Posts tagged "Traffic insurance"

Leavitt Group Acquires Group Services Northwest in Washington

Leavitt Group Northwest has acquired Group Services Northwest.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

This merger will not affect Group Services Northwest client policies and all staff remains with the agency at the same location and phone number.

Leavitt Group Northwest is part of Leavitt Group, a network of insurance brokers.

Group Services Northwest has serviced local Puget Sound and Western Washington businesses and their employees for more than 60 years.

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Posted by Insurance - 07/10/2018 at 19:40

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$65M of Unpaid Taxes by New Mexico Insurance Companies, Audit Shows

A long list of insurance companies failed to pay taxes on insurance premiums of nearly $65 million to the state of New Mexico since 2003, according to an independent audit released Tuesday that could weigh in ongoing legal proceedings against a major health insurance provider.

The independent, state-commissioned audit by Atlanta-based Examination Resources delved into tax collections efforts at the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance for 30 insurance companies.

It found unpaid taxes at 17 of the companies, led by Presbyterian Health Plan with an estimated $28.9 million in underpayments.

The audit also catalogued extensive oversight difficulties at the New Mexico Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, where three employees have filed a whistleblower lawsuit highlighting uncollected insurance premium taxes from Presbyterian, a case now being pursued by state prosecutors.

State Auditor Tim Keller said the new audit provides the groundwork for the state to move forward with collecting overdue taxes and prevent future underpayments.

“With this audit, we’ve pinpointed the precise amount that the state can seek from insurance companies,” Keller said.

Keller suggested that responsibility for collecting premium taxes may need to be transferred from the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance overseen by John Franchini to another agency.

Franchini reiterated his support Tuesday for transferring insurance tax collection responsibilities to the Department of Taxation and Revenue, noting that New Mexico is one of only five states where insurance regulators double as tax collectors.

The audit could support efforts by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas to recover millions of dollars in alleged unpaid taxes from Presbyterian Health Plan, a for-profit subsidiary of Presbyterian Healthcare Services.

The attorney general’s lawsuit against Presbyterian involves about $14 million, roughly half the underpaid taxes documented in the audit, said James Hallinan, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Settlement discussions are underway between the attorney general’s office and Presbyterian, which has denied in court filings that it owes the state additional premium taxes. The attorney general contends that Presbyterian used an illegal accounting procedure to avoid taxes and surcharges.

Dale Maxwell, CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, said in a statement that the company has cooperated with the audit and wants resolve issues with state authorities.

“We place a high priority on honoring our obligations to the state,” Maxwell said.

Other insurance companies with large estimated tax underpayments include Health Care Service Corporation, which oversees BlueCross BlueShield of New Mexico, Molina Healthcare, Amerigroup and Lovelace.

The audit surveyed tax obligations at a dozen health insurance companies, as well as nine life insurers and nine property and casualty insurers.

It linked multimillion-dollar tax debts to erroneous overpayment credits. Health insurance companies improperly applied credits for support of the state’s high-risk insurance pool for people who are denied insurance or considered uninsurable.

New Mexico collects a 3 percent tax on insurance premiums that is a major source of state government revenue.

Last year, a less comprehensive examination of underpaid premium taxes at five major companies from 2010-2015 estimated that New Mexico was owed $193 million, but authors of that report did not have access to company records.

Keller, a Democratic candidate for mayor of Albuquerque in a November runoff election, emphasized that the $65 million in unpaid taxes would have been enough to bridge a state budget gap earlier this year, without resorting to special legislative session in May.

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Posted by Insurance - 07/10/2018 at 19:40

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Washington and Seattle Become Latest Governments to Sue Opioid Makers

Washington state and the city of Seattle on Thursday joined more than two dozen other government entities across the country suing to hold opioid makers accountable for an addiction crisis that has claimed thousands of lives.

The governments hope to recoup costs of responding to drug addiction, including money spent on emergencies, criminal justice and social services.

“Unlike earthquakes and hurricanes, this disaster is a human-made crisis,” Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes told a news conference at Harborview Medical Center, where officials said more than 100 people were being treated for addiction.

The latest suits, filed separately in King County Superior Court, accuse the companies of deliberately overstating the effectiveness of their prescription painkillers while misleading patients and doctors about the risks of addiction, in violation of Washington’s consumer protection laws.

