Месечни архиви: May 2015

Wells Fargo Insurance Names Anderson Head of San Francisco Bay Area


Wells Fargo Insurance Names Anderson Head of San Francisco Bay Area

Wells Fargo Insurance has named Steve Anderson managing director for the San Francisco Bay Area region.

Anderson will lead business development, cross-sell, and sales for Wells Fargo’s four insurance offices.  He is based in San Francisco, and will report to Sam Elliott, regional managing director for Wells Fargo Insurance’s West region.

A 15-year company veteran, Anderson joins Wells Fargo Insurance from the Wells Fargo Corporate Banking group, where he recently served as the division head and executive vice president of the West region. Previously, he was regional vice president for the Pacific Northwest. Anderson also served in several leadership positions at Bank of America and Security Pacific Merchant Bank prior to joining Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Insurance is part of Wells Fargo & Company Wells Fargo & Co.

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Leavitt Group in Idaho Names Barnes Account Manager


Leavitt Group in Idaho Names Barnes Account Manager

Leavitt Group of Boise has named Stephanie Barnes a commercial account manager in Idaho.

Barnes has 26 years of experience. She specializes in insurance for municipalities, professional offices, retail operations, construction, and those in the service industry.

Barnes has assisted in developing 13 new independent agencies over her career.

Stephanie Barnes

Stephanie Barnes

Leavitt Group is a privately-held insurance brokerage.

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HSB Launches Enhanced Farm Equipment Machinery Breakdown Coverage


HSB Launches Enhanced Farm Equipment Machinery Breakdown Coverage

The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co. (HSB), part of Munich Re, has launched a new farm equipment and machinery breakdown coverage with expanded insurance for mobile implements and the precision electronics that control them, among other enhancements.

HSB’s optional insurance for mobile farm implements, such as seeders, spreaders, sprayers, tillers, and their controlling electronics addresses a gap in farm owners insurance by covering both breakdowns to portable agricultural implements and undetectable damage to sensitive micro-circuits or firmware failure.

Today’s farm implements and precision farming technology contain sensitive microelectronics and proprietary computer systems that require specialized technicians to fix. All it takes is a little bit of dust or crop chaff to blow a circuit or sensor and shut down an implement vital to planting, growing or harvesting. It may take days to get an authorized dealer or manufacturer technician for repairs. Farmers who need to fix things on the fly now face repair challenges they couldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

“Farmers practically need to be a computer expert to fix their own equipment with the sophisticated systems and controls OEMs of precision agriculture equipment have installed,” said Rebecca Galovich, HSB vice president. “In our survey of farmers and dealers we discovered that farm implements were not covered under warranty from 52 percent to 70 percent of the time.”

HSB conducted a survey of farmers and members of the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA) to understand the equipment and implements farmers own, its lifespan, how it fails, failure frequency, repair and replacement costs, and the percentage not covered under warranty.

Since farmers are operating more renewable energy equipment, HSB’s farm equipment and machinery breakdown coverage includes enhanced insurance for breakdowns to wind turbines, solar systems and other generating equipment. The coverage pays for lost income from the sale of energy, the purchase of replacement power, and the loss of renewable energy credits and offsets when breakdowns occur.

HSB’s new farm coverage also can cover, as an option, the loss of income for contract farmers who raise hogs and poultry when an equipment failure leads to the deaths of the animals.

HSB’s farm equipment and machinery breakdown coverage will be available through farm insurers that partner with Hartford Steam Boiler.

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Novamar Insurance Group Expands Yacht Program


Novamar Insurance Group Expands Yacht Program

Novamar Insurance Group, Inc. has expanded its Novamar Offshore Yacht Insurance program.  Yacht owners can now insure their vessels while cruising locally or around the world with an “A rated” U.S. insurance company at competitive premiums.  The Novamar Offshore Program is sold direct to yacht owners and through partner insurance brokers.

Novamar Offshore Insurance program includes:

Comprehensive all risk agreed value policy with few exclusions
Consequential damage coverage included
Vessel damage due to hurricanes/tsunamis included
Broad and flexible navigation limits tailored to fit
24/7/365 claims service included

Novamar Insurance Group, Inc. is a major U.S. and international marine insurance & general lines agent & broker. It has offices in Seattle, Newport Beach, Calif., Sarasota, Fla., and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

 

 

 

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34 Arrested in Louisiana Insurance Fraud Investigation


34 Arrested in Louisiana Insurance Fraud Investigation

Louisiana State Police say a two month investigation into insurance fraud and auto theft has led to the arrest of 34 people across the state.

