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Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall Again

Unemployment Insurance Claims Fall Again


Initial claims for unemployment insurance across the US were 238,000 for the week ending Jan. 29, 2022, on a seasonally adjusted basis. This represented a decrease of 23,000 (8.8%) from the revised figure for the prior week. It was the second consecutive weekly decline and was 2.9% below economists’ estimate of 245,000.

The four-week moving average for initial claims rose to 255,000, up by 7,750 (3.1%) from the revised figure for the prior week. In December 2021, initial claims had fallen to 188,000.

Key Takeaways

  • Initial claims for unemployment insurance in the weekend Jan. 29, 2022, declined for the second straight week.
  • They also were below economists’ estimates for the second consecutive week.
  • Continuing claims also fell.
  • The impact of the omicron variant of COVID-19 seems to be diminishing rapidly.

Omicron Wave Relents

While the impact of the omicron variant of COVID-19 appears to be diminishing rapidly, nearly 9 million people lost some time at work in January 2022 due to it. Also, payroll processor Automatic Data Processing, Inc. (ADP) has reported that 301,000 jobs were lost in January, the largest decline since the first month of the pandemic in early 2020.

This suggests that the employment report due out on Feb. 4, 2022, from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is likely to show weak hiring in January and perhaps even a decline in jobs. Nevertheless, businesses are facing a protracted labor shortage that probably will continue for the foreseeable future.

Continuing Claims Decline

Unemployment insurance continuing claims also recorded a decrease, although compilation of this data lags new claims by one week. For the weekendJan. 22, 2022, the number of continuing claims, also called the number of insured unemployed persons, was 1,628,000, a decrease of 44,000 (2.6%) from the revised number for the prior week, on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Meanwhile, the four-week moving average for continuing claims fell by 31,250 (1.8%) from the revised figure for the prior week to 1,619,750. Given that the moving average is designed to eliminate random volatility in the weekly figures, this adds to optimism about the current state of the labor market.

Adjusted vs. Unadjusted Data

The seasonally adjusted nationwide initial claims figure of 238,000 cited above for the week ending Jan. 29, 2022, was derived from an unadjusted figure of 257,002. The unadjusted figure fell by 11,728 (4.4%) from 268,730 in the prior week. However, the normal seasonal factors observed at this time of year should have led to an increase of 11,183 (4.2%) from the prior week to 279,913 in the week ending Jan. 29, 2022, all else equal. During the comparable week in 2021, there were 849,650 initial claims.

Initial Jobless Claims by State

Most states reported declines in new claims, led by 5,093 fewer unadjusted initial claims in Ohio, 2,330 fewer in Kentucky, and 2,106 fewer in Illinois. The largest increases in unadjusted initial claims were 2,654 in Pennsylvania, 1,445 in Michigan, and 1,129 in Indiana. Note that the statistics compiled by the US Department of Labor also include the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, in addition to the 50 states. As indicated above, total unadjusted new claims rose by 11,728 during the week ending Jan. 29, 2022.

However, the US Department of Labor cautions that the breakdown by state for the week ending Jan. 29, 2022, contains what are called advance claims. These advance claims are reported by the state liable for paying the unemployment compensation. However, data for previous weeks classify claimants by state of residence. Thus, the state-by-state figures for the week ending Jan. 29, 2022, and the prior week are not completely comparable.

For comparable figures, the Department of Labor instead looks at the data for a week earlier, which ended on Jan. 22, 2022. The only increase in initial claims for that week, compared to the week before that, was in Alabama (+628), while the largest decreases were in California (-8,078), Pennsylvania (-7,967), New York ( -5.722), New Jersey (-4.818), and Kentucky (-4.049).

Highest Insured Unemployment Rates

Meanwhile, the highest insured unemployment rates for the week ending Jan. 15, 2022, were in Alaska (3.0%), the Virgin Islands (3.0%), New Jersey (2.6%), California (2.5%), Minnesota (2.5%), New York (2.4%), Rhode Island (2.4 %), Illinois (2.3%), Kentucky (2.3%), and Massachusetts (2.3%). The advance seasonally adjusted national figure for the weekend Jan. 22, 2022, was 1.2%, unchanged from the prior week. The insured unemployment rate is the ratio of persons receiving unemployment benefits to the total number of persons in the labor force.



