Месечни архиви: July 2015

KK Launches Student Accident Coverage Website


KK Launches Student Accident Coverage Website

K&K Insurance Group, Inc., a subsidiary of Aon plc, has launched a new website at www.PrivateSchoolK12-kk.com offering K-12 student accident coverage. The website is designed for private, non-boarding K-12 schools and offers the ability to quote and purchase insurance online and receive coverage documents immediately via email.

K&K’s private school student accident program provides coverage for all students participating in activities under the supervision of the school, including travel. The program offers optional coverage for overnight field trips and interscholastic sports for grades 7-12 (including football). Public schools and boarding schools are not eligible for coverage via the website.

Rates are based on the total number of students and the grades of students enrolled at the school. Coverage is excess of existing health care insurance; the maximum coverage limit per injury per individual student is $25,000. The program is available in all states. Coverage is offered on an admitted basis and provided through an insurance carrier rated “A+” by A.M. Best Co.

No prior appointment or agreement is necessary for licensed insurance agents to submit an application.

K&K Insurance Group, Inc. is a licensed insurance producer in all states; operating in Calif., N.Y., and Mich., as K&K Insurance Agency.

 

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Heffernan Accepting Submissions for Burning Man Insurance Program


Heffernan Accepting Submissions for Burning Man Insurance Program

Heffernan Insurance Brokers, a nationwide independent insurance brokerage, is now accepting submissions through August 9 for the 2015 Burning Man event. Heffernan’s program, called Insurance on the Playa, offers liability coverage for theme camps, art cars and art installations for participants of the Burning Man event.

The program provides coverage for general liability with limits of $1 million per occurrence/$2 million aggregate if the policyholder is sued by a third party alleging bodily injury or damage to their property. There is no deductible associated with this coverage.

Heffernan’s Amy Vitarelli (San Francisco) and Benjamin Stern (Los Angeles) have worked for years refining the program.  As veteran participants of Burning Man themselves, they were able to secure the program again with a key carrier.

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Boston Olympics Bid Committee Says Insurance Will Minimize Risk to Taxpayers


Boston Olympics Bid Committee Says Insurance Will Minimize Risk to Taxpayers

Leaders of Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics released details Thursday about insurance proposals they say will provide unprecedented coverage for Massachusetts taxpayers.

The Boston 2024 bid committee released a document that described at least eight types of insurance it promises to purchase to minimize the risk to taxpayers in the event of unanticipated costs.

The private organization has estimated the insurance will cost about $128 million, which it said it would pay for fully.

Items covered by the insurance policies include:

Events that are canceled due to unforeseeable occurrences like natural disasters, terrorism or labor strikes.
Costs if the sponsor of a game is unable to meet its financial obligations.
Costs for reduced ticket sales and attendance if events become less appealing because a competing country drops out, impacting advertising or broadcast revenues.

But a local group opposed to the Olympics says the multi-layer insurance plan still would not protect taxpayers from overages if Boston 2024’s budget underestimates building costs or the scope of the planned projects changes over time.

Christopher Dempsey, co-chair of the No Boston Olympics group, says those have been the main drivers of overruns in previous games.

“If the boosters are so confident in their financial plan, why are they still asking taxpayers to provide a guarantee to cover Olympic deficits?” he said. “Boston 2024 remains a risky plan for Massachusetts taxpayers.”

Boston 2024 organizers, in Thursday’s insurance proposal, say they’ll require contractors and developers to purchase insurance plans for specific building projects, like the the Olympic stadium, athlete’s village and other venues.

Required features of those plans could include added protections like surety or performance bonds, which would guarantee a project will be finished in case the contractor defaults, Boston 2024 says.

Boston 2024 said it consulted insurance experts, including two companies that have done work for high-profile events such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the NCAA Tournament and the Tour de France.

It said plans to issue a request for proposals to insurance brokers by Aug. 1.

The issue of how city and state taxpayers will be protected financially if the games go over budget has been a central concern to Olympics opponents.

Boston 2024 organizers have struggled to turn public opinion in their favor ahead of a critical Sept. 15 deadline for the U.S. Olympic Committee to officially submit a bid to the IOC.

Release of the insurance proposals follows controversy Wednesday over the group’s reluctance to reveal at least two chapters of its original submission to the USOC.

Boston 2024 said late Wednesday it would release a full, unredacted version of the proposal early next week, after Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh publicly called on the privately-funded group to release the information, which opponents say includes critical financial details impacting taxpayers.
 

