Auto Insurance Agent Steals From Hollywood Celebs

Auto Insurance Agent StealsPost Date November 16, 2012 – Here we go again!  Once again a thieving auto insurance agent which makes me sick.  With all the new auto insurance new auto insurance websites on the world wide web, Insurance customers should be concerned where they buy their insurance policies.  Regardless if it’s for homeowners or or any other insurance need, the auto insurance agent and brokers out there needs to be watched very closely. Most of these brokers never consider the loss of the victims. All that matters to them is how much they can exploit their customer. Before you give dime to an auto insurance agent or broker, contact your state department of insurance to see if they are even licensed.

 Here we go again, thieving auto insurance agent steals from customers

Getting your insurance policies from reliable agents or brokers is a must so as to ensure that you will have your money’s worth.

An auto insurance agent in California  admits to overcharging  celebrities by hundreds of thousands of dollars for their monthly insurance bills.  A U.S. attorney Stephanie in the State of California say’s Auto Insurance Agent Jerry B. Goldman admitted  to being guilty of stealing  the insurance payments of  famous Actors, Musicians and Sports Stars.  Goldman was arrested at his California home.

Goldman is responsible for stealing the insurance premiums of Tom Hanks, Andy Summers, a former guitarist of the rock and roll music group The Police and others for more than $800,000.  Although Goldman stole hundreds of thousands of dollars, he did pay the insurance bills for the celebrities policies.  The auto insurance agent then sent revised invoices to Tom Hanks and the others to hide the amount of the actual bill. Although he was a thief, the auto insurance agent  did provide excellent insurance  coverage – from auto, property, flood, worker’s compensation, fine art, and even “personal employment practices liability”.  Even with all the money this auto insurance agent stole; his defense is being conducted by a Los Angeles public defender. In his official charges, Hanks and Summers where  only identified by their the initials T.H. and A.S., to protect their identities.  However, the LA Prosecutors confirmed their identities. Goldman’s trial date is on Dec. 18.

-Mike 

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 206

 

 

Pennsylvania Health Insurance Carrier Names New CEO

Post Date July 1, 2012 –  Anyone whom follows my Blog read a few weeks ago read about the demise of a Health Insurance Carriers CEO over an extra marital affair

Insurance Carrier Names New CEO

Insurance Carrier Names New CEO

with a fellow co-workers wife.  Highmark Inc., the largest health insurance company in Pennsylvania recently named Kenneth Melani’s successor as its new chief executive officer.

Health Insurance Carrier Names New CEO

Coming in to Highmark’ Inc., Dr. William Winkenwerder   is expected to bring along with him his substantial experience in health insurance operations, medical care delivery, and the national health policy. Prior to his recent appointment, Winkenwerder served as CEO to Winkenwerder Company, an Alexandria, Va.-based consultancy firm which he founded in 2007.  His company offered strategic consultancy services to various health care companies throughout America.

Before building his own company, Winkenwerder served as Asst. Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs in the United States Department of Defense from 2001 to 2007 where he was tasked to led the US military’s health care system overseeing its network of physicians and hospitals all over the globe.  Aside from those experiences, Winkenwerder also held various significant roles in the health insurance industry including senior executive posts at the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the Kaiser Permanente, and the Academic Medical Center of Emory University.  As a health professional, Winkenwerder is an internist and a family doctor. He also holds an MBA from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

Winkenwerder replaced Highmark former CEO, Kenneth Melani, who was fired in the middle of a scandal involving an illicit affair with an employee. Melani was arrested in March 2012 after figuring out in a brawl with Mark Myler, husband of Melissa Myler to whom Melani was having an affair with. The fight took place at Myler’s residence. After being charged criminally, Melani was placed under unpaid administrative leave. A week after, Highmark came into deciding of having the CEO fired. Dr. J. Robert Baum, Highmark’s Chairman of the Board temporarily took over as acting CEO. Highmark started as a health insurance provider in Pennsylvania since 1930s and is now being considered as one of the biggest providers of health insurance policies in the United States.  Highmark Insurance does not market car insurance but does  have locations in Harrisburg, PA,  Pittsburgh, PA, Philadelphia, PA and Erie, PA.