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3 Signs You Need to Apply for Life Insurance ASAP

3 Signs You Need to Apply for Life Insurance ASAP


Image source: Getty Images

Here’s when you may want to get the ball rolling immediately.


Keypoints

  • Life insurance can protect your loved ones from financial ruin.
  • You may want to expedite your application under certain circumstances.

One of the biggest myths surrounding life insurance is that it’s something you don’t need when you’re young. In reality, you might need life insurance at age 20 or at age 40. In fact, it’s not your age that matters so much when it comes to buying insurance as it is your life circumstances.

Here are three situations where you should really get moving on life insurance if you don’t have a policy in place already.

1. You’re having a baby

Having children isn’t the only circumstance for needing life insurance. However, to put it another way, many childless people can still benefit from putting a policy in place. But if you have a baby on the way, then you should absolutely make a point to apply for life insurance soon, since there’s no question that the child will become reliant on you financially once they enter the world.

2. You have joint expenses with a spouse that your partner can’t cover solo

Maybe you’re married and you and your spouse each earn a decent income. But what if you have expenses you’ve taken on jointly based on your combined earnings, like a mortgage? It may be the case that while you can cover your mortgage payments comfortably on two incomes, your spouse wouldn’t be able to manage those payments on one. If you already have expenses you’re on the hook for, it pays to get life insurance as soon as you can.

3. You support an older family member

Some people provide financial support for adult children, adult siblings, or aging parents. If that’s something you do, then it definitely pays to make applying for life insurance a priority. If you were to pass away, the family member who counts on you could be left in the lurch.

Keep in mind that even if you don’t support an older family member financially, but rather, logistically, it could still pay to get insurance. Say you’re a part-time caregiver for your aging father, which helps him avoid having to pay for a home health aide. If you were to pass away, your father might need that help — but he may not be able to afford one. And so if you put a life insurance policy into place and designate your father as your beneficiary, the lump sum he receives may be enough to pay for the assistance he needs.

Don’t delay getting life insurance

Applying for life insurance can be a time-consuming and — let’s face it — sobering experience. It’s for this reason that people tend to put it off, the same way many people avoid creating a will.

But in reality, life insurance can be an extremely important thing to have. This especially holds true if you have a child on the way, you’re already liable for joint expenses with someone else, or you have people in your life you support in one way or another. If you’ve yet to get the application process started, it’s time to get moving immediately.

Life Insurance Protection for You and Your Family

While many varieties of insurance coverage are designed to help protect a person’s family and assets, life insurance is a vital type of protection. The right life insurance can help protect the people that depend on you the most if you should pass away. Choosing the right life insurance policy is critical to ensure your loved ones are protected properly. We have sorted through the various options to provide you with our choices for the best life insurance policies available today.



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Health insurance marks ‘surplus’ as Covid-19 cuts other medical costs

Health insurance marks 'surplus' as Covid-19 cuts other medical costs



Korea’s state health insurance recorded a “surplus” of 2.82 trillion won ($2.34 billion) last year.


In the early stage of the “Moon Jae-in care” – a policy to expand medical insurance coverage — concerns mounted about depleting health insurance finances. However, the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic over the past two years seems to have reduced the use of medical services, slowing down the growth rate of its expenditure, officials said.


On Friday, the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) released its financial situation based on cash flows in 2021. According to the report, the health insurance fund increased by 2.82 trillion won, pushing the accumulated reserve to 20.2 trillion won.


Compared with the previous year, revenue jumped 9.6 percent to 7.73 trillion won. In comparison, expenditure’s growth rate stopped at 5.3 percent to a total of 3.89 trillion won, it said.


The revenue increase was attributed to an increase in the number of insurance subscribers (2.7 percent in workplace subscribers and 3.0 percent for district subscribers), wage increases (2.1 percent), increased government subsidy (from 9.2 trillion won in 2020 to 9.6 trillion won in 2021), and insurance fee hikes (2.89 percent).


In contrast, the growth rate of health insurance expenditure was lower than pre-Covid-19 years, as personal hygiene, such as mask-wearing and hands washing, has become a part of daily life, reducing the numbers of respiratory disease patients like cold and pneumonia, other infectious disease patients, and digestive disease patients.


