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Travelers & Amazon Team Up — Smart Home Kits

Posted By Joey Leffel, Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Weekly Industry News received news about this program from PIA National. The association is reviewing the positives and negatives and will keep us — and you — informed.

Travelers’ has teamed up with Amazon to provide homeowners with smart home hits. The kits are designed to provide home maintenance tips, help with billing, and to do other important things that benefit the client and the company.

Participants will be offered homeowners insurance discounts.

Travelers said the kits will use Alexa to provide the homeowner’s tips. An Amazon Alexa Echo Dot comes along with the purchase of the smart home kit. Discounts will also be given for the installation through Amazon Smart Home Services.

Here’s what the kits include:

•  Security cameras

•  Water sensors

•  Motion detectors with multi-sensor capabilities

•  A smart home hub that wirelessly connects a wide range of smart devices and enables them to work together

And — as noted earlier — an Echo Dot that features some new Alexa skills comes along with the package and it has:

•  A skill to help the policyholder with questions regarding billing and payments

•  A skill that lets the consumer access property maintenance and home safety tips

Other skills will be added as the program develops.

At the present time the new Travelers program is only available in a few states but the company has plans to increase the number of states in the near future. The only PIA Western Alliance state where the smart home kit program is available is California. The others — for now — are Colorado, Missouri and Wisconsin.

Travelers executives are very happy with the new program. Company Chairman and CEO Alan Schnitzer said, “This is an exciting example of Travelers executing on our innovation agenda to be the undeniable choice for the customer and an indispensable partner for our agents and brokers. It advances our priorities of extending our lead in risk expertise and providing great experiences for our customers, agents and brokers.”

Michael Klein is the Executive Vice President and President of Personal Insurance at Travelers. He echoed Schnitzer’s comments about the program and added, “Smart home technology is making it easier for all of us to monitor our homes and help protect us from some of the most common causes of damage. Our Amazon digital storefront conveniently brings together smart home devices, installation services, discounts and insurance knowledge in one central location to help our customers and agents manage risk and take a more proactive approach to home safety.”

Klein said consumers interested in the program will be directed from the Travelers storefront on Amazon to the Travelers website, or to an independent insurance agent. Plus, he said Travelers network of independent agents can also use the program to market to current and prospective customers.

“We continually look for innovative ways to help our agents grow their business, and we’re thrilled that this collaboration with Amazon will give them another way to differentiate themselves and Travelers in the marketplace,” Klein added.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in learning more, you can access the Travelers program by clicking here

Tags:  Amazon  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  Travelers' insurance 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 16, 2018



Marijuana Sales: The tax revenue from the sale of marijuana continues to grow in Alaska. In August the state took in $1.5 million. That’s a new high. In fact, state officials say the only month this year where tax revenue has been below $1 million is February.

By the way, it is cultivators who pay the tax when pot is sold or transferred from a licensed grow facility to a retail shop or to a facility that manufacturers product.

So far this year the Alaska Department of Revenue says $15.8 million has been collected — so far — since sales became legal in October of 2016.

Source link: Insurance Journal



Work Comp Claim Frequency Privately Insured: Workers’ compensation claims reported by those in California who self-insure rose last year. It is the first jump in a decade.

According to the Office of Self-Insurance Plans (OSIP) these businesses cover 2.26 million employees. That’s down from the 2.37 million insured in 2017. The wages and salaries for the employees hit $103.9 billion — or 2.9% more than the total from 2016.

The OSIP said these self-insured companies said there were 79,655 claims. That’s 1,251 more claims than 2016 or 1.6%. While it went up in the last reported year, the claim numbers are still 31.5% below 2003’s level.

Source link: Insurance Journal


Wildfire Update: On July 13th of this year the Ferguson Fire started in California. It burned 100,000 acres of the Sierra National Forest, the Stanislaus National forest, Yosemite National Park and other state lands. It killed two people.

From the outset, officials believed the fire was started by a vehicle. Last week a report was released that said, “investigators believe superheated pieces of a catalytic converter came into contact with dry, roadside vegetation, igniting the fire.”

What wasn’t given was a description of the vehicle nor has it been located.

In a related story, the cause of last year’s Cascade Fire has been found. It is one of a complex of fires that killed four people and destroyed 264 structures last October. Investigators suspected equipment from PG&E was the cause. That is now official. They say sagging power lines from PG&E equipment have been tagged as the official cause of the blaze.

Source links: CNN, Insurance Journal



Medicare Workshop to be Offered in Lewiston: A free Medicare Workshop for individuals turning 65 and those approaching Medicare eligibility will be held Tuesday, October 16, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Community Action Partnership center, located at 124 New 6th St., Lewiston. 

Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

The workshop will be led by Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance. SHIBA presenters will introduce the various parts of Medicare and explain some of the vocabulary associated with the program.  Topics to be covered include:

  Timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

  Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

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

To register for the workshop, please contact the SHIBA office at 1-800-247-4422.



Health Insurance Rates for 2019 Now Available to the Public: Final 2019 premium rates for individual and small group health insurance plans have been released by the Idaho Department of Insurance. In the individual market, plans will increase by an average of 5 percent, a significant reversal in the double-digit rate increases Idahoans have faced the past three years, and a figure slightly lower than the 8 percent increase proposed by health carriers this past spring.

From 2016 to 2018, Idaho has averaged a 24-percent yearly increase for individual plans, including last year’s spike of 27 percent.  The final 2019 rate adjustments and justifications for each carrier are published and can be viewed on the Department website at: https://doi.idaho.gov/consumer/RateReview/. Increases for bronze and silver plans remain the lowest, while rates for catastrophic plans will be the highest.

“Although I wish I could report no increase, I am thankful that the Department was able to work with the carriers in reducing the proposed increase,” said Director Dean Cameron. “I and the Department are continuing our efforts to offer more affordable health insurance products.”

