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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff reporter, Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Around the Western Alliance States Weekly Insurance Industry News

California

Appeals Court Decision on Mercury: In 2015 the California Department of Insurance leveled a $27.5 million fine against Mercury Insurance for illegal fees. The fees — the department said — should have been premiums and disclosed as such.

 

The fees violated rules established by Proposition 103.

 

The appeals court said since the fees are premiums they ought to have been approved by the commissioner. But even when warned by the commissioner to stop the practice, Mercury’s agents — allowed to do so by the company — kept charging $50 to $150 in fees on top of the premium rates approved by the commissioner.

 

It did so by illegally by giving its agents the moniker broker. As a result unapproved fees were leveled in over 180,000 transactions from 1999 to 2004. Those transactions brought $27.5 million to Mercury’s coffers. Thus the size of the fine.

 

By the way, the $27.5 million is the largest fine ever imposed on an insurer by the California Department of Insurance.

 

“The decision is unequivocal: insurers cannot avoid the Department’s scrutiny by charging ‘fees’ on top of the rates already approved by the Commissioner,” Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said. “Our efforts to maintain fair rates depend on insurers playing fair by disclosing the full cost of their insurance, which Mercury did not do.”

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

 

Oregon

From the Department of Insurance: Future Income Payments LLC fined $5.9 million for targeting pensions of veterans and retirees

 

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Katherine von Ter Stegge fined Future Income Payments LLC $5.9 million for executing a scheme on approximately 240 Oregon veterans and retirees. The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services’ Division of Financial Regulation and the Department of Justice sued Future Income, owned by Scott Kohn, for the scheme which provided illegal loans to low-income Oregonians with interest up to 200 percent.

 

The scheme required borrowers to authorize Future Income to make electronic withdrawals from their pension or retirement accounts to repay the loans. This provided Future Income the ability to remove money from victims’ accounts despite violating multiple Oregon and federal laws.

 

In addition to the judgment, the court declared all the loans void, saving victims more than $5 million in principal, interest, and fees. Since the judgement, a number of other states and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have taken similar action against Kohn and Future Income. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina indicted Kohn and Future Income last month for conspiracy to engage in mail and wire fraud.

 

“The collaboration with Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and the Department of Justice was key in this case,” said Andrew Stolfi, division administrator. “Preying on the hard-earned pensions of our veterans and retirees is disgraceful, and all our teams work hard to protect Oregonians from being victims of illegal schemes like this.”

 

Oregonians are encouraged to know before you owe by making sure loan companies like Future Income are legally registered with the state before signing any agreement. For more resources to protect your finances visit dfr.oregon.gov/financial or contact our advocates at 888-877-4894 (toll free).

 

To learn more about protecting yourself from financial fraud visit, https://dfr.oregon.gov/financial/protect/Pages/senior-safe.aspx

 

 

Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace, a Statewide Partner Agent Program

The Department of Consumer and Business Services has released a request for grant proposals (RFGP) for the Marketplace’s Statewide Partner Agent Program. This program provides promotion, funding, and support for qualified, resident agents with the goal of helping educate and enroll Oregonians in health insurance through the Marketplace.

 

Proposals are due Friday, May 31, 2019 by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time. The RFGP and supporting documents can be found on ORPIN and on our website under Agents resource center. Please contact Frances Wilkins, Procurement Specialist, at (503) 947-7008 or frances.j.wilkins@oregon.gov if you have any questions about this opportunity.

 

Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace

1-855-268-3767

agents.marketplace@oregon.gov

 

You are Invited to Our First Innovation Forum: THE FUTURE OF FINANCE, INSURANCE, COLLABORATION

 

June 7, 2019

8:30 a.m. - noon

Salem Convention Center

 

Learn how local financial and insurance companies are preparing for the future.

 

You’ll hear from:

 

  Oregon Division of Financial Regulation Administrator Andrew Stolfi

  Oregon State Treasurer Tobias Read

  Technology Association of Oregon

  maps credit union

  Umpqua Bank

  The Standard

  and more

 

This FREE event is for professionals from the financial

service, insurance, and technology industries.

 

Visit our website dfr.oregon.gov/innovation to register for this free event today, space is limited.