The expenditure growth rate in the previous two years stood at 5.1 percentage points (from 8.7 percent in 2018 to 13.8 percent in 2019). Still, the comparable rise in the past two years stood at 1.2 percentage points (from 4.1 percent to 5.3 percent).


It cost 2.1 trillion won to support Covid-19 response, including expenses for diagnostic tests, quarantine and treatment, subsidies for community treatment centers, support for at-home treatment, and implementing vaccination programs.










Classification 2021 (A) 2022 (B) Yoy comparison Growth rate
(AB) (Percent)
Total income 804,921 734.185 70,736 (9.6%)
Total expenses 776,692 737,716 38,976 (5.3%)
Surplus 28,229 Δ3.351 31,760
Cumulative surplus 202,410 174,181 28,229


Cash flow basis (Unit: 100 million won), Source: National Health Insurance Service



‘The state health insurance agency said it plans to expand the medical safety net by gradually converting non-payment items with high medical demands, such as MRI and ultrasound scans, into payment items, raising medical expense subsidy rates in disasters and support amounts.


“We will strengthen stable revenue basis by solidifying fair insurance fee collection based on income in preparation for population aging and infectious disease crises,” the NHIS said. “We will also operate finances stably within a premediated extent by enhancing close monitoring of changes in expenditure and actively raising the efficiency of overall expenditure.”


However, the state health insurance organ expected the revenue growth rate to slow down. In contrast, the expenditure increase rate will be higher this year due to strengthened insurance coverage and continuous response to Covid-19.


The NHIS estimates it would spend 600 billion won a month on supporting rapid antigen tests at neighborhood clinics, 290 billion won for at-home treatment, and temporary test expenses of 30 billion won for conducting PCR tests on patients’ guardians and caregivers.


“For various reasons, including the need for continuous response to Covid-19, health insurance revenue growth will slow down while expenditure will grow rapidly this year,” the NHIS said. “We will do our best in fund operation to achieve optimal profit rate.”


President Moon pleased with ‘improved health insurance finance’


Upon the news of national health insurance recording a surplus, President Moon Jae-in positively evaluated the policy.


President Moon Jae-in has left comments on the surplus of national insurance finance through the SNS. (Source: Captured from President Moon’s SNS)



Although the government sharply expanded expenditure by implementing the “Moon Jae-in care,”’ the insurance’s financial situation has instead turned for the better, the President said through SNS.


“The health insurance recorded a surplus of more than 2.8 trillion won last year to push the cumulative reserve to 20.2 trillion won. The figure is even larger than when our administration took office,” Moon said. “We sharply expanded expenditure, but finances have instead improved. Criticisms about aggravating health insurance finances were nothing more than the words of people who did not know well.”


The chief executive pointed out that the government has attained accumulated reserve twice higher than initially planned and curbed the insurance fee increase to an average of 2.7 percent, also lower than planned, managing to minimize burdens on the public.


“Such an accomplishment is all the most significant as we made it despite the hefty input of insurance funds into anti-Covid-19 fights by spending 2.1 trillion won for diagnosis, quarantine, and treatment,” President Moon noted.


When he took office in 2017, Moon announced his health insurance policy, saying that the government would 10 trillion won from the cumulative reserve of 20 trillion won on helping to ease people’s medical cost burdens while leaving the other 10 trillion won intact. The President also said that he would curb the insurance fee increase rate below the average 3.2 percent of the previous decade.


“The government will continue to manage health insurance finance stably and strive to lessen the people’s medical costs,” President Moon said. “It will keep expanding the medical insurance coverage and make the most of it to respond to the Omicron wave effectively.”



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Woman allegedly used insurance fraud money for court payments, Door Dash and more – The Oakland Press

Woman allegedly used insurance fraud money for court payments, Door Dash and more – The Oakland Press


A Southfield woman has been charged in a criminal complaint for an alleged unemployment insurance scam related to COVID-19 through which she obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars.

As announced Wednesday by the Department of Justice, Katrina Patreese Maddox, 46, is facing federal charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for allegedly making false and fraudulent unemployment insurance claims in relation to the pandemic.