Open enrollment for 2019 begins November 1, and those seeking coverage can visit the state’s insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, at:  https://www.yourhealthidaho.org/.  Four carriers are offering a total of 293 plans, including three carriers providing coverage statewide.  Some consumers utilizing Your Health Idaho may be eligible for assistance covering premiums, out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.

Health insurance companies submit their proposed rate increases in the spring, and the Department works with carriers to evaluate these proposals.  The Department’s only authority is to deem a proposed rate increase as “unreasonable” and cannot simply disapprove rates.  Rate increase proposals are based on claims experience, premiums, network provider agreements and other costs.  The Department recommends consumers work with a licensed agent to help evaluate the various plan options.



Record Pot Sales: Nevadans kicked off the first month of the new fiscal year with record sales of marijuana. Nevada’s Tax Department said there was $7.9 million in sales in July. That’s 11% higher than Fiscal Year 2018’s best three-months — March, May and June — all together.

It’s a 92% gain from the first sales in July of 2017 that hit just $4.1 million.

Source link: Insurance Journal



DCBS releases national study on workers' compensation costs: Oregon’s workers’ compensation rates remain among the lowest in the nation, according to an analysis released today by the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS). This reflects the state’s ongoing success in making workplaces safer and keeping costs under control.

The biennial study ranks all 50 states and Washington, D.C., based on premium rates that were in effect Jan. 1, 2018.

Oregon had the sixth least expensive rates in 2018, an improvement from its ranking as the seventh least expensive state the last time the study was done, in 2016. DCBS recently announced that Oregon workers’ compensation rates would decline further – an average 9.7 percent – in 2019. Workers’ compensation pays injured workers for lost wages and medical care for job-related injuries.

“Oregon continues to demonstrate that it’s possible to maintain low employer costs while providing strong support to workers,” Governor Kate Brown said. “We must remain committed to working together to balance employer rates and worker benefits, and to help injured workers heal and return to work quickly.” The study shows New York had the most expensive rates, followed by California. Meanwhile, North Dakota had the least expensive rates. In the Northwest, Washington’s rates were the 16th most expensive and Idaho was the 21st most expensive. Oregon researchers also compared each state’s rates to the national median (the 26th ranked state) rate of $1.70 per $100 of payroll. Oregon’s rate of $1.15 is 68 percent of the median.

To produce a valid comparison of states, which have various mixes of industries, the study calculates rates for each state using the same mix of the 50 industries with the highest workers’ compensation claims costs in Oregon. A summary of the study was posted today; the full report will be published later this year. Oregon has conducted these studies in even-numbered years since 1986, when Oregon’s rates were among the highest in the nation. The department reports the results to the Oregon Legislature as a performance measure. Oregon’s relatively low rate today underscores the success of the state’s workers’ compensation system reforms and its improvements in workplace safety and health.

Oregon has long taken a comprehensive approach to making workplaces safer, keeping business costs low, and providing strong worker benefits. This approach includes enforcing requirements that employers carry insurance for their workers, keeping medical costs under control, and helping injured workers return to work sooner and minimize the impact on their wages.

It also includes efforts to prevent on-the-job injuries by enforcing workplace safety and health rules, and advising employers about how to improve worker safety and health.

“Oregon employers and employees understand the importance of keeping workplaces safe,” said Cameron Smith, DCBS director. “That commitment continues to be a major factor in keeping costs down.” Here are some key links for the study/workers’ compensation costs:

  To read a summary of the study, go to https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/Documents/general/prem-sum/18-2082.pdf  

  Prior years’ summaries and full reports with details of study methods can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/reports/protection/Pages/general-wc-system.aspx  

  Information on workers’ compensation costs in Oregon, including a map with these state rate rankings, is at https://www.oregon.gov/dcbs/cost/Pages/index.aspx

  Learn about Oregon’s return-to-work programs, workers’ compensation insurance requirements, and more at https://wcd.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx

  Request a no-cost workplace safety or health consultation, and learn about workplace safety and health requirements and resources at https://osha.oregon.gov/Pages/index.aspx

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance content  marijuana sales 

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​ Flood Insurance Changes — Noncompete Provisions

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Here’s how things work. Under the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) agreement insurers can sell flood policies under the Write-Your-Own program. What they can’t do — under a contractural clause — is cancel those policies and sell their own, less-expensive plans.

Currently 86% of the NFIP policies sold are from the WYO program.

Now FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is changing things and removing those restrictions. And it is doing this without action by Congress. Or at least ahead of what Congress might have planned or not planned at all.

A private insurer can now offer private flood insurance to an insured as long as it meets certain criteria. The new FEMA/NFIP policy is called code 26 and it allows the cancelation of a policy as long as a policyholder has purchased a similar policy from somewhere else. It also has to be on the same property that was insured by the NFIP.

If it is in mid-term, a refund can be given. In the past changes like this could only take place at renewal.

Other than looking at getting more private insurers involved in selling flood insurance, other changes are coming. On January 1 next year rate increases are coming to make properties more actuarially sound. Some subsidies are being phased out.

Source link: Business Insurance


Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  flood insurance  National flood insurance program  PIA 

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Privacy, the Internet & Your Information

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Privacy and the sharing — and keeping — of data collected via the Internet is getting a lot of attention lately. California just passed and Governor Jerry Brown signed into law the nation’s toughest consumer data protection law.

More on that in a bit.

The Senate Commerce Committee is now looking at a set of national rules to regulate how companies use your data. The Internet industry wants a lighter government burden and with a Republican-controlled Congress it may get what it wants. From their perspective, critics and privacy advocates say — unfortunately — the law being looked at will keep states from enacting their own, stricter privacy laws.

Companies need and want the data — where you’ve been, what you view, sites you frequent, who your friends are, etc. — to market their products. The concern is special interests who mine that information to sell for a profit.

Those supporting a weaker law that limits what states can do include AT&T, Amazon, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications. They want a law that negates what they term are “inconsistent” state data safety laws. Apple — who attended the recent committee hearing with the other companies — is more in favor of a stronger federal law.

