U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao Makes Historic Announcement on America’s Freight System

Thursday, September 3, 2020

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao today announced the release of the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan (NFSP). It is the latest effort by the Department and the Trump Administration to strengthen America’s economic competitiveness. The NFSP lays out a vision for long-term investments in infrastructure, the workforce, and other essential parts of the freight system.

“The Department is unveiling the first-ever National Freight Strategic Plan so that the U.S. can maintain our competitive edge across major industries like agriculture, manufacturing, energy production and E-commerce,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 

Every day, America’s transportation network moves more than 51 million tons of freight and energy products valued at nearly $52 billion via highways, railways, ports and inland waterways, pipelines, and airports. The growth in freight demand due to increasing use of e-commerce and global supply chains in recent years has strained our freight system, and could threaten the competitive advantage of American businesses. As these supply chains continue to spread across the world, America’s ability to compete could be limited by inadequate infrastructure and a lack of preparation for incorporating innovative technologies. 

The NFSP provides a clear path to improve the safety, security, and resilience of the national freight system. It also details how we can modernize freight infrastructure and operations to grow the economy and increase competitiveness. Additionally, the NFSP lays out a plan to prepare for the future by supporting the development of data, technologies, and workforce capabilities that improve freight system performance.

To learn more about the NFSP, visit transportation.gov/freight/NFSP

Secretary Chao’s remarks can be viewed HERE.



Source: U.S. Department of Transportation.


U.S. Department of Transportation issued the above Press Release on September 3, 2020.

New Hampshire Will Experience Continued Stability in Workers’ Compensation Market for 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 8, 2020

Contact: Eireann Aspell Sibley, communications director; (603) 271-3781; eireann.sibley@ins.nh.gov 

New Hampshire Will Experience Continued Stability in Workers’ Compensation Market for 2021 

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire workers’ compensation insurance market will continue to experience historically low rates in 2021. Today, the New Hampshire Insurance Department approved a rate proposal filed by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) that will reduce voluntary loss costs by 1.8% on average. 

Loss costs in the voluntary market have decreased in each of the last eight years and 50% cumulatively over this period. The loss cost is the portion of an employer’s insurance premium that pays claims costs for work-related injuries. The loss cost is ultimately used by insurers to set rates and premiums in the voluntary market. All insurers writing voluntary workers compensation in New Hampshire are required to use the new loss costs, and are permitted to make adjustments for their own company expenses. 

“It is encouraging to see continued stability in the workers’ compensation market,” said Insurance Department Commissioner Chris Nicolopoulos. “Continued low insurance rates provide stability for employers during a time of financial uncertainty for many New Hampshire businesses.” 

The new rates will apply to policies effective starting on January 1, 2021. 

The NCCI is a licensed rating and statistical organization that gathers data, analyzes industry trends, and prepares workers compensation rate filings for New Hampshire and many other states. 

The New Hampshire Insurance Department Can Help 

The New Hampshire Insurance Department’s mission is to promote and protect the public good by ensuring the existence of a safe and competitive insurance marketplace through the development and enforcement of the insurance laws of the State of New Hampshire. Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your insurance coverage at 1?800? 852?3416 or (603) 271?2261, or by email at consumerservices@ins.nh.gov. For more information, visit www.nh.gov/insurance. 



Source: New Hampshire Insurance Department.


New Hampshire Insurance Department issued the above Press Release on September 8, 2020.

Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber Liability Insurance

Cyber liability insurance policy is an insurance policy which covers a business owner against loss or damages from data breach and other cyber activities. Currently, the internet is the biggest marketplace with nonstop activities. For this reason, you need cyber insurance coverage if your business operates online. Cyber liability insurance products include:

Information Security and Privacy Insurance

This is designed to cover your business against financial loss as a result of data breaches. It protects a policyholder against different perils, such as virus, hacker attacks, or denial of service. You can choose the kind of perils most needed by your company. Cyber liability could be first-party coverage, which covers damages to your company. It may also be for third-party coverage, which covers lawsuits against your company if your business is sued by a third for financial loss. The business aspects covered by the product include:

–          Loss of income: Meant to provide coverage if you spend extra expenses or lose revenue due to interruption of your computer system.

