PIA Weekly Industry News
Oct. 30, 2013

Health policies canceled in latest hurdle for Obamacare
The Obamacare rollout is leading to the cancellation of hundreds of thousands of health insurance plans nationwide, contradicting President Barack Obama's repeated pledge that people who like their coverage can keep it. The notices started to arrive in recent weeks, compounding the political headaches for the White House from the troubled start of its health exchange, the federal website created to give millions of people access to new plans by Jan. 1.More

Success: PIA Washington/Alaska and IIABW's Annual Conference

An amazing amount of business was done between agents and company representatives at this year's PIA Washington/Alaska and IIABW Joint Conference. It was held Oct. 20-22 in Seattle.More

PIA National: New, less expensive MVR source

Do you run a lot of MVRs? As you know, it's expensive and often not so accurate. Help is on the way. PIA National has an exclusive partnership with Drivers History and an excellent new MVR program called DocIT. It's a Web-based, proprietary database of driver violation data that is available to agents at a fraction of the cost of a typical MVR. Accurate? Fraction of the cost? Now we're talking.More

Health insurance options aren't limited to government exchanges
The New York Times
With so much attention being paid to the troubled debut of the Obama administration's health insurance exchanges, another alternative has largely gone unnoticed: unless you live in Washington, D.C., or Vermont, you can also buy insurance outside the exchanges — by going directly to insurance brokers, agents or company websites.More

After insurance industry pow-wow, White House delays Obamacare's individual mandate
Chief executives of 12 major health insurers — including Aetna, Humana, WellPoint and Kaiser Permanente — trudged to the White House to "discuss ... ongoing implementation of the Affordable Care Act." The meeting was off the record, but we have a pretty good idea of what happened. Insurers were likely to urge the White House to delay the implementation of Obamacare's exchanges until the website, Healthcare.gov, gets fixed. And it appears they got their wish. The White House recently confirmed that it intends to delay the enforcement of the individual mandate by as much as six weeks.More

Analysis: Obamacare website woes

The federal government's health insurance exchange serves 36 states. First, it's not an exchange anymore. Neither are those run by the states. The official name from the administration is marketplaces. Okay, the marketplaces or the exchange is not running very well. And almost a month into the rollout of a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, the website is still a mess. That consumers cannot access the site is a known problem. More unknown is that those managing to get registered are finding their information is being sent to insurers. But that information isn't correct.More

Obamacare Exchanges: Consumers better off using agent

The Obama administration officially has changed the name of the exchanges where millions of people will now be making that required purchase of health insurance. They're now called marketplaces. Meanwhile, on the exchanges or marketplaces — whatever you want to call them — millions of people are struggling to access that insurance. The federal government's website is fraught with problems. PIA National suggests there is an alternative and one you — the member PIA agent — may want to exploit.More

Farm bill, crop insurance: The negotiation begins

The nation has been without a farm bill for too long. Part of the farm bill is crop insurance and what happens with crop insurance impacts farmers and farms, the insurance industry and independent PIA member agents who sell crop insurance. Now, 41 negotiators from the House and the Senate Agriculture Committees will hunker down and see if they can come up with a compromise that will give the nation a farm bill.More

Special report: Insurers, cyber risk

One of the industry's growing lines of insurance is cyber security insurance. The more cyberattacks we see, the more popular cyber insurance becomes. There was a roundtable on cyber risk at the recently finished annual meeting of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. The conclusion of the panel is that insurers have a big role to play in helping other industries and companies combat the problem.More

Prudential ends systemic designation fight

Prudential Financial is one institution insurers designated by the Financial Stability Oversight Council as a systemically important financial institution or SIFI. In other words, if Prudential collapses for any reason, it could cause major harm to the entire U.S. financial system.More

Questionable property claims on the rise

The National Insurance Crime Bureau released some alarming statistics. From the end of 2010 to the end of 2012, questionable personal property claims rose 19 percent. The numbers in 2011 were 13,394. It jumped to 19,958 the following year. The number of submissions is up, too. It rose an astounding 46 percent.More