Troopers say in a news release its Insurance Fraud and Auto Theft unit investigated staged crashes, fraudulent injury claims, worker’s compensation fraud, forged medical records and inflated property claims.

The LSP worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Insurance, local judicial offices, and the Louisiana Attorney General’s office in the course of the investigations.

In one of the incidents, police say an investigation led to the arrest of a LaPlace man, who was involved in a staged crash with a Cadillac Escalade and a rented U-Haul truck.

Troopers say the suspect paid another man to rent the truck.

They say he then reported an injury claim with Repwest Insurance Co. for himself and his young son, who was not in the car at the time.

In another case, four suspects were arrested in connection with a staged crash in Orleans Parish. The four are charged with defrauding GEICO and State Farm Insurance Cos.

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Property Claim Litigation Bill Passed by the Texas Senate


Property Claim Litigation Bill Passed by the Texas Senate

The Texas Senate on April 30 passed a bill aimed at stemming the onslaught of property claim litigation that has been occurring with increasing frequency in the state following natural catastrophes.

Advocates of Senate Bill 1628 say it will help keep down costs and ensure the availability of property insurance, particularly in catastrophe-prone areas. Its detractors believe it will make it increasingly difficult for consumers to hold insurance companies and their representatives accountable for fair and timely payment of claims.

The legislation by Sen. Larry Taylor of Galveston was sought by the insurance industry, which has seen a rise in costly — and what they deem unnecessary — litigation over property claims since Hurricane Ike hit the coast in 2008.

In the past few years, hailstorms in particular have generated claim disputes, many of which have arisen well after the claim was paid. Insurers report they have seen from 25 percent to 40 percent increase in post-storm claim litigation.

“This litigation increase or spike has not been generated by consumers unhappy with how their insurance claim was handled,” Taylor said during the Senate debate on the bill on April 29.  “Normally if that was the case you would see the number of complaints filed with the Texas Department of Insurance go up. There has been no noticeable increase or change in the number of complaints filed with TDI to correspond with this increasing litigation rate.”

Taylor said the lawsuits are instead generated by “some lawyers, some public adjusters and some roofers. … They are going door-to-door, making phone solicitations, they’re going to flea markets, they’re doing TV and radio ads and billboards to go out and find people that are willing to join in this effort.”

The bill passed was the committee substitute bill approved by the Senate Business and Commerce Committee after two public hearings. The version that now goes to the House for consideration also has a number of amendments that were added on April 29 and 30.

According to the Senate analysis of the bill it: “establishes a clear deadline for an initial claim to be filed; prohibits certain public adjuster activity; requires notice of policyholder suit and proof of loss; creates a practical standard for bona fide disputes; defines actual damages; addresses liability for a person working on the adjustment of a claim on behalf of the insurer; clarifies illegal insurance practices and estimate practices; eliminates improper solicitation by public adjusters and others including but not limited to the purpose of attorney referral; and enforces the current policy appraisal process.”

Hail Claims

By early March 2015 around 30,000 residential claims had been filed with insurers over property damage from hailstorms that occurred on March 29, 2012, and April 20, 2012, in Hidalgo County.

Hidalgo County District Clerk Laura Hinojosa told KRGV, a local television affiliate in the Rio Grande Valley, that more than 13,000 lawsuits were filed after the 2012 hailstorms and that there were around 9,300 lawsuits still pending in the county against insurance companies stemming from those storms.

In a April 14 committee hearing, John Stephens, vice president of Legal and Compliance with Waco-based Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Companies, told the panel that in Hidalgo County following those hailstorms, his company had seen as much as a 60 percent increase in litigation over what they would normally expect in a such a storm.

Juan Padron, an independent agent from McAllen, told lawmakers at the April 14 meeting that “agents have witnessed a withdrawal of carriers from our area and these carriers cited the rabid litigation related to the hailstorms in 2012 in Hidalgo County as the reason. A reduction in the availability of insurers is in the best case resulting in significantly increased premiums for consumers. And in the worst case it is stifling the growth of our local economy by making it harder to close on home mortgages and commercial and residential real estate transactions.”