The state’s complaint names Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, while the city names numerous defendants, including Purdue, Teva Pharmaceutical and Teva Pharmaceutical.

In a written statement, Purdue denied the allegations but said it is “deeply troubled” by the addiction crisis and “dedicated to being part of the solution.”

“As a company grounded in science, we must balance patient access to FDA-approved medicines, while working collaboratively to solve this public health challenge,” it said.

More than two dozen states, cities and counties, including Ohio, Mississippi, Orange County in California, and the Washington cities of Everett and Tacoma, have sued the pharmaceutical companies. Most other states have recently broadened a joint effort to investigate the companies’ actions.

If the industry cooperates, the investigation could lead to a national settlement. Connecticut Attorney George Jepsen has said there are early indications that drug makers and distributors will discuss the matter with the states.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said he was withdrawing from that effort because he was ready to sue now in light of the ongoing harms opioid addiction is causing in the state. Nearly 10,000 people have died from overdoses in the state since 2000, he said.

“Purdue Pharma has knowingly conducted an uncontrolled experiment on the people of Washington state and the American public without any reliable, clinical evidence that opioids are safe or even effective at treating long-term, chronic pain,” he said.

Ferguson and Holmes were joined at the news conference by representatives of the Seattle police and fire departments, as well as Rose Dennis, of Kirkland, who said her son became addicted as a 12-year-old when he spent nine months hooked to an opioid drip while being treated for leukemia at a Seattle medical center. He’s now 31, and has struggled since his teens with addiction and homelessness.

She said she knew he had a problem when she visited him in treatment, and he asked her to leave, saying, “This is my happy time.”

She declined to sue the doctors, she said: “In reality, they saved my son’s life from cancer.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2015, drug overdoses killed more than 52,000 Americans. Most involved prescription opioids such as OxyContin or Vicodin or related illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl. People with addictions often switch among the drugs.

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Posted by Insurance - 07/04/2018 at 19:41

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Alera Group Acquires Employer Concept in California

Alera Group has acquired Employer Concept Insurance Services, based in Irvine, Calif.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Employer Concept Insurance Services will join Alera Group through local firm Centennial.

Deerfield, Ill.-based Alera Group’s more than 800 employees serve more than 20,000 clients nationally in employee benefits, property and casualty, risk management and wealth management.

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Posted by Insurance - 07/01/2018 at 19:40

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Los Angeles to Settle Suit over Man Injured in Crosswalk Accident for $15M

Los Angeles will pay $15 million to settle a lawsuit by a man who was struck by a car in a Hollywood crosswalk and left with permanent brain damage.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the City Council voted this week to approve a settlement with John Victoria and his mother.

Victoria was hit in a marked crosswalk on Franklin Avenue four years ago and was in a coma for months.

The lawsuit argued that the intersection was poorly designed, warning signs were obscured and traffic laws weren’t properly enforced.

Los Angeles has settled a string of costly lawsuits involving the state of its roads. Last week, the council approved a $7.5-million payment to a bicyclist who was paralyzed when he crashed after hitting uneven pavement.

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Posted by Insurance - 07/01/2018 at 19:40

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Woodruff-Sawyer Adds Blasher in Southern California

Woodruff-Sawyer has named Andy Blasher an account executive in the firm’s Southern California office.

Blasher has more than 20 years of experience on both the brokerage and insurance carrier sides of the business. His coverage expertise is in primary and excess casualty lines, including environmental liability. His focuses include manufacturing, retail, hospitality, real estate and professional services.

He was previously an assistant vice president at American International Group. Before that, he spent more than 15 years at Marsh & McLennan as a client executive and placement specialist/team leader.

Andy Blasher

San Francisco-based Woodruff-Sawyer has offices throughout California, and in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Hawaii and New England.

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Posted by Insurance - 06/22/2018 at 19:40

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Text and Crossing a Street in Honolulu Can Bring a Fine

Of all the beautiful scenery to see in Honolulu, officials want to make sure residents and tourists get a good look at the street.

Honolulu became the largest city in the U.S. to make it illegal for people to look at cellphones, tablets or video games while crossing a road or highway. It comes as a few states still have not outlawed texting while driving.

