Месечни архиви: November 2015

RLI Launches Personal Jewelry Insurance Product

RLI Launches Personal Jewelry Insurance Product

RLI Insurance Co. has launched a new, online jewelry insurance product that will be led by Michael Maley, assistant vice president.

RLI will provide customized coverage of fine jewelry, diamond and engagement rings and watches against damage, theft and loss through a new jewelry insurance website. The website offers information on the types of jewelry to insure, coverages, the claims process and more, and allows individuals to obtain a quote, apply for coverage and manage their policy online. Coverage will be available in all 50 states.

According to RLI Insurance Co. President & COO Michael J. Stone, the new product will allow RLI to offer policies to serve the growing personal jewelry insurance market.

Maley has more than 25 years of experience in the commercial and personal jewelry insurance market. He is a graduate of St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI, and has attained the Chartered Property & Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associate in Underwriting (AU) designations.

RLI Corp. is a specialty insurer serving niche property, casualty and surety markets. RLI’s products are offered through its insurance subsidiaries RLI Insurance Company, Mt. Hawley Insurance Company and Contractors Bonding and Insurance Company.


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Law Firm Launches Investigation into Workers’ Comp Services Provider BBSI

Law Firm Launches Investigation into Workers’ Comp Services Provider BBSI

A law firm has launched a financial investigation into Barrett Business Services Inc. (NASDAQ: BBSI), a giant professional employer organization that deals with many workers’ compensation carriers.

The investigation focuses on whether the Vancouver, Wash.-based company and its officers violated securities laws by issuing misleading information to investors, according to a statement from Goldberg Law PC.

The concern is over an $88 million charge BBSI took so the company could comply with a change made last year by California’s sweeping workers’ comp reform law, Senate Bill 863.

According to Heather Gould, BBSI’s executive director of strategic alignment, the ongoing investigation is specific to one quarter only, and the company has not been contacted by any government regulators.

“The scope of this investigation is specific to Q2 of 2014 and all other financials for 2014 hold,” Gould said.

investigateShe said there are no workers’ comp claims in danger of going unpaid. Before 2014 BBSI self-insured for workers’ comp, and following the passage of SB 863 the company was forced to migrate its California policies to the ACE Group.

“In California 2014 and prior claims are in run-off mode and that has been completely funded by the state,” Gould said.

She said any claims for 2014 would be paid for by a third-party issued $88 million surety bond, and that claims starting Jan. 1 will be funded through a trust with ACE. The balance in the trust account with ACE was $143.3 million and $50.1 million at Sept. 30, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2014 respectively, according to Gould.

She said the company has been in “constant contact” with the Office of Self Insurance Plans to keep lines of communication open.

Goldberg Law investigators want to know whether BBSI violated sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and the investigation will focus on the company’s Nov. 9 announcement that it had received a letter from its independent registered public accounting firm.

The firm, Moss Adams LLP, issued a notification last week that it completed interim review of Barrett’s unaudited interim consolidated financial statements as of June 30, 2014 and for the periods then ended, which can no longer be relied upon, according to the law firm.

BBSI Responded to the letter from the auditor on Monday. In the letter Thomas J. Carley, chairman of BBSI’s audit committee, issued a statement clarifying the investigation.

“The Moss Adams letter relates to the quarter ended June 30, 2014, which was the quarter immediately preceding the company’s decision to record an $80 million charge to strengthen its workers’ compensation reserves in the 2014 third quarter,” Carley’s statement reads. “At the July 28, 2014 audit committee meeting, the audit committee concluded that sufficiently reliable actuarial data was not available to support a higher reserve for the quarter ended June 30, 2014.”

In his statement Carley said the company is taking the allegations seriously.

“The audit committee believes the concerns raised by Moss Adams involve complex technical issues under generally accepted auditing standards and Section 10A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 and have no bearing on BBSI’s 2014 annual financial statements,” he added.