He also said “we’re seeing creative coverages where maybe the roof is not covered at the same level as the rest of the structure. It’s the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost. … Whereas before policies were fuller, more robust policies, now the situation is driving the carriers to create these policies that are in effect less useful for the insured.”

Dissenting Voices

The fact that Texas property insurers have enjoyed healthy profits over the past few years make it difficult for some to believe that insurance companies need much of a break despite the influx of property claim lawsuits.

Texas property/casualty insurers paid out an average 46.4 percent of their premiums to cover property losses in 2014, the Dallas Morning News/Associated Press reported.

“Here we are with insurance companies posting extremely healthy profits for three straight years and four of the last five years,” said Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, a consumer group active in insurance issues. “Insurance companies already hold all of the cards, and now they want to stack the deck against policyholders with valid claims.”

Many people who testified against the bill during the committee meeting said it was too far-reaching in favor of insurers and several senators seemed to agree, particularly Kirk Watson of Austin, John Whitmire of Houston and Rodney Ellis of Houston.

Particular points in the committee substitute bill that rankled dissenters were: language that protects from individual litigation agents, adjusters and others working on behalf of insurance carriers; a definition of actual damages that detractors said would serve to exclude policy benefits and deny the insured the benefit of the contract; and provisions that they say allow for forum shopping by insurance companies who would rather take cases to federal court than state court.

Mike Gallagher, a trial lawyer from Houston told lawmakers that he did very little of this type of storm loss litigation. But, he said, “I’m here because the particular issues in this legislation are so far-reaching. … It grants immunity where none has ever existed before. And it doesn’t grant immunity only to the illegitimate claims, it grants immunity also to the legitimate claims and prevents recovery under the policy.”

Sen. Whitmire also expressed skepticism about the bill. “I’m concerned that you don’t overreach and cut off the individual’s access to a fair and just repair to their home or business after a storm,” Whitmire said during the debate on the Senate floor.

Taylor replied that the bill had been changed to ensure there is no overreach. “I have made a very diligent and sincere effort to make sure this bill is good for consumers and preserves their right to go to court, preserves their right to penalties, yet is not abused by some to the detriment of all by way of the price of insurance going up, losing coverages, those types of things.”

Sen. Ellis, who opposed the bill, expressed concern about overreach, the immunity given to insurance company representatives such as agents and adjusters in the bill and what could be perceived as giving insurance companies more than they deserve.

“We know in Texas that we pretty much kiss the insurance companies as they come in. We put fewer restrictions [on them] in Texas than virtually any state in the country,” Ellis said.

The Amendments

Fifteen amendments were added to the bill on April 29 and 30, 12 of which were adopted along with the bill.

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of Brownsville introduced amendment three, which “would delete the definition of actual damages. … Under the amendment the courts will retain the authority to resolve the meaning of actual damages on a case by case basis over time.”

Taylor agreed to the addition of the amendment three to the bill but rejected amendment four by Sen. Watson.

Amendment four — also voted down by the full Senate — would have eliminated the section that expands “immunity for every insurance employee, agent, representative and adjuster involved from the sale of the policy to the denial of the claim no matter how outrageous the misconduct,” Watson said.

Amendment five by Watson clarifies that the insurer is liable for “any act or omission of the employee, agent, representative, or adjuster related to or arising out of the insured’s claim,” and it was adopted along with the bill.

The Fight Continues

In a statement following passage of the bill, Texas Trial Lawyers Association President Bryan Blevins, said that despite Sen. Taylor’s representation, the association had not agreed to the amendments to the bill and in fact had not seen them before they were approved.

But, he added, “the fact that Sen. Taylor felt the need to constantly refer to TTLA is a testament to the hard work of our organization and our membership in opposing the bill through two hearings and several weeks of hand to hand fighting.”

Blevins said that several members of TTLA were asked to participate in discussions to amend the bill. “A number of the improving amendments voted on today came from that process,” he said.

Blevins made it clear that “TTLA was not and never has been ‘FOR’ the bill” and that the group would continue to fight it in the House.

Related:

Bills Aimed at Property Claims Litigation Expected in Texas Legislative Session
Attorneys, Insurers Facing Off over Hail Litigation in Texas
Texas Home Insurers Seek Lawsuit Protection Despite Healthy Profits
Jury Verdict Favors Texas Insurer in Hidalgo County Hail Claim Case

 

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How to Interest Millennials in Insurance Careers


How to Interest Millennials in Insurance Careers

Many property/casualty insurance professionals are worried about how the industry is going to replace the huge population of baby boomers retiring now and over the next decade.