-Mike

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602

 

 

 

Pennsylvania University Researches Risk And Insurance

Post Date June 10, 2012 – In order to further promote and circulate research materials on risk and insurance, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School recently establishes the new Wharton/Penn Risk and Insurance Program (WPRIP).  According to a university press release, WPRIP will promote the interdisciplinary study on the theoretical, empirical, domestic and global topics on the area of insurance and risk management. The topics will include government risk management, as well as corporate and household risk management, health and longevity risk management, property risk and casualty insurance. WPRIP will also promote research on Pennsylvania health and life insurance, pensions, and the legal aspects of risks management and insurance.  Scott Harrington, a Wharton professor of the University of Pennsylvania on Insurance and Risk Management and Health Care Management, also the current WRIP academic director, stated that crisis related to health, financial, and meteorological had underscored the need for a much comprehensive insurance and risk management study. Harrington as quoted said, “Our goal (WPRIP) is to provide new insights that will provide valuable to policy makers, consumers, and insurance and risk management professionals alike.”  The new program has been established in conjunction with the said university’s Law school and the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. WPRIP activities will showcase workshops and conferences, working paper series, white papers, funded research and periodic research briefs.

Wharton School is a business school of the University of Pennsylvania with campuses in Philadelphia and San Francisco. It is being considered to be first business school in the United States. One of their already-existing global initiatives pertaining to the insurance industry are the: S.S. Huebner Foundation for Insurance Education that was named after the pioneer of insurance education, Solomon S. Huebner; Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Research; and the Pension Research Council. WPRIP will work closely with this existing Wharton centers to leverage each other’s capabilities.

– Mike

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602


Will Supreme Court Find Obama Healthcare Law Unconstitutional?

Friday’s Post 12.23.11 –  Since the passage of Obama Care nearly 13 months ago, both private business concerns and state governments all over the United States have been looking for a way out of participating the  highly unpopular and costly Health Insurance Program.  Although the majority of the program’s provisions have not gone into effect, health insurance costs have skyrocketed.  Our own company’s group health insurance has increased by 40% for no rhyme or reason.

A few weeks ago, The United States Supreme Court started scheduling appointments  for hearing arguments in late March 2012 regarding the controversial healthcare overhaul law of President Barack Obama. The high court consents a proposition made by three parties in the legal battle and by two attorneys who have been assigned to debate with certain standings. The court concluded that the first set of briefs must be submitted in early January. In February, the other side will file their briefs, and finally, reply briefs would have to be presented in early March to finally be heard by the end of that month. Last November 14, the Obama administration implored defending the law and urging it to be divided into two separate appeals in 26 states and an independent business group challenging the law and prompting it to be liquidated.

The court will need to answer the following questions:

1.  Did the  U.S House and Senate exceed its authority when it required all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or pay a penalty?

2.  If Obama’s mandate is illegal;  will the rest of the law be able to survive?

3.  Do challenges to the mandate have to abide until they take effect in 2014?

4.  Did the congress improperly coerce the states to increase the Medicaid program which provides healthcare to the poor and the disabled?

-Mike

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602

 

 

Employers Look Hard At Health Insurance Exchanges for 2014

Wednesday’s Post 11/9/11 –   Towers Watson, a leading Global Professional Services Company, recently carried out a survey to assess the impact of Insurance Exchanges which are set to open their doors in 2014.  Ron Fontanetta and Randall Abbott, Senior Healthcare Consulting Leaders at the company; conducted the survey for over 350 Companies considering these exchanges.

According to the report, 45% of employers will restructure their current Healthcare Plans while the rest are still unsure of what to do. Most companies interviewed plan to make minor adjustments in line with the new act set to take effect from next year onwards. Employers project the cost of Healthcare to increase by nearly 6 % next year, compared to  nearly 8% increase experienced in 2011. Many companies are putting measures in place already, to cushion themselves against the excise taxes envisaged in the Reform Act.

71% of the employers interviewed said that they would continue to give medical cover to their employees up to 2014.  29% are mulling over whether to stop the programs and instead offer salary increments to their staff. 54% of the respondents plan to end Healthcare Plans for retirees.

The survey revealed that the Obama Healthcare Plan was the major reason behind the shifting positions among employers. 53% of employers are confident that implementation of the Act will be successful in the long-term. Nonetheless, most do not believe that the plan offers a better solution, compared to the current company-sponsored medical plans. Over half of the respondents believe that the Government will introduce some form of taxation for businesses by 2018. In the same measure, most employers say that staff members still value Medical Cover as the most important incentive from companies.

