Geico, Liberty Mutual and Allstate announce Agreement to Eliminate Use of Occupation, Education as Insurance Rate Considerations

(New York, NY – Insurance News 360) – To comply with New York’s regulation that prohibits use of occupational status and educational level in considering an individual’s automobile insurance rates, three of the larger automobile insurance companies in the state have pledged not to use those factors. Geico, Allstate, and Liberty Mutual provide almost half of the private automobile insurance in the state  of New York.

“The use of education and occupation in determining insurance rates unfairly penalizes drivers without college degrees or who work in low-wage jobs or industries without having a rational relationship to driving,” said Superintendent Maria Vullo. “The result is that drivers with higher education and income pay less for auto insurance with no rationale evidence that they are better drivers.  We are pleased that GEICO has recognized its responsibilities to immediately comply with this regulation and we expect any other company that may be utilizing education and occupation in their underwriting to immediately agree to comply before the effective date of the regulation.”

During a multiple-year investigation, the state revealed that many insurers in the stae have, at one point, used education level and occupational status to determine what their insurance rates would be, without clearly showing how these factors were related to their driving. This skewed many  insured individuals’ rates from the start, whether there was truly more risk or not.

Under the DFS regulation, which was finalized in December 2017 and made effective this month, private passenger auto insurers are prohibited from using drivers’ occupational status or education level as a factor in initial tier placement unless the insurer demonstrates, to the satisfaction of the Superintendent of Financial Services, that its use of occupational status or educational level attained in initial tier placement or tier movement does not result in rates that are excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory.

The final regulation can be found here.

Source: New York State Department of Financial Services.

QBE Insurance fined $750,000 for issuing impermissible insurance coverage for college students

(New York, NY – Insurance News 360) – New York Financial Services Superintendent Maria T. Vullo announced punishment of QBE Insurance Corp., for issuing accident-only coverage to colleges and universities in New York. As of March 15, the company had ceased selling these policies, which did not comply with the Affordable Care Act or New York law.

“DFS will continue to vigorously enforce the insurance law and take action to protect all New Yorkers, including students attending college and other institutions of higher education, to ensure that they are receiving the insurance coverage they deserve in compliance with federal and state law,” said Superintendent Vullo.  “DFS appreciates QBE’s cooperation in resolving this matter and taking remedial steps to correct these violations of law.”

The DFS investigation found that QBE unlawfully sold the accident-only coverage for the 2016-17 school year to 25 institutions of higher education, covering 99,937 students.  The insurer also failed to issue certificates setting forth the essential features of the insurance coverage to each of the 99,937 students covered by the policies.

QBE is headquartered in Pennsylvania and licensed as a property and casualty insurance company in New York.

A copy of the consent order can be found here.

Source: New York State Department of Financial Services.

In an opinion column, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Calls for Congress to Keep SHIIP Funding

(Raleigh, NC – Insurance News 360) – Commissioner Mike Caumey encouraged Congressional leaders to preserve the funding that goes to programs like North Carolina’s Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).  The North Carolina program gets $1.4 million each year, or 65 percent of their budget, from  federal funds.

It saved the state’s seniors $60 million by sitting down with them, talking and helping them to choose the right prescription coverage plan that meets their needs.

“SHIIP trains 960 volunteers across the state’s 100 counties. Those volunteers, along with our dedicated staff in Raleigh, counseled more than 102,000 Medicare beneficiaries across the state last year. In addition, SHIIP served almost 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. It counseled more than 28,000 people with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level” Caumey wrote.

The organization also helps seniors to understand the confusion of Medicare and its Parts A, B, C and D, along with the different supplement plans that exist.

SHIIP provides unbiased information to help clear up this confusion, allowing them to decide for themselves which plan works best for them.

The people in Washington pushing to eliminate SHIIP funding say the program is duplicative. In reality, it isn’t.

Sure, the federal government operates a 1-800-MEDICARE call line which seeks to answer citizens’ questions about the federal health program. However, if consumers’ calls get too detailed or complicated, the federal call center usually refers the consumer back to state SHIIP programs for answers to their questions.

If Congress eliminates SHIIP funding, the calls to the federal call line would likely quadruple. The federal government would most likely have to increase its staff to handle the cost, most likely wiping out any savings associated with ending the program.

Source: North Carolina Department on Insurance.

