Goals, Mottos and Everything Good for 2015

We promised you in our last publication that we would share some of the LMA goals we’ve made for making the state of Florida THE place to live and grow ongoing and new businesses in 2015. We ARE excited about 2015 and are sharing a few goals for this year.  In addition, we like to reflect on how we might do things a little better than we did in the prior year and have decided that one of our mottos for 2015 is, “As we plan our work and work our plan, we will make every effort to ward off the “I’ll get to that later” philosophy.”  Yes, we must prioritize the MANY things we do within an hour, a day, a week, etc., but we can’t leave those important things aside for a more convenient time and then the worst happens…nothing. In looking for some words of wisdom to call upon, we saw this from Thomas Guthrie, D.D. (12 July 1803 – 24 February 1873), a Scottish clergy whose theological writings have been considered standards for faith, doctrine, worship and spirituality, and philanthropist, and we loved his advice:

“Do it now. It is not safe to leave a generous feeling to the cooling influences of the world.”

We will try very hard to not let those important things cool as the world demands our attention in other areas.  And with that, let’s get back to sharing to a few of our biz goals for 2015.  We know you’ll want to join in the fight.

1)    Reverse the trend in water claims so that consumers aren’t duped into thinking that if they sign a document, all their water loss cares will go away. Our regulators, and all in the industry, must recognize that an assignment of benefits isn’t supposed to be used as an assignment of “bribery” – insurer bribery and consumer bribery;

2)  Increase the likelihood that Citizens will shrink by implementing creative ideas like, using all of our State’s assets to make it happen, i.e., the CAT fund,  reinsurer’s, and ingenuity to get the “tier 2” policies into the private market;

3)   Carve out time in our days to “talk” (remember how we used to do that), so that emails are put aside a bit and real communication transpires. It’s amazing what can happen when we talk to each other with our voices.  You already know that we at LMA have our phone lines and brains tuned into you for ideas and opportunities; and lastly,

4)   Ramp up policyholders’ understanding of what insurance is/does and how it should be used – not as a way to keep repairs on a home up-to-date or to replace a roof that needs replacing anyway!

Now, let’s hear from you…what else would you like to see happen this year.  TALK to us, we are listening!

Cybercrimes – How Do We Protect Ourselves?

If there is a hotter topic in the business community than cybercrime, we sure don’t know what it is. It is impacting every business, as well as, our personal lives. We see U.S. officials struggling on how to intervene as banks, insurers, retailers, casinos, power companies, manufacturers, and others have been targeted by U.S. and foreign-based hackers. Private-sector companies doing business in the U.S. have few clear options for striking back on their own and must protect themselves the best way they can.  We are certainly interested in what the insurance markets are doing to protect themselves and their insureds from these crimes. Digging in and doing research is one of the services we love to provide for our readers and so we did.  We found lots of info but with limited space in our newsletter, we will start by reminding you that Gov. Scott signed the Florida Information Protection Act of 2014 (“FIPA”) into law effective July 1, 2014. The FIPA expands the obligations of businesses and government entities that maintain data to safeguard and provide notice of breaches of such information. As a result, Florida now has one of, if not the most strict breach notification statutes in the country.  The Act repealed § 817.5681, Florida Statutes, the former breach notification statute, and created § 501.171, F.S., the Consumer Protection statute. While some of the language of § 817.5681 remains in the new law, FIPA makes significant changes.  See LINK for the new § 501.171 statutory language. We do want to bring a couple of areas to your attention here:

1.FIPA expands the definition of “personal information” to include a person’s first name or first initial and last name in combination with such person’s health insurance information, medical information or financial account information, and now also includes a person’s online account credentials.

  1. Thirty (30) day notice required by covered entities to consumers after discovery of a breach or the belief that a breach occurred.
  2. In the event of a breach affecting 500 or more Florida residents, covered entities must provide notice to the Florida Department of Legal Affairs within thirty (30) days of the discovery of a breach or the belief that a breach occurred.

4.Covered entities must provide a copy of their breach policies if requested by the Department of Legal Affair.

  1. Entities that maintain, store, or process personal information on behalf of a covered entity or governmental entity must notify a covered entity of a breach of security no later than ten (10) days after discovering a breach or a suspected breach.
  2. Violations of FIPA will be treated as unfair or deceptive trade practices.
  3. In addition to the remedies provided under the Florida Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practice Act, a covered entity that fails to provide notice of a breach is liable for a civil penalty for each breach of up to $1,000 per day for the first 30 days, and $50,000 for each subsequent 30-day period for up to 180 days.

