prudential

 

The Harris Poll said though consumers prefer captives this is not a negative for the independent agent. Independents — Harris said — can do personal connections that counter the power of corporate branding.

 

The pollster and a poll from Mintel suggest that Millennials and women — in particular — are tired of insurance branding. They don’t buy it and Mintel Spokeswoman Robyn Kaiserman says 56% of Millennials think an independent insurance agent is the best place to get the information they need about their insurance needs.

 

To improve their reputation among more skeptical demographics, insurers need to provide knowledgeable agents who can build trust with consumers and provide the human element a majority of consumers say they want. Insurers should recognize that interaction is not necessarily limited to telephone conversations; it’s key for insurers to have agents accessible both in-person and online to dispense information to consumers,” she said.

 

Oh. And despite being the generation most likely to run away from tradition, just 18% of Millennials have downloaded an insurance app. Despite the convenience, the online channel demonstrates a higher rate of disconnection than other channels,” Sinopoli said.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

 

Tags:  Harris Poll: Insurers not Popular with Consumers  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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2011 to 2016: Agents View of Carriers & Underwriting

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Channel Harvest talked to 2,000 independent agents in 2011 and again this year. The survey titled Key Success Factors in the Agent-Carrier Relationships was done on behalf of Insurance Journal and the subject is carriers and underwriting.

 

It’s the ninth such survey.

 

Spokesman Peter van Aartrijk — who is Channel Harvest’s managing principal — said it is a microcosm of how agents feel about the performance of carriers. Ask agents what’s important to them and they usually put underwriting and claims at the top of the list. But we were intrigued to find that some of those attributes are more prominent in our current survey than back in 2011.”

 

Critical factors to commercial agents ranked by importance:

 

2011

  Underwriting flexibility

  Consistent product/price

  Local underwriter/management team relationship

 

2016

  Claims service quality

  Competitive pricing

  Customer service

 

Critical factors to personal lines agents ranked in order of importance:

 

2011

  Consistent product and price

  Quality claims service

  Financial strength/rating

 

2016

  Claims service quality

  Competitive pricing

  Underwriting

 

In 2011 technology didn’t score that high and just 55% of those polled said their carriers had above average technology. This survey — van Aartijk said — has it a bit higher but not a lot. It’s also no surprise carriers score a bit higher today for their technology. But another constant then and now is agency compensation, where agents tend to have a mixed-to-negative opinion of their lead carrier,” he said.

 

He also said the plethora of mergers and acquisitions have also impacted the business of independent insurance agents and that’s a concern. All of this movement and disruption can have a profound effect on an agency’s book of business, and the Channel Harvest survey bears that out while also reinforcing the universal conviction that underwriting, claims and service are still the glue that holds the value chain together,” he concluded.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Tags:  2011 to 2016: Agents View of Carriers & Underwriti  Carriers  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Underwriters  Weekly Industry News 

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The Danger of Distracted Walking

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

 

 

David Sampson — who heads the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) — penned an article that we found in the Fort Worth, Texas newspaper the Star-Telegram.

 

Sampson says we all know about how dangerous distracted driving is and what we must do to avoid trouble. However, just as dangerous — he notes in his article — is distracted walking. It’s a habit that could be fatal.

 

He starts the article talking about raising his children and teaching them to walk and worrying how they’d fall and hurt themselves. Once they were old enough, he taught them — like most of us taught our children — to look both ways when crossing a street and to wait for traffic signals to let us cross.

 

It’s a critical safety issue.

 

Fast-forward many years to being a teenager or an adult. The lessons of the dangers of crossing streets safely are firmly implanted in our minds. We know the rules inside and out. But these days most of us walking are distracted. And the danger before us is not because of noise or crowds of people or autos whizzing by. 

 

The danger comes from tiny devices called smartphones that are constantly in front of our faces. And that — Sampson notes — is a life-threatening potential for all of us. And all of us mean children, teens and — yes, you too — adults.

 

Seriously, look at people walking while you’re driving or out walking. If they’re a teenager — especially a teenage girl — their smartphone is in front of their face while they walk along at a pretty good clip. Adults do this, too, but these days it’s more teens than others.

 

The editor of Weekly Industry News saw two teens walking the other day side by side, phones in front of their faces, talking, texting and walking at the same time. They had no clue about the car turning in front of them or the trolly about to make them very dead.