 

Learn more: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/oregon-division-of-financial-regulations-innovation-conference-tickets-60581985349

 

Updated Product Standards

 The Division has updated the following product standards:

 

440-4953 – We’re updating the Medical Binder Filings product standards for 2020 to comply with the maximum out of pocket (MOOP) listed in the 2020 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters. If the existing product standards have already been completed we are not requiring submission of these new standards. Just be aware of the updated MOOP of $8150 and published filing dates for the 2020 plan year.

440-4980 – Minor changes to coincide with 2020 plan year.

Tags:  around the pia western alliance states  industry content  Insurance Content 

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PG&E Gets Permission to Meet Safety Goals

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Pacific Gas & Electric is bankrupt. At the same time, it must still continue to provide power to its customers and is being legally required to manage the lands its power lines cross. The firm and its equipment — as you know — is being blamed for many of the wildfires that have decimated California over the last couple of years.

 

Those fires and the company’s culpability have driven it to declare bankruptcy.

 

To get all of the trees cleared and branches trimmed around power lines will require a lot of labor. PG&E said to accomplish that it will need — at the most — $350 million. A hunk of that is for employee overtime. However, company officials think the task can be accomplished for $235 million.

 

U.S Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali in San Francisco has approved the plan. Montali grilled John Lowe who is responsible for the company’s compensation program. The judge agreed he’s the expert and will go along. “It was helpful for me to hear from him,” Montali said. “Bottom line is I will defer to judgment of management.”

 

PG&E has to remove 375,000 trees this year. 

Tags:  insurance content  Insurance News  Pacific Gas & Electric  pia western alliance 

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Distracted Driving — It’s Not Just Smartphones

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Most of the talk these days about distracted driving involves the use of smartphones, texting, handheld talking and checking email and websites.

 

However, new research from Root Insurance and Wakefield Research says other distractions exist and are not only prevalent, but they’re just as dangerous.

Here’s a partial list:

  Hairstyling

  Shaving

  Doing makeup

  Playing with pets

  Changing clothes

  Eating

  Controlling children

Root Insurance director of data science for telematics Joe Plattenburg said over half of the people they talked to say distracted driving is one of their top driving worries. “The number of distractions are increasing,” Plattenburg said, “And so is the need for companies and drivers to find new ways to encourage focused driving.”

Not only that, but distracted driving is also an insurance problem. And all this comes into play and is important to Root Insurance because it uses smartphone technology to help its customers get better rates based on how they drive.

However, a lot of Root’s clients aren’t going to get much help because many admit to excessive cellphone use while driving.

  A high percentage admitted to spending an average of 13-minutes a day interacting with their mobile device while driving

  38% say they check mobile devices while behind the wheel

  An equal number say they don’t even put their phones down when they see law enforcement on a street or highway

Plattenburg said 99% of drivers Root Insurance and Wakefield polled said the cellphone is among their top-three distractions.

  52% said they get distracted by group texts and chain emails

  33% said social media is a cause of distraction while driving

  18% say attention from the road has strayed because of streaming video like a movie trailer or a TV show

Ironically, the Root/Wakefield survey found many of us to be hypocrites. A high percentage were totally intolerant of distracted driving though they are — themselves — distracted drivers.

  90% said they give an Uber or Lyft driver a bad rating for texting while driving

  Yet, 40% say they have texted while driving

  90% — however — say they are much better drivers than Uber or Lyft drivers

Other distracted driving stats from the survey:

  30% say they have steered a vehicle with their knee or chin while driving

  18% say they have engaged in groom — hairstyling, makeup, shaving, etc. — while driving

  13% say they’ve played with a pet while driving

  12% say they’ve changed clothes will driving

And what’s the point of the Root Insurance-Wakefield survey? Root Insurance CEO Alex Timm said, “Root’s mission is to help drivers make better decisions on the road, and the industry standard fear tactics are clearly not working.”

Source link: Carrier Management

Tags:  Distracted Driving  insurance content  Insurance News  PIA Insurance 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Around the PIA Western Alliance PIA Insurance

 

Arizona

Texting & Driving Ban

 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey says he will sign the bill making Arizona the 48th state to ban texting and driving. The law takes effect in 2021. It fines a first time offender somewhere between $75 and $149. Further violations could go up to $250 per incident.