Some Democrats in Congress say a bill that is less restrictive about how information can be mined won’t get bipartisan support. However, committee chairman Sen. John Thune — a Republican from South Dakota — said he hopes a consensus can be reached between the two parties to “help consumers, promote innovation, reward organizations with little to hide and force shady practitioners to clean up their act.”

Doing away with Obama administration protections, President Trump — favoring less restrictions — signed a bill into law last year that allows Internet providers to sell information about the web-browsing habits of their customers.

That’s not going to work for consumer advocates.

Public Knowledge is one of the consumer groups most concerned at a proposed soft law and what the Trump administration favors. Its policy counsel is Allie Bohm. She said a lot of companies don’t just use data for marketing. Many will restrict what some people can see. She cited African Americans not getting access to housing ads and older people not being able to see job postings.

Privacy advocates also want legislation that takes into account, and tracks how data is collected, used, kept, shared and sold so it cannot be abused. It’s what is being done in Europe’s 28-nation European Union. Companies have to justify what they’re doing.

California’s law is the most restrictive in the nation. It requires companies to inform customers — upon request — about what data they’ve collected and then how it is being used. In return companies can give discounts to people — or pay them outright — for the use of their data. Compensation will depend on how much the company gets for the data. 

Amazon’s general counsel is Andrew DeVore. His firm doesn’t like the California law and he said the Senate needs to consider what’s wrong with California’s take on data capture and sharing. Amazon contends it defines “personal information” too broadly.

However, California’s law won’t take effect until 2020 and it only applies to the Golden State. And while a lot of Internet-based firms aren’t happy with data collection part of what California is doing, they are equally concerned with the state’s take on the Internet of Things (IoT).

Security expert and pundit Robert Graham said the law has good intentions but it’s not that practical. “It's based on the misconception of adding security features. It's like dieting, where people insist you should eat more kale, which does little to address the problem you are pigging out on potato chips. The key to dieting is not eating more but eating less. The same is true of cybersecurity, where the point is not to add ‘security features’ but to remove ‘insecure features,’” he wrote. “For IoT devices, that means removing listening ports and cross-site/injection issues in web management. We don't want arbitrary features like firewall and anti-virus added to these products. It'll just increase the attack surface making things worse.”

In conclusion, Graham said, “this law is based upon an obviously superficial understanding of the problem. It in no way addresses the real threats, but at the same time, introduces vast costs to consumers and innovation.”

Source links: Insurance Journal, ZDNet, Digital Trends

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  data collection  internet  pia  Privacy  sharing 

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Wells Fargo — Must Do More

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Wells Fargo has admitted to forcing 600,000 drivers into buying auto insurance. Now government officials are trying to decide how to best make those drivers whole and how to best punish the bank.The company is working with officials to solve the issue.

In a statement, Wells Fargo said, “We regret how this issue has impacted our customers” and indicated it is doing all it can to make things right.It’s not enough says Joseph Otting who is the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency.

“We are not comfortable where we are with them,” he told the Senate Banking Committee. His statement of not enough has to do with how Wells Fargo forced over two-million people with auto loans into its insurance department.

The bank continues to say it regrets what it did to its customers and has been working hard to remedy things including paying a $190 million fine last year. In April of this year, Wells Fargo paid $1 billion to regulators for other abuses. Wells Fargo says it’s doing all it can to find the drivers that were damaged and making things right. That — too — is not enough for Otting and he continues to reject Wells Fargo’s plan.

Source link: Insurance Journal

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  pia  wells fargo 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Wildfire Decision: Dennis Dickey is a border patrol agent. He was off duty and holding what officials called a “gender-reveal celebration” with his pregnant wife when he accidentally started a wildfire.

It burned 47,000 acres.

Dickey pleaded guilty to starting the fire without a permit and has agreed to pay $220,000 in restitution. It’s not close to the cost of the fire that involved 800 firefighters and cost about $8.2 million to suppress.

Source link: Arizona Daily Star



Wildfire Survivors: From the California Department of Insurance.

Due to the staggering losses suffered by thousands of residents from the 2018 wildfires, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is asking insurers to assist overwhelmed wildfire survivors by voluntarily easing detailed personal property home inventory requirements and following the lead of other insurers providing at least 75 percent and up to 100 percent of contents (personal property) coverage limits without the submission of a detailed inventory.

The notice issued today, acknowledges that the department is aware of and applauds the efforts of certain insurers that have already gone above and beyond the Voluntary Expedited Claims Handling Procedures and have made significant efforts to assist and accommodate survivors by offering, in some cases, up to 100 percent contents limits payment without a personal property inventory.

However, due to the massive scale of these wildfires Jones is requesting all other property insurers follow suit by providing similar accommodations and is asking insurers to notify the department by October 31, 2018 whether they will comply and what percentage they will provide. Those insurers offering an amount less than 100 percent should allow policyholders the ability to recover additional benefits, if the policyholder subsequently completes a full inventory.

"The Carr and Mendocino Complex fires rank among the most destructive wildfires in California's history," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Entire communities were decimated with residents suffering staggering losses of not only property, but tragically loss of life and injuries. I'm asking property insurers to ease the burden on traumatized survivors by voluntarily providing at least 75 percent of contents coverage without the onerous requirement of a detailed home inventory, so survivors may get on with patching their lives back together."

The commissioner's request applies to all insured homes that suffered a total loss, unless the insurer has reason to believe the home was not furnished. The department advises policyholders already working with a claims adjuster to develop a settlement plan that best serves their needs, which may include taking the time to complete a personal property home inventory.


Work Comp Rates: From the Department of Insurance.

A proposal for a minus (-) 4.2 percent overall rate change to Idaho workers’ compensation insurance, effective January 1, 2019, has been approved by the Idaho Department of Insurance.   The proposed rate change comes from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCIC).