 

You see people walking on city streets and crossing in crosswalks with no clue that the light has changed and they’re now dangerously close to autos moving their direction.

 

How bad is it? Sampson quotes National Safety Council statistics that say 38,000 people died on the nation’s streets, roads and highways in 2015. It’s the biggest hike in 50 years. A Wall Street Journal article noted emergency room visits by pedestrians injured while distracted jumped 124% from 2010 to 2014.

 

Another study by the University of Buffalo found distracted walking results in more accidents per mile than distracted driving. That statistic is frightening when you consider one in four crashes these days is because of the distractions of a phone and that over 10% of all fatalities are because of cell phone use.

 

Samson also notes that Safe Kids Worldwide is another group tracking the danger. It finds teenagers account for half of the pedestrian deaths.

 

His conclusion — and we encourage you to read the entire article at the link below — is we have this wonderful technology that is making our autos safer and our lives better but it has a dark side.

 

Hand-held distractions — he writes — are offsetting those gains.

 

Source link: Star-Telegram

 

Tags:  accident  cell phone  fatal  Insurance Content  Insurance News  mobile phone  safety  The Danger of Distracted Walking  Weekly Industry News 

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Obama’s Business Tax Under Fire

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Obama administration wants to keep U.S. companies in the U.S. To keep them from moving their headquarters overseas to avoid U.S. taxes, the administration wants Congress to tighten the tax inversion rules.

 

And if Congress doesn’t? The administration will do it anyway.

 

Currently it’s legal for a U.S. company to merge with one in another country — usually one that is smaller — and move the headquarters to that country. But the move is usually on paper only. Internal borrowing reduces the U.S. tax rate. The borrowed money usually by the U.S. company from the now foreign entity is not taxable. So the inversion lets the company move money out of the country and then back to U.S. investors.

 

This is a tax avoidance.

 

President Obama calls it one of the most insidious tax loopholes. He wants Congress to do away with the current inversion laws and lower the corporate tax rate to keep companies here. Only Congress can close [the door to inversions] for good and only Congress can make sure that all the other loopholes that are being taken advantage of are closed,” the president said.

 

Here’s how the new proposed rules will work — that is if Congress or the administration make the changes. First the government targets what it calls serial inverters. These are large companies built through multiple inversions or from the takeover of U.S. companies. Under the plan the federal government would disregard — or not accept — U.S. assets acquired over the last three years.

 

Earnings stripping are the second part of the plan. This is what helps these companies lower their tax burden. It will be done away with.

 

Businesses and trade groups — like those representing banks, retailers and manufacturers — say the plan will not help but will disrupt operations and do nothing but put more red tape on businesses already struggling with that same tape.

 

An unmentioned bank trade group put the objection in perspective. “A financial services group would face the choice between, on the one hand, staggering administrative complexities and a tax burden disproportionate to its true economic profit, and on the other hand, the imposition of crippling constraints on its ordinary business activities,” its statement said.

 

As noted earlier, the U.S. Treasury intends on moving quickly to finalize the proposed regulations if Congress does not.

 

Republicans have balked at the inversion change and the corporate tax rate proposal and say any tax change discussion must also include individual tax rates. And Louisiana Republican Rep. Charles Boustany explained why the Republicans don’t want to change the inversion law.

 

Even after Secretary Lew’s admission that Treasury has no authority to stop inversions on its own, this administration has reverted to its default stance: attempting to make law by executive action. This proposal will do little to stop actual inversions, but will make it more difficult for foreign firms to invest in the United States. This is the wrong approach to a serious problem,” he said.

 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman and Texas Republican Kevin Brady called the proposal punitive and said it’ll hurt U.S. companies and discourage investment.

 

The president disagrees and says when these corporations leave it puts a heavier tax burden on the average American because their taxes help fund the government. They effectively renounce their citizenship. They declare that they’re based somewhere else. It sticks the rest of us with the tab, and it makes hardworking Americans feel like the deck is stacked against them,” he said.

 

Politics are now a big part of the inversion debate. Presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump have made proposals. Clinton wants an exit tax on those companies going the inversion route. Trump is proposing dropping the corporate tax rate to 15% from 35%.

 

Source links: The Wall Street Journal, MSN Money

 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Business tax  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance News  Obama’s Business Tax Under Fire  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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PIA & Other Industry Groups Fight Auto Insurance Affordability Plan

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

PIA National has come out against a plan by the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to institute guidelines to make auto insurance affordable to — as the FIO calls them — “affected persons.” In opposing the idea, the PIA joins several industry groups who also think the idea has no merit.

