Contributions should be sent to email@example.com
There is a wonderful guide that’s been published by Consumer Affairs in connection with highlighting the importance of Life Insurance for Women. The life insurance Guide compares and contrasts different life insurance options, and is available to access by anyone at anytime.
Technology Is Ultimate Savior of Insurance Industry: Opinion
March 13, 2017 by Lionel Laurent
Insurance companies are running out of ideas.
They’ve bolstered their balance sheets since the financial crisis but have few racy growth prospects in a world of low interest rates, pricing pressure and regulatory hassles. Big mergers may be the most tempting route to scale and cost-cutting opportunities—think Standard Life-Aberdeen or NN Group-Delta Lloyd—but they’re often difficult to execute. They also don’t answer fundamental threats to the business model, including the arrival of new tech-savvy competitors.
Insurance tech investments are still tiny overall—companies on average spend just 0.2 percent of annual premiums on digital initiatives, according to a 2015 Accenture survey—but it will rise, says Bloomberg Intelligence’s Charles Graham. Digital spending was one reason British insurer Aviva Plc reported an increase in annual expenses to 3.4 billion pounds ($4.1 billion) from 3 billion pounds in 2016.
Sure, the Aviva shareholders were clearly more excited last week about dividends and paying down debt. Yet the industry as a whole is waking up to the need for new ideas to cut costs and defend market share. Revenues have sagged in the last decade as low interest rates weighed on investments and payout guarantees to policyholders got tougher.
Tech investments can run from the mundane, such as crunching databases together and online selling without lots of form-filling, to the more “Black Mirror”-style world of wearable devices that track aches and pains and help curb claims. Tech disruption has some perils for insurers: Fewer claims would drag down premiums and lead to more cost cuts. But the benefits should outweigh the losses.
Allianz SE expects digitization will help it generate 1 billion euros of yearly productivity gains in its current three-year plan. Even though its earnings per share growth will be helped by a $3.2 billion share buyback, the company knows it has to dig out more savings over the long term. The industry as a whole would do better by automating back-office functions, says McKinsey.
The hard part is getting shareholders to wait patiently for any extra spending to bear cost-cutting fruit. Many would prefer more immediate and radical measures, such as deals. Italy’s Assicurazioni Generali SpA said in 2015 it would reinvest 1.25 billion euros in technology and data analytics through 2018. This year, after an abortive merger tilt by Intesa Sanpaolo SpA, it’s under pressure to sell assets or work harder to convince shareholders it can deliver returns alone.
But while a big merger can seem a straightforward way to strip out cost and expand, it brings the risk of a double layer of legacy operations without any new way of doing business. And, as Allianz shows, tech investment can pay off. Making underwriting and claims handling more automated will let insurers cut staff numbers, one of their biggest costs.
Industry share prices are enjoying short-term bumps from buybacks, mergers and the prospect of U.S. rate hikes. But for insurers, the bigger rewards will come from machines, not M&A bankers.
(http://www.carriermanagement.com/news/2017/03/13/165178.htm) Copyright 2017 Bloomberg — This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.
Just out from I.I.I.!
J.D. Power Study Surveyed Policyholders Who Filed a Claim
NEW YORK, March 13, 2017—About one of every 15 U.S. homeowners insurance policyholders files a claim each year and these claimants are now giving insurers their highest ever satisfaction ratings, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
The J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study gives U.S. home insurers a record score of 859 (on a 1,000-point scale). The industry’s cumulative score stood at 846 in 2016. Five factors are considered when assessing policyholder satisfaction: settlement; first notice of loss; estimation process; service interaction; and repair process.
“Insurers are the nation’s economic first responders and, as such, are continually working to improve how they help Americans recover their lives and businesses in the wake of tragedy and catastrophe,” said Sean Kevelighan, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “This year’s J.D. Power and Associates survey results are a clear reflection that the industry’s hard work and dedication are delivering the intended results.”
These all-time high claims satisfaction scores are even more remarkable given that incurred losses and loss-adjustment expenses for U.S. property/casualty (P/C) insurers grew by 7.6 percent year-over-year when comparing the first nine months of 2016 to the first nine months of 2015, according to an analysis developed by Dr. Steven Weisbart, the I.I.I.’s chief economist.