Green building insurance industry 'booming'
Environmental Leader
The green building insurance market is competitive and growing, the Insurance Journal reports, with green construction industry driving this growth. By 2015, between 40 percent and 48 percent of new nonresidential construction, when measured by value, will be environmentally friendly. That equates to a $120 billion to 145 billion opportunity for the insurance market, the news service reports.More

Getting rid of Congress and the government shutdown
While the people of the U.S. are glad the stalemate between the Republicans and the Democrats and the president over the debt extension and money to run the federal government is over, they're still really angry with Congress and the administration.More

Federal government shutdown insurance impact
The federal government shutdown has impacts all over the place. One place it won't impact is flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency managed National Flood Insurance Program is allowed by law to continue activities because the NFIP is funded by sources.More

Industry income: A portrait of 2013's 1st half

A.M. Best said in the first six-months of 2013 property and casualty insurers posted their first underwriting profit since 2007. It gets better. Net income rose by 65 percent and pretax operating income jumped 40 percent when compared to the same time period in 2012. Fewer catastrophes and catastrophe losses, more stable investments and income from them, pricing boosts and more exposures in a recovering economy are the reason.More

The administration changes its mind: The individual mandate delay

Very recently, the federal government was shutdown partly due to a dispute over the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act; that, and Republicans in the House once again refusing to fund the law. Realizing the defunding push was going nowhere, cooler heads in the Republican party then asked the administration to at least delay the individual mandate for a year. Consumers — they insisted — were confused by the law and their responsibility to purchase insurance.More

Employees: Disengagement is costly

Dr. James O'Brien is a writer who covers business, technology, social media, marketing, the profession of writing and news. He recently did an analysis of a Gallup Poll on American workers titled "State of the American Workplace." O'Brien's conclusions are as fascinating as the poll's statistics are disturbing.More

Interview: Oak Street Funding's Rick Dennen

Rick Dennen is the founder, president and CEO of Oak Street Funding. Located in Indianapolis, Oak Street is a family of diversified financial services companies offering commission-based commercial financing exclusively for insurance professionals and third-party loan servicing for financial institutions. Oak Street Funding is a K-Klub Member of the PIA Oregon/Idaho, PIA Washington/ Alaska, PIA Montana and in the PIA Group states of Alaska, Arizona, California and New Mexico. Weekly Industry News recently talked with Dennen about Oak Street Funding and about the insurance industry.More

Wildfires: Space technology as a firefighting tool

If the word "plague" could be used to describe the plight of states and cities in the Western part of the United States, then the plethora of wildfires experienced in the last several years would qualify. Officials are desperately looking for solutions, more money, more firefighters and better ways to fight and contain fire.More

Where big data can't replace human insight
Insurance Networking
There are some reservations about the role of big data analytics in decision making in the insurance industry. In particular, relying on automation to make decisions for us. For low-level operational decisions, the application of technology to sift through big data and run it through algorithms makes perfect sense. Renewing a policy with updates and price adjustments or flagging an instance of potential fraud, for example, are straightforward processes that can be handled by the machines. However, high-level strategic decisions — such as expanding the number of claims adjustors for a certain region or opening new offices — may always require human guidance.More

Understanding and utilizing digital marketing
By Archita Datta Majumdar
Adobe's recent report on digital marketing is quite an eye-opener. For this generation of marketers who brag about their digital prowess, their fast-paced actions and responses, and their potential to harness the emerging technologies, the reality seems to fall short of their claims. There has been a major paradigm shift in the entire concept and nature of marketing, and most marketers do not feel adequately trained or equipped to handle the constant change and evolving technologies, which has led to rising insecurity.More

Hey you! Out of the pool — the gene pool that Is

Every year, a website known as the "Darwin Awards" hands out awards named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution. The Darwin Awards commemorate those who — in the opinion of the website creators — improve the human gene pool by removing themselves from it. It is amazing how creatively stupid some people can be. Here are some of the 2013 awards.More

Around the PIA Western Alliance states