 

FIO Director Michael McRaith said affected will be defined as traditionally underserved communities and consumers, minorities, and low- and moderate-income persons. So if the average auto liability premium is more than 2% of the median income in those neighborhoods, the insurance will be deemed unaffordable.

 

Access to affordable auto insurance is crucial for consumers who commute to work, drive kids to school, and meet the needs of their families. This new methodology reflects important feedback FIO has received from a number of key stakeholders, and it is a meaningful step toward better understanding the affordability of auto insurance for consumers and underserved communities all across the country,” he said.

 

Consumer groups like McRaith’s point of view and support the guidelines. The insurance industry — for the most part — does not.

 

PIA National Senior Vice President for Industry Affairs Pat Borowski says the organization appreciates that the FIO let the industry chime in before making its decision. We appreciate the engaged process that FIO extended to the industry and the subsequent follow-ups for additional information and asking additional questions. We further appreciate the FIO’s efforts to balance the many comments, and make a number of changes that have improved the outcome, as compared to the original proposal,” she noted.

 

But in the end the FIO’s designation of unaffordable is unacceptable. “We still do not see if or how FIO will account for several other critical factors, such as the differences — most of them significant — that exist among all drivers as to their individual or collective household driving records. Assessing auto insurance affordability is much more complex than determining the affordability of housing costs under HUD methods,” she said.

 

Borowski said the PIA’s analysis of the problem shows the FIO does not give enough weight to a number of variables including the non-insurance related factors that impact the price of insurance and regional variables.

 

Jimi Grande of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) said the FIO is stepping outside of its authority. By law, the FIO monitors the markets and will report to Congress, which can act on those reports or not. What’s troubling is that even though the FIO itself recognizes that ‘affordability for any individual consumer can be assessed accurately only within the context of that consumer’s circumstances,’ the conclusions others draw from the office’s reports based on aggregated data will not take this fundamental fact into account, or ignore it outright to further an agenda,” he said.

 

Borowski and the PIA worry that the problem fix will lead to a government subsidy similar to what happens with ObamaCare.

 

The Insurance Research Council agrees with PIA that the figure of 2% is arbitrary. No standards — the IRC contends — exist to support McRaith’s figure. It does agree an affordability index that compares coverage to income is appropriate over time but it is not a good method of deciding whether insurance is affordable or not affordable.

 

Grande said that’s the biggest problem with the FIO stance. The methodology ignores all existing government data on auto insurance expenditures and even the fundamental principle that insurance should be priced according to risk, which means the same standard would be considered for a driver with a perfect driving record and one with multiple accidents. There is great danger in arbitrarily establishing a threshold for which our government will deem a product affordable. What’s next – whether the car itself is considered affordable? The gasoline fueling it? Is there a need for the government to determine if auto repairs are affordable?”

 

Like PIA National’s Borowski, Grande appreciated the FIO listening to the industry but its solution and the end result remains a troubling standard that may not provide an accurate picture of the highly competitive auto insurance marketplace.”

 

Robert Gordon — a senior vice president for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) — agrees. He said, Individual finances, wealth and discretionary income may vary greatly from family to family. For most consumers, the cost of buying a car and maintaining and fueling it far exceed any insurance costs, making the regulatory fixation with insurance affordability somewhat misdirected. In particular, rapidly escalating distracted driving, traffic congestion and alcohol and drug use have been negatively impacting auto accident frequency and loss costs, which are the primary determinants of insurance rates and affordability,” Gordon said.

 

American Insurance Association senior council Lisa Brown said the FIO’s definitions are all wrong. Factors such as state-based tort reform laws, consumer choice in levels of coverage, and state minimum insurance requirement laws do not appear to have been taken into account while FIO devised this methodology. It is essential that we have an effective and efficient system of insurance supervision that fosters the growth of vibrant private, competitive insurance markets. We believe that government regulation should be employed in ways that support the growth of the auto insurance market and look forward to working with FIO to address these concerns,” she said.

 

The IRC gets the last word and it’s an important one. The affordability of auto insurance is ultimately a function of how state auto insurance systems are defined and administered by the states. Efforts to improve affordability should address the primary cost drivers.”