BBSI in the statement said the company intends to file its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended Sept. 30 with the Securities and Exchange Commission “as soon as practicable after the audit committee’s independent investigation has been completed, and after Moss Adams has had an opportunity to review and assess the findings of the investigation and to finalize its review of BBSI’s unaudited interim consolidated financial statements for the 2015 third quarter.”

According to BBSI, Moss Adams continues to be the company’s independent registered public accounting firm.

The statement from Goldberg Law also seeks more information for its investigation.

“If you purchased or otherwise acquired Barrett shares and would like more information regarding the investigation, we advise you to contact Michael Goldberg or Brian Schall, of Goldberg Law PC, 13650 Marina Pointe Dr. Suite 1404, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292, at 800-977-7401, to discuss your rights without cost to you,” a press release issued by the law firm states.

As a PEO BBSI provides services for employers to outsource management tasks like benefits, payroll and workers’ comp and risk/safety management.

In early 2014 the company reached a workers’ comp insurance arrangement with ACE to provide coverage to BBSI employees in California.

The fronted program agreement provides BBSI with the use of a licensed, admitted insurance carrier in California to issue policies on behalf of BBSI without the intention of transferring any of the workers’ comp risk for the first $5 million per claim, according to a company statement announcing the deal.

The arrangement with ACE addresses the requirements of SB 863, under which the company could not continue its self-insurance program in California beyond Jan 1.

Gould said the BBSI received the letter from the auditor on Nov. 4 and by the following Saturday the company retained Stoll Berne out of Portland, Ore. to conduct an independent investigation.

“The audit committee handed over all of the files for 2014,” Gould said. “These are the same files that were filed with the Securities Exchange Commission.”

Gould noted those filings passed SEC muster.

“At this point the investigation is in the hands of the independent firm, and the auditing committee is taking it extremely seriously,” she said.

Shares of BBSI were down 27 percent to $38.47 at the closing of the stock exchange. Since the announcement of the investigation on Monday shares have fallen dramatically from $52.70 at the start of trading on Monday.


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The Perilous North Atlantic – Europe’s War Time American Lifeline

The Perilous North Atlantic – Europe’s War Time American Lifeline

Crossing the North Atlantic on a modern ocean liner is a pleasant and mostly uneventful experience these days. But gazing into the depths of the presently rather stormy ocean evokes the past, and the deadly conflicts, shipwrecks and other disasters that have taken the lives of countless men, women and children over the years.

In the course of crossing a wide and dangerous ocean, there will be accidents and losses. Lloyd’s was the first to organize syndicates to address those losses, and is still doing so more than 300 years later. The greatest losses, however, in terms of lives, ships and property, has come during war time. The North Atlantic was the scene of ferocious combat in both the 1st and 2nd World Wars.

It was the vital lifeline that permitted the U.S. to supply its allies in Europe with the war materials, and inevitably the soldiers and sailors, to defeat Germany and its allies in both wars. Today, America observes Veteran’s Day. The 11th of November was formerly Armistice Day. It marked the day when a truce ended the 1st World War. The day now honors all those who served in the many wars America has fought throughout the 20th and 21st centuries.

Those wars weren’t supposed to happen. The 1st World War – the “Grand Guerre” or “Great War,” as it’s known in France, was touted as the “war to end wars.” It not only failed to do so, but also paved the way for totalitarian ideologies, particularly Nazism, which made the 2nd World War almost inevitable. Nonetheless, subsequent events should in no way diminish the sacrifices of those who served in that war.

Even though no veterans of the 1st World War are still living, their sacrifices are not forgotten. In the UK, France and other European countries, including Germany and others on opposing sides, the 11th of November remains a day of remembrance. Businesses and schools are closed and commemoration ceremonies are held in all the countries that fought the Great War.

In hindsight that war could have and certainly should have been avoided. In his excellent book on the origins of the 1st World War Christopher Clark describes Europe’s pre-war leaders, who allowed it to happen, as “sleepwalkers.” They knew that a war with modern weapons – heavy artillery, machine guns, poison gas, etc. – could and would kill and maim hundreds of thousands, yet they ignored this fundamental fact. Each concentrated on his country’s own national priorities.