According to Ron Fontanetta many companies will only introduce minor policy changes in Healthcare next year. However, a minor percentage is agitating for radical reforms by the use of account-based platforms, incentive and subsidy changes. In this regard, seventeen Percent of employers plan to offer account-based Health plans (ABHP) to their staff. By 2014, 74% of companies will use this system of Medical Insurance Coverage. A fifth of the respondents have plans to elevate the use of preferred networks, while others will use value basis to offer benefits. Forty-Seven Percent of employers might decrease the benefits of active staff members while Fifty-Seven Percent will lower contributions of low cadre staff.

The main conclusion drawn from the study is that most companies will amend their Healthcare policies from next year. A fifth of the companies polled were considering to lower subsidies for staff members families. Surcharges and waivers will be on the offing, if other types of coverage are not available for workers.  All the same, employers still have the resolve to sponsor Healthcare for their workforce. However, there is no consensus on the preferred strategy to adopt in line with the reforms.

-Mike

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602

Billions Of Dollars Lost In Form Of Insurance Claims Due To Errors

 The American Medical Association (AMA) has discovered significant errors in payments of insurance claims according to their latest National Health Insurer Report Card which was  release yearly. In their report, the AMA estimated health insurance carriers pay 20 percent more –about $17 billion –in claims as a result of errors. 2011 has seen the error rate shoot up by 2 percent compared to the previous year. This translates to an extra $3.6 million lost, as well as a further $1.5 billion used to finance the health system. An official from AMA, urged health insurance carriers to be more thorough with the when it comes to paying claims as this would save untold millions and significantly reduce administration related expenses.

The AMA says a majority of health insurance Companies did not show any improvement in accuracy except for the Health Care Giant; United Healthcare.  It appears United Healthcare was the only firm to show any major improvement. In fact; United Healthcare was the best performer, scoring 90.23 percent in the accuracy rating. At the far end of the spectrum was Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield which scored an accuracy rating of 61.05 percent. Other insurance carriers who took part in the survey rating included the Regence Group, CIGNA, Health Care Service Corporation, Medicare and Humana.  The AMA monitors all  the national health insurance providers yearly and benchmarks their claims processing systems to improve efficiency in processing claims payments.  They highlighted the following major findings in their report:

Various health insurance providers responded to claims within a range of between six and 15 days. Two providers: Humana and CIGNA, were noted to have reduced their average claim response time by half.

Health physicians lose out on approximately 23 percent of claims filed. Health insurers may reject payment of claims from physicians for various reasons. They may refer some claims to the patients or edit others. The report which covered the months of February and March noted that majority of the non-paid claims were passed on to the patients because of the deductable requirements until they exceed dollar limits.

A number of providers registered a decrease in claim denials. CIGNA remained the top provider with lower denial rates of less than one percent. The rest of the health insurance providers also registered a reduction in denial rates with United Healthcare reducing its denial rate to 1.05%. Most denial cases arose from ineligibility of patients.

The report for the first time included the accuracy of contract fee reports to physicians by the health insurance providers besides the correctness of overall processing of claims. UnitedHealthcare appeared to have consistently improved in capturing contract fees accurately for the fourth year running. The rest of health insurance providers, with the exception of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, registered minor declines.

Lastly, the AMA report highlighted CIGNA as leading in claims which required administrative approvals by physicians before offering medical services to patients. AMA had earlier indicated that these approvals caused unnecessary delays in administration of medical services to patients and negatively impacted on the general efficiency.

Mike

 

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602

Three Dates Set For PA’s Health Exchange Program Discussions

Three forums are set to be held in August by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department in a bid to get public opinion on health insurance exchanges. Different locations have been set across the state where the forums will take place. The first one slated for Aug 9 at the Doubletree Hotel Pittsburgh Monroeville Convention Center in downtown Monroeville, Pa. This will be followed by another forum on Aug. 11 at the Crowne Plaza Liberty Convention Center in King of Prussia, Pa. the culmination of these crucial discussions on public health exchanges will see the third forum being held on August, 23rd at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey in Harrisburg, Pa. The three forums have been scheduled to run during the day starting from 9am to 3pm each day to give as many people as possible an opportunity to attend and put their ideas across to state officials. Registration will start at 8:30am.

