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Special Report: Small Business & Insurance

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The business of small business insurance is no mystery. Small businesses need insurance as badly — and in some cases more badly — than larger businesses and corporations.

A report from The Hanover Insurance Group and Forbes Insights titled the 2018 Small Business Risk Report finds small business owners are very concerned with the state of business in 2018. Their concerns are legion:

  Cyber

  Employment practices liability

  Crime and exposure to crime

 

What they aren’t doing says The Hanover’s Michael Keene is taking care of their insurance needs and taking the time to assess exactly what insurance they need. He said this is a wonderful opportunity for independent insurance agents — like those members of the PIA Western Alliance — to help. 

“With risks evolving and becoming more complex, it’s more important than ever for small business owners to evaluate their insurance needs to help ensure they are properly protected. This presents a tremendous opportunity for independent agents to provide expert counsel to help assess small business owners’ risks, identify solutions, and guide them through the insurance buying process,” he said.

The bottom-line of the report: less than 37% of small business owners feel they are adequately insured.

 

The survey says small business these days is facing a very challenging and changing landscape. Here's what they consider to be the top-risks:

  94% — Cyber/data breach

  72% — Employment liability/crime

  41% — Professional liability

 

The study breaks down the top-two risks a bit more:

 

Cyber security risk

  94% have a cyber security risk

  20% are confident they are adequately insured

  41% are planning on expanding coverage for cyber risk

 

Employment related risk

  72% are exposed to employment-related allegations

  20% have strong confidence they are adequately insured

  59% are planning to expand or obtain insurance for employment practices liability

 

The study found these to be the increasing areas of risk to the small business owners queried:

  Data breaches — 30%

  Loss of employees critical to operation — 30%

  Business interruption — 28%

  Cyber attacks — 27%

  Physical damage to company assets — 19%

  Employee dishonesty — 19%

  Safety/well-being of employees — 18%

  Fraud — 16%

  Other — 11%

  Lawsuits from current, former or prospective employees — 9%

 

Looking at insurance:

  33% are strongly confident of spending enough time exploring coverage options

  Yet just 37% strongly believe they are adequately insured

 

Here’s what Hanover and Forbes concluded. Only a third of small business owners spend enough time assessing their insurance needs or coverage options. They find that odd because:

  Small business owners acknowledge the risks are growing and evolving

  Yet just 57% have reviewed their insurance in the last year

 

The why is unknown but there is agreement by small business owners:

  Coverage is more important than price — or so say 82%

  33% say coverage is the top priority when selecting an insurance type

  Unfortunately, just 21% say they check with experts like independent insurance agents to evaluate business risks and to guide decision-making

 

A new report from specialist insurance broker InsuranceBee in its first Annual Risk Survey supports the Hanover-Forbes report. It says 29% of the 1,000 small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) surveyed have no insurance. Worse, a huge percentage don't have a contingency plan at the ready to mitigate risk.

 

Here’s what the survey found:

  Most consider themselves risk takers

  93% say financial risk was the biggest concern when setting up the business

  47% say economic uncertainty kept them up at night once the business was set up

  27% say they put cash aside to mitigate risk but aren’t sure how much they really need

 

Here’s what’s most surprising about the survey. A huge number have no:

  Insurance at all

  No E&O

  No general liability

  No workers’ compensation

 

Those earning less than $50,000 a year and sole proprietors are the most likely to not have insurance. 

InsuranceBee’s senior advisor Maureen Brogie said, “Insurance policies are not ‘nice-to-haves’ — they’re essential for small businesses. Without insurance, if someone makes a claim against them, all the blood, sweat and tears that went into building their business could just go to waste. For most, if not all, this should be a risk that’s simply not worth taking.”

 

Source links: hanover.com, Insurance Business America, PropertyCasualty360.com

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Special Report: Small Business & Insurance  Weekly Industry News 

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Oregon Legislature Adopts its Version of Trump Small Business Tax Cuts

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

At the end of the regular session the 2018 Oregon Legislature said no to the so-called Trump tax reforms and instead of shaping Oregon tax law to fit the new federal laws, the Legislature voted thumbs down.

The bill that said no was Senate Bill 1528. Small businesses in Oregon urged Governor Kate Brown to veto. She refused and signed it into law. At the same time Brown said she’d call a special session to help small businesses who were left out of the sweeping tax reforms her predecessor — Governor John Kitzhaber — was able to get through the Legislature in 2013.

And she said she wants to help the state’s sole proprietors who’ve been given the short end of the stick.