Verisk prefill SmartSource Makes Property Insurance Quoting Easier

(Jersey City, N.J. – Insurance News 360) – Data analytics provider Verisk released SmartSource, a new property characteristics prefill program to speed up property insurance quoting processes, and to address questions of data reliability. It inputs property information into the Verisk replacement cost calculator, 360Value.

“Consumer expectations are rapidly changing, and insurers are constantly being challenged to improve their customer experience. But making quick underwriting decisions without reliable property data can often result in inaccurate rates, pre-bind defection, and abandoned quotes,” said Trish Hopkinson, product director of 360Value. “SmartSource provides a leap forward by offering insurance-ready, property-specific information that insurers can use to streamline the new business process and help reduce changes from quote to bind.”

SmartSource incorporates data from multiple proprietary and public sources and uses self-learning algorithms to continually improve the quality of its data. The application currently features up to 68 property-specific characteristics for more than 104 million U.S. residential properties. Those numbers are expected to grow as new data sources become available and are added to the application.

For more information, please visit www.verisk.com/360Value.

Source: Verisk.

In an opinion column, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Calls for Congress to Keep SHIIP Funding

(Raleigh, NC – Insurance News 360) – Commissioner Mike Caumey encouraged Congressional leaders to preserve the funding that goes to programs like North Carolina’s Seniors Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP).  The North Carolina program gets $1.4 million each year, or 65 percent of their budget, from  federal funds.

It saved the state’s seniors $60 million by sitting down with them, talking and helping them to choose the right prescription coverage plan that meets their needs.

“SHIIP trains 960 volunteers across the state’s 100 counties. Those volunteers, along with our dedicated staff in Raleigh, counseled more than 102,000 Medicare beneficiaries across the state last year. In addition, SHIIP served almost 17,000 Medicare beneficiaries with disabilities. It counseled more than 28,000 people with incomes below 150 percent of the federal poverty level” Caumey wrote.

The organization also helps seniors to understand the confusion of Medicare and its Parts A, B, C and D, along with the different supplement plans that exist.

SHIIP provides unbiased information to help clear up this confusion, allowing them to decide for themselves which plan works best for them.

The people in Washington pushing to eliminate SHIIP funding say the program is duplicative. In reality, it isn’t.

Sure, the federal government operates a 1-800-MEDICARE call line which seeks to answer citizens’ questions about the federal health program. However, if consumers’ calls get too detailed or complicated, the federal call center usually refers the consumer back to state SHIIP programs for answers to their questions.

If Congress eliminates SHIIP funding, the calls to the federal call line would likely quadruple. The federal government would most likely have to increase its staff to handle the cost, most likely wiping out any savings associated with ending the program.

Source: North Carolina Department of Insurance.

Verisk prefill SmartSource Makes Property Insurance Quoting Easier

(Jersey City, N.J. – Insurance News 360) – Data analytics provider Verisk released SmartSource, a new property characteristics prefill program to speed up property insurance quoting processes, and to address questions of data reliability. It inputs property information into the Verisk replacement cost calculator, 360Value.

“Consumer expectations are rapidly changing, and insurers are constantly being challenged to improve their customer experience. But making quick underwriting decisions without reliable property data can often result in inaccurate rates, pre-bind defection, and abandoned quotes,” said Trish Hopkinson, product director of 360Value. “SmartSource provides a leap forward by offering insurance-ready, property-specific information that insurers can use to streamline the new business process and help reduce changes from quote to bind.”

SmartSource incorporates data from multiple proprietary and public sources and uses self-learning algorithms to continually improve the quality of its data. The application currently features up to 68 property-specific characteristics for more than 104 million U.S. residential properties. Those numbers are expected to grow as new data sources become available and are added to the application.

For more information, please visit www.verisk.com/360Value.

Source: Verisk.

Oregon recovers more than $3.4 million for consumers in 2017

(Salem, OR – Insurance News 360) – On March 8, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation announced that in the previous year, their investigations of insurance complaints had resulted in recovery of more than $3.4 million for individuals in more than 4,000 cases.

The biggest reason consumers filed complaints against their insurance companies were claim denials and delays, which made up more than 30 percent of all complaints.

Health insurance received 36 percent of the total complaints, and auto insurance complaints were another 30 percent of the total. But, it was life and health insurance claims that accounted for 75 percent of recovered insurance funds.

“Helping consumers understand their policies and making sure they receive the money they are owed is one of the most gratifying and important parts of our jobs,” said Andrew Stolfi, Oregon insurance commissioner. “We want consumers to contact us anytime they have questions or concerns about their insurance or financial products.”