 

Source links: PIA National, Insurance Journal

 

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  PIA  PIA & Other Industry Groups Fight Auto Insurance A  Pia National  Weekly Industry News 

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Meet the I.I.I.’s Replacement for Dr. Robert Hartwig

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Sean Kevelighan
If insurance ever had anything close to a rock star it is Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) president Dr. Robert Hartwig. His youthful looks, intellect — and most importantly — knowledge, made him popular with all media and not just insurance media.

 

No one explains insurance more succinctly and in layman’s terms like Hartwig.

 

Earlier this year Hartwig — who has headed the I.I.I. since 2007 — announced he’s stepping down as the institute’s president and CEO. Hartwig will be a faculty member of the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business and the co-director of the Moore School’s Risk and Uncertainty Management Center.

 

His replacement is 43 year old Sean Kevelighan who most recently headed the global public affairs of the Zurich Insurance Group. He — among other important posts — was the press secretary for the White House Office of Management and Budget during the second Bush administration.

 

In accepting the position, Kevelighan said, It’s an honor to have been given this opportunity. Insurance is the lifeblood of any economy, as it enables individuals to be better prepared for the unexpected and, in turn, to live more freely. Over the years I have truly grown passionate about insurance and, quite frankly, feel it deserves more credit for the value it brings to society.”

 

Hartwig likes the choice. Although my decision to leave the Institute after 18 years was an extremely difficult one, it is made much easier knowing that I will be leaving the organization in such capable hands. I love this organization and this industry and I’m confident that Sean will be a strong, strategic leader for the I.I.I. and a persuasive spokesperson for an industry that I remain fully committed to,” Hartwig said.

 

Bruce Kelley — who is the president and CEO of EMC Insurance Companies and the board chairman of the I.I.I. — also likes the choice of Kevelighan and explains why he was picked.

 

Over nearly two decades, Sean has attained impressive accomplishments in public affairs and communications as well as a deep technical knowledge of insurance issues. The search committee screened dozens of high-caliber candidates, but the final vote was unanimous. Sean is an ideal fit for the CEO role due to his success as a media spokesperson in both corporate and government settings, as well as his international insurance industry experience,” Kelley said.

 

Source links: Insurance Journal, PropertyCasualty360.com

 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Meet the I.I.I.’s Replacement for Dr. Robert Hartw  Pia National  Weekly Industry News 

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Obama Wants Public Option for ObamaCare

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

In 2015 we — the nation — spent $3.2 trillion on our health. That’s a jump of 5.5% and a point and a half more than the record low of the 4% in 2013. So the question comes up is the increase because of the Affordable Care Act and is it really working.

 

That’s a debate that will likely rage on way past President Obama’s presidency.

 

The president wants Congress to authorize more help the middle class families. He’s asking legislatorsto help middle-class families who have coverage but still struggle with premiums.”

 

As what will likely be his last contribution to his signature legislation, the president said he wants to add a public option to the Affordable Care Act. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Obama wrote, Public programs like Medicare often deliver care more cost-effectively by curtailing administrative overhead and securing better prices from providers. The public plan did not make it into the final legislation. Now, based on experience with the ACA, I think Congress should revisit a public plan to compete alongside private insurers in areas of the country where competition is limited.”

 

Hilary Clinton likes the idea as does most of the Democratic Party. Most but not all. North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is a Democrat in a conservative state. She gave the most eloquent response by conservative Democrats to the public option.

 

I think it's critically important that we stop trying to complicate healthcare and we start taking a look at what needs to be fixed in ObamaCare. Until we actually have those conversations and we have bipartisan support, I think it's unrealistic to assume that we're going to see any kind of expansion of care,” she said.

 

And in reality, it has almost no chance of passing in a Republican Congress. So the administration — and the president — will be paving the road for the concept to become a reality in the future.

 

Obama also wrote, Simpler approaches to addressing our health care problems exist at both ends of the political spectrum: the single-payer model vs. government vouchers for all. Yet the nation typically reaches its greatest heights when we find common ground between the public and private good and adjust along the way.”

 

Source link: Two stories from The Hill — link 1 and link 2

 

Tags:  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Obama Wants Public Option for ObamaCare  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, July 20, 2016

California — State Unprepared for the Big One

At some point in the future — and unfortunately one that no one knows or can predict — California will experience the earthquake known as “the big one.”