Many businesses and Republicans felt the federal tax reform’s pass-through business breaks would make up for Kitzhaber’s leaving them out. The governor saw it that way, too but — some say couldn’t politically — not support the Legislature’s nose-thumbing at the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.

On Monday, in a special session of the legislature pass-through businesses got the governor’s help. In one-day — as promised — Brown got the Legislature to pass her proposal. The small business tax reform passed on a bipartisan vote in both chambers.

In the Senate, the vote was 18 to 12 and the House passed it more easily with a 51 to 8 vote.

The governor called this a “fairness issue” and said it is important to let small businesses tax advantage of tax breaks available to other businesses and corporations.

Republicans wonder why Brown is doing something like this since it mostly benefits those with larger small businesses — or the rich as some of her Democrat colleagues are prone to point out. State economists believe more than 75% of the $11 million tax cut will go to sole proprietors with incomes of at least $200,000 a year.

The state has 12,000 sole proprietorships.

In a statement at the completion of the special session Brown said, “Today, lawmakers sent the message that Oregon is the place where small businesses have a fair shot to thrive. Small businesses are the backbone of a strong Oregon economy, and will now be able to invest more growing their business and hiring more employees. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish today, and I will continue working to create a strong, inclusive economy of the future.”

 

Source links: OregonLive.com, KGW

Tags:  Oregon Legislature Adopts its Version of Trump Sma 

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The Workplace: # Me Too

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The #MeToo movement is still very much a media focus and has been since it started with movie mogul Harvey Weinstein last year. You’ve seen lawsuits, protests, firings and resignations galore since.

But have you seen changes in the workplace?

Probably not says a survey from the American Psychological Association (APA). Research says many — 18% — have done a few reminders about training and resources but just 32% of the nation’s employers have taken steps to actually prevent or address sexual harassment on the job.

David Ballard, PsyD, MBA is the director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. He said, “The #MeToo movement has given business leaders an opportunity to finally take real action addressing a complex problem that has been pervasive for generations. Our survey — as well as anecdotal reports — shows that too few employers are making comprehensive efforts that can have significant impact. Avoiding the issue is bad for employee well-being and business, but so, too, is a narrow, compliance-based approach. We know from psychological science that relying solely on mandated training designed primarily to limit the organization’s legal liability is unlikely to be effective.”

 

Ballard said:

  Just 10% of workers said employers have added more training and resources on sexual harassment

  Just 8% said a stringent policy has been put in place related to the issue

  Just 7% said staff meetings have been put in place for discussion on sexual harassment issues

 

He also noted that training to recognize and report isn’t enough. Workplace employer and employee behavior has not changed. The APA recommends:

  A comprehensive approach to fair polices that are clearly communicated

  Ongoing training

  Leadership support of a civil and respectful culture

  Hiring and promoting women in senior leadership roles

 

By the way, Ballard noted:

  Companies with women in senior leadership roles find employees — 56% — are more likely to report sexual harassment

  Firms with women in upper management find 55% are more likely to report harassment is witnessed

  53% are more likely to confront the issue when noticed

  Companies without women in senior leadership roles had 39%, 41% and 34% in those three areas

 

When steps are taken in business to address and prevent workplace sexual harassment:

  90% of employees say they’re in good psychological health

  In businesses that don’t address the issue — 79%

  Employers managing mental health needs had employees with 76% saying they have good psychological health

  Those that don’t report just 36%

  The managing of workplace stress — 63%

  Those that don’t manage stress — 31%

  Job satisfaction for companies doing a better job managing sexual harassment was 89% versus 60%

 

Bowen’s conclusion, “Sexual harassment at work occurs within a broader context. For training to produce long-term changes, the organization’s workplace practices need to align with and support the individual attitudes and behaviors it’s trying to promote. Leaders in a psychologically healthy workplace model civility, respect, fairness and trust. In an organizational culture where every employee feels safe, supported and included, people can be their best, and that’s good for people and profits.”

As a result of #Me Too efforts the survey found:

  50% of workers are now more likely to report sexual harassment

  51% are more likely to witness a co-worker engaging in sexual harassment

  Those more likely to confront inappropriate behavior is 47%

 

The study is titled Workplace Sexual Harassment: Are Employers Actually Responding? and it was done by the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence. The questioning was done by Harris Poll and included 1,512 adults employed full-time, part-time or self-employed. It is part of the APA’s 2018 Work and Well-Being Survey.