One of the issues that will be on top of the discussion is whether the exchange requires state level regulation or should be regulated by the Department of Health ad Human Services. The latter option had been proposed by a lobbyist working with the Pennsylvania Association of Health Underwriters (PAHU).  Another key thing that is set for discussion is the structure of the exchange, whether it should independent or a sub set of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. The forums will also address the issues of governance in efforts to look for the most appropriate model for the exchange. According to Philips, there are two options to choose from, the first one being the minimalist model in Utah and the other one going the Massachusetts’ way.

State officials will be banking on comments and research findings from studies in the preparation of a plan to be presented to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. According to Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Mike Consedine, states are at liberty to create their own insurance exchanges as stipulated in the federal health care reform. He adds that the PA Insurance Department has stepped up efforts in looking for more productive option for PA health care consumers and those employers which pay for health coverage for their employers.

**The Pennsylvania Insurance Department protects insurance consumers in the state. All rates for Auto Insurance, Homeowners Insurance, Motorcycle Insurance, Boat/marine  and recreational vehicle insurance  must be approved by the Department before they are published and charged to the customer by the Insurance Companies. All the Insurance Carriers registered to do business in PA and represented by InsureDirect.com are licensed and approved by the PA Insurance Department.

– Mike

Michael E. Dortch
President &  Managing Agent
InsureDirect.com
Corporate Home Office
618 South Broad Street
Lansdale, Pennsylvania  19446
(800) 807-0762  ext. 602

Loophole on Health Insurance Exchanges: Authorities to Act

Although InsureDirect.com primarily focuses it’s marketing efforts on Online/Direct Car Insurance, Commercial Auto Insurance and Homeowners/Renters Insurance Products; as it’s company’s President and Managing Agent, I feel it’s vital I discuss topics which would be of interest to a broader base of insurance buyers.  This article is a perfect example of this. 

In the latest updates released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the  NAIC urged the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to avoid the loophole giving chances to some nation’s largest insurance companies a regulatory advantage over smaller industry player or competitors. The NAIC further expressed concerns about possible potential consumer implications of the new Multi – State Plans offered through the insurance Exchanges if held to different type of standards. 

Beginning in 2014, OPM is charged with contracting with at least two health plans to be automatically sold on every state’s Exchange as “Multi – State Plans.”  It is very clear that the law clearly intend to have these plans operates on a standard level playing field  where language within the law could allow two sets of rules to cater to large Multi – State plans and to everyone else. However, NAIC is concerned with the provision’s identity that it may unintentionally upset state insurance markets that will take away consumer protections. 

In a letter to OPM signed by NAIC President and Iowa Insurance Commissioner Susan Voss stating “Authorities must take every single serious concern about the potential for market disruption and unfavorable selection that would result negative impact on most consumers and health insurance markets which would arise if Multi – State Plans are allowed to operate under different rules than their competitors.” The letter was co – signed by NAIC President – Elect, Vice President and the Secretary – Treasurer. 

All of the concerns raised by the NAIC are in response to OPM’s request for certain details about the guidelines being develop for Multi – State Plans. The remarks/comments provides further details of potential market disruption on Multi – State Plans to cater exemption on the rules governing other plans offered through an Exchange or the over-all insurance market as a whole. 

They noted that separate rules could threaten plan solvency which may lead to market segmentation, consumer confusion and a loss of consumer protections. Thus, NAIC urged OPM to require Multi – State plans to meet all state laws and regulatory requirements to avoid uncertainties over it. Also, the comments being submitted will explain about the second provisions of the rules on the intentions attached in ensuring a level playing field, that could in contradiction overturned state consumer protection laws if Multi – State plans are being exempt from state regulations. Example if there are plans existing plans in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Ohio, Virginia or any of the other 44 states in the United States, they are exempted.

Furthermore, the Congress intended for Multi – State plans to adhere on applicable  regulations as the law is written, if OPM want to exempts a plan from applicable state regulations and by extending it will also exempts all other plans both in and out of an Exchange from those same regulations, thus leaving a regulatory vacuüm.