Incurred losses reflect the dollar amount of a home insurer’s claim payout whereas a loss adjustment expense is the sum an insurer pays for investigating and settling claims, including the cost of defending a lawsuit in court.
Moreover, Dr. Weisbart noted, catastrophe-related claims through the first nine months of 2016 were already at their highest level since 2012—the year of Superstorm Sandy—and the fourth quarter of 2016 pushed those numbers even higher after insured claim payouts from October 2016’s Hurricane Matthew.
The federal government agreed that 2016 was a volatile, and costly one, estimating 15 separate weather and climate events last year caused more than $1 billion in economic losses, not all of them insured, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“Property and casualty insurers have redoubled their efforts to improve the settlement process and fine-tune their customer interactions, efforts that have been clearly recognized and appreciated by homeowners who experienced significant losses this past year,” J.D. Power said.
The study also noted opportunities for improvement, most notably in water-related and other complex claims that take a long time to settle and that cause significant lifestyle disruption. J.D. Power noted, “Insurers that manage to get the settlement process and customer interaction equation right in these types of disruptive and often catastrophic scenarios are those that raise the bar for the industry.”
The study is based on more than 6,600 responses from homeowner’s insurance customers, and was fielded between January and November 2016.
The I.I.I. is a nonprofit, communications organization supported by the insurance industry.
Insurance Information Institute, 110 William Street, New York, NY 10038; (212) 346-5500; www.iii.org
“…Like most states, Pennsylvania counts heavily on the insurance industry to police itself….”
How far should self-policing go? In Philadelphia, Mark Fazlollah (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Erin Arvedlund (email@example.com), Staff Writers for Phillynews.com, report on a sad annuities case issue with How Annuities Can Drain Seniors’ Savings. The final line is very telling and troubling.
“Sales of the lightly regulated, fixed-index insurance product can bring high commissions for agents and opaque fees that confuse consumers. Pennsylvania insurance regulators have had the highest complaint caseloads in the country.”
(As reported on March 5, 2017, see credit and links below) — During the years that Montgomery County insurance agent Richard Piccinini Jr. was looting the savings of two sisters in their mid-eighties, he portrayed himself as only looking out for their interests, always investing their $500,000 retirement nest egg wisely.
[Mary Nave, who died in January at age 87, and Philomena Nave, sisters, were victims of annuities salesman Richard Piccinini Jr., who stole nearly $200,000 from their $500,000 retirement savings by moving them through dozens of complicated, commission-rich insurance contracts.]
Piccinini, 44, of Bryn Mawr, would sit with sisters Mary and Philomena Nave in their modest three-bedroom West Norriton rancher and explain why he was regularly moving them in and out of dozens of complicated, high-commission, long-term insurance contracts. He never mentioned that his churning would cost the sisters hundreds of thousands of dollars in early-surrender penalties and earn him nearly $200,000 in commissions.
The investments that Piccinini sold Philomena Nave, 85, and her sister Mary, 87, were fixed index annuities, a booming, lightly regulated insurance product known for lucrative commissions and opaque fees.
Like most states, Pennsylvania counts heavily on the insurance industry to police itself. It requires companies to make certain that buyers like the Nave sisters have enough cash flow to live on after they lock their savings into long-term index annuities.
However, during the four years Piccinini switched the sisters from one high-fee annuity contract to the next, seven insurance companies whose products he sold to the sisters failed to sound the alarm. Finally, an eighth company, Americo, in February 2011 barred Piccinini from selling its annuities and alerted overburdened state investigators to the suspicious, frequent sales.
It took a year and a half before a state insurance investigator confronted Piccinini, who in August 2012 admitted his misconduct. Even so, the state didn’t pull his insurance license until March 2013. Meanwhile, he had continued to sell index annuities from other companies to the Naves. In January 2014, the Attorney General’s Office opened a criminal case.
State prosecutor Eric Schoenberg pursued felony theft, forgery and insurance fraud charges against Piccinini. “I can’t conceive of the evil mindset that would allow somebody to think, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and steal their money,’” the prosecutor said in an interview. “They scrimped and saved their whole lives to have a half million dollars.”