–          Damage to  electronic data: Meant to cover loss, damage or theft of data stored on your computer

–          Cyber extortion: Some hackers extort money by threatening to interrupt or shut down your system if you don’t pay them a certain amount of money. This coverage pays for the expenses incurred in responding to or paying the extortionists. It must, however, be with the consent of your insurer

–          Reputational harm

–          Electronic media liability: Provides coverage if your business is sued for copyright or domain name infringement, libel, defamation resulting from any of your online publications

–          Errors and omissions liability: Coverage against a third-party lawsuit against flaws or errors from your professional service.

Cyber Security Insurance

Also known as Privacy Notification and Crisis Management Expense Insurance, is a policy which provides coverage for damages to your business. It is designed to address immediate response cost resulting from a data breach. The policy makes a prompt payment on a “no-fault basis” without admitting liability; the aim is to discourage data breach lawsuits from third-party. The following costs are typically covered under it:

–          Hiring a forensic expert to help determine the cause of the breach and preventive measures to avoid a reoccurrence

–          Paying public relation experts to deal with the crisis

–          The cost of setting up a post-breach center

–          Notifying those whose personal identifiable information (PII) has been affected by the breach


Technology Errors and Omissions

Tech E&O is mainly for companies who provide technology services or products. It is a crucial coverage for graphic and website designers, digital advertising agencies, software providers and computer manufacturers. It helps cover your client’s financial loss, which occurs as a result of error or omission from the service or product provided by you.

What to Consider When Buying Cyber Insurance

The cyber insurance amount needed by a business will depend on an individual’s needs and budget. The most important factor is your industry. Does your company primarily operate on the internet? Do you use multiple servers? Do you grant data access to many employees? If you answer yes to any of the questions, this means you will be faced with more cyber threats due to the daily high traffic. These are the factors your insurer would consider in setting your premium rate. In this day and age every business with online operations needs cyber insurance.

West Virginia Hospital Agrees To Pay $50 Million To Settle Allegations Concerning Improper Compensation To Referring Physicians

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Wednesday, September 9, 2020

West Virginia Hospital Agrees To Pay $50 Million To Settle Allegations Concerning Improper Compensation To Referring Physicians

Wheeling Hospital Inc., an acute care hospital located in Wheeling, West Virginia, has agreed to pay the United States a total of $50,000,000 to resolve claims that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly submitting claims to the Medicare program that resulted from violations of the Physician Self-Referral Law and the Anti?Kickback Statute, the Justice Department announced today.

The Physician Self?Referral Law, commonly known as the Stark Law, prohibits a hospital from billing Medicare for certain services referred by physicians with whom the hospital has a financial relationship, unless that relationship satisfies one of the law’s statutory or regulatory exceptions.  The Anti?Kickback Statute prohibits offering or paying remuneration to induce the referral of items or services covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and other federally funded programs.  Both the Stark Law and the Anti-Kickback Statute are intended to ensure that medical decision-making is not compromised by improper financial incentives and is instead based on the best interests of the patient.

“Improper financial arrangements between hospitals and physicians can influence the type and amount of health care that is provided,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “The department is committed to taking action to eliminate improper inducements that can corrupt the integrity of physician decision-making.”

“Our office is committed to ensuring that health care providers in the Northern District of West Virginia abide by the law,” said Bill Powell, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.  “We are pleased this settlement will enable Wheeling Hospital to resolve these prior False Claims Act violations and continue to provide a full range of healthcare services to patients in the area.”

“Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries trust that their healthcare providers will make decisions based on sound medical judgment,” said Scott W. Brady, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  “Our office will take decisive action against any medical providers which betray that trust and make medical decisions based on their own financial interests.  Our seniors deserve nothing less.”

“Improper inducements made to physicians can interfere with medical decision-making and undermine the public’s trust in the health care system,” said Special Agent in Charge Maureen R. Dixon of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.  “Our agency will continue to investigate those who seek to improperly enrich themselves at the expense of public safety and federal health care programs.”