It’s alleged that from May 2020 through December 2021, Maddox used other people’s identities to file more than 35 fraudulent unemployment insurance claims. The benefits she cards allegedly received illegally were used to make court payments, pay for Door Dash deliveries and for cash withdrawals.



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Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Simplification of Deposit Insurance Rules

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Simplification of Deposit Insurance Rules


B-333998

February 18, 2022

The Honorable Sherrod Brown
Chairman
The Honorable Patrick J. Toomey
Ranking Member
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
United States Senate

The Honorable Maxine Waters
chair woman
The Honorable Patrick McHenry
Ranking Member
Committee on Financial Services
House of Representatives

Subject: Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation: Simplification of Deposit Insurance Rules

Pursuant to section 801(a)(2)(A) of title 5, United States Code, this is our report on a major rule promulgated by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) entitled “Simplification of Deposit Insurance Rules” (RIN: 3064-AF27). We received the rule on February 4, 2022. It was published in the Federal Register as a final rule on January 28, 2022. 87 Fed. Reg. 4455. The effective date is April 1, 2024.

FDIC stated this final rule amends its regulations governing deposit insurance coverage. FDIC further stated the amendments simplify the deposit insurance regulations by establishing a ”trust accounts” category that governs coverage of deposits of both revocable trusts and irrevocable trusts using a common calculation, and provides consistent deposit insurance treatment for all mortgage servicing account balances held to satisfy principal and interest obligations to a lender.

Enclosed is our assessment of FDIC’s compliance with the procedural steps required by section 801(a)(1)(B)(i) through (iv) of title 5 with respect to the rule. If you have any questions about this report or wish to contact GAO officials responsible for the evaluation work relating to the subject matter of the rule, please contact Shari Brewster, Assistant General Counsel, at (202) 512-6398.


Shirley A.Jones
Managing Associate General Counsel

Enclosure

cc: Mr. Andy Jiminez
Director – Office of Legislative Affairs
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

ENCLOSURE

REPORT UNDER 5 USC § 801(a)(2)(A) ON A MAJOR RULE
ISSUED BY THE
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION
ENTITLED
“SIMPLIFICATION OF DEPOSIT INSURANCE RULES”
(RIN: 3064-AF27)

(i) Cost-benefit analysis

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) did not discuss the costs and benefits in the final rule. In its submission to us, FDIC indicated that it considered preparation of an analysis of the costs and benefits of this rule to be not applicable.

(ii) Agency actions falling under the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 USC §§ 603–605, 607, and 609

FDIC stated that it does not believe this final rule will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. However, FDIC further stated, some of the expected effects of the rule are difficult to assess or accurately quantify given current information, therefore it included a Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis. For both the simplification of trust rules and the amendments to the mortgage servicing account rule, the analysis included (1) reasons why the action is being taken, (2) policy objectives, (3) legal basis, (4) the final rule, (5) small entities affected, (6) expected effects, (7) alternatives considered, and (8) other statutes and federal rules.

(iii) Agency actions falling under sections 202–205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995, 2 USC §§ 1532–1535

As an independent regulatory agency, FDIC is not subject to the Act.

(iv) Other relevant information or requirements under acts and executive orders

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 USC §§ 551 and seq.

On August 3, 2021, FDIC published a proposed rule. 86 Fed. Reg. 41766. FDIC stated it received seven comments from national trade associations, a state banker’s association, a deposit solutions provider, and three individuals. FDIC went on to state that it reviewed the suggestions it received in the comments as a part of the process of developing this final rule.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), 44 USC §§ 3501–3520

FDIC determined that this final rule contains no information collection requirements under the Act.

Statutory authorization for the rule

FDIC promulgated this final rule pursuant to sections 1813, 1817, 1818, 1819, 1820, 1821, and 1822 of title 12, United States Code.

Executive Order No. 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review)

As an independent regulatory agency, FDIC is not subject to the Order.

Executive Order No. 13132 (Federalism)

As an independent regulatory agency, FDIC is not subject to the Order.





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LONGTIME INDIANA INSURANCE MAN PASSES AWAY

LONGTIME INDIANA INSURANCE MAN PASSES AWAY


A longtime Indiana insurance man has passed away.

