Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow, ice and frozen pipes: Are you covered? The 6 things every homeowner needs to know

With most of the United States in a deep freeze and record breaking snow totals in New England, homeowners are beginning to feel like the residents of the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, stuck in eternal winter, as in the Disney movie "Frozen."

If a foot of snow causes your roof to collapse or if extreme cold temperatures cause your pipes to freeze, will your insurance policy cover the damage? It depends on whether your policy provides coverage for named perils or open perils. Here are some key things to know as you review your policy.

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) standard Homeowners forms and the equivalent American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) forms list the weight of ice, sleet and snow as named perils--which means that damage from the weight of ice, snow or sleet to a building or property contained in a building is covered. Loss to awnings, fences, patios, pavements, swimming pool, foundations, retaining walls, piers, wharves or docks is excluded.


Source: www.propertycasualty360.com

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Will States Do If Court Kills Health Insurance Subsidies?

Five Republican state governors say they will not rescue a crucial part of Obamacare if it is struck down by the Supreme Court, underlining the prospect for a chaotic aftermath to a ruling that could force millions of Americans to pay much more for coverage or lose their health insurance.

The Supreme Court is due to hear opening arguments in the case known as King v. Burwell on March 4, marking the second major challenge to President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) after the justices ruled in 2012 against a claim that it was unconstitutional. The latest case tests the tax-credit subsidies at the core of Obamacare.


Source: www.insurancejournal.com

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting it right: Auto claim satisfaction continues to rise

Most people view an auto accident as a major headache that will cost them time and money. And while accidents are inconvenient, a new survey from the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) finds that the majority of customers are “very satisfied with the automobile insurance claims process.”

A survey of 1,000 likely voters nationwide asked people their thoughts about the auto body repair process following an accident. Nearly 73% of the voters surveyed had filed an insurance claim for a vehicle accident. More than half of the respondents, 55.8%, said they were either very or extremely satisfied with how their claims were handled, and 33.4% said they were somewhat satisfied with the claims process. This confirms the findings of a J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey released last fall, which found that overall customer satisfaction with the claims process had consistently improved over the last five years, rising from 842 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2010 to 857 in 2014.


Source: www.propertycasualty360.com

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The war on fun: 10 ways risk tolerances have changed since the 1970s

One of the latest bans on fun: no sledding.

Seriously, towns from Iowa to New Jersey are becoming afraid of the liability. It’s safer to erect a sign in the park than to let kids enjoy a snow day. But are we really surprised? So many things these town managers and lawyers did themselves when they were children are now deemed too risky.
Like letting kids walk home alone from the bus stop, which is at the end of the driveway.

"We are just encouraged to imagine the worst-case scenario," says Lenore Skenazy, author, lecturer and founder of the organization Free Range Kids. "We're living in this society that believes you can get to zero risk."

Yet few would argue for a total return to the good ol’ days. Revisit the 1970s and judge for yourself.


Source: www.propertycasualty.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Responding to the Anthem Cyber Attack

Anthem Inc. (Anthem), the nation's second-largest health insurer, revealed late on Wednesday, February 4 that it was the victim of a significant cyber-attack. According to Anthem, the attack exposed personal information of approximately 80 million individuals, including those insured by related Anthem companies. Anthem has reported that the exposed information includes member names, member health ID and Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses and employment information. The investigation of the massive data breach is ongoing, and media outlets have reported that class action suits have already been filed against Anthem in California and Alabama, claiming that lax Anthem security measures contributed to this incident.

Employers, multiemployer health plans, and others responsible for employee health benefit programs should take note that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and state data breach notification laws may hold them responsible for ensuring that certain notifications are made related to the incident. The nature of these obligations will depend on whether the benefits offered through Anthem are provided under an insurance policy, and so are considered to be "fully insured," or whether the Anthem benefits are provided under a "self-insured" arrangement, where Anthem does not insure the benefits, but instead administers the benefits. The most significant legal obligations on the part of employers, multiemployer health plans, and others responsible for employee health benefit programs will apply to Anthem benefits that are self-insured.

Where notifications must be made, the notifications may be due to former and present employees and their dependents, government agencies, and the media.  Where HIPAA applies, the notifications will need to be made "without unreasonable delay" and in any event no later than 60 days after the employer or other responsible party becomes aware that the breach has affected its own health plan participants. Where state data breach laws apply, notifications generally must be made in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay, subject to certain permitted delays. Some state laws impose outside timeframes as short as 30 days. Under the state laws, reporting obligations on the part of employers, multiemployer health plans, and others responsible for employee health benefit programs will generally turn on whether they, or Anthem, "own" the breached data. Since the state laws apply to breaches of data of their residents, regardless of the states in which the compromised entities and data owners are located, and since former employees and dependents could reside anywhere, a comprehensive state law analysis is required to determine the legal requirements arising from this data breach. Fortunately, depending on the circumstances, some (but not all) state data breach notification laws defer to HIPAA breach notification procedures, and do not require additional action where HIPAA applies and is followed.

As potentially affected parties wait for confirmation from Anthem as to whether any of their employees, former employees or their covered dependents has had their data compromised, we recommend that affected parties work with their legal counsel to determine what their responsibilities, if any, might be to respond to this incident. Among other things, for self-insured arrangements, HIPAA business associate agreements and other contracts with Anthem should be reviewed to assess how data breaches are addressed, whether data ownership has been addressed by contract, and whether indemnification provisions may apply. Consideration should also be given to promptly reaching out to Anthem to clarify the extent to which Anthem will be addressing notification responsibilities. Once parties are in a position to make required notifications, we also recommend that companies consult with legal counsel to review the notifications and the distribution plans for those notifications to assure that applicable legal requirements have been satisfied.
Please visit their dedicated website, www.anthemfacts.com, where members can access information such as frequent questions and answers. To view frequently asked questions, visit www.anthemfacts.com/faq. Anthem has also established a toll-free number that members can call with questions regarding the incident: 1-877-263-7995.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Tips to protect taxpayers from identity theft

Tax return identity theft has reached such epidemic proportions that it tops the list of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. With tax season well under way, here are tips the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim.


Source: http://blog.cinfin.com

Monday, February 9, 2015

Hidden dangers: 5 steps to keep your child's identity protected online

Most people are acutely aware of the need to protect their identities, but parents may not realize that their children face the same threats. Child identity theft is dangerous because a child’s credit history is basically a blank slate, and the probability of discovery is extremely low because most parents don’t monitor their child’s identity or credit history. In many cases, the theft may not be identified for years until the child applies for a student loan, takes out a credit card or makes a major purchase requiring a credit check.

Sometimes, parents are lucky and realize there might be a problem when they start getting calls or notices from bill collectors for unpaid balances on cars their child can’t possibly own or credit cards that haven’t been opened by anyone in the family. For children who don’t find out about the problem until they are adults, the results can be devastating.


source:  www.propertycasualty360.com

Monday, February 2, 2015

Healthcare.gov beefs up Security

Health insurance agents concerned over client privacy on the federal health exchange have some cause to celebrate this week after the White House announced a series of new measures to improve protection for consumer information on HealthCare.gov.

The website will no longer explicitly send details such as age, income, ZIP code, tobacco use and whether a woman is pregnant to a number of private companies that had embedded connections within the site.


source: www.ibamag.com