One of the recommendations within the FIPA is to review liability insurance policies to determine what coverage is available in the event of a breach. We know that some insurers are revising their CGL policies to exclude coverage for data breaches; however, separate cyber liability policies are available in the marketplace.  We checked with the folks at Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to see what is available in the Florida marketplace.  We found, as an example, an Insurance Services Office (ISO) form that has been filed and approved and is being offered as a “computer attack and network security liability” policy entitled Cybercrime Coverage.  See LINK for this specific policy form approved for use effective June 30, 2014. As with all things that impact us professionally and personally, we don’t need to panic, but we sure need to be aware, informed and very alert.  If you have any good information regarding this subject that we can share with our readers, please give us a call and let’s address this problem together.

Citizens Depopulation Workgroup to Hold Inaugural Meeting Tuesday

Tomorrow (Tuesday,1/13/15) from 10:00 AM-2:00 PM in Jacksonville the Citizens Depopulation Workgroup will hold its first ever meeting to set its course and begin work. The workgroup’s mission is to identify, and assist in the implementation of, specific processes or procedures that increase policyholder satisfaction and participation rate in the depopulation process while conforming to regulatory and statutory requirements. For those of you wishing to attend this public meeting the workgroup will gather at Citizens’ office located at 8301 Cypress Plaza Drive, Suite 108, Manatee Conference Room in Jacksonville, Florida. A copy of the meeting agenda and related materials can be viewed or printed by clicking HERE.

Got Health Insurance? Florida Health Choices is the Answer for Many Floridians

About The Author: Rose Naff currently serves as CEO of Florida Health Choices, Inc. and is building Florida’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Launched in 2014, the Marketplace continues to expand the shopping options and line of services available to individuals, employers, association, agents and insurers.  Go to www.myfloridachoices.org to learn more.

Florida Health Choices is now enrolling Floridians in individual health insurance plans during the open enrollment period that ends February 15.  Most Floridians don’t qualify for federally subsidized health insurance but are still interested in avoiding the health care tax penalty.  The place for them to shop is located at www.myfloridachoices.org.

Florida Health Choices was created by the State of Florida to establish a competitive market for purchasing health insurance and health services.  The resulting Health Insurance Marketplace has been operating since March but recently added comprehensive health insurance plans to its ever-expanding array of shopping options through a direct-to-consumer web portal.  The new plans became available online December 29 and a promotional campaign began on January 5.

Other services offered by Florida Health Choices include private exchanges for employers, associations, agents and insurers. Online benefit exchanges are expected to rapidly replace traditional purchasing methods for both employers and individuals. This trend is fueled by advances in technology and recent standardization of product rules. It is estimated that 40 million Americans will select their benefit plan utilizing a private exchange by the year 2018. Another 32 million are expected to enroll through the public exchanges establish under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Florida Health Choices is the Health Insurance Marketplace registered with the State of Florida.

DFS Releases the 2014 Workers’ Compensation Annual Report

“Florida’s workers’ compensation market is competitive, well capitalized, and robust, with lower amounts of loss” is a quote from the DFS Workers’ Comp Annual Report that was provided in December 2014 to the Florida Legislature by the Office of Insurance Regulation. The report also touted that Florida holds the distinction of being one of the most competitive workers’ comp markets in the country, having six of the market’s 10 largest writers based in Florida and a private market that writes 95% of workers’ compensation in the state.  Much of the good news continues to be a result of the 2003 workers’ compensation reforms, as well as, an overall rate reduction of 5.2% effective in January 2015.  This good news in Florida’s workers’ compensation arena will hopefully continue even as the costs for drugs, hospital inpatient, hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical center services continue to be higher in Florida than the national average.  And we are all still waiting to see the impact of several pending court cases that have the potential to negatively affect workers’ compensation rates in the future. We’ll keep our eyes on those cases and let you know as they reach decisions. If you are interested in reading the annual report click HERE.

OIR provided an “Update on Florida’s Insurance Market” to the Senate Banking & Insurance Committee

It was a packed house last Tuesday (1/6/15) when OIR presented its insurance market update to the Senators on the Banking & Insurance Committee.  It was also an opportunity for introductions of new members on the Committee and a reintroduction of those who have served before, and some for multiple years.  We appreciate the institutional knowledge of returning members and the fresh, new thoughts and opinions of the first-timers.