 

Source link: Carrier Management

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  The Workplace: # Me Too  Weekly Industry News 

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Scary Thought — The Person Generating a Text also Liable for a Collision?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Jordon Solway is the claims vice president of Travelers Canada. He delivered a chilling thought to Insurance Business America last week. Solway is an insurance legal expert and said someone sending a text could be held liable for damages if the person they’re texting is involved in a collision that is their fault.

This applies if the person sending the text knows the person receiving the text is driving.

“There’s an increasing public safety issue of operators of vehicles who are distracted while driving. And if you contribute in the same way as if you’re in the vehicle, and you interfere with their driving of the vehicle, you could be held responsible for that injured third party,” he said.

Solway bases his advice on a ruling in New Jersey in 2013 that held the texting person liable and he compares it to the bar owner or party host who know a person has been drinking heavily — or drugging — and yet lets them leave and get into a vehicle.

“It’s analogous — you’re putting someone in a position where they could cause harm to themselves or a third party,” Solway said.

As for why. He said the answer is obvious. “I think it’s a (consequence) unfortunately of living in a highly connected world where, if someone doesn’t respond immediately to an email or a text, your concern is they are ignoring you,” he said.

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Scary Thought — The Person Generating a Text also   Weekly Industry News 

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An Insurance Nightmare? Lawyer Numbers Increasing in the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Every session of just about every legislature these days features an onerous bill — or two or more — either backed or generated by trial lawyers. Insurance lobbyists dread dealing with them and the bills they support.

Usually they’re bad faith issues or something having to do with credit scoring.

A new report from the American Bar Association (ABA) — the American Bar Association National Lawyer Population Survey — shows the number of licensed, active attorneys in the U.S. now numbers 1,338,678. That’s a 0.2% jump over last year and a 15% rise in the last 10-years.

California — a PIA Western Alliance state — ranks second with 170,044 of them. New York ranks first and the report’s tally pegs attorneys in the Empire State at 177,035. Texas is third, Florida fourth and Illinois is fifth.

North Dakota has the fewest number at 1,694.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  An Insurance Nightmare? Lawyer Numbers Increasing   Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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The Nicest & Not So Nicest People in the U.S.

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Insurance is about customer service. Many agencies and most companies have call centers. Marchex is a speech analytics company. It did a study of 6.8 million customer phone calls and came up with data on which states have the nicest people and which don’t.

You’ll likely find the study as fascinating as we did at Weekly Industry News. Plus, many of you have maybe interacted with the people in the states and topics listed here and can relate.

 

The nation’s most talkative people. The people of the PIA Western Alliance state of Montana are the second most talkative.

1. Wyoming

2. Montana

3. North Dakota

4. Vermont

5. Maine

 

The least talkative people. Those living in the PIA Western Alliance state of Nevada are the third least talkative.

1. New York

2. New Jersey

3. Nevada

4. Maryland

5. Illinois

 

The fastest talkers in the U.S. include people in the PIA Western Alliance state of Alaska.

1. Vermont

2. Rhode Island

3. Alaska

4. New Jersey

5. New Hampshire

 

The PIA Western Alliance state of New Mexico is in the group of the nation’s slowest talkers.

1. Hawaii

2. New Mexico

3. Colorado

4. Georgia

5. South Carolina

 

The most patient people.

1. Vermont

2. Delaware

3. Michigan

4. Minnesota

5. New Hampshire

 

The least patient people in the country are — surprisingly — found in the PIA Western Alliance states of Washington and Oregon. Both states — especially Oregon — are said to have the most polite people in the nation.

1. Washington

2. Oregon

3. Arkansas

4. Kansas

5. Mississippi

 

The most courteous people in the country include those in the PIA Western Alliance state of Montana.

1. Wyoming

2. Vermont

3. Maine

4. Montana

5. Michigan

 

The least courteous people.

1. Mississippi

2. Alabama

3. Georgia

4. Louisiana

5. Texas

 

The highest rate of cursing.

1. Wyoming

2. New Hampshire

3. Rhode Island

4. Vermont

5. Massachusetts

 

The fewest people who curse.

1. Arkansas

2. Mississippi

3. Tennessee

4. Utah

5. Minnesota

 

And of course, you can’t have a survey like this without addressing cursing. Marchex did a tally of the most used curse words. Of course, we cannot give you the full word but when you look at the letters involved you’ll no doubt figure it out.