Source link: Arizona Capital Times

 

Idaho

Job Opening

 The Idaho Department of Insurance has an open Consumer Affairs Officer position in Boise.  Below is the link to the job announcement and application:

This position is open for all qualified individuals to apply through April 28, 2019.  If interested, please apply through the application process via the Division of Human Resources website. There is an online exam associated with this position to ensure minimum qualifications are met. Feel free to pass this information along to any other individuals you think may be interested in this opportunity.

If you’re interested click here to apply.

 

Medicare Workshops

 A pair of free Medicare Workshops for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held in Lewiston the last full week of April. 

The first session is scheduled for Wednesday, April 24 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, 415 6th St., Conference Room D. The second workshop will take place Thursday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Community Action Partnership, 124 New 6th St.  Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

Another will be held in Preston on Tuesday, April 23 from 5:15 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. at Southeastern Idaho Public Health, 42 W. 1st South, Preston.

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 time frames for Medigap, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug plans, and how the different parts of Medicare work together.

Staff members 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 either session, please contact the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422.

 

 

Montana

Firefighter Work Comp Law

 Montana Governor Steve Bullock has signed a bill into law that makes it easier for firefighters to get workers’ compensation insurance to cover cancer and other occupation-related diseases.

The bill ends a 20-year battle between legislators and firefighters over the issue.

Under the new law, an insurer can only deny a claim if it can prove the firefighter was not exposed to enough smoke or particles to cause an illness. Until the governor signed the bill into law, Montana was one of only a few states without a presumptive law.

The presumptive illnesses in the law include myocardial infarction, colorectal cancer, mesothelioma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and cancers of the esophagus, brain, lung and breast.

 

In signing the bill into law, Bullock said, “Today every firefighter should know Montana has your back and it's about damn time.”

The law goes into effect July 1st of this year.

Source links: Fire Engineering, The News & Observer

 

 

Oregon

State Innovation Hub

 If you have an innovative product, service, or idea for the financial service or insurance industry, don't miss this free event hosted by the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation.

Oregon's Innovation Hub is here to help financial services, insurance, and tech companies deliver innovative products and services to Oregon consumers.

Registration and more information available soon at dfr.oregon.gov/Innovation.

 

 

Washington

Kreidler Fines

 Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued fines in March totaling $158,000 against insurance companies, agents and brokers who violated state insurance regulations.

Insurance companies

  United States Fire Insurance Co., Wilmington, Del.; fined $25,000, order 16-0192

  United States Fire Insurance Co. sells pet insurance under the brand name ASPCA Pet Health Insurance. In July 2016, Kreidler fined the company $50,000 for several law violations, including charging customers the wrong rate, selling policies through unlicensed producers, issuing incorrect policy forms to customers and not disclosing the underwriter’s name to customers. At the time, Kreidler suspended $25,000 of the fine as long as the company followed a compliance plan to correct the violations.

Kreidler determined that the company has violated the compliance plan and is levying the remaining $25,000 fine. As recently as November 2018, the company continues to let unlicensed producers sell its pet insurance product and is selling pet insurance through an unappointed marketing website, www.policygenius.com.

Kreidler fined the following insurance companies for violating state insurance laws and rules:

  Lincoln National Life Insurance Co., Fort Wayne, Ind.; fined $100,000, order 19-0100

  IDS Property Casualty Insurance Co., De Pere, Wisc.; fined $7,500, order 19-0094

  USI Insurance Services National, Inc.; Seattle; ordered to pay premium taxes, order 17-0466

  Banner Life Insurance Co., Frederick, Md.; ordered to cease and desist, order 19-0048

Agents and brokers

  Paul Curtis Rhoton, Burien, Wash.; license revoked, order 19-0095

  Jack J. Barry, Vancouver, Wash.; license revoked, order 19-0092

  JetClosing, Inc., Seattle; fined $250, order 19-0018

  Noelia Clemons, Pickerington, OH; fined $250, order 19-0064

  Steven N. Farah, West Linn, Ore.; license revoked, order 19-0091

  Christopher Todd Price, Overland Park, Kan.; revocation rescinded, fined $500, order 19-0140

  Highland Health Direct and Daniel Strikowski, Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Ian McCauslin, Boca Raton, Fla..; fined $1,000, order 19-0097