“We are pleased to announce this reduction, a move which will benefit Idaho businesses, their employees and the economy in general,” said Director Dean Cameron.  “The change in the 2019 workers’ compensation rates reflects an improvement in our state rating factors, including a slight decline in both the frequency of claims for lost work time, and the average cost of those claims.”

The state’s workers’ compensation benefit system is designed to cover medical costs associated with workplace injuries.  It also provides wage replacement benefits to injured workers for lost work time.  NCCI annually collects information about Idaho’s workers’ compensation system and submits proposed rates to the Department of Insurance for review and approval.

Medicare Workshops

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

  Thursday, October 11 in Idaho Falls from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Idaho Falls Senior Center, located at 535 N. 21st St., Idaho Falls, Idaho.  An additional workshop will be offered in Spanish on the same date at the Community Family Clinic, 2100 Alan St., Idaho Falls, from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

  Hayden, ID — Wednesday, October 10, 1:30 to 3:00 p.m., Honeysuckle Place Assisted Living Center, 660 W. Honeysuckle Ave., Hayden, ID 83835

  Coeur d’Alene, ID — Tuesday, October 23, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., Salvation Army Kroc Center, 1765 Golf Course Road, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815

  Coeur d’Alene, ID — Thursday, October 25, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Salvation Army Kroc Center,– 1765 Golf Course Road, Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815

  Wednesday, October 10, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ashton Senior Citizens Center, located at 522 Main St., Ashton, Idaho.

Caregivers and all those interested in learning how Medicare works are encouraged to attend.

The workshops will be led by Senior Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA), a unit of the Idaho Department of Insurance.  SHIBA presenters will introduce the various parts of Medicare and explain some of the vocabulary associated with the program.  Topics to be covered include:

  Timeframes for enrolling in Medicare

  Enrollment periods for Medigap, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans

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

To register for the workshops, please contact the SHIBA office at 1-800-247-4422.


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

DFR 2018-08: Implementation of Hearing Aid and Hearing Assistive Technology Legislation, 2018 House Bill 4104


Oregon House Bill 4104 (HB 4104) from the 2018 legislative session amends Oregon’s existing coverage requirements for hearing aids and cochlear implants as found at ORS 743A.140 and ORS 743A.141, respectively. HB 4104 becomes effective on January 1, 2019. As noted above, the purpose of this Bulletin is to clarify the DFR’s expectations regarding health insurers’ obligations under the new law.

Draft Bulletin DFR 2018-08 — https://dfr.oregon.gov/laws-rules/Documents/Bulletins/proposed/dfr-2018-08-draft.pdf

Last day for public comment: October 31, 2018

Comment email: dfr.bulletin@oregon.gov

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


Applicability date of rules governing the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment

The Workers’ Compensation Division has published a proposed amendment to the effective date of OAR 436-070, “Workers’ Benefit Fund Assessment,” from Jan. 1, 2017 to Jan. 1, 2019:

http://dcbspage.org/WBF-EFF-DATE. — https://wcd.oregon.gov/laws/Documents/Proposed_rules_and_testimony/Div-070-2018-09-20/70_18XXXp-applicability.pdf

The agency previously filed a reduction in the Workers’ Benefit Fund (WBF) assessment rate, affecting OAR 436-070-0010. A proposed amendment to the effective date in OAR 436-070-0003 should have been filed with rule 0010. Both rules are to be effective Jan. 1, 2019. This rulemaking action is needed to provide consistent effective dates for the WBF assessment.

Send written comments to:

Email – fred.h.bruyns@oregon.gov

Fred Bruyns, rules coordinator

Workers’ Compensation Division

350 Winter Street NE (for courier or in-person delivery)

PO Box 14480, Salem, OR 97309-0405

Fax – 503-947-7514

The closing date for written comments is Oct. 22, 2018.



From the Department of Insurance: Complaint Comparison Tool Scheduled for Retirement.

The OIC complaint comparison tool, first unveiled in 2006, is to be retired. Its core data will be migrated into the Company Search function inside the Consumer Toolkit. This allows a more precise use of information such as number of complaints, market share, and premium data. It will also allow this data to be available sooner in the year compared to its predecessor.

Consumers will see this data on a company-by-company basis.  We plan on making this change on November 1, 2018.

Please submit any comments or concerns to us at melaniea@oic.wa.gov no later than October 31, 2018.

[R2018-07] Valuation of Stock of a subsidiary rule posted

We have released the proposed rule language on (R 2018-07). The rule will consider adopting amendments to these rules, so they are compatible with the current version of the Insurance Holding Company Act.

We scheduled a public hearing on the rule:

When: October 23, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.

Where: Office of the Insurance Commissioner, 302 Sid Snyder Avenue SW, Suite 200, Olympia WA 98501

Comments on the proposed rule language are due October 22, 2018; please send them to rulescoordinator@oic.wa.gov.

For more information, including the proposed rule language (CR-102), please visit the rule's webpage. — https://www.insurance.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2018-09/2018-08-102_0.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=


From the Office of the Insurance Commissioner: The NRA insurance policies sold in Washington rip off consumers

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is warning Washington state consumers that the NRA-branded Carry Guard liability insurance policies are a bad deal.

“These policies are a rip-off for consumers,” Kreidler said. “These are highly suspect policies. The primary beneficiary of these seems to be nothing other than the bank account of the NRA.”

Since the product became available in April 2017, a total of 811 policies have been sold to Washington consumers for nearly $260,000. To date, 255 of these consumers have canceled their policies and no claims have been made in the state.

Nationally, the insurer of the policies has paid less than 1 cent in claims for every dollar collected in premiums in 2017 and 2018, according to figures provided to Kreidler’s office. 

An agreement amended in December 2017 notes that Lockton Affinity, a licensed insurance producer, agreed to pay the NRA royalties of $2.4 million, or $600,000 a month, through March 2018 for use of the organization’s trademarks and member mailing lists. In addition, the NRA gets a percentage of the premiums and profits. Exact figures on the NRA’s profits will be provided to Kreidler later this month.