As the war dragged on it became increasingly clear that neither side could achieve a decisive victory. Horribly destructive battles – Verdun, the Somme, the Chemin des Dames – achieved nothing, while the casualties mounted into the millions. And yet the belligerents couldn’t agree to make peace either.

The lives lost in inconclusive battles, the destruction of towns and villages and the privations suffered by civilian populations made it impossible for any government to even broach the subject of a peace without victory and expect to survive.

At this point the contesting powers realized that if America joined one side or the other, a final victory remained possible. The North Atlantic lifeline for transporting supplies was already well established, with convoys protecting merchant ships from German U-Boats as they neared Europe. It became of even more vital importance, however, when America joined the Allied side in 1917.

This could have happened even sooner after a German U-Boat torpedoed and sunk the Cunard liner Lusitania on May 7, 2015. Of the 1275 passengers on board, 785 died, including 128 Americans – Alfred Vanderbilt among them – as well as 413 of 702 crew members.

The American public was outraged, even if it was fairly certain (and has been verified by divers who have examined the wreck) that the Lusitania was carrying a quantity of arms and ammunition, a violation of provisions defining “neutral” shipping.

Despite the furor, America did not go to war on the side of Britain and its allies in 1915. The sinking, however, was a major factor in foreclosing the possibility that the U.S. might support Germany, and, despite President Wilson’s 1916 re-election slogan – “He kept us out of war,” public sentiment continued to move towards America participation on the “Allied” side.

In the 18 months that the U.S. actively participated in the war, more than 50,000 of its soldiers died in battle; more than 60,000 thousand died from accidents and disease and more than 200,000 were wounded – a very heavy cost – but one that changed the world.

In Europe an entire generation was simply no more. 1.397 million French soldiers were dead; another 4.266 million were wounded – 76.3 percent of all those engaged. German casualties were even higher, as they fought the war on two fronts. The British had proportionately fewer casualties, but were equally decimated.

The war shattered the economies of every country in Europe, both winners and losers. It engendered another 80 years of conflict. Commerce was totally disrupted across the world. Cunard had a fleet of 25 in 1914 of which 13, including the Lusitania, were lost; seven additional vessels, acquired during the war, were also lost – the majority in the North Atlantic.

The war ended European hegemony over large portions of the world, as old empires – German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman – simply disappeared. The remaining colonial empires – Britain, France, The Netherlands – began their slow, but inexorable decline, which was sealed by the 2nd World War. After the war ended countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere struck off the chains of colonialism and became sovereign nations.

Only the United States and Japan can be described as having gained something from the 1st World War, as their participation on the Allied side marks their ascendance to the top rank of the world’s powers. After the war, however, the U.S., despite its economic strength and foremost position among the nations of the world, largely withdrew from world affairs.

The U.S. had long rejected the idea of maintaining a large military force in peacetime. It had entered the war somewhat reluctantly, and demobilized returning war veterans as quickly as possible. America again remained neutral at the beginning of the 2nd Word War, entering the conflict only after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor.

There would be demobilization after the 2nd World War as well, but perceived threats from “Communist” nations – the Soviet Union and China – led to the realization that military force needed to be built and maintained. That necessity was enforced by the Korean War. Since the 1950’s the U.S. has built and possessed arguably the strongest armed forces the world has seen since the days of the Roman Empire.

Would the U.S. have become a different country? Would the world be different if there had been no 1st World War? Could the second, and even more destructive conflict, have been averted? Could all those who died have made a better world? No one will ever know.

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New Storm Forecast Center Pairs UConn Electric Utility Company

New Storm Forecast Center Pairs UConn Electric Utility Company

Two days before Superstorm Sandy struck Connecticut in 2012, UConn scientists fed measurements from the storm and historical data from others into a computer model they developed and forecast where the most damage and power outages would occur.