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

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Kansas Man Gets 1 Year in Jail for 17th Drunk Driving Conviction


Kansas Man Gets 1 Year in Jail for 17th Drunk Driving Conviction

A 59-year-old eastern Kansas man has been sentenced to one year in jail after pleading guilty in his 17th drunken driving case.

The Kansas City Star reports Stephen Gast pleaded guilty after his June 10 arrest, when law enforcement officers were notified of a drunken driver. Prosecutors say officers found Gast in his vehicle and swerving on the road.

Most of Gast’s 17 driving under the influence convictions since 1980 have been in Leavenworth County, where he is a lifelong resident.

Gast was sentenced to a year in jail and $2,500 fine, which are the maximum punishments in Kansas for a person after four or more drunken driving convictions.

The sentence allows Gast to leave jail on work release after 48 hours in custody if he can verify employment.

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

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Louisiana Man Gets 145-Year Sentence After Sixth DWI Conviction


Louisiana Man Gets 145-Year Sentence After Sixth DWI Conviction

A 45-year-old Baker, La., man has been sentenced to 14 1/2 years in state prison for his sixth DWI conviction since 2000.

Prosecutors say Michael Scott Oneill’s blood-alcohol level was 0.152 percent when he was arrested on March 6, 2014. A blood-alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher is considered presumptive evidence of drunken driving in Louisiana.

Oneill pleaded guilty in April to fourth-offense DWI — the highest grade of DWI offenses.

East Baton Rouge Parish Assistant District Attorney Chris Hester said Oneill’s prior DWI convictions were in 2000, 2001, 2007 and 2010. He had two such convictions in 2007.

The Advocate reports Judge Lou Daniel ordered Oneill to serve his prison time without benefit of probation, parole or suspension of sentence.

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

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Arizona Supreme Court Ruling May Expose Agents to Lawsuits


Arizona Supreme Court Ruling May Expose Agents to Lawsuits

An Arizona Supreme Court ruling may expose agents who write auto policies to malpractice lawsuits if they are accused of failing to inform their customers about uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage – even with a signed waiver acknowledging the customer is rejecting UM and UIM coverage.

Lesley Wilks and her husband Paul Wilks filed a lawsuit in 2010 against John Manobianco at the Manobianco Insurance Agency after the Arizona woman got into an automobile crash with another driver who was uninsured.

Court documents show she signed a waiver to inform her she was going without UIM coverage.

Attorneys for Wilks argue she signed the waiver as part of a large package of insurance documents and was relying on her agent, who she told to get a policy similar to her previous policy. That policy included UIM coverage.

Manobianco’s attorneys say the agent told her she wasn’t getting UIM coverage, and they contend that by signing the waiver the woman was made aware she was going without the coverage.

LawsuitThe case was dismissed, heard and overturned in appellate court, then heard by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court decision, which sends the case back to trial, states that the waiver provides a “safe harbor” for carriers, but not for agents, who owe a duty of care to their clients.

It’s a decision that may reverberate throughout the state’s agent community, said Lanny Hair, executive vice president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Arizona Inc.

Hair believes that without the protection of the waiver that agents writing auto may start declining to write policies to insureds who want lower or no UM or UIM coverage, and instead refer those leads to another agents.

The decision could also have a retroactive impact, prompting a rash of suits from insureds who settled for less or were awarded less lawsuits over auto accidents with uninsured or underinsured motorists, he said.

“We’ve got all these claims that happened that are sleeping in these files,” Hair added.

Hair plans to raise some alarms over the decision, and said a “legislative fix” may be required to protect agents, but that process can’t start until next year, when bills are introduced.

Mick Levin, with Tidmore Law Offices, L.L.P., in Phoenix, represented Wilks. He believes the case should have never been dismissed in the first place and was pleased with the Supreme Court decision.

“Obviously we thought the decision was well-reasoned,” Levin said. “In Arizona, an insurance agent owes duty of care to the insured.”

In ruling the way it did, the Supreme Court focused on what his client asked her insurance agent for but did not receive, he said.

“My client says she asked for the same coverage she had before, which includes uninsured and underinsured motorists,” Levin said.

Attorney Myles P. Hassett, with the The Hassett Law Firm, P.L.C., in Phoenix, argued for Manobianco. When contacted for this story he had little to say, except to express confidence the case will go his client’s way.