 

The Southern California Disaster Risk Reduction Initiative is a group of business and policy leaders. It has been studying preparation around the state and concludes that California just isn’t ready. And it believes the state needs to make more effort to be ready and turn what could be a catastrophe into just a disaster.

 

A quake — the group notes — of eight or more will paralyze the state. An aging infrastructure will be damaged beyond repair, water supplies will be threatened and there will likely be catastrophic fires from ruptured natural gas lines.

 

Some 20 million people will be impacted as supply lines and communication is cut off in Southern California.

 

Seismologist Lucy Jones — who is best known as the earthquake lady — said, “Anything that comes into southern California has to cross the San Andreas Fault to get to us — gas, electricity, water, freeways, railways. Most of the water that we get has to cross the fault to reach us but when the earthquake happens, all of the aqueducts will be broken at the same time.”

 

Source link: Straight Times

 

Idaho — Be Ready for Wildfire

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

 

A recent fire in Tipanuck, Idaho, resulted in the loss of several acres of private property — including two mobile homes and an outbuilding — and threatened to encroach on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. In communities without organized fire departments, firewise measures are critical to protecting homes and lives.

 

A wind-driven, fast-moving wildfire could destroy the majority of a community without fire protection services,” says Fire Marshal Knute Sandahl. As we surveyed the damage following the Tipanuck fire, it was evident that numerous homes in the area were not practicing any firewise measures.”

 

The Tipanuck fire was caused by a short from an electric meter box. Firefighters from the BLM responded and prevented the fire from spreading to their land and other adjoining properties. Fire departments from neighboring communities were called in by the BLM to douse private structures already lost to the fire.

 

Fire Marshal Sandahl suggests the following fire safety precautions:

  Create green space around homes and buildings of at least 30 feet

  Cut down or remove any dry vegetation within 10 feet of a house or building

  Trim back trees that overhang the house

  Have garden hoses and lawn sprinklers available for immediate use

  Keep combustible materials – anything that can burn – away from homes

  Water plants, trees, and mulch regularly

 

Montana — Hail Damage: Montana Department of Agriculture head Walt Anseth is worried. He told the Billings Gazette that from January to May over 200 hail damage claims were filed by Montana farmers. June claims have not been counted yet.

 

These are — when you consider there are several months left in the year — record numbers. So far Montana has had 266 reports of hail of 3/4 of an inch in side so far this year. That’s just above the 20-year average.

 

The state’s hail program will cover the damage.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

  

Oregon — SAIF Returns $2.5 million

SAIF is the state of Oregon’s workers’ compensation insurance program. Businesses — and there are 665 of them — participating are about to get a refund as SAIF officials say they’ll be sending $2.5 million back. This is for the 2014 and 2015 plan year.

 

This year’s return of 8.3% is smaller than previous years because of more serious injuries. Those participating in the AGC/SAIF program will share $3.4 million.

 

Oregon — Health Co-op Liquidation

To date 15 of the Affordable Care Act’s non-profit health insurance cooperatives have closed. In Oregon the state has begun the process of liquidating the Oregon Health CO-OP’s assets. The co-op had a small number of members at 20,600.

 

Oregon Health CO-OP executive Phil Jackson said, “It is with great sadness that I announce Oregon's Health CO-OP is shutting down its doors immediately. The board of directors agreed that it is in the best interests of our members and community that we wind down our operations.”

 

The co-op was expecting $5 million from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service. When the money was finally sent it was just $900,000 and the government said it was all that was owed.

 

Pile that on top of the $18.4 million the co-op lost in 2015 and it was too much.

 

The co-op is one of three insurers to fail because of the failure of the federal government to keep its promises. Moda Health Plans ended up in supervision as did Health Republic.

 

Both have filed suit to recover funds they say is owed to them.

 

Source link: OregonLive.com


 

Oregon — Department Actions: Recently Adopted Rule - ID 07-2016

Requirements for limited lines travel producers directing travel retailers to offer and disseminate travel insurance

 

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently adopted the following rule:

 

ID 07-2016: Requirements for limited lines travel producers directing travel retailers to offer and disseminate travel insurance

 

Adopt: OAR 836-071-0450

 

Amend: OAR 836-071-0108

 

Senate Bill 715 updated Oregon's producer licensing requirements for travel insurance based on a model act adopted by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators in November 2012, as well as uniform licensing standards adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners in late 2010. The bill permits licensed insurance providers to be the licensees for products distributed through non-insurance travel retailers if specific conditions protecting consumers are met, including registration of the agents, training, and consumer disclosures. The adopted rules establish direction, for limited travel insurance producers to arrange travel insurance through travel retailers.