  Stephanie F. Miller, Reading, Penn.; fined $250, order 19-0042

  Tabak Insurance Agency PLLC, Sugar Land, Texas; fined $250, order 19-0065

  Socius Insurance Services, Inc., San Francisco; fined $250, order 19-0068

  Hanna Perez, Phoenix; license revoked, order 19-0069

Other organizations

  International Hole in One Association dba Hole in One International, Reno, Nev.; ordered to cease and desist, fined $15,000 and ordered to pay premium tax, order 19-0113

  First Automotive Service Corp., Albuquerque, N.M.; fined $3,250, order 19-0067

  Apex Longevity, Avon, Ohio; fined $3,000, order 19-0070

  National Rural Letter Carriers Association, Alexandria, Va.; ordered to cease and desist, order 19-0098

  Landcar Agency, Inc., Sandy, Utah; ordered to cease and desist, order 19-0050

  BKL Holdings Inc. dba Insurance License Coach, Baton Rouge, La.; fined $1,500, order 19-013

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

 

 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  insurance news 2019 

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Oregon Governor Raids SAIF — PIA Oregon Reacts

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Professional Insurance Agents of Oregon — PIA Oregon — is just one of many groups in Oregon disturbed over Governor Kate Brown’s decision to grab funds from the quasi-private State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF) to beef up the PERS retirement system.

Brown’s decision takes $486 million from SAIF’s $1.9 billion surplus.

Negative reaction around the state was immediate. PIA Oregon Lobbyist Lana Butterfield said the governor’s decision is not a good one and she checked off a few reasons why:

  SAIF’s reserves are essential to protecting the safety of Oregon workers and ensuring low rates for employers throughout state. 

  Small businesses, school districts, local governments and non-profits depend on SAIF’s affordable rates and safety programs to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

  Raiding SAIF’s reserves will negatively impact worker safety and accident prevention.

  Any excess premiums (that created the reserves) should go back to the employers who have paid them.

And the bottom line? SAIF’s funds ought not be used as a piggy bank by Salem politicians trying to cover unsustainable costs in PERS.

 

"Many PIA members serve small businesses. SAIF has stepped up to serve this community of small businesses that often have difficulty securing coverage,” she said. “It provides a very reasonable price for a high level of worker benefits and safety. If SAIF reserves are swept, it is likely employer rates will increase substantially over time.  This is not good for Oregon, small businesses or PIA members.”

 

In her news release on the decisions to shore up PERS, the governor said, “Oregon’s public employee retirement system, or PERS, is first and foremost an essential benefit for our public employees. In exchange for dedicating their lives to public service, Oregon has made a promise to provide them a secure retirement after decades of teaching our kids, fixing our roads, keeping our neighborhoods safe, fighting fires, or helping our children in foster care.”

 

Brown said it’s important to keep the promises the state made to those workers. Anything less is “kicking the can down the road.”

 

The editorial board of Portland, Oregon’s newspaper, The Oregonian published an editorial that urged the governor to reconsider her decision. It said:

 

“While the Legislature in 1982 passed a law expressly authorizing such a transfer, it would be controversial and risks destabilizing an entity that has competently, reliably and efficiently administered workers compensation for public and private employers for years. In trying to address the PERS crisis, Oregon should not do anything to trigger another,” the editorial board wrote.

 

In a story in Weekly Industry News last week, we referenced what happened with the 1982 decision of the Oregon Legislature. It authorized taking $80 million of SAIF’s reserves. A lawsuit followed and the Oregon Supreme Court said the state acted illegally and ordered the money returned.

 

With interest, $225 million was returned to SAIF and its policyholders. The attorneys fees and the cost of the litigation totaled a staggering $20 million.

 

If a decision is made by the Legislature to grant the governor’s decision to take that money, Weekly Industry News assumes lawsuits will be filed.

 

PIA Oregon is part of a coalition of business groups and associations opposing the governor’s decision. The group published a response a couple of weeks ago when the governor began talking seriously about taking the SAIF funds.

 

“SAIF’s revenue’s come via premiums from the 47,000 small businesses, school districts, nonprofits and local governments who depend on the company to cover their workers,” the group wrote. “The system is working well for workers and employers and this could significantly disrupt the balance that exists within the system. Make no mistake that this will impact rates paid by employers as SAIF fights to rebuild it’s reserves.”