“I believe we’ll be vindicated in the trail court,” Hassett said.

State Farm, which was named in the superior court case, but is no longer involved in he suit, had even less to say.

“State Farm rarely comments on pending litigation, and at this time, we have nothing to share on this lawsuit,” Victor Hugo Rodriguez, a State Farm spokesman for Arizona, wrote in an email reply to a request for comment.

Wilks originally had a policy with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., which she obtained through Manobianco.

Her original policy included liability and both UM and UIM coverage. Wilks later replaced the State Farm policy with a policy from another carrier, however a year later she decided to switch back to State Farm.

When making the switch Wilks asked Manobianco to obtain the same coverage she previously had previously, which was full coverage, according to court documents.

Manobianco argues he initially got quotes for such a policy, but when his client sought a lower premium he returned to her with a policy without UIM coverage. He said he told her that the new policy did not have UIM coverage.

Among the numerous forms for a new policy that required Wilks’ signature, she signed the waiver form to reject UIM coverage, which had been filled out by Manobianco, court documents state.

The waiver is on a form approved by the Arizona Department of Insurance and is mandated by Arizona statute.

Two years later Wilks was rear-ended by an uninsured driver, and State Farm denied her UIM claim. Wilks and her husband then sued Manobianco for malpractice for failing to procure the requested insurance coverage.

Attorneys for Manobianco moved for summary judgment and a superior court dismissed the case. In doing so the court cited a prior appellate court decision that concluded the waiver was a safe harbor for the agent, because the form is evidence that the agent offered the coverage.

Wilks’ attorneys took the matter to an appeals court, which ruled the case should not have been dismissed. The appeals court found the agent owed his client a duty of care and sent it back to superior court for a trial.

In its decision the appellate court held that the form mandated by the statute – A.R.S. § 20–259.01(B) – did not abolish the agent’s duty of care because the statute does not apply to insurance agents, and it is not broad enough to bar common law negligence claims against them.

Manobianco’s legal team appealed to Supreme Court, which issued its ruling on July 9, stating that only the carrier is protected by the waiver and not the agent.

“The issue in this case is whether compliance with (the waiver form) bars a negligence claim alleging that the insurance agent failed to procure the UIM coverage requested by the insured,” the court stated in its opinion. “We hold that it does not.”

While before the Supreme Court attorneys for Manobianco argued that the state Legislature modified insurance agents’ common law duties to their clients by enacting § 20–259.01, which creates a “safe harbor” when an insured signs a DOI-approved form rejecting UM or UIM coverage.

The statute in part reads:  “Every insurer writing automobile liability or motor vehicle liability policies shall . . . make available to the named insured thereunder and shall by written notice offer the insured and at the request of the insured shall include within the policy underinsured motorist coverage which extends to and covers all persons insured under the policy, in limits not less than the liability limits for bodily injury or death contained within the policy.”

The Supreme Court took it upon itself to decide whether the statute’s term “insurer,” also covers insurance agents, as well as whether the statute bars common law negligence claims for an agent’s failure to procure requested insurance coverage.

The court ruled that the statute provides insurance companies with a method for proving they offered UM and UIM coverage to their insureds, but that is does not purport to bar common law professional negligence claims.

The absence of the word “agents” in the statute appears to have weighed heavily on the court’s decision.

“Indeed, the statute does not so much as mention insurance agents or any common law cause of action,” the court ruling stated.

Hair, with the Arizona brokers group, took issue with the ruling.

Hair was an expert witness for the defense. He also helped write the statute in 1987 after a rash of lawsuits in Arizona in which insureds sued agents who allegedly failed to discuss UM and UIM coverage after being hit by drivers who were uninsured or underinsured.

When the statue was drafted “insurer” was included because the agent’s role is to get the form signed on behalf of insurer, and the agent is therefore integral to the process, according to Hair.

“The Supreme Court, in my opinion, misinterpreted the whole damned purpose of this thing,” he said.

Stripped of the waiver as proof, Hair believes the deciding factor in the case may come down to the word of Wilks versus the word of Manobianco.

At issue will be whether the court believes the agent when he says he explained to Wilks she was not getting UIM coverage, or whether she was not told her coverage had changed and Wilks did not carry out her wishes.

“I think when we go back to superior court, it’s going to be a liars’ contest,” Hair said.

The case is Wilks V. Manobianco.

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Google Driverless Car Hit from Behind Again


Google Driverless Car Hit from Behind Again

A Google Inc. driverless car was involved in the fleet’s first collision to result in injury.

