Alliant in California Names Morana Senior Vice President in Pharmacy Practice

Newport Beach, Calif.-based Alliant Insurance Services has named Sal Moranato a senior vice president and pharmacy practice lead in its pharmacy consulting practice.

Morana has nearly 25 years of pharmacy practice and industry experience.

Morana was a consultant in the pharmacy practice of brokerage firm. He has also held positions across various health system pharmacy divisions.

Alliant provides property/casualty, workers’ compensation, employee benefits, surety, and financial products and services.

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Posted by Insurance - 04/14/2018 at 19:40

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Fire at Large California Oil Refinery Doused

A fire that erupted at the West Coast’s largest oil refinery threatened storage tanks and sent huge flames into the sky and black smoke across neighborhoods before crews quickly smothered it.

Dozens of firefighters responded late Tuesday to the 1,000-acre Chevron El Segundo Refinery just south of Los Angeles, which processes nearly 275,000 gallons of crude per day.

Residents were urged to close windows and shelter in place as dramatic flames roiled at the facility and thick plumes of acrid smoke traveled through neighborhoods. Surrounding streets were briefly closed, but no evacuations were ordered. No injuries were reported.

Crews using firefighting foam kept the blaze from spreading to storage tanks and within about a half-hour, there was little visible flame.

Chevron officials did not immediately comment Wednesday on the possible cause. Fires at such refineries have had implications for gas prices, though it wasn’t yet clear if this one would.

The refinery, the West Coast’s largest, supplies 40 percent of the jet fuel to nearby Los Angeles International Airport and has 20 percent of the gasoline market share in Southern California, according the company’s website.

Daily production includes 110,000 barrels of gasoline and 100,000 barrels of jet and diesel fuels. Other products include fuel oils, coke and liquefied petroleum gas.

About 1,100 Chevron employees and 300 contract employees work there.

The El Segundo refinery dates to 1911. Its name is Spanish for `”the second,” and was bestowed because it was the second refinery built by Chevron predecessor Standard Oil Co. The first refinery was built at Richmond in 1901.

Chevron was fined nearly $1 million by the state of California for a major fire in 2012 at a refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Posted by Insurance - 04/14/2018 at 19:40

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California’s Chief Utility Regulator Says We May Never Know If PG&E Caused Fires

California’s chief utility regulator said the state may never determine whether PG&E Corp.’s electrical equipment played a role in igniting the deadly blazes near San Francisco earlier this month.

The wildfires, which have killed at least 42 people and destroyed thousands of structures across California’s iconic wine country, may have also burned the evidence necessary to find out what caused them, Michael Picker, chairman of the state’s Public Utilities Commission, said in an interview Wednesday. Utility owner PG&E has meanwhile lost more than $6 billion of its market value amid speculation that downed power lines may have contributed to igniting the fires.

“We still don’t know whether the fires caused pole or line damage or the poles caused the fires,” Picker said while attending a symposium organized by grid manager California Independent System Operator Corp. in Sacramento. “They may never sort it out.”

What is clear, he said, is that the state must consider climate change’s role in how severe wildfires have become and enhance its safety programs. His remarks echoed ones made by PG&E’s own chief executive officer, Geisha Williams, earlier this week. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, she stressed the need to consider the right climate strategies as opposed to focusing on tree-trimming.

The devastating fires threaten to weigh on PG&E’s stock for months as state agencies investigate PG&E’s equipment as one potential cause. JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimated the company faces $12 billion of potential gross liability based on other state fires and updated damage. Under state law, the utility may be liable for damages even if negligence isn’t involved, according to Morgan Stanley.

The Public Utilities Commission has asked PG&E and telecommunication companies to preserve evidence in the areas of the wildfires. The agency is also looking into PG&E’s tree-trimming and maintenance activities where the blazes started.

When asked about recent calls to dissolve or split up PG&E should it be found negligent, Picker said Wednesday that the company’s structure would probably be taken up as part of an ongoing review of its safety culture.

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Posted by Insurance - 04/05/2018 at 19:40

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PEMCO in Washington Names Vigil to Executive Team, Barry as Vice President of Claims

Seattle, Wash.-based PEMCO Insurance has named M.J. Vigil to its executive team as the company’s new vice president of people and brand.

PEMCO also named Paul Barry to its executive leadership team as vice president of claims.

Vigil will be responsible for guiding the overall customer and employee experience for PEMCO. Vigil is joining the organization under a newly created role on the executive team. In addition to the strategic oversight of the employee and customer experience, her role will have functional leadership for PEMCO’s people services and marketing and communications areas.

M.J. Vigil

Paul Barry

Vigil has 20 years of human resources, customer service and business leadership experience. She spent 14 years at Starbucks holding various leadership roles, most recently as vice president of human resources. Prior to Starbucks, Vigil led talent acquisition, training, and operations for Northwest hospitality companies, including Schwartz Brothers, Cucina Cucina, and Restaurants Unlimited.