“This is very much a case of buyer beware,” Kreidler said. “Consumers need to thoroughly check any type of insurance policy offered them to determine if it has real value and protection, or if it’s junk. This product branded by the NRA obviously benefits several parties financially, but the policies are highly questionable and an extremely poor value for consumers.”

The policies for the Carry Guard program are underwritten through a subsidiary of Chubb Ltd. The company will stop issuing policies in October 2019.

Kreidler ordered an investigation in 2017 and required the NRA in April 2018 to cease and desist selling in Washington four Carry Guard liability insurance products that were offered on its website. The NRA solicited the policies without an insurance producer license, a violation of state law. Kreidler’s order resulted from a consumer complaint.

The NRA made changes to its marketing website in Washington to address Kreidler’s concerns.

Kreidler’s investigation into whether the product violates state law is continuing.

Source link: Washington Department of Insurance

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  insurance news  western alliance states news 

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Save the Date: PIA Montana’s Annual Joint Conference

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 2, 2018

If you haven’t already done so, put this on your calendar and plan to attend. The annual PIA Montana Joint Conference is in Missoula this year on October 25th and 26th. It will be held at the Double Tree by Hilton Missoula Edgewater.


Click here to see the brochure.

The annual Montana conference is sponsored by Liberty Mutual and Safeco with support from several important sponsors. Click here to see the whole list.

As usual, the Montana conference is an industry event that combines the resources of the entire industry under one roof. The point is to focus on Montana’s independent insurance agents.

The program is the focal point for Montana independent agents, CSRs, Agency owners and managers while networking with company marketing representatives while have a lot of fun in the process.

The Montana conference is packed with important information presented by industry leaders. The trade show showcases the latest in products and services. Our company partners will be decorating their booths with board games theme and our agents get to pick the winner!

Who’ll win the trophy this year?

And don’t miss out on all the great prizes including an AGENT GRAND PRIZE of $500.

The Montana conference trade show is on Thursday the 25th and is not to be missed. Click here to see who’s exhibiting.

Lastly — and sometimes most important — the Montana conference is an opportunity to relax and have some fun. Thursday night is the annual poker and bingo tourney and on Saturday we do the tailgate party at the annual Montana Grizzlies football game.

Click here to see the conference agenda.

Click here to get information on the individual sessions.

Click here to register.

Click here for hotel reservation information. 

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Save the Date: PIA Montana’s Annual Joint Conferen 

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Cyber Attacks — We are Woefully Under-Prepared

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 2, 2018


We are all aware of the danger and the frequency of cyber attacks. Almost daily this business or that is attacked. We hear. We know. But are we prepared? No, says a new survey from Chubb.

The 2018 Chubb Cyber Risk Survey says 86% of us are concerned. However, the study finds most of us underestimate the risk. The threats faced come from common places like social media sites and the personal information we put on them, or they come from the Internet of Things (IoT) like connected laptops and smartphones, or refrigerators, thermostats and other items found in homes.

  Just 12% of those responding said they are concerned about the risk of using public wi-fi

  Only 4% worry that their IoT devices will lead to a cyber attack

Chubb North America Personal Risk Services division president Fran O’Brien said, “In this day and age, anyone is susceptible to falling victim of a cyberattack. While it is promising that so many people are generally aware of everyday cyber risks, our study shows that their concern isn’t translating into action; just 40% of individuals use cybersecurity software, and less than one in three regularly change their online passwords. Given what’s at stake, individuals should be taking every precaution they can to mitigate risk.”

The Chubb study also found that most people don’t know the type of personal data most appealing to hackers.

  80% worried about bank account or other financial account breaches but most stolen funds are reimbursed by those institutions

  60% worry about the Social Security number being compromised

  30% worry about medical data breaches

Chubb said Social Security numbers and medical records are the most valuable to hackers. They are much easier to use than banking information.

Another big concern of experts is ransomeware. It locks you out of a computer until a ransom is paid.

  Half of the respondents to the Chubb survey had no clue how ransomeware works

  19% had never heard of it at all

Bill Stewart is the president of Chubb’s Global Cyber Risk Practice. He said the economy is on the fast-track toward more automation. While that is a good thing in some ways, it is a terrible thing in others.

“As that automation becomes part of businesses in every industry, the potential for more cyber incidents grows by the day. It is important for both individuals and businesses to approach cyber threats proactively. While there isn’t an airtight, preventative way to safeguard against all risk, cyber insurance can indeed help fill the gaps and protect the remaining risk involved in cyber security,” Stewart said.

The Chubb report highlights the danger. One from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says more needs to be done. It offers up a scathing criticism of the federal government and says it — like the nation’s citizens — isn’t worried enough or doing enough.

The report says the federal government is so pathetic it is not even doing what it is supposed to do according to federal law. Due to the “cyber security policy lag” — as the report calls it — the nation’s energy, transportation, communications and financial services are in serious danger. The GAO points out those vulnerabilities can lead to other security problems and cyber attacks that threaten national security and economic well-being and public heath and safety.

“These risks include insider threats from witting or unwitting employees, escalating and emerging threats from around the globe, steady advances in the sophistication of attack technology and the emergence of new and more destructive attacks. In particular, foreign nations — where adversaries may possess sophisticated levels of expertise and significant resources to pursue their objectives — pose increasing risks. Compounding these risks, IT systems are often riddled with security vulnerabilities—both known and unknown,” the report said.

In other words, there’s lots going on that isn’t being addressed. Not only that but the GAO agrees with Chubb that artificial intelligence and the IoT technologies now found in most homes and businesses, are contributing to the danger. The GAO notes the manufacturers of that technology — too — must contribute to security, privacy and safety issues.

How bad is it? Bad.

In fiscal 2017 alone, federal agencies — apart from the military — reported 35,277 cyber security incidents. That’s a staggering number. Add to that the attacks against non-government businesses and individuals and you have a huge problem and one that isn’t being addressed.