Almost half of insurance industry professionals are over age 45, with 25 percent of the industry expected to retire by 2018. What’s more, there will be 400,000 open positions by 2020.

Fortunately there are people with ideas, experience and tools that can help those looking to attract young talent and otherwise compete in the talent wars. Here are four.

Building a Culture Powered by InsuranceJournal.tv

Culture is one of three key areas that distinguish insurers that simply maintain status quo operations from innovators, according to Chromium’s Peter van Aartrijk, who lists leadership and branding as two other factors. Here he explains why companies that innovate will have the most success attracting Millennials.

Understanding Millennials Powered by InsuranceJournal.tv

Sixty percent of his company’s employee force is Gen Yers, says Ben Walter, president and CEO of Hiscox USA. So his company has plenty of reasons to understand them. Here Walter talks about hiring experienced employees versus employees right out of college. Also, he shares research and recommendations on what seems to motivate Millennials, how they differ from baby boomers, and how to coach them to success.

Broader Perspective Powered by InsuranceJournal.tv

Sharon Emek runs Work At Home Vintage Employees, a company that looks for ways to outsource retired baby boomers from the insurance industry back to insurance firms, brokers and carriers across the country. She is also attuned to industry struggles to hire more younger employees. Millennials are looking for more excitement, she says. They do not want to be put into silos. So the industry must adopt a broader, more risk management perspective and find ways to expose young people to the societal good that the industry does.

Educating Millennials Powered by InsuranceJournal.tv

“Millennials, who will be the future of this industry, really don’t know much about insurance, and that is really the problem we are trying to solve, so they will consider insurance as a career option,” says The Institutes’ President and CEO Peter Miller.

The Institutes’ solution is MyPath, an online platform designed to help students and other young adults explore their career options within insurance and risk management. The MyPath web portal (www.insuremypath.org) is intended to be a solution to get the word out about insurance and risk management and the options that folks can pursue to find the jobs that they want in the broader field, Miller said.

Related:

Millennials Aspire to Be Workplace Leaders; Seek Training: Survey
How Millennials View the Job Market
Insurers Face Challenge of Attracting Millennials
Young Agents Rate Flexibility, Career Growth Over Technology: Vertafore Survey
Insurance Agents Learn How to Market to People Unlike Themselves
Hard-Hit Millennials Miss Out on Recovery Enjoyed by Older Americans
Millennials Experience Most Burnout at Work: Job Seeker Survey
Why Some Young Agents Chose Insurance as a Career

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Baltimore Riot Damage Adds Burden to Small Businesses


Baltimore Riot Damage Adds Burden to Small Businesses

Richard Sung Kang’s American dream came crashing down in a shower of broken glass.

His West Baltimore liquor store and bar, the Oxford Tavern, was hit by looters during a riot over the police-involved death of neighborhood resident Freddie Gray.

The business wasn’t torched like the nearby CVS pharmacy, but its doors and windows were broken and cash and inventory stolen, leaving shelves bare.

Now the 49-year-old South Korean immigrant must decide whether to reopen. If so, it could mean taking on more debt and paying higher insurance premiums.

“I don’t know yet,” said Kang, looking dejected and exhausted Wednesday after rioters damaged scores of businesses in pockets of the city.

About 200 small businesses were unable to open the day after the violence, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.

The predominantly black neighborhood around Kang’s store, which also includes CVS, took some of the worst of it. The area has already been abandoned by many businesses, with vacant storefronts on every block of North Avenue and many boarded-up homes on side streets.

Korean-Americans were particularly hard-hit: They run many small businesses in black neighborhoods in Baltimore, and there have been tensions between owners and residents.

In the 1990s, according to a 2004 study by the Maryland Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, there were complaints by residents over the quality of food sold in local stores, while owners expressed concerns about crimes targeting them and their businesses.

CVS Health Corp. is already making plans to rebuild the burned-out pharmacy, spokeswoman Carolyn Castel wrote in an email. She said the company doesn’t yet have a damage estimate to share, but said “we have a long history of serving inner-city communities and we remain committed to serving our patients and customers in Baltimore.”

Rebuilding after riots is difficult and sometimes impossible for small businesses because most don’t have the cash reserves of larger companies. Kang doesn’t even own a home. He said he got a bank loan to buy the bar last year, after working nearly 10 years in Maryland as a biochemical researcher.