Barry replaces Steve Miller, who is retiring at the end of the year. Barry will begin transitioning into his new role, working with Miller through the fall.

Barry has been the senior systems manager for PEMCO’s digital services team since 2015, and he has more than 30 years of insurance industry and claims experience. He got his start in the industry as a claims adjuster. Barry worked for Safeco Insurance from 1985 to 2006. In 2004, he became the vice president of national operations.

PEMCO is a Northwest company providing auto, home, and boat insurance.

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Posted by Insurance - 04/02/2018 at 19:40

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New Mexico Insurance Regulator Lowers Estimate for Missing Premium Taxes

New Mexico’s top insurance regulator says that an independent audit of unpaid insurance premium taxes shows far less money is owed to the state than previously thought.

State Insurance Superintendent John Franchini said that a preliminary summary of the audit shows potential underpayments to the state amount to a fraction of the $193 million previously estimated.

Franchini’s office declined to provide specific dollar estimates for missing taxes under the audit by Atlanta-based Examination Resources. Agency spokeswoman Heather Widler says more information should be publicly available after documents are reviewed by the Office of the State Auditor.

New Mexico Superintendent John Franchini

The new audit examines premium tax filings from 30 companies since 2003. It is unclear how the audit addresses accusations by state prosecutors that a Presbyterian Healthcare Services subsidiary illegally avoided taxes.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/30/2018 at 19:40

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California Division of Workers’ Comp Suspends 8 Medical Providers for Fraud

The Division of Workers’ Compensation has suspended eight more medical providers from participating in California’s workers’ comp system, bringing the total number of providers suspended this year to 46.

The suspensions were made possible by the passage last year of Assembly Bill 1244, which requires the DWC administrative director to suspend any medical provider convicted of a crime involving fraud or abuse of the Medi-Cal or Medicare programs or the workers’ comp system, a patient, or related types of misconduct.

DWC Acting Administrative Director George Parisotto issued orders of suspension against the following providers:

Abraham Khorshad of Beverly Hills, investor in Aspen Medical Resources and co-conspirator with Jeffrey Campau and Landen Mirallegro, who were suspended from the workers’ comp system last month. Khorshad and his co-defendants pled guilty in Orange County Superior Court on May 5 to medical insurance fraud for their involvement in an overbilling scheme in which they defrauded insurance companies of more than $70 million. The three providers agreed to pay more than $8 million in restitution to several insurers and self-insured employers, and to voluntarily dismiss liens of nearly $140 million.
Joseff Sales of Buena Park, physical therapist, and Danniel Goyena of Whittier, physical therapist assistant, pled guilty in federal court on Nov. 17, 2015 for paying illegal kickbacks as part of a Medicare fraud scheme. Both providers were co-owners and operators of Rehab Inc., Rehab Dynamics Inc. and Innovation Physical Therapy Inc. They surrendered their licenses and were each sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. The pair were ordered to pay restitution of up to $7.9 million.
Edgar Pogosian of Glendale was found guilty in federal court on Feb. 26, 2016 for money laundering and conspiring to commit money laundering. He took part in a health care fraud scheme to bill Medicare for equipment and tests that were not medically necessary and sometimes were not provided. He received 150 checks and laundered over $700,000 in health care fraud proceeds. Pogosian was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Timothy Martin of Benicia, osteopathic physician and surgeon, had his medical certificate revoked on June 1, 2015 by the Medical Board of California.
Alex Abbassi of Tarzana, surrendered his physician and surgeon’s certificate on Aug. 31, 2015 to the Medical Board of California.
Nicole Hlava of Palo Alto, surrendered her medical license on Aug. 11, 2016 to the Medical Board of California.
Maher Abadir of Modesto, surrendered his medical license on May 20, 2016 to the Medical Board of California.

AB 1244 requires the DWC administrative director to suspend any medical provider, physician, or practitioner from participating in the workers’ comp system in cases in which any of the following is true: They were onvicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving fraud or abuse of the Medi-Cal or Medicare programs or the workers’ compensation system, fraud or abuse of a patient, or related misconduct; they were suspended due to fraud or abuse from the Medicare or Medicaid programs; or the provider’s license to provide health care has been surrendered or revoked.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/30/2018 at 19:40

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Flash-Flood Watch Issued for Parts of Hawaiian Islands

The National Weather Service has issued a flash-flood watch effective for Oahu, Maui County and the Big Island as a cold front and air conditions bring the threat of heavy showers, Hawaii News Now reported .

The weather service’s office in Honolulu says the watch is expected to run through today.