In 2015, the prosecutor brought felony fraud and theft charges against Piccinini. Facing an airtight case, he pleaded guilty last year in exchange for paying back $199,720 to the sisters and serving 11 months of house arrest.
The Attorney General’s initial investigator in the case, John McDermott, said he believes there were other Piccinini victims, but the state was too overburdened to pursue all the leads.
Staffers at the Pennsylvania Insurance Department who look into consumer complaints have been burdened with the highest annual caseloads in the nation. On average, each had 655 complaints in 2014, more than three times the national average, according to an Inquirer analysis. (Their New Jersey counterparts had a caseload of 163.)
[Though sales of this investment product are booming, regulation is lax and experts urge caution, especially by the elderly.]
Over the past decade, the Pennsylvania insurance department has cut its staff by about half, down to 225 employees. Reporters tried to ask Commissioner Teresa Miller about staff reductions and policy changes, but she declined numerous requests for comment.
Piccinini’s attorney, Jeffrey M. Miller, said his client was “very embarrassed” about the case and would make no public comment. Miller said prosecutors had given him a list of possible victims and wanted to ask Piccinini about problematic sales. Miller said he quickly worked out a plea deal and the issue of other victims was dropped.
The insurance department declined to discuss the investigation.
Philomena Nave said she still bears scars from the scam. “I feel like I have ‘sucker’ written on my forehead,” she said.
Her wish: “Something has to be done about those insurance agents.”
From Philly.com, The Inquirer Daily News. Please visit http://www.philly.com/philly/business/How_Annuities_Can_Drain_Seniors_Savings.html for the original story with photos.
Some interesting news from the NY-DFS …
From CU Insight
ALEXANDRIA, VA (February 10, 2017) — The New York State Department of Financial Services today took possession of Melrose Credit Union, located in Briarwood, New York, and appointed the National Credit Union Administration as conservator.
Deposits at Melrose Credit Union remain protected by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund. Administered by NCUA, the Share Insurance Fund insures individual accounts at Melrose Credit Union up to $250,000, and a member’s interest in all joint accounts combined is insured up to $250,000. The Share Insurance Fund also separately protects IRA and KEOGH retirement accounts up to $250,000. The Share Insurance Fund has the backing of the full faith and credit of the United States.
The New York State Department of Financial Services placed Melrose Credit Union into conservatorship because of unsafe and unsound practices at the credit union. While continuing normal member services, NCUA will work to resolve issues affecting the credit union’s operations. Members can continue to conduct normal financial transactions, deposit and access funds, make loan payments and use shares.
Melrose Credit Union is a federally insured, state-chartered credit union with 23,462 members and assets of $1.78 billion, according to the credit union’s most recent Call Report. Melrose Credit Union serves eligible members subject to the provisions of its bylaws, which could include any person upon approval for membership and upon subscribing for a minimum of $25 of shares and paying for the same in whole, together with an entrance fee not to exceed $1.
Members who have questions about the conservatorship may review the Melrose Credit Union frequently asked questions document attached to this release and available online here .
NCUA is the independent federal agency created by the U.S. Congress to regulate, charter and supervise federal credit unions. With the backing of the full faith and credit of the United States, NCUA operates and manages the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund, insuring the deposits of nearly 105 million account holders in all federal credit unions and the overwhelming majority of state-chartered credit unions. At MyCreditUnion.gov and Pocket Cents, NCUA also educates the public on consumer protection and financial literacy issues.
firstname.lastname@example.org Ben C. Hardaway
TRENTON, February 05, 2017—For the fifth consecutive year, New Jersey motorists paid the highest car insurance premiums in the nation, according to a new report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
New Jersey drivers forked over an average of $1,263 per car in 2014, the most recent year studied. That’s $106 more than they paid in 2011. The national average was $866, a $77 increase from 2011, the report said.
New Jersey’s crowded and relatively urban landscape and its high cost of living, have always made auto insurance premiums pricey.