 

The group called the governor’s decision, a dangerous game.

 

“They are literally stealing from one pot to cover liabilities in another and hoping that you can pay it back before something bad happens. That’s a dangerous game,” the coalition stated.

 

“Additionally, that would require significant changes to SAIF’s operating structure and should be done after careful study rather than as a hasty bailout strategy for PERS. SAIF is unlike other insurers in that it operates solely within the state of Oregon and is required to focus 100% on workers comp (mono-state and mono-lines).”

 

Republicans immediately criticized the SAIF raid decision. House Republicans said, “While recent Secretary of State audits reveal many agencies are prone to waste, SAIF has built enviable reserves, annually returning dividends to clients and covering thousands of claims. Ironically, cash reserves built on years of workplace safety and sound fiscal practice are viewed as easy pickings to shovel into the ever-deepening PERS pit.”

 

Mike Salsgiver is the Executive Director of the Associated General Contractors. He agrees and said SAIF’s reserves should be off limits. “You can be certain that raiding hundreds of millions of dollars from SAIF's reserves will negatively impact worker safety and accident prevention. That means higher rates for employers, reduced benefits for workers, or fewer investments in accident prevention. Any way you cut it, Oregon small businesses and workers lose,” he said.

 

Oregon Business & Industry represents Oregon’s largest employers. Spokeswoman Samantha Tipler said her group agrees that the SAIF raid is a bad idea. “We will strongly oppose this effort to raid SAIF to bail out PERS. The PERS solution should stand on its own.”

 

The governor’s PERS rescue plan has a couple of other components:

  After giving each family $100, the state will keep — one time — the income tax kicker. Brown hopes it will raise $400 million to 500 million.

  Repatriation funds already dedicated under 2018 Senate Bill 1566 (and Senate Bill 1529) for a total of $83.3 million.

  Windfall revenue from variable sources, including direct, above-trend revenues from capital gains and estate taxes to the account.

 

Keeping the kicker — funds returned to Oregonians if tax collections exceed income projections by 2% — will require a two-thirds vote by the Legislature to happen. It has no chance since the idea has to get support from both parties.

 

In last week’s Weekly Industry News, we covered a letter to The Oregonian from former PIA Oregon/Idaho president Rich Kingsley. He hit the nail on the head with his description of the governor’s decision.

 

“It was a stupid stunt then,” Kingsley wrote. “And to think of doing it again is still stupid, and reckless.”

 

Source links: Governor Kate Brown, Weekly Industry News — link 1, link 2, link 3OregonLive.com, Willamette Week

Tags:  insurance content  insurance news 2019  PERS  PIA Western Alliance 

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Washington Legislature Wants to Tax Insurance

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Professional Insurance Agents of Washington/Alaska (PIA) is just one of many groups, associations, agencies and insurance companies opposing a new proposal to add to Washington’s insurance premium tax.

 

The premium tax — as it stands now — is 2%. It generates $1.4 billion in income for the state. The new proposal — SB 5996 — was introduced in both the Senate and the House. It adds an additional .52% to the current tax. The hope is to bring in $125 million in revenue to use to fund the newly established Wildfire Prevention and Suppression Account.

 

As most of you know, the current tax is on home, auto and business insurance. This tax applies to all P&C lines including home, auto, commercial property, BOP, medical malpractice, inland marine, construction and contractor liability, municipal and school district excess liability, umbrella policies — and no joke — even the insurance paid to insure mobile phones.

 

PIA Washington Lobbyist Mel Sorenson testified before the House Financial Committee. Along with others — including PIA Western Alliance Executive Vice President Clark Sitzes — Sorensen said the tax is unfair and unjustifiable.

 

“Fighting and preventing wildfires is a priority for society as a whole,” he told Weekly Industry News. “The costs should be supported broadly, not just by insurers and the insurance-buying public. SB 5996 will drive the cost of insurance coverage for Washington consumers $125 million higher over the next two years. It’s not fair to homeowners, drivers, and others who need insurance to push the cost of their coverage higher in this way.”