Their forecast was very accurate in predicting both the scope and the location of the outages: The model predicted 13,500 damage locations; the storm created about 15,000.

Now, Eversource, Connecticut’s largest electric utility, and the university have now teamed up to create a center devoted to studying ways to better predict and prepare the state’s power infrastructure for natural disasters.

The Eversource Energy Center at the University of Connecticut officially opened last month after getting approval from the school’s board of trustees. It includes faculty and graduate students in environmental, civil, electrical and structural engineering, computer science and forest management.

In addition to storm forecasting, the center’s scientists will study the resiliency of the state’s electric infrastructure and the trees that grow near power lines.

Eversource has committed $9 million over five years to fund the center, an investment the utility believes will pay off.

“If we can shave hours off small events and days off large events by prestaging the right amount of resources, by making our vegetation management and infrastructure hardening programs better and more cost effective, I think it could pay back several times over,” said Ken Bowes, Eversource’s vice president of engineering.

Center director Emmanouil Anagnostou, an environmental engineering professor, says the center also will eventually include the university’s business school, which will help Eversource with risk analysis, deciding where to spend money on reinforcing the system and creating an optimal storm response plan.

There are other power companies working with scientists at schools across the nation on vegetation or storm forecasting issues, Anagnostou said. But the UConn center is the first to combine multiple disciplines to attack the problems in one place.

He said they hope the center will help attract students and grant money, and give current graduate students some real-world experience that will help them land jobs.

The center will refine the school’s storm forecasting model with data from each subsequent event, making it easier to predict where winds, rain, tides, snow and ice are likely to present the most problems, Anagnostou said.

The school put the power-outage forecast model to work last month for a relatively small coastal storm.

“It predicted a midrange of about 350 trouble spots and we ended up with about 400 trouble spots,” Bowes said. “So, it’s pretty accurate.”

For now, the storm prediction model is being shared only between the school and Eversource. But as it becomes refined the center may decide to share its predictions with the public to alert home and business owners in areas projected to be hard hit, officials said.

Scientists at the center also are using laser technology to create 3D maps of the state’s electric infrastructure and surrounding vegetation that can show the size of trees and where they are relative to power lines. It also will show whether power poles are leaning and may be vulnerable.

And natural resources scientists are putting computer sensors on trees that measure out how the different species react to wind, rain and ice — whether standing alone or in a forest.

“About 90 percent of our electrical outages are related to down trees or tree limbs breaking,” said Bowes. “And we’re hopeful that with this research we’ll be able to prune and trim the right trees, not all the trees.”


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

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V3 Insurance Launches Management Liability Package

V3 Insurance Launches Management Liability Package

V3 Insurance Partners LLC has launched a new management liability package program, Vantage Point, for private companies and not-for-profit organizations. Vantage Point is a flexible insurance package created specifically for small- to mid-sized companies that offers comprehensive insurance coverages tailored to protect against a range of risks that threaten their organization.

Vantage Point is insured by National Liability & Fire Insurance Co, a member company of the Berkshire Hathaway Group. Pending State DOI approval, the program will be available in all states excluding Louisiana and Alaska.

According to Dana Ross-Paige, V3 senior vice president and national practice leader for Professional Lines Vantage Point allows companies to choose one or more of ten high-profile coverages and package them into one program.

Vantage Point features directors & officers, employment practice liability, fiduciary, employed lawyers, miscellaneous professional liability, cyber liability, crime, kidnap & ransom and workplace violence. It also includes Private Vantage Assist, a reputational coverage that covers approved crisis management fees and expenses. Limits up to $5 million are available for each coverage.

V3 is currently seeking to appoint agents and brokers for this product.

V3 Insurance Partners LLC is a Newtown, Pa.-based managing general underwriting agency offering insurance programs targeted at middle market companies. Its four major practice groups are Internet Workers’ Compensation, Transportation, Professional Lines and Property/Casualty.