“We live in an urban area with more cars and more accidents,” said Marshall McKnight, spokesman for the state Department of Banking and Insurance. “New Jersey drivers tend to drive more expensive cars, so if a car is totaled, it is going to be more expensive to replace.”
New Jersey drivers once again shelled out the most in the nation for auto insurance, according to an annual industry report
Marc Pfeiffer, the assistant director at the Bloustein Local Government Research Center at Rutgers University, agreed: blame the state’s density.
“We have more people per square mile and a limited number of roads, so you will have more car accidents,” said Pfeiffer, the former head of the state Division of Local Government Services.
The health insurance component of an auto insurance policy in New Jersey, known as “personal injury protection offers one of the richest health care plans in the country,” McKnight added. Unless a policy holder elects for less, an injured driver is covered for $250,000 in claims, he said.
Some 61.5 percent of Jersey drivers receive this rich benefit, he added.
New Jersey has always been a notoriously expensive state — home to the nation’s highest property taxes. Its per-pupil costs for public education are among the highest, too.
But it wasn’t that long ago when New Jerseyans got a break on car insurance rates thanks to regulatory changes made in 2003 during Gov. Jim McGreevey’s term. Among the changes, the state phased-out the requirement that insurance companies “must take all comers” regardless of risk, and committed to expediting requests for rate increases.
Competition grew. There are 82 companies writing policies in the state, up from 63 since the beginning of Gov. Chris Christie‘s first term in 2010, McKnight said.
New Jersey dropped to the second and third place for the highest insurance rates in the country. Rates went from $1,138 in 1998 to $1,081 in 2008, according to previous association reports.
“Premiums did go down a little bit. Driving that was competition,” McKnight said. Competition is still keeping premiums in check, he added.
New Jersey has topped the list for the highest premiums from 2010 through 2014, according to the the association’s latest report, which covers all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The report showed that Michigan had the second highest average auto insurance, at $1,227, followed by New York at $1,205. Pennsylvania’s rates averaged $857, while Delaware’s were $1,125.
The cheapest auto insurance in the nation was in Iowa, where the rates averaged $585, according to the report.
New Jersey’s $1,263 average auto insurance bill, which includes liability, collision and comprehensive coverage, was has risen steadily, according the report. Since 2010, it was:
- $1,255 in 2013
- $1,220 in 2012
- $1,186 in 2011
- $1,157 in 2010
The report notes that New Jersey’s numbers are difficult to compare because the insurance industry considers this a mostly urban state.
Here’s one bright spot for Garden State drivers, however, according to the report. Insurance companies here routinely cut dividend checks to their policy holders.
“Historically, New Jersey has paid two to four times the national average in dividends to policyholders, and, at times, this has been as high as six times the national average, which would reduce the average expenditure and combined average premium for New Jersey consumers if dividends were included in premium,” according to the report.
The state offers an auto insurance shopping tool at http://www.state.nj.us/dobi/autoplanner.htm
New Post-Inauguration Survey Suggests Despite Overall Feelings of Anxiety, Americans are Cautiously Hopeful for the Future
By: Liz Bagot (email@example.com)
According to a flash poll conducted by Pollfish—a real-time mobile survey platform for consumer insights—despite overall feelings of anxiety and nervousness, many Americans think that the economic situation won’t change much under Trump.
Interesting findings from the survey include:
1. The Predominating Mood is Cautious Hopefulness—Asked which adjectives best describe their post-Inauguration mood, 29% of Americans said nervous/anxious, 29% said hopeful, and 18% said indifferent. Other moods included confident (16%), sad (15%), angry (12%), and euphoric (4%).
2. Almost Half of Americans Think the Economy Will Improve Under Trump—According to the Pollfish survey, 48% of Americans think the U.S. economy will get better under President Trump, compared to 36% who think it will fare worse and 16% who believe it will remain unchanged from Obama’s presidency.
3. One in Three Americans Feels Less Comfortable Making a Major Purchase Under Trump—Only 14% of Americans feel more comfortable buying expensive items such as a house or car in the next year, while 56% of Americans feel neither more nor less comfortable. 30% of Americans feel less comfortable making a big purchase.