 

Sitzes pointed out the danger of the tax to consumers. Higher insurance prices could end up with a lot of people forgoing the buying much-needed insurance.

 

In addition to Sorensen and Sitzes, members from the American Property Casualty Insurers Association (APCIA), the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) and the Northwest Insurance Council (NWIC) testified.

 

Mark Sektnan of the APCIA said, “Taxes on insurance companies and our customers are contributing to support the state budget — including efforts to train wildland firefighters, prevent loss and improve forest health — and insurance consumers are doing their part to protect the investment they make in their homes, vehicles and businesses when they buy insurance. Improving forest health and protecting wildlands and communities is a societal good, and should be a priority shared by all taxpayers, not just insurance consumers.”

 

NWIC’s Kenton Brine said the increase — if passed — will put Washington-domiciled insurers at a competitive disadvantage to insurers housed in other states. In a document he prepared for testimony, Brine said it’s not that insurers oppose doing something about the destructive nature of wildfires. They just don’t want to bear the entire burden.

 

“We recognize that a variety factors including population growth, changing demographics, current and past forest practices and climate change are rapidly and dramatically changing the wildland fire threat in Washington,” he wrote.

 

Brine went on to say insurers are partners with communities all over the state in working onways to stop the carnage. However, he said this “unfairly shifts the societal cost of fire suppression exclusively to insurance premiums.”

 

He also asked committee members a number of critical — and very good — questions.

 

“Does the state tax health insurance policies to pay for cancer research and chemotherapy treatments?” he asked. “Is there a tax exclusively on jewelry stores to pay for more police officers? Of course not.

 

Washington residents, businesses and visitors across the state pay taxes to our state’s general fund to pay for societal costs, like fire and police protection. SB 5996 shifts those costs from all taxpayers exclusively to insurance companies and policyholders with a 25% tax increase only on auto, home, commercial and other P&C insurance premiums, to be paid into a dedicated account managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.”

 

Plus, Brine wrote, “There are no controls or limits included in SB 5996 on the use of the $125 million tax increase after it is put into the Wildfire Suppression and Prevention Account. At any time, the Legislature could ‘sweep’ these funds back into the general fund for other unrelated purposes, leaving property owners paying more and getting the status quo.”

 

Source links: Insurance Journal, Northwest Insurance Council, Tri-City Herald

Tags:  Insurance Content  PIA National  Washington insurance premium tax 

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M&A Activity — Growing ​

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

 

OPTIS Partners tracks mergers and acquisitions. The company said the first quarter of 2019 saw M&A activity continuing to be hot. By “hot,” the company means 151 agencies changing hands. That’s one more than was seen in the first quarter last year.

These are agencies that sell P&C insurance, employee benefits, or both.

The largest number of the transactions were picked up by Patriot Growth Insurance Services. There were 18 of them and 17 closed. Other top buyers:

  Acrisure — 16

  Hub — 12

  Gallagher — 10

  Broadstreet Partners — 10

OPTIS Partners also noted there were only 57 unique buyers in the first quarter transactions. That’s the lowest number in any quarter since 2014.

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  insurance content  insurance news 2019  M&A Activity — Growing  pia western alliance 

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Commercial Rates — Looking Good!

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The first quarter of 2019 is looking good for insurance rates. New data from MarketScout says both commercial lines and personal lines saw increases of 2% when compared to the first quarter of 2018.

MarketScout’s CEO Richard Kerr said, “Transportation risks were up by 4%. Auto continues to be assessed with the most aggressive rate increase by line of coverage at plus 7%. Also, energy exposures are now starting to see more rate increases. Otherwise, the commercial market is stable.”

Here are the statistics by line:

  Commercial property: +2.5%

  Business interruption: +2%

  BOP: +2%

  Inland marine: +2%

  General liability: +2%

  Umbrella/excess: +2%

  Commercial auto: +7%

  Workers’ compensation: -1%

  Professional liability: +2%

  D&O liability: +1%

  EPLI: +1%

  Fiduciary: +1%

  Crime: +1%

  Surety: Flat

By account size:

  Small — up to $25,000: +2.5%

  Medium — $25,001-$250,000: +2%

  Large — $250,001-$1 million: +1%

  Jumbo — over $1 million: +1%

By industry:

  Manufacturing: +2.5%

  Contracting: +2%

  Service: +2%

  Habitational: +3%

  Public entity: +2%

  Transportation: +4%

  Energy: +2.5%

Kerr said personal lines rates are in the positive as well. The composite rate only rose 2% but Kerr said the number isn’t exactly what it seems. The totals are a bit deceptive.