In this case, the United States alleged that, from 2007 to 2020, under the direction and control of its prior management, R&V Associates Ltd. and Ronald Violi, Wheeling Hospital systematically violated the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute by knowingly and willfully paying improper compensation to referring physicians that was based on the volume or value of the physicians’ referrals or was above fair market value.

The settlement announced today stems from a whistleblower complaint filed in 2017 by a former Executive Vice President of Wheeling Hospital, Louis Longo, pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private persons to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the government and to share in the proceeds of the suit.  The Act also permits the government to intervene and take over the lawsuit, as it did in this case as to some of Longo’s allegations.  Longo will receive $10,000,000 of the settlement. 

The United States’ intervention and settlement in this matter illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating healthcare fraud.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, at 800?HHS?TIPS (800-447-8477).

This matter was handled on behalf of the government by the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Northern District of West Virginia and Western District of Pennsylvania, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.   

The case is captioned United States of America ex rel. Louis Longo v. Wheeling Hospital, Inc. et al., No. 19-cv-192 (N.D.W. Va.).  The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

False Claims Act
Civil Division
Press Release Number: 
Updated September 9, 2020


Source: U.S. Department of Justice.


U.S. Department of Justice issued the above Press Release on September 9, 2020.

$21.5 Million in Health Insurance Rebates for Individuals and Small Businesses

Thousands of Highmark 2019 plan participants and groups to receive checks

After announcing a reduction of Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace rates for the upcoming enrollment year, Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro has more good news for residents who purchase insurance on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace, those who purchase Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware plans outside of the exchange in the individual market, and for Highmark small group policyholders, announcing more than $21.5 million in rebates for 2019 participants.

“Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that every resident and small business can afford the health insurance they need for their families and employees. These rebates, combined with the ACA health insurance rate reduction for the coming year, do just that,” said Commissioner Navarro. “This is just one of many ways we are working to reduce the cost-of-care our residents experience in the health care system.

For the first time in the history of Delaware’s individual health insurance market, more than $12.6 million will be returned to 19,273 policyholders, with the average rebate being $656. Highmark small groups, often small businesses, will receive more than $8.8 million in cumulative return. 2,779 groups will receive an average rebate of $3,198, with more than 175 groups receiving rebates over $10,000. Employers can consider using these dollars to enhance benefits, reduce premiums for employees in future policy years or provide refunds directly to group health plan participants.

Communications will be sent to policyholders in September and checks for both individual policyholders and small groups will be sent the week of September 21. Those in the individual market with rebate questions can contact Highmark at 800-544-6679. Small group employers with rebate questions can contact their insurance producer, or Highmark at 800-241-5704.

These rebates are required by the Delaware Department of Insurance according to Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) measurements set by the Affordable Care Act, which are meant to ensure that insurers are spending a majority of premiums on health claims and clinical services, not taking those dollars for profit or administrative expenses. The rebate system creates balance when data shows that this ratio was off in a previous year. Not every policy will receive a rebate. MLR review for the 2020 plan year will shine a light on changes in insurance usage due to COVID-19 and will be released in 2021.

On August 31, Commissioner Navarro announced the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace would see an average decrease in rates of 1% for individual plans. Highmark small group plans will see an average premium decrease of 3%.


Source: Delaware’s Government, Delaware Department of Insurance.


Delaware’s Government issued the above News Release on September 3, 2020.

Bakersfield driver charged for alleged insurance fraud after an auto collision

News: 2020 Press Release

For Release: September 2, 2020
Media Calls Only: 916-492-3566
Email Inquiries: cdipress@insurance.ca.gov
Bakersfield driver charged for alleged insurance fraud after an auto collision

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — David Lee Williams Jr., 27, self-surrendered today at the Kern County Superior Court after being charged with two counts of felony insurance fraud and one misdemeanor count of filing a false police report for allegedly falsifying an insurance claim in order to receive an undeserved payout from Farmers Insurance.