4. Most Americans Aren’t Convinced by Trump’s Anti-Big Pharma Stance—Despite Trump’s promises to reduce drug prices, 44% of Americans think prices will increase in the next few years. Only 26% of Americans think prices will decrease, while 30% believe they will remain unchanged from their current level.
5. The Future of the Press Doesn’t Look Bright—American opinions are divided over the future of the press under Trump. Some 42% of Americans think the press will become less free, compared to 37% who think it will not be affected and 21% who think it will become more free.
Pollfish’s mobile survey polled 1,016 Americans in real time immediately after the Inauguration on January 20. Thanks to Pollfish’s proprietary database of U.S. mobile users—the largest of its kind—it was conducted much faster than phone-based or online survey platforms.
As seen on and released by Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
For immediate release — New York Press Office: (212) 346-5500; firstname.lastname@example.org
I.I.I. Encourages Motorcycle Enthusiasts To Get Revved Up With The Proper Insurance Coverage
Bikers To Check Out New Rides And Gear At New York Motorcycle Show, December 9 –11
NEW YORK, December 8, 2016 — While surveying the motorcycles on display at the New York Motorcycle Show this weekend, keep in mind that motorcyclists who travel on public roads or highways need an insurance policy that meets their state’s requirements as well as their individual needs, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
“Motorcycle insurance coverage can be purchased as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a personal automobile policy,” said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations, at the I.I.I.
Insurers will be among the exhibitors at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, to be held between Friday, December 9, and Sunday, December 11, 2016, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street, New York City.
As with cars, some insurance coverages are required for motorcyclists whereas others are optional.
- Required coverages: Most states require motorcyclists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, to cover bodily injury and property damage costs caused to other people involved in an accident.
In addition, uninsured/underinsured (UI/UIM) motorist coverage is recommended, or even required, in many states as part of a motorcyclist’s insurance policy to cover expenses for damage caused by another driver who does not have insurance or whose insurance is inadequate.
The mandatory minimum liability limits for these coverages in states where they are required for motorcyclists are generally similar to those required for automobiles.
- Optional coverages:
a) Collision—covers damage resulting from a collision with another vehicle, an object or as a result of flipping over.
b) Comprehensive—covers damage caused by events such as fire, flood, falling objects, theft or vandalism.
c) First-party medical coverage—covers your own medical expenses if they were incurred in an accident while operating your motorcycle.
d) Emergency road service—covers towing and roadside assistance costs.
e) Accessories and customization—covers the repair or replacement of accessories, like helmets and safety jackets, and customized equipment added to the motorcycle after purchase, such as exhaust pipes, saddle bags, and seats.
Beyond the types and amount of coverage purchased, several other factors will also affect how much you pay for motorcycle insurance, including:
- Your age and driving record
- Where you live
- The model, make and horsepower of your motorcycle
- Where you store and drive your motorcycle
Diane Alsop dodged a scare two years ago when an anomaly in her mammogram was determined to not be breast cancer.
But that anomaly, diagnosed as atypical hyperplasia, a precancerous condition, wouldn’t have been detected without a mammogram. And Alsop, with no health insurance, would not have received that potentially life-saving test without a fund through the Women’s Health Center at Iredell Memorial Hospital.
The Iredell Mammography Fund was established to provide mammograms to women who need financial assistance with the services.
“They may have no insurance at all, or perhaps a deductible that is so high it still creates a financial hardship for them,” said Lois Beckett, mammography supervisor for IMH.
The funds are generated locally and stay local, used only for services rendered, Beckett said. Money comes from donations and fundraisers.
Beckett said she hears the relief in women’s voices when they learn about the program.
That relief is something Alsop, who lives in Mooresville, experienced in 2014. A patient at the HealthReach Clinic in Mooresville, Alsop learned of the program. It had been six years since she’d had a mammogram. She said she knew she needed the test, but without insurance, she simply couldn’t afford it.
The mammography fund, she said, provided that reassurance that she could get tested.
She went to get her mammogram and, at first, got the all clear. A second look revealed the anomaly and that led to an ultrasound.