1. S***

2. A**

3. F***

4. B***

 

Source link: OregonLive.com

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  The Nicest & Not So Nicest People in the U.S.  Weekly Industry News 

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Vacation Time is Here — Want to Know if You Need One?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer time is vacation time. Or at least it used to have that designation. Some of us aren’t really good at taking time off. Worse, when we do take “time off” we pop in a little work here and there because it’s growing harder and harder to leave work behind.

A couple of studies look at why. One is a survey in August of last year by Allianz Global Assistance and the other is from the U.S. Travel Association’s Project Time Off. Both surveys conclude people don’t take time off because they feel guilty doing so.

Alliance looked at Millennials and found 48% of them use all their paid time off — if they actually have some. For the rest of us:

  53% of us have gone a year or more without a vacation

  37% have gone more than two-years without one

 

The U.S. Travel Association study said 66% of employees say they are shamed when they say they want a vacation. The study said the company culture is “ambivalent, discouraging, or sends mixed messages about time off.”

 

Psychology Today recently published an article that cites research about how important a vacation is to mental stability:

  A vacation reduces stress levels

  81% of managers say vacations alleviate burnout

  If ignored burnout can cause serious physical and emotional health problems

 

Here’s another interesting factoid. Workers in the U.S. leave something like $66.4 billion worth of vacation unused every year.

All that leads to this question. Do you need a vacation? Are you burned out? Here are nine signs that you need one and that you are burned out.

 

1. You are negative. Boredom has set into your life. You have trouble motivating yourself to go to work and to get your work done. Everything at the job annoys you. Everyone at work annoys you. You are not satisfied or fulfilled when it comes to the daily grind and your overall career path.

If so — you need a break.

 

2. You are in physical pain. Anxiousness or feeling overwhelmed at work causes the brain to release fight-or-flight hormones. That leads to pulse rate increases, a jump in blood pressure, sweating. They — in turn — can lead to chest pains, back pain, eye strain, headaches, gastrointestinal problem, dizziness, fainting — you get the picture. A heavy work load can also lead to a weakened immune system and making you more susceptible to cold viruses, the flu, infections, etc.

If so — you need a break.

 

3. Can’t sleep. Those same fight-or-flight hormones make it difficult to unwind, and to fall asleep or stay asleep if you are able to sleep. The American Psychological Association says a third of millennials don’t get eight hours of sleep because they don’t have time. Another third of millennials can’t fall asleep because they have too much on their minds.

If so — you need a break.

 

4. Work mitsakes (typo deliberate). Fight-or-flight again. American Psychological Association expert Dr. David Ballard, PsyD said: “When stress becomes chronic, this narrow focus continues for a long time and we have difficulty paying attention to other things.” Like work. These stress hormones impair memory, and problem-solving and decision-making skills.

If so — you need a break.

 

5. The use of unhealthy coping mechanisms. Comfort in alcohol, or drugs, or junk food and sugary snacks could mean you’re suffering from burnout. You also might be too tired for exercise and will just end up sitting and watching TV at the end of the day.

If so — you need a break.

 

6. Counterproductive work behavior. Stress — those fight-or-flight hormones again — can have you engaging in negative behavior at work. You probably don’t mean to be negative but it’s there. That affects productivity and the job performance. This stress can also — as we saw earlier — make it hard to get out of bed, off to work and getting to work on time. That same exhaustion makes you irritable and irritability leads to arguments with co-workers.

If so — you need a break.

 

7. Even small problems seem mountain-sized. Easy projects have become almost impossible to do. Small quirks of others become major troubles. Author Michael Kerr — who wrote The Human Advantage — said, “A lack of healthy perspective on issues can definitely be a sign you need to recalibrate your mental settings.”

If so — you need a break.

 

8. Work is no longer work, it is your life. You work all day. You go home and either work or think about work all night. Hobbies are gone. Fun activities are gone. All of your time is for work and work alone. Conversations with friend? Yep, they all revolve around work.

If so — you need a break.

 

9. Interpersonal problems rear their ugly heads. Work frustration — heck, all frustrations, annoyances and grievances — are taken out on co-workers, friends, and worst of all, family. You also might be walking away from your support system because of work and that is separating you from the support system you need to take your mind off of work.

If so — you need a break.

 

One or more of these items sound like most of us about this time of year and often at many times of the year. On behalf of Weekly Industry News, enjoy your vacation.