“Everybody says America is a dream come true,” Kang said as locksmiths worked on his doors. “The most important thing is, I have to move on. But is it better to rebuild and start again or give up and find some other place? I don’t know.”

He said he was insured but didn’t know if his policy would cover his losses. Although damage from civil unrest is covered under standard business insurance policies, many businesses don’t have adequate coverage.

Insured Losses Likely to Top $1M

Insurance claims usually result in higher premiums, said Maryland Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, Jr. He said insured losses from the riots will likely exceed $1 million.

About a half-dozen of the hundreds of insurers regulated by the commission have declared temporary moratoriums on accepting new business in affected areas, Redmer added. State regulations allow this, to protect consumers and taxpayers from attempts to take advantage of situations where the governor has declared a state of emergency or a special curfew is imposed — both true in this case.

Help may be forthcoming from the Small Business Administration, which has offered low-interest loans after civil unrest elsewhere, including Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Gov. Hogan, a Republican, said his administration will “do what we can” to get SBA loans for uninsured businesses.

Once the state formally requests help, the SBA would have to declare a disaster to make businesses eligible for loans of up to $2 million at 4 percent annual interest, said SBA spokeswoman Carol Chastang.

However, many business owners don’t want loans, Chastang said. They don’t want the burden of debt, and many, particularly small retailers, may not have the cash flow to make the payments.

Many companies would prefer grants, which they need not repay, but governments have little grant money available. Small businesses would have to hope that corporations or nonprofit organizations would make grants to help them recover.

Even companies that can rebuild face challenges. When a business is closed for an extended period, customers seek alternatives and may not return, said Jeffrey Robinson, a professor of entrepreneurship at Rutgers University.

The stigma attached to a riot-torn area is another obstacle for small businesses, making banks and investors uneasy about committing money, said Derek Hyra, a professor of public administration and policy at American University.

“It takes a long time in people’s collective memory to remember these are vibrant, safe communities worth investing in,” he said.

Many stricken businesses are owned by immigrants — about half by Koreans, Hogan said.

Pakistani immigrant Rashid Khan reopened his corner grocery store Wednesday with the front window still boarded up. Khan said he borrowed $25,000 from friends and relatives two years ago to open the store and will seek their help again to recover from the riot.

Customers were waiting to buy soda, cigarettes, milk and snacks when Khan unlocked his store Wednesday morning. Some said the next nearest place for milk was eight blocks away.

David Jones, 30, bought a can of orange soda, happy that Khan had reopened.

“It’s where you can go and get something to eat or drink,” he said.

Cities hit by riots in the 1960s have taken decades to recover. Rebuilding is still taking place in Newark, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and parts of Detroit have only recently started their recovery.

Associated Press writers Brian Witte and Amanda Lee Myers contributed to this report. Rosenberg reported from New York.

 

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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GEICO Names Jacobi Assistant Vice President in California


GEICO Names Jacobi Assistant Vice President in California

GEICO has named Greg Jacobi assistant vice president of underwriting in its San Diego, Calif. regional office.

Previously, Jacobi served as assistant vice president of underwriting for the company’s Dallas regional office. Jacobi succeeds Frankie Silva, who will lead underwriting at GEICO’s Lakeland, Fla., regional operation.

Jacobi joined GEICO as an insurance counselor in 1993, then worked in education and training in GEICO’s Woodbury, N.Y., regional office before becoming a service administrator.

Jacobi_GregHe then managed operational services and planning and control in Woodbury before being promoted in 2004 to sales and service director for GEICO’s Buffalo regional operation when the office opened.

GEICO is a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies.

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ACLU of Rhode Island to File Lawsuit on Behalf of Medical Marijuana Users


ACLU of Rhode Island to File Lawsuit on Behalf of Medical Marijuana Users

The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island says it is filing a lawsuit against a major Rhode Island employer on behalf of a medical marijuana user.

The ACLU says the employer has refused to hire anyone participating in the state’s medical marijuana program.

The ACLU filed a similar lawsuit in November in Rhode Island Superior Court against a fabric company in Westerly. That suit claims the company cancelled the paid internship of a college graduate student, after discovering she was receiving medical marijuana to treat her migraine headaches.

The groups says such decisions amount to disability discrimination in violation of the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act, and violate the state’s medical marijuana law.

 

Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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