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Moody’s Says Splitting Up AIG Would Be Credit Negative

Moody’s Says Splitting Up AIG Would Be Credit Negative

Moody’s Investor Service today said that a break-up of American International Group (AIG) and removal of its systemically important financial institution (SIFI) designation as called for by activist investors would have a negative effect on the insurer’s debt. Splitting the company would remove the diversification benefit of its multi-line insurance operations and of the capital and risk management oversight by the U.S. Federal Reserve of SIFIs, both of which the rating agency said are positive credit factors now.

Also,  a step-up in share repurchases would also be credit negative to the extent that it reduced the capital adequacy of the ongoing businesses, Moody’s said.

Moody’s was responding to activist investor Carl Icahn’s recent letter to AIG CEO Peter Hancock urging him to split AIG into three separate companies – a property casualty, life and mortgage insurer.  Another activist investor, John Paulson,  joined with Icahn to urge the insurer to split up to avoid the SIFI tag, which brings with it regulation by the Federal Reserve.

In the letter he published last Wednesday, Icahn also accused CEO Hancock of failing to provide decisive leadership for the company.

Hancock defended his approach in a statement. “We have taken important and significant steps to reposition AIG by both simplifying and de-risking the company, and realizing attractive valuations from non-core asset sales,” he said. “We remain on course and are determined to continue and accelerate these efforts.”

The rating agency endorsed the path AIG has been taking on divestiture.

Moody’s said AIG currently enjoys “healthy liquidity” thanks to its leading market positions in its major segments and its diversification. It is one of the few carriers that can serve multi-national accounts with complex insurance needs, Moody’s said. The strength of AIG’s life operations, among the largest in the U.S., are “tempered by the company’s record of weak profits and volatile reserves in property/casualty insurance, its above-average exposure to structured and alternative investments, and the challenge of risk management across its diversified business portfolio,” the agency said.

While the Fed is still developing rules for non-bank SIFIs, according to Moody’s these rules will “likely include rigorous capital adequacy and liquidity tests, plus extensive requirements for risk management structures and processes.” This will amount to group-wide regulation that Moody’s sees as credit positive, even though it may somewhat limit the company’s management of its operations and capital structure.

Moody’s commended AIG for how it has simplified its business portfolio since the financial crisis of 2008, completing more than 30 divestitures for aggregate proceeds exceeding $70 billion. “In applying these proceeds, AIG has balanced the interests of creditors and shareholders, leading to significant debt reduction and improving financial leverage and fixed charge coverage metrics,” Moody’s said.

For the remaining businesses, Moody’s said AIG has “shifted its focus toward higher-value offerings, such as insurance for multi-national accounts and certain consumer lines, from relatively volatile product lines, notably long-tail U.S. casualty insurance.”  AIG has also been improving its risk selection, personnel, claims handling and operating efficiency —  changes that have raised expenses but that Moody’s said it expects AIG to be able to reduce over time. “Splitting the group into three separate companies would not necessarily facilitate or accelerate the reduction in aggregate expenses,” the rating analyst said.

The Wall Street Journal last week reported that AIG directors have been discussing the sale of the company’s mortgage insurance business “for a while” but “no final decision has been made about the unit.”  AIG’s mortgage insurance unit is Greensboro, North Carolina-based United Guaranty.


Call for Splitting AIG a Challenge to CEO Hancock

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Florida DMV Requests Dismissal of Taxi Companies’ Rideshare Complaint

Florida DMV Requests Dismissal of Taxi Companies’ Rideshare Complaint

In a move that is sure to further frustrate Florida taxicab companies, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) has asked a Leon County, Florida, judge to dismiss a complaint requiring the state agency to clarify Uber and Lyft insurance requirements in the state.

In an Oct. 27 filing with the Leon County Court, FDHSMV claims the taxicab companies’ interpretation of the laws do not legally justify the court to grant a declaratory judgement and writ of mandamus.