 

Adopted: June 30, 2016

Effective: July 1, 2016

 

For more information, please visit the Division's website:

http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/adopted-rules.aspx

 

Recently Adopted Rule ID 08-2016: Eliminating duplicate notice requirements for long term care insurance

 

The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently adopted the following rule:

 

ID 08-2016: Eliminating duplicate notice requirements for long term care insurance

 

Amend: OAR 836-052-0740

 

Repeal: OAR 836-052-0536

 

This rulemaking repeals an existing Financial Regulation Division rule. OAR 836-052-0536 whose requirements are now established in ORS 743.658 and changes an internal reference to OAR 836-052-0536 in 836-052-0740(7) to reflect this change.

 

Adopted: July 1, 2016

Effective: July 6, 2016

 

For more information, please visit the Division's website:

http://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Pages/adopted-rules.aspx

 

Washington — Hole in One Scammer in More Hot Water

Kevin Kolenda failed to appear in Snohomish County Superior Court on July 7th to face another charge of selling insurance without a license. An extradition warrant has been issued to bring Kolenda to Everett when he’s found.

 

Kolenda is the famed hole in one guy who was indicted in 2015 in King County for selling insurance without a license on his golf tournament website hole-in-won.com.

 

In addition to his problems in Snohomish Country, Kolenda faces more charges in King County and Spokane County.

 

This is the second time he’s been charged for defrauding golf tournament organizers.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal


 

Washington — Department Actions

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has released a stakeholder draft on its prior authorization process rule (R 2016-19).

 

The rules are intended to streamline the prior authorization process and make it more transparent for consumers and providers. The draft proposes a definition of prior authorization and requires certain processes to streamline prior authorization, including processing capacities and time frames for determinations.

 

A stakeholder meeting will be held to discuss the draft on Aug. 10, 10:00 a.m. - noon at the OIC's office in Tumwater.

 

The OIC will accept comments on the draft rules until August 17, 2016. Click here to read more about the rule, including the stakeholder draft.

 

For questions, please contact Jim Freeburg at jimf@oic.wa.gov.

 

 

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

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Health Insurance Mergers Drawing Negative Response

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The U.S. Department of Justice has a huge say about whether Aetna can purchase Humana and if Anthem can pick up Cigna. The price tag on Aetna-Humana is $34 billion and Anthem-Cigna goes for $44 billion.

 

The concern for Aetna’s purchase of Humana is that combines the two largest Medicare Advantage plan providers into one. Anthem and Cigna puts two employer insurance giants together.

 

Both mainly worry regulators because the two mergers drop the number of major health insurers from five to three.

 

Representatives from Aetna and Humana had a meeting last week with the Department of Justice. A month ago the Justice Department reps met with Anthem and Cigna. The worry is anti-trust concerns and skepticism that problems with the anti-trust laws can be addressed through concessions.

 

And — truthfully — approval of both purchases looks doubtful. At least so far.

 

Aetna is addressing the anti-trust problems by divesting itself of sections of the company to reduce the overlap of what both companies are currently doing. The firm assured the Justice Department officials that the sale of the assets will fix their anti-trust concerns.

 

It also goes without saying that the sale of any assets is only final when — or if — the Humana deal goes through. But again, it looks doubtful from the Justice Department standpoint and since many insurance commissioners — including California’s very influential Dave Jones — and consumer groups are opposed.

 

The groups — the Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Action, Families USA, U.S. PIRG, and Consumer Watchdog — put out a white paper last week opposing both mergers.

 

Aetna has responded and says the merger will drive down medical costs and — to address the consumer group concerns — will let them give more value to consumers and not less. The company also argues this is the goal of the Obama administration and it’s controversial ObamaCare.

 

Also of note, the Justice Department cannot block the mergers. It has to file suit and ask a judge for an injunction in each case. Then the companies have the right to appeal and — if so — the fight will be on.

 

Source links: Insurance Journal, Insurance Business America, The Wall Street Journal, yahoo.com

 

Tags:  Health Insurance Mergers Drawing Negative Response  Healthcare  HealthCare.gov  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  ObamaCare  The Affordable Care Act  Weekly Industry News 

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