 

Source link: Travel+Leisure

Tags:  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Vacation Time is Here — Want to Know if You Need O  Weekly Industry News 

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Court Case: Marshmallow & Marsh

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A new insuretech is Marshmallow. Catchy name. It was founded by twin brothers Oliver and Alexander Kent-Braham. The London-based firm helps insurer foreign drivers. They thought the name is really recognizable. Apparently, it was recognizable according to insurance giant Marsh.

It sued the two brothers citing a trade infringement of the business name. The brothers offered to arbitrate and work something out with the much larger company. Marsh refused so the brothers said they spent thousands of pounds in — what they call — a David v Goliath dispute. So off the case went to the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Against all odds, Marshmallow prevailed.

The IPO said the words “marsh” and “marshmallow” are very well known to the average consumer. However, the IPO says the two names send a very different conceptual message.

“Although the average consumer will be aware that MARSH is a word meaning ‘a wet, muddy area of land,’ considered in context, they are more likely to construe it as a surname. The word MARSHMALLOW will convey only one meaning i.e. a soft, sweet food that is used in some cakes, puddings, and sweets,” the ruling stated.

Marsh didn’t have a statement but Oliver Kent-Braham did. He said, “There is a huge amount of insurtech innovation in the UK at the moment. We believe that this is a good thing for consumers and should be supported not stifled by large incumbents like Marsh. Unfortunately, in this instance, a huge global company tried to use their wealth and resources to squash Marshmallow before we’d even started. Fortunately, the IPO office saw sense and ruled in our favour, we are, naturally delighted by the outcome, it’s a sweet victory.”

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

Tags:  Court Case: Marshmallow & Marsh  Insurance Content  Insurance Industry  Insurance News  Weekly Industry News 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Arizona — Goodyear Cyber Attack: The city of Goodyear, Arizona’s online payment system is back in operation after a cyber-attack. The shutdown happened on May 7th and it just now is back online after research to see whose data was compromised.

The city says payments between June 13, 2017 and May 5th of this year may have been compromised. Exactly what and how is still unknown. The city says it will offer services like credit monitoring and will notify those impacted.

New software has been installed.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

Arizona — Auto Insurance Veto: Governor Doug Ducey has vetoed a bill to increase auto insurance minimums. He acted on a final 62 bills passed by the legislature, signed 55 into law and vetoed seven. 

One of the seven pertains to auto insurance.

The governor said he likes the idea of revised limits but worries this law will make insurance less affordable to those with lower incomes. Currently state law requires a minimum of $15,000 for injuries to one person, $30,000 for all injuries and $10,000 for property damage.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

 

California — Weeding through Weed: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones hosted a national webinar titled Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry. With the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR), Commissioner Jones brought together nearly 400 industry professionals, stakeholders and media representatives from throughout the nation to discuss cannabis industry activities, its risks and how its first and third-party insurance coverage needs are similar to other industries.

"Cannabis businesses face various insurance gaps-which means cannabis customers, workers and business owners may not have access to insurance to help them recover if there are accidents, injuries, property damage, or any of the things commercial insurance typically covers," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The NAIC webinar provided an important opportunity to understand where the insurance gaps are for the cannabis industry and to educate insurers about the opportunities to provide insurance. As Insurance Commissioner, I will continue to ask insurers to expand insurance coverage for the cannabis industry so that they have access to the same insurance coverage as any other business."

The cannabis industry continues to expand as more states legalize its use for medical and recreational purposes. In 2016, California voters decided that adult-use of cannabis is legal, and nearly 22 years ago, decided that medical-use of cannabis was legal. Cannabis is now legal in 47 states (adult-use, CBD only, hemp, and medical).

The webinar covered an array of topics including how conflicting state and federal laws are impacting claims, the impact of policy exclusions and gaps in available coverage. Commissioner Jones also led a roundtable discussion on the future of the cannabis market and the impact of emerging trends such as on-site consumption, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

Commissioner Jones launched an initiative last year to encourage commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. As a result of Jones' initiative, the first filing and approval of commercial insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November of last year, the first surety bond program for the industry was announced in February, and the first coverage for commercial landlords for the industry was announced earlier this month.

Last month, Commissioner Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has abandoned Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement of cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses. Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.

Last October, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, coverage is limited in scope and, until the approval announced last November, admitted carriers were not yet writing insurance. Jones also announced that department staff would be allocated to expedite cannabis insurance filings.

 

California — Product Liability for Cannabis: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he has approved a new product liability and product recall program for the cannabis industry in the State of California. This new cannabis insurance policy, offered by Continental Heritage Insurance Company, provides product liability and product recall coverage against claims arising from commercial cannabis activity for licensed businesses in California.