The original lawsuit was initiated by taxi companies B&L Services Inc. of Fort Lauderdale, Capital Transportation Inc. of Tallahassee, and individual Jeremy Lynch, as a means to finally get resolution to inquiries on the insurance requirements and regulations of the Florida ridesharing industry. The FDHSMV had failed to respond to numerous requests from the Florida taxi industry over whether for-hire passenger transportation vehicles used by Uber, Lyft and other TNCs comply with minimum insurance required by Florida statutes.

“We filed [the complaint] because there needs to be clarification relative to what is required for insurance on for-hire vehicles,” John Camillo, president of B&L Service, Inc., told Insurance Journal of the suit it filed back in September. “These are questions the DMV has not responded to that have been posed to it by the industry and governmental agencies.”

Judge George S. Reynolds III of the Second Judicial Court for Leon County ordered FDHSMV on Sept. 17 to respond within 40 days or he would issue a decision on the matter.

The response, however, is not what the taxi companies were looking for and may bring more questions than answers on who is ultimately responsible for regulating and enforcing insurance requirements of TNC companies. The matter now lies with the judge to decide.

Among its reasons for why the case should be dismissed, FDHSMV said that the taxi companies cannot request a declaratory judgement relating to the rights of another entity that is not named in the case – i.e. Uber and Lyft. Citing case law that says declaratory judgments cannot be issued in situations where the affected parties are not part of the proceedings, FDHSMV claims the taxi companies and the individual who filed the suit are not “appropriate” parties to request the declaratory judgement.

The motion also alleges that FDHSMV is merely the state agency that enforces already established laws, not the agency that determines the law when it comes to insurance. FDHSMV says the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) is the state agency ultimately responsible for setting insurance requirements for the ridesharing entities, and they are also not named in the original complaint.

“Here OIR is the state entity responsible for compliance and enforcement of the statutes and rules related to insurance requirements in Florida, including their interpretation. OIR is not party to this proceeding,” the dismissal motion states. “Therefore, this Court should refuse to enter the declaratory judgment requested by Plaintiffs and dismiss this action as being improperly brought by parties whose rights are not in question and whose action fails to include persons whose rights would be affected by such a declaration.”

FDHSMV claims the writ of mandamus sought in the Florida taxicab complaint also does not have merit, saying the Plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any “clear legal right to relief” and that their rights were not violated.

The taxicab companies claimed in their original complaint that FDHSMV had failed to uphold its duty of ensuring a for-hire passenger transportation vehicle is “insured at all times with the requisite commercial coverage,” as stated in Florida Statutes 324.031 and 324.031.

The taxi lawsuit claims the law is “clear and unambiguous” in mandating that a for-hire passenger transportation vehicle be insured at all times and it does not contemplate that a vehicle may only be an insured for-hire passenger transportation vehicle sometimes, but not at all times.

FDHSVM countered in their request for dismissal that this argument does not merit a response from the agency.

“Plaintiffs apparently request a writ of mandamus in order to compel the Department to follow their interpretation of [Florida Statute 324],” FDHSMV states in their response.

The FDHSMV argued against the taxi companies’ claims that the Uber James River insurance policy does not provide adequate limits or coverage for when ridesharing drivers are not logged into the app. In addition, it countered the complaint that James River is not a member of the Florida Insurance Guaranty Association as required by the statute can be subject to interpretation.

The response to the lawsuit cites two policies – the James River coverage and a policy from Old Republic Insurance Co. – as proof the rideshare company has insurance, which is what the agency is required to regulate.

Based on these facts, there is not enough evidence for the court to rule the FDHSMV has failed in upholding the regulations, the complaint states.

“Plaintiffs have demonstrated no clear error by the Department – to the contrary, it is Plaintiffs interpretation of [the statute] that is erroneous,” the agency said.

Both parties await the judge’s final decision on the matter, which will come after hearing where both sides will argue the merits of the motion. In the meantime, Camillo says he feels confident the judge will not grant the DMV’s request.