One of Google’s vehicles braked during a green light because of congestion, and the car behind hit it at 17 mph and lost its bumper, Google said. The most-recent incident occurred during evening rush hour on July 1 in Mountain View, California, where the search giant is based.

“Everyone in both vehicles was okay, except for a bit of minor whiplash,” Chris Urmson, Google’s director for self- driving cars, wrote in a blog item posted Thursday.

Google last month said it would issue monthly reports about its self-driving automobiles after a shareholder asked the company to be more transparent about accidents involving the technology.

The company says robotic vehicles drive better than humans do and will reduce deaths caused by cars driven by people.

Google’s hands-free cars have been hit by other drivers 14 times since the project began in 2009, according to the company.

“Our self-driving cars are being hit surprisingly often by other drivers who are distracted and not paying attention to the road,” Urmson wrote.

–With assistance from Brian Womack in San Francisco.

Related:

Now Mastering City Streets: Google’s Driverless Cars
Smart Cars Don’t Eliminate Human Errors
Google Says Self-Driving Cars Blameless in 11 Accidents in 6 Years, 1.7M Miles Copyright 2015 Bloomberg.

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Tornado-Torn Arkansas Town to Build Shelter with Grant Money


Tornado-Torn Arkansas Town to Build Shelter with Grant Money

An Arkansas town damaged by an April 2014 tornado will receive more than $1 million in federal grant money to build a safe room that will shelter more than a thousand people.

Arkansas Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Rep. French Hill announced the award of $1,049,438 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on July 15.

Vilonia, about 33 miles north of Little Rock, was devastated by an April 2014 tornado that killed 16 people in Arkansas.

A new intermediate school was almost finished when the tornado leveled it. The grant will pay for a safe room to house up to 1,048 people and withstand winds up to 250 mph in that rebuilt school.

Hundreds of Vilonia residents sheltered in 2014 in a similar safe room built with grant money received after a deadly 2011 tornado.

Related:

Arkansas Tornado Hits 1 Street Particularly Hard
Arkansas Community Still on Mend After Fatal Twister Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Minnesota Parishes Want Archdiocese to Pay Abuse Defense Costs


Minnesota Parishes Want Archdiocese to Pay Abuse Defense Costs

Dozens of parishes in the Twin Cities want the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to pay their costs for settling clergy abuse claims.

About 120 parishes want the archdiocese to reimburse them for paying too much into church insurance plans. They also want compensation for costs to resolve sex abuse claims against priests the archdiocese assigned to parishes.

Creditors are required to file their claims against the archdiocese by Aug. 3 in the bankruptcy case. Minnesota Public Radio News reports the parish filings have not place a monetary value on claims.

More than 160 people alleging sex abuse by clergy members have filed claims against the archdiocese.

Related: 

Judge Backs Insurer OneBeacon in Milwaukee Archdiocese Sex Abuse Case
Minnesota Archdiocese Sues Insurance Companies for Coverage
Charges Put Minnesota Archdiocese Insurance Claims at Risk
Milwaukee Archdiocese Seeks Insurance Settlements in Abuse Cases
Minnesota Diocese Files Chapter 11 over Sexual-Abuse Claims Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Dallas-Area Steel Fabricator Fined 189K for Workplace Hazards


Dallas-Area Steel Fabricator Fined 189K for Workplace Hazards

Federal safety officials have found that a Dallas-area steel fabricator has continued to put its workers in harm’s way, despite its awareness of hazards at its Farmers Branch facility. A recent federal inspection that found more than a dozen safety violations, authorities said.

Steel Fabrication Services Inc. now faces proposed penalties totaling $188,760.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors cited Steel Fabrication Services for two willful, six repeated and six serious violations in a follow-up inspection. They found the company continued to expose workers to unguarded machinery, improperly stored oxygen cylinders and other safety and health hazards.

Begun in January, the inspection was a follow-up visit for citations issued in February 2014. At that time, OSHA identified five serious violations involving the lack of protective guards for dangerous machines, unsafe storage of compressed gas cylinders and electrical hazards.

Steel Fabrication did not respond to the citations and failed to provide OSHA with documentation that the problems had been addressed, as required by law, regulators said.

Based in the Dallas Metroplex, Steel Fabrication manufactures fabricated parts, weldments and finished products in carbon steel, stainless steel, aluminum and other materials. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Source: OSHA

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