The weather service told Hawaii News Now that the latest computer forecast models show the heaviest showers were to take place Monday and today as the cold front pushes east over the islands.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms could become widespread, causing streams to overflow their banks and lead to flash flooding.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/30/2018 at 19:40

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Oregon Woman in $1.8M Suit: Was Misled into Mastectomy, Hysterectomy

A 36-year-old Oregon woman has filed a $1.8 million lawsuit against medical professionals who she says mistakenly suggested she undergo a double mastectomy and a hysterectomy.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Monday that Elisha Cooke-Moore’s lawsuit says she underwent the life-altering surgeries after her gynecologist, Dr. William Fitts, determined that genetic blood tests indicated she had a 50 percent chance of getting breast cancer and up to an 80 percent chance of getting uterine cancer.

The lawsuit states that after the surgeries, her test results indicated no such risk of getting cancer.

Cooke-Moore’s attorney, Christopher Cauble, said he and his client are stumped as to how the mistake even happened.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/30/2018 at 19:40

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Los Angeles Will Pay $7.5M To Paralyzed Cyclist

Los Angeles will pay $7.5 million to a bicycle rider who was paralyzed when he crashed after hitting uneven pavement.

The Los Angeles Times reported says the City Council voted this week to approve a payout to settle William Yao’s lawsuit.

Yao was left a quadriplegic three years ago when his tire hit pavement that was thrust up by a tree root in the Porter Ranch neighborhood. His attorney says Yao was wearing a helmet.

The road had been inspected before the crash but not fixed.

The Times says Los Angeles has been hit with at least 17 lawsuits this year over bicycle crashes. Last month, the city agreed to pay $6.5 million to settle a suit from a rider who suffered a brain injury after hitting a pothole.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/24/2018 at 19:40

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Vegas Risk Management Summit Tackled Commercial Auto, Workers’ Comp And More

One factor driving continuously dismal commercial auto insurance losses is a spate of “nuclear cases” that are plaguing the industry with multi-million lawsuits.

The amount of money and resources being put into the legal battlefield over commercial auto lawsuits is sizable and growing, and that landscape includes a slew of companies now focused solely on plaintiff litigation finance, putting even more money into this arena, according to Robert Woods, president of eClaims Management.

“In the past these cases that would have been $30,000 or $40,000 turn into these nuclear cases,” he said, referring to lawsuits that reach into the multi-million dollar payout range.

He was speaking on the subject on Monday at the 2017 Risk Management Summit: Unlocking Possibility.

The summit is being held at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas from Sunday through Thursday. The conference is hosted by Energi, a provider of risk management and insurance offerings to the energy industry.

Woods was speaking on a panel focused on transportation that was moderated by Brian K. McCarthy, CEO of Energi. McCarthy also provided updates on trends impacting small and middle market companies, and how those trends are affecting the insurance market.

Andrew Stephenson, a senior partner in Franklin & Prokopik, and John Ferrante, vice president of litigation management for eClaims Management, were also on the transportation panel.

The commercial auto landscape in 2016 hit depths the sector hasn’t seen in 15 years. The commercial auto combined ratio landed at 110.4 during the year, a 1.6 percent climb compared to 2015. The result reflects the worst underwriting performance for the sector since 2001, according to a Fitch ratings report.

Commercial auto has had the poorest underwriting performance results of any line of commercial insurance in recent history, according to a report by Conning, Commercial Automobile Insurance – Fix Me, Please (2017).

Stephenson said commercial auto lawsuits now often involve sophisticated plaintiff’s lawyers and medical providers, and he put the windfall of lawsuits in proportion to payouts traditionally reserved for highly litigious, big-dollar categories like medical malpractice.

“Commercial auto is the new med mal,” he said.

He added that in some commercial auto cases he’s been involved with, these increasingly sophisticated lawyers end up playing on juror sympathies to sweeten award.

“It’s anger and fear,” Stephenson said. “That’s driving these cases.

Ferrante said that the Southern portion of Texas, particularly around the border, has become such place for sympathetic juries.

“It really is the wild West down there,” Ferrante said.

McCarthy also hosted a panel centered around worker’s compensation.

Rick Taketa, president and CEO of York Risk Services Group, and Jim Leary, vice president of workers’ compensation management for eClaims Management, talked about ways to reduce fraud and how to help get employees back to work faster.

One way Taketa said to accomplish those goals is to avoid ostracizing or mistreating injured workers, even those who may be poor performers that employers would rather see head out the door.

“I think you are seeing a movement toward greater communication and greater empathy toward people who are injured,” he said.

Leary stressed that an emphasis should be put on taking preventative steps and using data to ferret out bad employee behaviors before they end up causing injuries.

“The key really is you’re thinking about intercepting behavior,” he said.

Other sessions on Monday included a number of “Industry Best Practices” panels: Propane and Home Heating Oil; Recycling & Scrap Metal; Renewable Energy; Construction Services; Tow Hauling; and Transportation.

Tuesday kicks off with a general session topic: How to Become a More Attractive Risk to an Insurance Provider. Other panels include: The Opioid Epidemic and Injured Workers; Cyber Protection Plans; and Innovative Marketing Strategies.

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Posted by Insurance - 03/24/2018 at 19:40

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