“A motion to dismiss is a legal tactic the DMV has engaged in to avoid answering a question of great importance to the Florida’s residents and visitors – what limits of insurance are required for vehicles transporting passengers for compensation?” Camillo wrote in a statement Nov. 2 to Insurance Journal. “Ultimately, we are looking for an answer to this question. The DMV’s position that the Plaintiffs’ have no standing to bring this case is without merit. The suit seeks to determine what insurance limits are necessary not just for Transportation Network Companies such as Uber and Lyft, but for all for-hire operators including the Plaintiff taxicab companies.  Likewise the DMV’s position that the Department of Insurance regulates insurance, while correct, ignores the DMV’s responsibility to ensure compliance with Florida’s financial responsibility requirements. Compliance with the financial responsibility requirements is vested with the DMV and not the DOI.”

Camillo added that if higher limits are only required when passengers are being transported for compensation, taxicab companies will look for an insurance product that complies with that requirement, and carry lower limits when vehicles are not transporting passengers for compensation.

“The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is responsible for enforcing any state statute that oversees financial responsibility for motor vehicles under the provisions of the current law, Chapter 324, F.S.,” FDHSMV Press Secretary Alexis Bakofsky said in an e-mail to Insurance Journal.

FDHSMV said it could give no further comment on pending litigation.

As of now, OIR is not involved in this case. However, Commissioner Kevin McCarty’s office has stated in the past that Uber’s insurance policy is in excess of the state limits required by taxicabs and livery services and provides similar coverage.

“The policy appears to follow the typical business auto policies that are used by licensed and admitted carriers in Florida to provide coverage for commercial autos,” OIR Deputy Chief of Staff Monte Stevens said in a memo to the Hillsborough County, Florida, Public Transportation Commission earlier this year.


Florida City Approves Ridesharing, Taxi Rules
Florida Judge Orders State to Clarify Uber Insurance Requirements
Consumer Advocate to Florida Lawmakers: Ridesharing Proposal ‘Hell-on-Wheels’
Uber to Cease Operations in Florida’s Broward County
Opinion: Florida Sending Mixed Messages About Uber Insurance Requirements
Uber Auto Policy Meets State Requirements, Says Florida Regulator


2015 CA 002137 DHSMV Response

About Amy O’ Connor O’Connor is associate editor of MyNewMarkets.com. More from Amy O’ Connor

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Cross Insurance Promotes Heaslip to President of Rhode Island Branch

Cross Insurance Promotes Heaslip to President of Rhode Island Branch

Gary Heaslip

Cross Insurance, an independent agency based in Bangor, Maine, has promoted Gary Heaslip to the position of president for Cross Insurance Inc. – Rhode Island, located in East Providence, Rhode Island.

In his new role, Heaslip will be responsible for all agency operations throughout the state of Rhode Island.

Heaslip previously served as an executive at Cross Insurance – Rhode Island. He also oversaw Cross Insurance’s growth through new production, and the acquisition of agencies and producers in Rhode Island.

Prior to joining Cross Insurance – Rhode Island, Heaslip served as vice president/sales manager for Cross Insurance subsidiary TGA Cross in Wakefield, Massachusetts.

Founded in 1954, Cross Insurance has nearly 800 employees in more than 35 offices, serving 100,000 customers throughout the New England region. Family-owned and operated, Cross Insurance, a subsidiary of Cross Financial Corporation, provides insurance and financial products including personal and commercial insurance lines, employee benefits, surety bonds, risk management services, and specialized products focused on higher education and high net worth needs.


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Man Charged in St Louis-Area Church Arsons

Man Charged in St Louis-Area Church Arsons

Authorities charged a 35-year-old black St. Louis man with arson for two of the seven church fires in a predominantly African-American part of the St. Louis region, and federal investigators said there is no evidence of a hate crime.

David Lopez Jackson was charged in St. Louis Circuit Court with two counts of second-degree arson in the fires at Ebenezer Lutheran Church and New Life Missionary Baptist Church, both in the city. St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said investigations continue into the other fires — three in St. Louis, two in nearby Jennings — and Jackson is a suspect in all of them.