“The personal lines market is so large that the composite rate can sometimes be misunderstood. There is an incredible volume of business in benign areas, which helps stabilize rate increases in catastrophe-exposed areas such as Florida and California,” Kerr pointed out. “Some of the insurers of larger homes in Florida are increasing rates significantly or choosing to restrict their writings. In California, it’s a mess for wildfire- and mudslide-exposed properties. California homeowners are experiencing rate increases of 20% for homes in brush areas, and for the brush-exposed homes without adequate protection, rate increases are up over 40%.”

Here are the personal lines stats:

  Homeowners under $1 million value: +2%

  Homeowners over $1 million value: +2%

  Auto: +2.5%

  Personal articles: +1%

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  2019 insurance rates  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  commercial lines  insurance content  insurance news 2019  personal lines 

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Your Taxes — Paycheck Withholding Changes

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April 15th has come and gone. Hopefully, you didn’t end up having to pay, and by that date all of your 2018 taxes are behind you.

Next up — this year’s challenge.

It appears the IRS will be implementing more changes based on the tax reforms enacted for the 2018 earning year. The change that will impact most of us has to do with what is withheld from your check.

A new W-4 form is going to be issued that the IRS says better balances what is withheld from your check to what ought to be withheld. In other words, you shouldn’t end up owing and the IRS ought not end up owing you.

That form is currently under construction.

Pete Isberg works for the payroll and human resources consulting company, ADP. He says the new form makes the simple more complex, and filling it out will be almost like doing your taxes all over again.

Isberg noted the final form hasn’t been released yet but he and other tax preparation companies and payroll firms have seen a draft. “It’ll be a much bigger pain,” he said. “The accuracy will be 100 percent, but the ease-of-use will be zero.”

The purpose of the release of the draft was to get feedback from them. Isberg said the form asks for:

  Non-wage income like interest and dividends

  What you’ll itemize and other deductions

  Income tax credits expected for the tax year

  Those with multiple jobs to estimate annual wages

“It looked a lot more like the 1040 than a W-4,” Isberg says.

In fact, the new form — he says — is so complex that it references 12 IRS publications that will help you fill it out. The worry of his company and others is confusion. Employers will be confused as to what it should contain and so will employees.

Training will likely be required.

Isberg also noted that some worry that the form probes into issues that workers might not want to share with their employers like how much their spouse makes, or whether they have another job on the side.

IRS spokeswoman Anny Pachner said those concerns are being taken into account and the next version — in May of this year — will make some changes. In the meantime, “We encourage taxpayers to take advantage of that opportunity and send us comments on the redesign,” she said.

Once those comments are received, a changed version will be released mid-summer.

That may not help. Kathy Pickering of the H&R Block Tax Institute said you’ll need a tub load of information to fill out the form. They include past 1099 forms, paystubs from last year’s earnings and more; things like:

  Your filing status

  Number of dependents

  Information about your itemized deductions such as home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, and charitable deductions

  Earnings from all jobs

  Information about non-wage income such as business income, dividends, and interest

“If you’re married, and both you and your spouse work, it will also be helpful to know information about your spouse’s income,” she also pointed out.

Plus, adding to the complication, states are also looking at new withholding forms.

Source link: MSN Money

Tags:  2019 insurance content  industry news  Insurance Content  pia western alliance 

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Feedback — No to Oregon Governor’s SAIF Raid Plan

Posted By Staff writer, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Rich Kingsley was PIA Oregon/Idaho’s president from 2004 to 2005. He was, and still is very savvy politically. He recently sent Portland, Oregon’s daily newspaper, The Oregonian, a letter to the editor.

 

His concern? Governor Kate Brown’s plan to raid the reserves of the State Accident Insurance Fund Corporation (SAIF) to pay for the shortfall in the state’s PERS fund. PERS — as we all know — is not properly funded and the state is desperate to find a way to give the money promised by PERS to retired public employees.