The update gave us some stats on the property, automobile and workers’ compensation market, as well as, general information on all three markets.  As we all know, our property market is doing well and we are seeing more companies coming to the state each year.  An example of that growth is the re-domestication of one of the oldest and largest title insurance companies in the country, Old Republic National Title out of Minnesota, to Florida. The company, which was first licensed to write in Florida in 1941, shows Florida as its number one market, with almost 14% of its two million policies written here. Our property market, in a policy in force ranking shows, the top 25 property writers ranging from Citizens at 912,731 to Southern Fidelity at 70, 146 as of 9/23/14.  In the auto market, most of the information provided addressed PIP coverage specifically, providing stats that said “the average medical cost paid through PIP claims has dropped 14 percent statewide from 2011 to the first three quarters of 2014, with the average payment down 28.7 percent in South Florida in the same time.” This could mean a drop in fraud for those “no-fault” claims and we look forward to that good trend.  We also heard that overall PIP claims/losses are trending downward and consumers are benefiting because rates are either going down or staying flat. Prior to the passage of HB 119, the average premium for PIP coverage on one automobile was approximately $180 a year with a downward trend to approximately $125 a year.  We know as you do that this trend speaks very well of the hard work of our legislature, you and our team.  For more information on the state of PIP insurance in Florida, you may want to read the results from a data call conducted by the OIR recently on HB 119.  See this LINK for the press release and access to the Report on Review of the Data Call Pursuant to House Bill 119-Motor Vehicle Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance. In addition to the good news on property and auto insurance, the OIR reported that workers’ compensation market is thriving and as reported above, rates are good.  In the health insurance arena, we heard that premiums for individual major medical plans that are compliant with the federal PPACA requirements will increase at an average of 13.2% and as you know, the OIR does not have rate approval authority of these plans.  Yes, we continue to struggle with the health insurance costs, but are encouraged that Florida health market is one of the “healthiest” in the country. If you are interested in mining further into more stats provided by the OIR, let us know and we’ll direct you to the resources.

DFS’s Revisions to Adjuster Rules Became Effective on January 5

After approximately three years of wrangling with the public adjuster industry and other interested parties, in addition to filings, re-filings, withdrawals, workshops and hearings the Department of Financial Services, Division of Agent & Agency Services finally adopted proposed changes to rules that govern the conduct of public adjusters and public adjuster apprentices, and prescribe ethical standards for all types of licensed adjusters. The revised rules became legally effective on January 5, 2015, and are somewhat leaner than past rules addressing the same issues. To read or print revised rule 69B-220.051 governing the conduct of public adjusters and public adjuster apprentices click HERE. To read or print revised rule 69B-220.201 prescribing ethical standards for all types of licensed adjusters click HERE. Please contact our office if you have any questions about how to interpret these rules and we will be happy to provide assistance.

Bidding for Good

If you’re looking for a special gift or trip, check out Bidding for Good. It’s a silent auction site with some wonderful, unique gifts that also benefit charitable organizations.

LMA is proud to serve on the Ritchie Hockey Scholarship Foundation which has a silent auction page on Bidding for Good. Some of the items included range from a signed BB King guitar, to gold at St. Andrews, signed hockey memorabilia, jerseys, and more!

Check out the link above, spend a little money, and help out a worthy cause!

Don’t Forget to Get Your Flu Shots

You know that we consider you “family” and when we recently read an article that stated hospitalization for influenza is already twice of that last year, we knew we had to share this with you right now.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported last week that influenza officially qualified as an epidemic on the week ending December 20, week 51 of 2014, because the proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza increased to the epidemic threshold of 6.8%. In terms of influenza-associated hospitalizations, one of the specific viruses of 2014-2015 (This Flu Season) is more severe than its predecessor of 2012-2013. We could give you lots more stats, and you can certainly read to your heart’s content (or concern), on the CDC website, however, we just want you to be concerned enough not put off this important part of your health and the health of your family.

So as we close our first newsletter publication of 2015, we leave you with the most important topic of today:  GET YOUR FLU SHOT…PLEASE! We have lots of good work to do together in 2015 and we all need to be super healthy.

Our best to you…Lisa and the Team