The fires were set between Oct. 8 and Oct. 22. Five of the congregations are predominantly black, one is racially mixed and one is mostly white.

The fires spurred a hate-crime investigation to determine if the attacks were motivated by race or religion. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives downplayed that possibility in a statement on Oct. 31.

“There appears to be no indication of a hate crime or sign … any one particular Christian denomination or ethnic group was being targeted,” the federal agency said.

Dotson gave no alternative explanation for the attacks, saying investigators “are still trying to understand” the motive.

The region is still recovering from the events surrounding last year’s police shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, a St. Louis suburb, and a grand jury’s subsequent decision not to charge the officer who shot him. Brown was black and unarmed when he was shot by white Darren Wilson in a case that helped spur the national “Black Lives Matter” movement, and it renewed concern about the treatment of minorities in and around St. Louis.

Most of the fires were during the night when churches were unoccupied, although one at a Catholic church was during the day when a priest was there.

No one was hurt in any of the incidents. Damage was mostly minimal, but New Life Missionary Baptist Church was so badly damaged that pastor David Triggs wasn’t certain if the congregation would rebuild or move.

In all seven fires the front doors were ignited. Dotson said gas was used as an accelerant in both fires that resulted in charges against Jackson. He said forensics evidence linked Jackson to the crime, though he did not elaborate. Surveillance footage also tied Jackson’s car to one of the fires, and Dotson said police found evidence in the car that included a gasoline canister and a Thermos bottle that smelled of gas.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said the fires hit at the heart of the community — places of worship.

“It’s just absolutely despicable that somebody would go after churches,” he said.

Msgr. Robert J. Gettinger of St. Augustine Catholic Church, damaged in a fire on Oct. 14, said he and his congregation of about 300 families, most of them black, are pleased that the suspect is off the street and no longer a threat, although Jackson was not charged with the fire at the Catholic church.

“There was a fear in a lot of people, so you’re certainly relieved,” Gettinger said. “Hopefully he’ll get some kind of help.”

Gettinger was also relieved that the attack was apparently not racially motivated.

“It’s helpful” for the region, Gettinger said. “We don’t need anything else like that with Ferguson going on.”

The Rev. Rodrick Burton of New Northside Missionary Baptist Church in Jennings, which suffered damage Oct. 10, agreed.

“I believe the St. Louis community will have a sigh of relief,” Burton said. “Given our history of racial division, it will be a great relief that it is not motivated by prejudice.”

The churches represented several denominations — two Catholic, two Baptist, one Lutheran, one Church of Christ and one non-denominational.


St. Louis Police Increase Patrols in Wake of Church Fires
Fires at 5 St. Louis-Area Churches in a Week Deemed Suspicious
Police: 7th St. Louis Church Property Torched in 2 Weeks Copyright 2015 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Stephens Insurance Adds Energy Experts Wallace Moore in Houston

Stephens Insurance Adds Energy Experts Wallace Moore in Houston

Stephens Insurance LLC has hired industry veterans and energy specialists, Stuart Wallace and Morgan Moore, in Houston.

Wallace will serve as president of the recently opened Stephens Insurance Houston office. Previously, Wallace was with Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. for more than 15 years, where he was a lead producer and held several senior management positions concluding with managing director of the Energy Practice Group.

Moore joins as senior vice-president. She previously worked with Stuart at Arthur J. Gallagher where she focused on energy-related primary casualty programs and client relations. Her experience spans guaranteed cost, deductible, self-insured retentions and captive insurance programs.

Earlier, she was a national accounts underwriter for the Global Marine & Energy, Primary Casualty Division at American International Group (AIG) in both the Houston and Manhattan offices.

Stephens Insurance is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark., and has more than 150 associates in offices in Fayetteville, Jonesboro, Dallas, Austin, Jackson and most recently, Houston. It is a subsidiary of Stephens Inc., a full service investment banking firm headquartered in Little Rock.

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