"Whenever anyone shops in, works in, sells products to, or invests in a cannabis business, I want there to be insurance coverage available," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Continental Heritage Insurance Company's insurance product is another example of the success we are having in getting more insurance coverage for the cannabis industry. I encourage more insurance companies to follow Continental Heritage's lead and file insurance programs to fill the gaps in coverage for the cannabis industry."

The newly approved program offers coverage to businesses with the following license types: Cultivator, Manufacturer, Distributor, Retail and Medical. Laboratory testing licenses are not eligible for this program.

The core component of this insurance program is the applicant's ability to conduct licensed activities in compliance with California laws and regulations and to produce and sell consistently safe products. The commercial cannabis business is an evolving industry and Continental Heritage will monitor changes, collect data and make appropriate changes as necessary.

Commissioner Jones launched an initiative last year to encourage commercial insurance companies to write insurance to fill coverage gaps for the cannabis industry. As a result of Jones' initiative, the first filing and approval of commercial insurance for the cannabis industry was announced in November of last year, the first surety bond program for the industry, also for Continental Heritage, was announced in February, and the first coverage for commercial landlords for the industry was announced earlier this month.

Earlier today, Commissioner Jones hosted a national webinar titled Weeding through the Unique Insurance Needs of the Cannabis Industry with the National Associate of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Center for Insurance Policy and Research (CIPR). Last month, Commissioner Jones renewed his call for insurers to offer insurance products for California's legalized cannabis industry in the wake of published reports that President Trump has abandoned Attorney General Jeff Sessions' policy on federal law enforcement of cannabis. Jones sent a formal letter to California insurers encouraging them to fill insurance gaps for California's cannabis businesses.

Jones has convened meetings between commercial insurance executives and cannabis business owners to educate the insurance industry about the sophistication, professionalism and risk management of the cannabis industry. Jones has also organized tours for insurance executives at cannabis businesses.

In October of last year, Jones held a first-in-the-nation public hearing to identify insurance gaps faced by the cannabis industry. Cannabis businesses and insurance industry representatives testified about the limited availability of insurance for cannabis businesses. The hearing revealed that while there is insurance available from surplus lines insurers, coverage is limited in scope and, until the approval announced last November, admitted carriers were not yet writing insurance. Jones also announced that additional department staff time would be allocated to cannabis insurance filings given the critical need for this insurance coverage.

 

New Mexico — Cyber Attacks: AnonPlus is a cyber attack group. It recently targeted three New Mexico workers’ compensation websites. All three are operated by the New Mexico Workers’ Compensation Administration. Estevan Lujan of the New Mexico Department of Information Technology said, “We received a call from Workers' Comp that they wanted to take the websites down as a precaution. We do not yet know what is going on with the websites.”

The group is known for defacing agencies and — last week alone — claims to have defaced several federal government related agencies.

 

Source link: Government Technology

 

Oregon — From the Department of Insurance: A First look at 2019 Proposed Health insurance rates. Oregon consumers can now get a first look at proposed rates for 2019 individual and small group health insurance plans.

In the individual market, seven companies submitted average rate change requests ranging from a 9.6 percent decrease to a 16.3 percent increase. In the small group market, nine companies submitted average rate change requests ranging from a 4 percent decrease to a 9.4 percent increase. See this chart for the full list of rate change requests: http://dfr.oregon.gov/news/documents/2019-proposed-health-ins-rates.pdf

“It’s early in the process, but we are encouraged to see two insurers expanding into new counties,” said Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi. “Now it is time to start our open and thorough review process that allows Oregonians to provide input on the filings that affect them.”

Health insurance companies submitted rate requests to the Department of Consumer and Business Services, Division of Financial Regulation on May 14. Over the next two months, the division will analyze the requested rates to ensure they adequately cover Oregonians’ health care costs. The division must review and approve any rates before they can be charged to policyholders.

The proposed rates are for plans that comply with the Affordable Care Act for small businesses and individuals who buy their own coverage rather than getting it through an employer.

Starting May 23, Oregonians will be able to search rate filings and submit comments at oregonhealthrates.org . Once scheduled, hearing information will be posted to this website.

Oregonians are encouraged to comment on rate change requests during the public comment period, which is open May 23 through July 9. The public can submit comments online and during public rate hearings.

Preliminary decisions are expected to be announced June 29, and final decisions are scheduled for July 19.