Oregonians who need help with insurance or financial products are urged to contact the division, part of the  Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services. The division’s advocacy team can help with a wide range of consumer questions and concerns, such as claim delays, unreasonable settlement offers, and unfair loan terms.

Oregonians with questions or concerns about their insurance or financial products are encouraged to contact our advocates one of three ways:

Call the advocacy team at 888-877-4894 (toll-free)

Visit http://dfr.oregon.gov/gethelp/Pages/file-a-complaint.aspx

Source: Oregon Division of Financial Regulation.

National Association of Realtors Calls on Congress to Pass Provision Extending Flood Insurance Program

(Washington, DC – Insurance News 360) – The National Association of Realtors urged congress on March 22 to pass the omnibus appropriations bill, which included funding provisions that relate to housing matters.

Realtors have been fighting for provisions that stop the weakening of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) from the new tax law, and extending the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through July 31, increasing flood map funding to $263 million, and funding and changes to the average income test in the LIHTC.

Elizabeth Mendenhall, CEO of Re/Max Boone Realty an President of the National Association of Realtors issued this statement:

“In addition to extending the NFIP through July, with the goal of passing a long-term reauthorization and reform of the program soon, this spending bill contains significant improvements for providing affordable housing options for low-income households,” she said. “REALTORS® were a key part of a larger coalition that fought for these necessary changes, and we’re pleased to see the steps taken to strengthen the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit to address our country’s housing needs. It’s now time for Congress step up to the plate, pass the bill and fund the government through the rest of the 2018 fiscal year.”

Source: National Association of Realtors.

Coordinated Care Corp. fined $100,000 for failing to follow compliance plan

(Olympia, WA – Insurance News 360) – On March 22, Coordinated Care Corp, known as Coordinated Care, was fined by the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner, for approximately $100,000, after the organization failed to follow a compliance plan agreed to on Dec. 15, 2017. THe plan was in regard to problems with its provider network and other issues.

The company was originally ordered to stop selling individuals health plans in the state after they did not maintain an adequate network of medical providers – they were originally fined $1.5 million, with $1 million suspended if they had no violations in 2018 and 2019.

In particular, Coordinated Care admitted to not having enough anesthesiologists in King, Snohomish, Pierce and Spokane counties. The company’s own data showed that the provider network was seriously deficient in other categories of providers, including immunology, dermatology and rheumatology.

With the consent order in place, the order instructing the company to stop all sales was canceled. But, in the past three months, the organization has not met all of its milestones to fix problems. In particular, the state says Coordinated Care has failed to meet deadlines laid out in the compliance plan; it has submitted provider contracts with illegal arbitration clauses; and it has failed to meet state requirements that prove the adequacy of provider networks.

The OIC remains committed to working with Coordinated Care to correct its outstanding issues and will continue weekly discussions with the company to review its progress. If the company continues to violate the compliance plan it agreed to, some or all of the remaining $900,000 fine may be imposed.

Source: Office of the Insurance Commissioner, Washington State.

42 states and territories use ISO’s cyber insurance program

(Jersey City, N.J. – Insurance News 360) – More than 40 states and U.S. territories have implemented the cyber insurance program offered by ISO. The program includes a variety of coverage options to assist insurers in protecting customers in the growing and diverse cyber market.

Verisk estimates that commercial cyber liability premiums will reach $6.2 billion in coverage by 2020, with 20-30 percent take up rates each year.

“Cyber risk is changing at a rapid pace, leaving many insurers without the tools they need to serve the growing market,” said Maroun Mourad, president of commercial lines at ISO. “Our rating plan features unprecedented levels of detail in primary and excess pricing information, and our flexible coverage solutions can help insurers protect businesses from cyber risk in a timely, insightful, and operationally efficient manner.”

The program uses 17 variables to calculate advisory loss costs, and was created using data from more than 32,000 cases. ISO offers options for organizations of all sizes including  small and medium-sized businesses, large commercial enterprises, government and nonprofit organizations, and financial services and media companies.

“Cyber insurance needs can vary significantly by both the industry and the size of the business,” said Prashant Pai, vice president of cyber offerings at Verisk. “The program we’ve introduced provides insurers with versatile tools to help meet the wide range of companies in the marketplace.”

To learn more about ISO’s new cyber program, visit the ISO Cyber Risk Solutions website at www.verisk.com/cyber.

Source: Verisk.