It remains to be seen how the law can be enforced on an island that draws tourists from across the globe. The tourism industry is trying to educate visitors, but a smattering of tourists interviewed said they had no clue.

Amy Pawlowski, who was visiting from Phoenix, had not heard about the new restrictions on mobile devices.

“It seems as though the enforcement aspect would be quite difficult and almost that the government efforts would be better spent with the law prohibiting drivers from being on their phones while driving,” she said just after glancing at her phone while crossing a Waikiki street. “Perhaps they (pedestrians) are using a navigation device that is helping them navigate Waikiki or Honolulu.”

The law applies to the entire island of Oahu, where it is also illegal to drive while using handheld mobile electronics. A first offense for the distracted walking ordinance carries a fine of between $15 and $35. It increases to between $75 and $99 for a third offense within a year of the first violation.

Officers in tourist-heavy Honolulu have discretion to issue a warning or a ticket, police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said.

“We realize not everyone is going to know,” she said. “Local laws could vary.”

The National Safety Council, which has been looking at the issue of distracted walking since 2015, praised Honolulu for being a leader on the issue. The small Idaho city of Rexburg passed an ordinance in 2011 making it illegal to text while driving or crossing a street or highway. Other cities have considered similar measures, said Tatyana Warrick, a council spokeswoman.

The ordinance aims to reduce the number of injuries after the state ranked as the 13th most dangerous for pedestrians from 2010 to 2014, said Honolulu Councilman Brandon Elefante, who wrote the measure.

Elefante said he pushed the measure partly because a high school in his district with nearly 2,500 students is on a busy highway. Students at Waipahu High School did a survey and found 1,000 classmates in a 20-minute period jaywalked, crossed against traffic lights and used electronic devices while crossing, he said.

The law went into effect 90 days after the mayor signed it in July. During the 90 days, police say they have passed out informational fliers across the island.

Jim Cartisser, a tourist from Twin Falls, Idaho, said getting a ticket while on vacation “could leave a lot of people with a sour taste in their mouth leaving Honolulu.”

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Posted by Insurance - 06/19/2018 at 19:40

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Cars Without a Human Behind the Wheel Coming to California Soon

California has taken another step toward permitting testing of self-driving vehicles without a human driver, continuing a shift away from previous policies that companies criticized as being overly restrictive.

The state’s Department of Motor Vehicles this week released revisions to regulations proposed in March to allow such autonomous car testing on public roads, which could take effect by next June, California DMV Chief Counsel Brian Soublet said on a conference call with reporters.

The proposed rules would also allow companies to introduce self-driving vehicles that can be used by the general public.

The development of autonomous vehicle technology and public policy in the U.S. has been concentrated in California. Much of the development work is concentrated in Silicon Valley where companies such as Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo LLC and Cruise Automation Inc. are testing vehicles on public roads.

California has permitted self-driving car tests with a human driver ready to take control since September 2014. State regulators have permitted 42 companies to test self-driving vehicles in the state, up from 11 last June.

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Posted by Insurance - 06/16/2018 at 19:40

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Driver Assist on Big Rigs Being Tested by Oregon Vehicle Manufacturer

A Portland-based manufacturer of commercial vehicles is performing trials on Oregon highways of tractor-trailers with driver-assist technology.

The Bend Bulletin reported Daimler Trucks North America is testing the same technology that keeps cars in their own lanes and provides automatic braking on its big rigs.

Daimler publicized its trials last week at the 2017 North America Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.

Daimler is pairing two of its Cascadia trucks to see how they perform together and what fuel efficiencies they achieve. The trials could result in running as many as five trucks together, a practice called platooning.

The road trials take place primarily on Interstate 84 between Portland and Pendleton. Oregon Department of Transportation officials say the trucks carry a banner to inform other motorists the trial is underway.

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Posted by Insurance - 06/07/2018 at 19:40

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Holmes Murphy Names Holder Vice President in Colorado

Holmes Murphy has named Jim Holder vice president of employees benefits for the Colorado market.

Holder was previously senior vice president for Cigna’s Mountain States Region.

He was executive vice president in consulting services for Ascension Insurance Inc. prior to that.

Jim Holder

Holmes Murphy is an independent brokerage that provides property/casualty insurance, employee benefits, captive insurance, risk management and loss control.

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Posted by Insurance - 06/04/2018 at 19:40

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