2019-proposed-health-ins-rates.pdf: https://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/ORDCBS/2018/05/16/file_attachments/1008059/2019-proposed-health-ins-rates.pdf

 

FamilyCare Healths mid-year termination means thousands need a new Medicare Advantage plan. FamilyCare Health received approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to voluntarily terminate its Medicare Advantage plans on July 1.

Medicare Advantage plans provide Medicare benefits to consumers, and are offered by private insurance companies. FamilyCare Medicare Advantage plan members must choose a new Medicare Advantage plan by July 31.

Individuals who do not choose a new plan will be placed in Original Medicare, and receive prescription drug coverage through Envision Insurance Company.

FamilyCare Medicare Advantage members have many ways to get assistance:

Members who are not also enrolled in Medicaid can speak with a health insurance counselor by calling Oregon’s Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) program at 800-722-4134 (toll-free) or visiting http://healthcare.oregon.gov/ Pages/find-help.aspx.   

Members who are also enrolled in Medicaid can contact their local Aging and People with Disabilities office for help choosing a new Medicare Advantage dual-eligible plan. To find a local office, call 855-673-2372 (toll-free) or visit http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/Offices/Pages/Seniors-Disabilities.aspx.

All members can get help finding a new plan by calling the national Medicare line at 800-633-4227 (toll-free) or by visiting https://www.medicare.gov/find-a-plan/ or http://healthcare.oregon.gov/shiba/Pages/family-care.aspx.

For more enrollment information and answers to frequently asked questions, visit the SHIBA resource page at http://healthcare.oregon.gov/shiba/Pages/family-care.aspx.

 

Washington — Uber-Lyft Unionizing: The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is going to look at a challenge to a Seattle, Washington law by businesses that will allow Uber and Lyft drivers to unionize.

Business leaders say the city does not have the authority to regulate payment arrangements between employees and companies like Uber and Lyft. It is being led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the decision — positive or negative — will have a huge impact on the nation’s growing gig economy.

“The Chamber brought this lawsuit because allowing every city or town to create its own unionization scheme would have burdened innovation, increased prices, killed jobs, and harmed consumers,” the chamber said when it filed the appeal.

The city has not responded with a comment.

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

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

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 15, 2018

California — PG&E and Wildfire Detection: PG&E has opened a center to keep an eye on wildfires. It’s located at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco and has a bank of computer screens that follow weather forecasts, wind speeds and satellite images of 70,000 square miles of northern and central California.

The idea behind the center is to give the company a heads up in A) anticipating fire and B) having crews ready to respond when fire erupts. The purpose of the crews is to protect people and company assets.

One benefit of the center is an ability to shut off power lines during days — which these days are most days — when fire danger is high and winds are blowing at high speeds. That way downed lines will not spark a fire.

PG&E’s Pat Hogan said, “As we monitor fire risks throughout our service territory, this is where key decisions are going to be made.”

Currently, PG&E is facing over 100 lawsuits that blame downed power lines for fires that killed 44 people and destroyed 6,400 homes in six California counties. The price tag for insurers is $10 billion.

Source link: The Press Democrat

 

California — Pharmaceutical Settlement: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones reached a $1.875 million settlement with Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Inc. relating to its former relationship with Philidor Rx Services LLC and claims for reimbursement or payment for Valeant products submitted by Philidor to California insurers.

"I am pleased that our fraud investigation of Valeant Pharmaceuticals has come to a successful conclusion," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Pharmaceutical companies have a legal duty to make sure that they or their contractors are not submitting fraudulent claims for reimbursements."

Valeant's former relationship with Philidor, which has been widely reported on, was terminated by Valeant in late 2015, following allegations that, among other things, Philidor submitted fraudulent claims for reimbursement to insurance companies. Since terminating its relationship with Philidor, Valeant has replaced many members of its senior management.

The submission of fraudulent claims for reimbursement is illegal under the California Insurance Frauds Prevention Act (CIFPA).

 

California — Climate-Risk Stress Test: Despite litigation threats from 12 state attorneys general and one governor,Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has taken another unprecedented step to address climate risk faced by insurers, as the first U.S. financial regulator to conduct a climate-related financial risk stress test and analysis of insurance companies' investments in fossil-fuels.

"The climate-related financial risk to insurers' investments in thermal coal, other fossil fuels and fossil fuel enterprises should not be ignored," said Commissioner Jones. "As a financial regulator, I want insurers to consider climate-related financial risks, including risks to their investments. In order to make sure they are considering these risks, we have undertaken an analysis of the climate-related risk to insurers' investments."