An investigation by the Department of Insurance revealed Williams filed a claim with Farmers Insurance on April 1, 2019, and claimed he was traveling north on Highway 99 in Bakersfield when his vehicle was struck by another unknown vehicle at a high rate of speed. Williams and two of his passengers sought medical treatment for injuries they sustained.

Williams later filed an accident report with the California Highway Patrol and told Farmers Insurance he was traveling at 55 miles per hour in the fast lane when he noticed two cars racing behind him. Williams stated he signaled to merge to the right but his vehicle was struck causing him to swerve to the right.

In June 2019, Farmers Insurance hired an accident reconstructionist who reviewed the accident report filed by Williams along with photographs taken of Williams’ vehicle by Farmers Insurance. The accident reconstructionist determined the damage to Williams’ vehicle was not consistent with an impact from another vehicle at a high rate of speed and was not consistent with a rear-end collision. 

Williams is scheduled to return to court on October 7, 2020. This case is being prosecuted by Kern County District Attorney’s Office Deputy District Attorney Sebastien Bauge.

# # #

The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $310 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $469 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance website at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800-927-4357. Teletypewriter (TTY), please dial 800-482-4833.


Source: California Department of Insurance.


California Department of Insurance issued the above Press Release on September 2, 2020.

Treasury and IRS Issue Guidance Deferring Certain Payroll Tax Obligations

August 28, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released guidance today on President Donald J. Trump’s memorandum of August 8, 2020 directing the Secretary of the Treasury to use his authority to defer certain payroll taxes. The guidance allows employers to defer withholding and paying the employee’s portion of the Social Security payroll tax if the employee’s wages are below a certain amount.

The deferral is available with respect to any employee whose wages or compensation during any bi-weekly pay period generally are less than $4,000, calculated on a pre-tax basis, or the equivalent amount with respect to other pay cycles.


Source: United States Department of the Treasury.


United States Department of the Treasury issued the above Press Release on August 28, 2020.

What Is A Surety bond?

What Is A Surety bond?

A surety bond is a contractual agreement that involves three parties, namely the principal, the surety, and the obligee. It is a risk management plan primarily designed to ensure commitment towards an agreement in business practices. If you are a contractor, you may not be able to bid for or get some contracts without a surety bond. Also, as a business owner, a surety bond will be required in some legal claims and to obtain certain licenses.

Understanding the Three Parties In a Surety Bond Agreement

  1. The Principal

The principal is the entity (business or individual) in need of a surety bond as a form of guarantee for future work performance. A surety bond is used for different purposes, such as getting a business license, completing a court case, guaranteeing business protection, or completing a contract. If there are damages or a breach of contract on the part of the principal, the claims will be settled by the company that issued the bond.

  1. The Obligee

The obligee of a surety bond is usually a legal entity, such as government agencies. It is the entity that requires a surety bond from a business outfit before offering them a contract. This is in line with the Miller Act passed in 1935, which helps protect the public interest from local contractors. The surety bond will help reduce the likelihood of financial loss and ensure commitments to contractual agreement from the principal.

  1. The Surety

The surety is a risk management company (usually an insurance carrier or a bank) that is responsible for the bond payment if there is a damage caused by the principal. If the obligee files acclaim for damages, the surety will initially cover the cost. With that, the interests of both the principal and the obligee will be timely protected. Although, the full cost of the damages will still be fully paid back by the principal, but at a later date.

How Does a Surety Bond Works?

There are thousands of bonds in the US regulated by each state government. Amounts and requirements are dependent on what applies in a state. Surety bonds are broadly categorized into two types, namely contract and commercial surety bonds.

  1. Contract Surety Bonds

Contract surety bonds usually required by government agencies to serve two primary goals. It helps ensure that a contractor completes a project he undertakes. Also, it helps to ensure subcontractors are paid the agreed sum by the contractor. It has three major types, which are:

–       Bid Bonds: A bid bond is used when bidding for a contract. It is to show that your company is financially capable and has all the required resources to get the job done.