BTW, most of the attacks were web-based, phishing and the loss or theft of computing equipment.

The GAO report says there are 10 things the federal government needs to do as soon as humanly possible:

1.    Develop and execute a more comprehensive strategy for national and global cyberspace

2.    Mitigate global supply chain risks

3.    Address cybersecurity workforce management challenges

4.    Ensure the security of emerging technologies

5.    Improve implementation of government-wide cybersecurity initiatives

6.    Address weaknesses in federal agency information security programs

7.    Enhance its response to cyber incidents

8.    Strengthen its role in protecting the cybersecurity of critical infrastructure

9.    Improve its efforts to protect privacy and sensitive data

10. Appropriately limit the collection and use of personal information

The report also notes that since 2010 the GAO has made more than 3,000 recommendations to agencies asking them to look deeply at their cybersecurity risks. To date close to 1,000 have not been implemented.

“Until these shortcomings are addressed, federal agencies’ information and systems will be increasingly susceptible to the multitude of cyber-related threats that exist,” the GAO concluded.

The GAO study was done at the behest of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and the House committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Source links: Insurance Business America, AFCEA


Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States  Chubb  cyber attacks  cyberwarfare  insurance content 

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Staff Reporter, Tuesday, October 2, 2018



Peace Officer Work Comp: Governor Jerry Brown has signed into law a bill that will let the state’s workers’ compensation system cover on-duty police officers who are injured — or those who are killed — while working out of state.


The Assembly bill is based on several California police officers who went to Las Vegas after the mass shooting on October of last year. Several were injured.


Source link: Insurance Journal


From the Office of the Insurance Commissioner: Independent Insurance Adjuster Program: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced he has approved a Universal Claims Certification (UCC) program from Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM) designed to streamline the licensing process for independent insurance adjusters.

The UCC makes the process of licensing independent insurance adjusters who wish to acquire and manage their independent insurance adjuster licenses in multiple states more efficient. The UCC does not replace an independent insurance adjuster license, but makes the process of securing a license more efficient. Both licensed and unlicensed individuals can acquire a UCC. However, unlicensed individuals must first go through an intensive training by completing a 40-hour online pre-certification education program and successfully pass an examination to earn the UCC.

"As Insurance Commissioner, one of my top priorities is making sure California's insurance market is healthy and vibrant," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "The Universal Claims Certification process is designed to streamline the independent insurance adjuster licensing process and reduce costs. Also, the UCC program sets requirements for licensees that exceed the requirements under current California law, meaning it requires licensees to complete more continuing education, which greatly benefits the independent insurance adjusters and consumers. When this program was filed, my department worked to expedite approval so independent insurance adjusters would benefit from the efficiency the UCC is designed to provide. I encourage more organizations to develop innovative programs and business models, like this one, to better serve the needs of the California insurance market."

Currently, independent insurance adjuster applicants are not required to complete any prelicensing education. California's applicants are only required to take and pass the independent insurance adjuster license examination and meet the license requirements to receive an independent insurance adjuster license. For a licensee to maintain the UCC, the independent insurance adjusters must complete 24 hours of continuing education every two years including five hours of insurance law and ethics. The UCC program's insurance law and ethics requirement exceeds California's required three hours of law and ethics that is a part of and not in addition to the 24-hour continuing education requirement.

Once independent insurance adjusters acquire the UCC, they will be able to more quickly obtain a license in the states where the UCC is currently approved, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, and now California. This will allow out-of-state adjusters to be more readily available when a natural disaster occurs.

"For years, the CLM membership has complained of the tedious state-by-state adjuster licensing process. We first worked to tackle the process of managing multiple licenses with our Tracker product, then we started to work with various states to actually change the licensing process," says CLM Founder and former CEO Adam Potter. "It's exciting to see this work come to life as we launch the UCC."

CLM is an insurance industry association with more than 45,000 members that focuses on education and resources. CLM offers over 300 live courses, events and conferences annually.

Source link: The California Department of Insurance


More Insurance Board Diversity: California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones sent letters to the CEOs of at least 50 California-licensed insurance companies encouraging them to increase the diversity of their governing boards. The letters highlight the positive impact of governing board diversity on a company's financial performance.

The Commissioner's letter requested each company either disclose its intent to create a governing board diversity policy or develop a strategy or action plan to enhance the diversity of its governing boards within a specified timeframe.

Commissioner Jones has long advocated for increased diversity on insurer governing boards. Created in 2011, Jones' Insurance Diversity Initiative includes encouraging insurance companies to seek executives and board members who reflect the changing demographics and diversity within California and the rest of the country. In 2014, Commissioner Jones issued the Governing Board Diversity (GBD) Survey - a first-in-the-nation survey examining the state of diversity within insurer governing boards.

"Board diversity helps improve corporate accountability and enhance financial performance," said Commissioner Dave Jones. "I am committed to supporting efforts that expand opportunities for diverse representation on corporate boards. Independent studies continue to demonstrate that enhanced board diversity results in better corporate performance, as well as increased economic opportunities for diverse business communities."

In March 2018, Commissioner Jones convened the first GBD Summit bringing together insurer CEOs and board members to share challenges and best practices for advancing governing board diversity within the insurance industry. The GBD Summit included presentation of the findings from McKinsey & Company's latest study, Delivering through Diversity, which underscore the statistically significant link between profitability and diversity on corporate boards. For example, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21 percent more likely to outperform on profitability and companies in the top quartile for ethnic diversity were 33 percent more likely to have industry-leading profitability.

The initial companies selected as part of Jones' GBD engagement campaign were chosen because they do not have women and/or ethnic minorities on their governing boards.

Over the coming months, the department will track the companies' progress and offer them tools and resources to help insurers enhance diversity on their corporate boards.