The department has engaged 2° Investing Initiative, an established partner of European financial regulators on the topic, to conduct this analysis for insurers in California's insurance market with over $100 million in annual premiums. It is arguably the most comprehensive financial stress test analysis ever conducted for the insurance sector. Insurers analyzed have over $500 billion in fossil fuel-related securities, issued by power and energy companies, $10.5 billion of which consists of investments in thermal coal enterprises.

The department has published key figures from the forward-looking scenario analysis on its website. The results of the scenario analysis by 2° Investing is consistent with Commissioner Jones' Climate Risk Carbon Initiative determination that thermal coal presents long-term financial risks for investors, despite any short-term fluctuations in market price and policy signals. Due to market forces, financial analysts expect more coal-fired capacity retirement in 2018 than under the first three years of the previous U.S. Administration.

"Ceres applauds the leadership and foresight of California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, and encourages all insurers to incorporate 2° scenario analysis into their business strategy," said Cynthia McHale, Director of insurance at the sustainability nonprofit organization Ceres. "2° scenario planning strengthens an insurer's assessment of climate risks and opportunities, and positions the insurer to adapt and prosper in a carbon-constrained future."

Individual insurer reports will be made available to all 672 insurance companies with more than $100 million in annual premiums and sent for response to the top 100 insurance companies (by size of their investment portfolio) operating in California, representing over 80 percent of the assets that were analyzed. These reports will explain how investment plans align with different climate scenarios, where the individual insurer ranks among its peers, and which securities are driving the climate risk exposure of their investment portfolios. These results will help insurance companies apply the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board's task force on climate-related financial risks (FSB TCFD) chaired by Michael Bloomberg.

"California was one of the first jurisdictions in the world that recognized the importance of insurers managing and disclosing their climate risk. To advance climate leadership and action, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) became one of the first insurance supervisors to join UN Environment's Principles for Sustainable Insurance Initiative (PSI), and then became the founding Chair of UN Environment's Sustainable Insurance Forum for Supervisors (SIF)," said Butch Bacani of the United Nations, who leads the PSI, the largest collaborative initiative between the UN and the insurance industry, and who co-led the creation of the SIF. "This pioneering work by CDI on scenario analysis to assess transition risk in insurers' investments is yet another testament to California's commitment to promote climate risk transparency and sustainable insurance markets, in line with the aims of the Financial Stability Board's climate risk disclosure recommendations, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the Global Climate Action Summit in California this year. This is leadership in action."

As regulator of the largest insurance market in the nation, Commissioner Jones launched early in 2016 the Climate Risk Carbon Initiative because of the potential for investments in coal, oil, gas and utilities burning carbon to become stranded assets on the books of insurers with little or no value as governments, private companies and markets may slowly or dramatically reduce the demand for carbon-based fuels and their value drops. Jones is the first financial regulator to ask that a financial sector-in this case insurance companies-divest from thermal coal and to publicly disclose their holdings in oil, gas, coal and utilities, due to potential climate-related risks.

In June 2017, 12 state attorneys general and one governor threatened to sue Commissioner Jones for calling on insurance companies to evaluate and address potential climate-related risks to their investment portfolio, to ensure they are investing in assets that retain value and are subsequently available to pay future claims. Despite these threats, Commissioner Jones is continuing the Climate Risk Carbon Initiative, the most recent component of which is the climate-related financial risk stress testing announced today, to make sure insurers are addressing climate change related risks and to protect California consumers. In April 2018, a group of financial supervisors and central banks including the central banks of England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, Singapore, China and Mexico announced their cooperation to conduct similar climate stress testing on insurance companies and other regulated financial institutions.

 

Idaho — Medicare Workshop offered in Coeur d’Alene: Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance, is offering a Medicare Workshop, on Tuesday, May 22nd at the Kroc Center, 1765 Golf Course Rd, Coeur d’Alene ID 83815 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm.

This workshop is especially designed for:

  People who are turning 65

  Disabled individuals under 65 or others approaching Medicare eligibility

  Caregivers

  Anyone who would like to learn more about how Medicare works

 

Presenters will explain some of the vocabulary that is associated with Medicare and introduce the various parts of Medicare. Attendees will learn about:

  Important timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

  Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans

  How the different parts of Medicare work together – and when they don’t

 

Anyone interested in attending this workshop is encouraged to call the SHIBA Helpline at 1-800-247-4422 to RSVP.  You can also find more information on the SHIBA website: www.shiba.idaho.gov

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

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