–       Performance Bonds: If you are choosing for the project, you will be required to present a performance bid to guarantee satisfactory completion of the project. In case of failure to complete the job as agreed, the surety company will be held responsible for the completion.

–       Payment Bonds: If all things went as planned and the project is completed, then you will need to pay your subcontractors. A payment bond is to ensure that all parties that worked on the projects are as agreed.

  1. Commercial Surety Bonds

There are thousands of bond types under this category, and each is named after its purpose. They are mostly required in license or business registration, or legal cases. Examples are License and Permits Bonds and Court Bonds

Property/Casualty Insurance Industry Suffered Largest-Ever Drop in Surplus in the First Quarter of 2020

September 07, 2020

(Jersey City, NJ, Economic & Insurance News by Insurance Market 360 – www.insurancemarket360.com) – Insurance providers face several challenges, including the largest-ever quarterly decline that came in the first quarter of 2020. The surplus for the private property/casualty insurance industry fell $75.9 billion with the stock market’s downturn, Verisk and the American Property Casualty Insurance Association , (APCIA) reported. Other challenges could arise from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of March 31, the surplus declined to $771.9 billion, down from the record-high $847.8 billion in December 2019. The decline in valuations of insurers’ investments is said be to blame.

Net income after taxes in the first quarter was at $17.9 billion; the net underwriting gain in the same time was $6.3 billion, which was 19.9% higher than the previous year. Net written premiums increased 6.2% to $164.4 billion in the first quarter of 2020.

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic go beyond investment losses in the first quarter, and based on available information and forecasts, Verisk and APCIA expect significant changes in insured exposures, number, and mix of claims. Verisk research estimates that personal auto insurers have offered more than $13 billion in policyholder rebates and credits. MarketStance, a Verisk solution, estimates that at least 1 million insured businesses in the United States will fail in 2020, and direct written premiums in commercial lines will decrease 2.8%.

“The historic drop in industry surplus in the first quarter was concerning for many insurers, as it began to show the impact of COVID-19 on their results,” said Neil Spector, president of ISO. “But the impact of COVID-19 on the industry is just beginning to unfold. Will personal auto insurers see the reduction in losses matching the policyholder rebates and credits offered this spring? To what extent will commercial lines premiums be affected by the challenges facing the economy? How will insurers adapt and continue to serve their customers efficiently in our new normal?”

Verisk recently created an online resource page at verisk.com/insurance/covid-19/ to help insurers learn about new regulations, read about critical insights, and discover new products being created to address the effects of COVID-19. It also recently launched a web page that provides strategies for personal lines insurers in the new normal: verisk.com/newnormal.

View the full report from Verisk and APCIA here.

Source: Verisk Analytics.


Average premium renewal rates experience variable change across all major commercial lines month over month

September 06, 2020

(Tampa, FL, Economic & Insurance News by Insurance Market 360 – www.insurancemarket360.com) – The July results of the IVANS Index, which shows the insurance industry’s premium renewal rate index, show that all lines of business saw increases in average premium renewal rates, except for Workers’ Compensation, which declined.

July premium renewal rates for Commercial Auto, General Liability and Commercial Property,all had positive changes month-over-month. BOP, Umbrella and Workers’ Compensations experienced negative changes.

Highlights of premium renewal rate changes for July 2020 include:

  • Commercial Auto: 5.1%, up from 4.63% last month.
  • BOP: 4.38%, down from 4.64% at the end of June.
  • General Liability: 3.45%, up from 3.36% the month prior.
  • Commercial Property: 5.42%, up from 5.23% in June.
  • Umbrella: 3.23%, down from 3.56% the month prior.
  • Workers’ Compensation: -2.66%, down from -2.49% last month.

“Year over year, we continue to see the commercial lines premium renewal rates on the rise, with the exception of Workers’ Compensation,” said Brian Wood, vice president of Data Products Group, IVANS Insurance Services. “The data insights of the IVANS Index continues to demonstrate a hardening market and acts as further evidence of insurers taking rate to mitigate potential loss.”

Download the complete Q2 IVANS Index report here.

Source: IVANS.