Source link: California Department of Insurance



From the Idaho Department of Insurance: Temporary Rule Change Provides Medicare Enrollees More Time to Buy Coverage

Idahoans under the age of 65 who qualified and enrolled for benefits under Medicare parts A and B will now have an additional three-month window to purchase a Medicare supplement plan, thanks in part to a temporary rule change approved by the Idaho Department of Insurance.  The effective date of the temporary rule is October 1, 2018, and will expire on January 1, 2019.

In accordance with IDAPA Rule 18.01.54, the Department will require carriers to accept Medicare Supplement applications for those pre-65 eligible individuals from October 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, with application effective dates of October 1, 2018 through February 1, 2019.  This special enrollment is in addition to the traditional open enrollment period for Medicare beneficiaries which begins October 15 of this year.

Following a 2016 rule change that allowed beneficiaries under the age of 65 to buy a Medicare supplement policy within six months of qualifying for coverage effective January 1, 2018, the state found that some beneficiaries were unaware of this open enrollment period that expired June 30, 2018.  The previous period did not align with the part D prescription open enrollment.  Prior to this, consumers were forced to choose between their existing plan and a Medicare supplement without prescription coverage. 

“This temporary rule gives pre-65 consumers a second chance to enroll in a Medicare supplement which closely aligns with the ability to purchase a standalone Medicare part D plan,” said Director Dean Cameron.



Cyber Security Concerns: Nevada has a new policy that requires businesses to communicate with the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation via a website. Employee salaries, Social Security numbers and other very private information will be sent to the department via that portal.

The Department claims the information will be confidential and secure in its storage units. Businesses aren’t so sure.

Ira Victor is a digital forensic analyst for DiscoveryTechnician.com. He said businesses have a lot of risks and the state did not do enough to assess that risk before requiring this information be transferred this way.

“Employers are very concerned about their privacy. The citizens of Nevada, both the employees and the businesses, should be able to make the decision of whether they feel safe with their systems connecting with the state, or whether they feel the risk is too high, the liability is too high and instead, want to keep printing out the form and mailing the information to DETR,” he noted.

Victor said what the state did not take into account is that an Internet connection is a two-way street. “Like a fax, there is a sender of a fax and a receiver of a fax. There is a sender of an email and a receiver of the email. To only look at the receiver's side, is actually, from a security perspective, negligent. You need to look at the complete connection and there should be a risk assessment made from the entire transaction. And the state, basically, they've not looked at that,” he said.

Source link: Las Vegas Sun



From the Oregon Department of Insurance: 2019 Workers’ Benefit Fund Assessment Rate: After considering public testimony, the Workers’ Compensation Division has published a final rule, OAR 436-070-0010. Rule 0010 lowers the Workers’ Benefit Fund assessment rate from 2.8 cents per hour worked to 2.4 cents per hour worked, effective Jan. 1, 2019.

Link to rule: https://wcd.oregon.gov/laws/Documents/New_rules/70-18060-final.pdf.

A summary of public testimony and the agency’s responses is posted here:


Feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Fred Bruyns, policy analyst/rules coordinator

Department of Consumer and Business Services

Workers' Compensation Division

503-947-7717; fax 503-947-7514

Email: fred.h.bruyns@oregon.gov   



From the Department of Insurance: Stakeholder meeting scheduled:

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) has released a stakeholder draft of the rulemaking on health plan coverage of reproductive healthcare and contraception. 

We have scheduled a meeting for stakeholders to provide comments on the draft. For more information, including the text of the stakeholder draft, please visit the rule's webpage at https://www.insurance.wa.gov/health-plan-coverage-reproductive-healthcare-and-contraception-r-2018-10.

This meeting will take place on Thursday October 11, 2018 at 2:00 p.m. at the OIC's Tumwater office located at 5000 Capitol Blvd SE, Tumwater WA 98501.

Written comments are also welcome on the draft and are due by October 12, 2018; please send comments to RulesCoordinator@oic.wa.gov.  

Kreidler fines Seattle dental plan $30,000 for delays in filing rates: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued fines in August totaling $65,000 against insurance companies, agents and brokers who violated state insurance regulations.

Dental Health Services, Inc., Seattle; fined $30,000, order 18-0317

The dental health care service contractor failed to file rates for City of Seattle plans in 2016 and 2017, and initially failed to file its rates in 2018. Part of the fine – $10,000 – is suspended as long as it complies with the commissioner’s order, which includes filing its 2018 rates. 

The insurance commissioner fined the following insurance companies for using the wrong rates:

  Lifemap Assurance Co., Portland, Ore.; fined $13,000, order 18-0182

  American Service Insurance Co., Schaumburg, Ill.; fined $7,000, order 18-0294

  Physicians Insurance Mutual Co., Seattle; fined $1,000, order 18-0296

  American Family Life Assurance Co. of Columbus, Omaha, Neb.; fined $1,000, order 18-0305

The insurance commissioner fined the following insurance producers for violating insurance regulations in their dealings with policyholders:

  David A. Solomon, Wenatchee, Wash.; fined $250, order 18-0266

  Antonio Ramirez Lamas, Yakima, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0292

  Patricia M. Maddock, Fife, Wash.; fined $1,000, order 18-0306

  Robert David Haun, Kennewick, Wash.; fined $500, order 18-0307

  Ilya Ilich Duloglo, Tacoma, Wash.; fined $750, order 18-0318

  Kevin Matthew Sparks, Tacoma; license revoked, order 18-0321

The insurance commissioner disciplined the following insurance producers for failing to notify the agency of administrative or legal actions against them:

  Coastal Administrative Services, Inc., Bellingham, Wash.; fined $250, order 18-0360

  Tonya Kellum, Seattle; fined $500, order 18-0361

  Andre Lewis McGowan, Houston; fined $250, order 18-0195

  Ramanda Lekeisha Wells, Tampa; license relinquished, order 18-0312

  Sergio Archuleta, Chubbuck, Idaho, license revoked, order 18-0314

  Kimberly Spears, Hopinsville, Ky.; license revoked, order 18-0315

  Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc., Aliso Viejo, Calif.; fined $250, order 18-0316