She said the spots were scattered and difficult to pick up, even with the ultrasound. A surgical biopsy, the last resort, she said, led to the diagnosis of atypical hyperplasia.
“I did not have cancer, but it was precancerous and put me at a higher risk,” she said.
Alsop said she ultimately underwent outpatient surgery and is now doing fine. But without the availability of that mammogram, the outcome might have been different.
She said the entire process at Iredell Memorial Hospital was positive, and praised everyone involved in her treatment.
“Lois Beckett and all of her staff were very good, very caring,” she said. “I cannot say enough good things about them.”
Alsop also has good words for those who donate to the mammography fund.
“I am very grateful to them. I am humbled by all of the people who want to donate. I want them to know it goes to people that really need help and that they are possibly saving a life,” she said.
For more information about the fund, contact Beckett at 704-878-4551 or Lois.Beckett@iredellhealth.org.
By Shayla Price
Smart devices make our lives safer. Insurers understand that smart devices also mean smarter insurance assessments. And the results are changing the industry.
The Internet of Things (IoT)—physical devices that collect user information from devices—send real-time data to insurers. IoT allows insurers to track client behavior.
Many insurance companies have taken advantage of IoT. Insurers have created usage-based insurance (UBI) packages that offer incentives to clients whose devices reflect a healthy or safe lifestyle.
According to Business Insider, “17 million people have tried UBI auto insurance.”
The spread of UBI is only limited by the development of technology. Here are three insurance sectors leading the way to harness the power of IoT:
Auto insurers lead the pack when it comes to UBI. An independent LexisNexis study found that while “UBI currently accounts for just two percent of US personal lines auto insurance policies, [it’s] projected to capture 20 to 30 percent of this market.”
Moreover, Business Insider estimates that by 2020 over 50 million US drivers will have tried UBI insurance. Industry giants like Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm are using this technology.
They are providing drivers with On Board Diagnostic (OBD-II) dongles to collect driving data. An estimated 155 million cars on the road in North America are already compatible with this technology.
How can auto insurers take advantage of this growing trend?
Acquire smart dongles. They are the key to acquiring driving data. The dongles easily plug into ports under a vehicle’s steering wheel.
Adopt a system for analyzing real time driving data. Several software solutions are readily available for insurers, including from reputable tech companies like Cisco and Panasonic.
The IoT specialists at Allerin cite their cost-effectiveness, insisting onsite data “can improve [the] ability to make decisions quickly by doing the analyzing where the data is created.”
IoT is the new frontier for automobile insurers to provide exceptional service.
The rise of the smart home is here. As homes become increasingly connected, so do opportunities for collecting client data.
This is good news for home insurers like American Family Insurance that teamed up with home security company Ring. The insurer offers discounts for clients who buy a doorbell security device and reimburses device owners their deductible if their homes are burglarized.
But security isn’t the only arena where smart home devices excel. Connected devices can also provide data to insurance companies regarding risk. This information equips insurers to make better assessments.
Some skeptics question whether clients are willing to give more personal information to insurers. A study by Accenture notes that 78% of clients would share this personal information if offered benefits, like lower premiums and quicker claim settlements.
UBI is quickly becoming an asset for home insurers.
IoT isn’t just for vehicles and homes. Connected devices like Fitbit, Jawbone and Vessyl now monitor our health. These companies use scientific data to help people optimize their well-being. Healthcare insurers thrive on healthy clients by avoiding payouts.
Employers benefit from corporate health insurance plans. According to Forbes, “Fitbit’s sales to employers are now one of the fastest growing parts of its business.”
The Forbes article also notes that Cigna teamed up with BodyMedia to distribute armband monitors to thousands of employees. The program resulted in improved health for employees.
IoT is a win-win situation for insurers and employees.
Insurance and IoT
IoT provides an unprecedented opportunity for insurance companies. It brings their assessments to a new level.
Companies that implement these programs will have access to real data. IoT is changing the insurance industry for the better—one device at a time.
* * * * * *
Shayla Price creates and promotes content. She lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology, and social responsibility. Shayla contributes to Entrepreneur and Huffington Post. Connect with her on Twitter: @shaylaprice.