Keep in mind InsureDirect.com represents all 30 major carriers auto and homeowners insurance carriers in the United States.  Regardless if you have a perfect, preferred driving record or if you have accidents, tickets, violation even a DUI/DWI, my agents can help you with one 10 minute call.

-Mike

North Carolina Insurers Yearn For Rate Hike on Dwelling Fire and Extended Coverage Insurance Policies

With Hurricane Irene fast approaching the east coast of the United States, we all have a tendency to wonder about our Homeowners Insurance coverage and if we have enough.  It was a very interesting day in the  Pennsylvania offices of InsureDirect.com.  Normally the calls are mostly for auto insurance quotes throughout the country. Today; our switchboard was jammed with calls from Homeowners on the east coast wanting to buy  a new homeowners insurance policy or increase the property and liability limits on their existing policies.  There was only one problem; prior to any major weather event, both car insurance and homeowners insurance carriers restrict both binding new risks and increasing their exposure on existing risks. It is during times like these when the actuaries at  insurance carriers look at the risks the have and how much premium they are collecting to protect these exposures.  Homeowner Insurance Carriers in North Carolina recently made some observations and requested rates increases for some of their products.

On dwelling fire and extended coverage policies: A raise from 7% to 25% (has about an average of 20.9 percent statewide) for 2011 was requested by North Carolina Insurers. There would be about 570,000 policy holders that will be greatly affected once these higher rates are approved. The biggest increases will be on those which are in coastal territories of North Carolina. “The dwelling fire and extended coverage rate filing received by the insurance department was from the North Carolina Rate Bureau,” said Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin, one who was assigned to approve any increases. North Carolina Rate Bureau, which is not affiliated with the DOI, is the representative of the property insurance companies who are writing business in the state.

Dwelling fire policies are sold to non-owner occupied residences which include investment properties, rental properties, and some other properties that are not used and occupied full-time by the property owner. Dwelling and extended coverage policies generally cover perils that extend beyond fire and lightning, these could be damage to physical dwelling due to hail, smoke, typhoon, civil commotion, riots, and aircraft or vehicle damage.

The rating process was taken from the 2008 and 2009 data. Regulators from the DOI made several objections to the filing including that it is based on old data. Although the 2008 and 2009 data was available, the rate bureau failed to compile the data and used it in the file. There was a public comment session spearheaded by Goodwin last January 24 after more than 800 policyholders issued protests against the rate increase. Written comments from the people were also finalized last January 31. Goodwin scheduled the hearing last June 21, but he did not indicate when his last ruling on the rate filing might be ready.

-Mike

 

Kansans Urged To Plan For Long-Term Care Insurance

In a press release from Topeka, Kansas, the state Commissioner for insurance has urged the state’s residents to look into long-term care insurance as they struggle to get out of economic hardships. Most Kansans are currently looking at funding for future financial obligations such as saving for retirement rather than saving for short term needs. The Commissioner reiterated the fact that almost 6 out of 10 Kansans will need long term-care at one point in their lives. The advances in medicine and health care provision have helped people to live longer than they did before which makes it imperative to save for the future. The need for long term care insurance will depend on one’s income and potential risk factors, the Commissioner added. He reminded the state residents to ensure that the long-term care insurance policies they purchase strictly adhere to the standards set by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). A few of the standards include:

  • A minimum of 1 year nursing home or home care coverage
  • Ensure that the policy covers for Alzheimer’s disease should it occur after buying the policy
  • Protection against inflation by allowing the policyholder to increase the initial benefit level automatically every year.
  • A non-cancellation and non-renewal guarantee.
  • 30 day refund guarantee.

The Commissioner advised Kansans that with such guarantees they should also look into ways of protecting their assets for the sake of their heirs. One of the initiatives established to this effect by the Kansas Insurance Department three years ago is the Kansas Partnership for Long-Term Care which encourages Kansans to partner with it in their efforts to purchase long-term care insurance policies. Qualified partnership in long-term care insurance will be beneficial to Kansans as they will be able to determine how and where to receive assisted care with ease. Should the policy run out their assets will still be protected by applying for Medicaid services. The Commissioner encouraged Kansans to explore such plans in their quest for long-term care needs. The partnership plan promotes personal responsibility by emphasizing on financial planning. There are currently 8,350 Kansas partnership policies in which close to 93% of policyholders are aged below 70 years.

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