 

The governor — and her SAIF fund-grabbing supporters — say SAIF has $1.4 billion in surplus that can be used to shore up PERS. 

 

Here are parts of Rich Kingsley’s letter to the editor. He asks some great questions. Some of which we will answer after you read what he wrote.

 

I was an Independent Insurance Agent in the insurance business for 37 years, writing mostly commercial policies for clients. I not only feel frustration, but extreme anger with the Democrats who want to raid SAIF.

 

In the late 1980's the legislature did just this same stupid “Raid SAIF” stunt. I think it was in 1996 or 1997 that a lawsuit against the State for ‘robbing’ funds from SAIF was settled, and the State was found culpable for taking money from SAIF. The State had to refund money to SAIF AND refund money to commercial clients that had to pay higher work comp rates thru SAIF, due to the State's robbing of those funds in the 1980's. The State not only had to return the funds, but interest for all the years the lawsuit went on.

 

When the funds were sent to be repaid back to commercial clients who had paid higher premiums, SAIF sent the checks to the agents who had assigned our work comp clients to SAIF, and we hand delivered the checks to our clients, who knew that we and our agent association [PIA Oregon/Idaho] had been highly in favor of penalizing the State for their act of stupidity in 'robbing' SAIF. Those businesses that had bought their work comp directly from SAIF received their checks in the mail.

 

It was a stupid stunt then, and to think of doing it again is still stupid, and reckless.

 

He then praises the newspaper for bringing to light the problems with this blatant theft of money that belongs to the state’s employers.

 

Kingsley is correct that the dollars in the fund that aren’t used for claims belong to employers. Many governor and Legislatures in states around the country are looking at their own versions of SAIF and those surplus funds to balance budgets.

 

The PIA Western Alliance state of Montana is the other state in our association where the Legislature has made a grab. PIA Montana and other groups and employers in the state oppose the taking of those surplus funds and a lawsuit was filed.

 

It will be heard in the Montana Supreme Court later this year or early next. Experts in Montana law believe the taking of the money from the Montana State Fund will be found unconstitutional and it will have to be returned.

 

To answer Rich Kingsley’s question. In the early 1980s, the Oregon Legislature had a budget crisis. It grabbed $80 million of SAIF’s reserves. A lawsuit followed and the Oregon Supreme Court said the state acted illegally and ordered the money returned.

 

With interest, $225 million was returned to SAIF and its policyholders. The attorneys fees and the cost of the litigation totaled a staggering $20 million.

 

The group opposing the Oregon governor’s SAIF funds plan includes PIA Oregon/Idaho. In their response to Brown’s plan the group said, “Doing so is nothing more than a Ponzi scheme. They [the governor and the Legislature] are literally stealing from one pot to cover liabilities in another and hoping that you can pay it back before something bad happens. That’s a dangerous game.”

 

In its response document, the group pointed out that those reserve funds are good for Oregon’s employers and Oregon’s economy.

 

“The premiums paid by Oregon employers are some of the lowest in the nation thanks to SAIF. It’s one of Oregon’s few competitive advantages. SAIF’s board and leadership are 100% local,” the group wrote. “They don’t operate like big corporate insurers and that’s proven to be a good thing for Oregon workers and employers alike.”

 

In addition to PIA Oregon/Idaho, these are the groups opposing Governor Brown’s plan.

Professional Land Surveyors of Oregon

Oregon Columbia Chapter of the Associated General Contractors

Oregon Economic Development Association

National Federation of Independent Businesses

Oregon Business & Industry

Economic Development for Central Oregon

Oregon Farm Bureau

Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association

Oregon School Boards Association

Oregon Trucking Association

Oregon Home Building Association

Oregon Vehicle Dealer Association

Northwest Grocery Association

Oregon Metals Industry Council

Oregon State Chamber of Commerce

Oregon Wheat Growers

Oregon Seed Council

Columbia Gorge Fruit Growers

Oregon Power Sports Association

Northwest Automotive Trades Association

Oregon Manufacturers and Commerce

Far West Agribusiness Association

Oregon Association of Nurseries

Oregon Concrete & Aggregate Producers Association

Associated Oregon Loggers

Tags:  insurance content  insurance industry  insurance news  PERS  Raid the reserves of SAIF  SAIF 

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