  Ellis James Largent and Opulen Ventures, Manhattan Beach, Calif.; license revoked, order 18-0323

  Jerod Blakestad, Minneapolis; fined $250, order 18-0324

  Nathan R. Miller, Daytona Beach, Fla.; license revoked, order 18-0325

  Devon Ross, Dallas; license revoked, order 18-0326

  Christopher A. Haynes, Hot Springs, Ark.; license revoked, order 18-0359

The insurance commissioner fined the following insurance producers for violating state licensing laws:

  Sarah Abenilla, Tacoma, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0334

  David Reese, University Place, Wash.; license revoked, order 18-0372

  Patrick Troy Thomas, Des Moines, Wash.; rescinding revocation, order 18-0349

  DirectPath LLC, Birmingham, Ala.; $500 fine, order 18-0344

  Jeremy Haynes, Carthage, Miss.; license revoked, order 18-0345

The insurance commissioner fined a service contract provider for violating state law:

  Safe-Guard Products International, Atlanta; fined $8,000 and voluntary surrender of its registrations; order 18-0346

Tags:  Around the PIA Western Alliance States 

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California — Wildfire Bills & Mendocino Fire

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 25, 2018



California’s Legislature made some insurance and public utility changes that will have a big impact on the future of the state. Governor Jerry Brown said the Legislature didn’t go quite as far as he wanted. In the case of utilities it was to limit liability over wildfires caused by equipment failure.

It’s called inverse condemnation. That means whether a company follows the rules and makes sure their equipment is safe, if that equipment causes a fire, the utility is responsible. Brown and the utility companies don’t think that’s fair.

The Legislature disagrees.

That said, the governor still hasn’t said whether he’s going to sign the one they did pass to allow utilities to add the cost of wildfire damage to utility bills.

The push to end inverse condemnation was opposed by insurers who say they’d be on the hook for the losses if the utility isn’t. Brown said what the Legislature did gives a little something to everyone.

“The insurance companies and the trial lawyers are very powerful. This time they did better than the electric utilities. Better in the sense that they got what they wanted and the utilities got a lot of what they wanted but not everything,” Brown said.

PG&E is one of the utilities impacted. It could end up owing as much as $17.3 billion for fires that happened in the state in 2017 alone. One of those fires was in California’s wine country.

The governor signed five bills last week that will help wildfire victims. They are:

SB 894: It will help homeowners reduce the huge financial burden of being significantly underinsured and unable to afford to rebuild. Underinsurance is not only a financial blow to disaster survivors, it is economically devastating to communities because, as one of the most challenging obstacles to loss recovery, it delays claim settlements which delays rebuilding. Insurers have generally failed to address this significant issue through any efforts of their own. Some consumers have found themselves uninsured by hundreds and thousands of dollars.

The bill still provides survivors the option to move the amount of their additional structures (Coverage B) losses to their primary dwelling (Coverage A) within their homeowner policy to help offset some of the underinsured amount in their home, but only in a limited fashion after significant narrowing at the hands of much of the insurance industry. Consumers only qualify for this provision if they meet three tests: 1) It is following a declared disaster; 2) They suffer a total loss; 3) They are underinsured in their primary dwelling or Coverage A.

SB 894: It allows consumers facing a total loss to generally have three years to utilize their Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage, up from the current two. SB 894 also provides homeowners suffering a total loss from a fire two renewal offers, instead of the current one. This provision reflects the reality that it takes most survivors more time than currently permitted to rebuild or replace their property. This provision of the bill would have applied retroactively to July 1, 2017 to help 2017 fire survivors; however, many insurance companies insisted SB 894 not help 2017 or 2018 wildfire survivors and successfully pushed to remove the retroactivity from this bill at the Assembly Insurance Committee.

After losing a home or business in a fire resulting in a declared state of emergency, current law provides a policyholder at least two years to rebuild their property and receive the full replacement cost coverage they paid for. However, experience shows that two years is often insufficient time for families to rebuild the insured property.

AB 1772: This one extends the amount of time a home or business owner has to rebuild an insured property from two to three years after a declared wildfire emergency and receive the full replacement costs to which they are entitled. AB 1772 takes effect immediately.

The 2017 fires also revealed that some insurers were withholding the additional Extended Replacement Cost coverage purchased by policyholders unless the policyholder actually rebuilt on the same lot. This is against the law. In the event of a total loss, AB 1800 (Levine) would clarify the current law that an insurer must pay out the full extended replacement cost benefit covered under the provisions of a plan, regardless whether the policyholder chooses to rebuild at the same location, rebuild at a new location, or purchase an already built home. AB 1800 takes effect immediately.

AB 1875: It addresses confusion surrounding extended replacement cost coverage (ERC), which allows property owners to purchase limits above the estimated cost to replace the home. However, ERC limits can vary dramatically and many consumers are never provided these options by insurers nor are they told how the coverage options, would impact their premiums. AB 1875 would require an insurer who does not provide at least 50 percent ERC to help direct the consumer to an insurer that might. The bill also includes a provision creating a home insurance finder to help consumers locate possible residential property insurance options.

AB 2594: This bill extends a consumer's right to sue their insurer following a declared disaster from 12 months to 24 months, given that it now takes longer to rebuild after California's significant fires the past few years. After losing a home or business in a fire resulting in a declared state of emergency, current law provides a policyholder at least two years to rebuild their property and receive the full replacement cost coverage they paid for. However, experience shows that two years is often insufficient time for families to rebuild the insured property. Some insurers have refused consumer claims, citing the lack of a lawsuit within the 12-month timeframe. 

By the way, the Mendocino Complex fire — which was a pair of wildfires that flared up in Lake County in late July — is now 100% contained. It became the largest fire in California history.

While thousands were forced to flee, the two fires burned 459,123 acres and destroyed 280 structures including 157 homes. The fire killed one firefighter and seriously injured another four.

Source links: Insurance Business America, California Department of Insurance, Sacramento Bee

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

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