William G. Mechling, the namesake of the Mechling insurance agency, died on Thursday after a four year bout with cancer. Mechling started in the insurance industry in 1961 with a degree in Insurance and Liability Law from the University of Pittsburgh, and was employed by Erie Insurance as a claims adjuster, field man and commercial district manager. After five years, he took an opportunity to purchase the Erie Insurance Agency from Margaret “Peg” Allison and that became the William G. Mechling Insurance Agency, which has run for the last 56 years.

Before his time in the insurance industry, Mechling served in the US Marine Corps. He completed schooling in electronics and served as an aircraft electrician at bases in the US, Cuba, and at sea on the USS Coral Sea. Upon his honorable discharge in 1956, he had earned the Navy Occupation Medal for Europe, The National Defense Medal and the Good Conduct Medal.

His public service continued in his post-military career, serving of the Selective Service System; the Lions Club where he was one of the original board members for Lions Health Camp; and was active as a Sunday School Superintendent, member of church council and a pastoral search committee member at Zion Lutheran Church.

Visitation is planned for Sunday at Robinson-Lytle-Shoemaker Funeral Home, with services to be held the next day at Zion Lutheran Church. To read his obituary, click here.

Mechling died one day after his 88th birthday.

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US litigation funding impacting costs of liability claims

US litigation funding impacting costs of liability claims


This multi-billion-dollar global industry is growing fast, according to a new publication from the Swiss Re Institute, entitled ‘US litigation funding and social inflation: The rising costs of legal liability’. Swiss Re projects that TPLF could be a US$30+ billion industry by 2028, with the US market driving that growth.

This could have a significant impact on the liability insurance market because TPLF encourages prolonged litigation and larger monetary awards that ultimately benefit the funders. As such, Swiss Re defines TPLF as a growing contributor to social inflation in the US because of its tendency to drive higher, sometimes nuclear, claims costs.

“We see that TPLF has been growing strongly […] and the funds are [often] invested in cases that are tied to certain areas of insurance, like commercial auto, trucking, general liability, and medical professional liability – and we do see higher incidence of very large jury verdicts in these areas,” said Thomas Holzheu (pictured), chief economist for the Americas at Swiss Re Institute.

“We know that the nature of these investment is to better prepare cases so that they result in higher awards. Piecing all of the evidence we have together – [bearing in mind that] a lot of these trials are not public, and the existence of funding is not disclosed – we conclude that TPLF is an important factor that contributes to social inflation and the increase in […] the number of very large claims.”

Read next: Tackling the silent assassin of the liability insurance world

The Swiss Re report details how TPLF investments have produced internal rates of return (IRR) from 25% upward in recent years, outperforming even risky asset classes such as venture capital and other private equity plays. This is a very attractive IRR proposition for investors. TPLF typically diverts a greater share of the legal awards to the funder rather than the plaintiff, resulting in what Swiss Re describes as “an opaque, bottom-up wealth transfer from consumers to sophisticated investors and law firms.”

The problem, explained matter-of-factly by Holzheu, is: “Someone has to pay the ultimate bill. I think that’s where awareness is lacking. If the insurance industry has to pay higher claims for trucking, then this has consequences. First, the underwriting results of insurers in these certain lines of business, such as commercial liability and commercial auto, have been negative for multiple years now. We see premium rates increase, but they’re only just catching up with the claims costs, so these are still not profitable lines of business.

“At the same time – as always in insurance when profitability becomes an issue – premiums need to be raised, certain risks need to be underwritten in different ways, and the capacity for high-risk industries becomes smaller. So, trucking businesses face high bills for insurance, and they find it harder to gain cover. As the claims become bigger, the costs fall on the shoulders of the businesses, their customers, and the other insurance clients in related lines of business.

“That is the issue here. Nuclear verdicts get spread out through the insurance system – that’s how it’s supposed to work – but the risk needs to be borne by or paid for by the industry and the clients of these industries where the risks reside. And that’s a side of this matter that’s not necessarily seen or discussed. There’s not a lot of advocacy for the businesses and for the clients of these businesses.”

Read more: Revealed – the best professional liability and D&O providers in America

Social inflation has had a noticeable impact on liability insurance results in recent years. According to Swiss Re, the average 2020 combined ratio for general liability was estimated at 105.7% and for medical malpractice at 117.5%, the seventh consecutive year of underwriting losses for both lines.

“A lot of these trends are far removed from the direct actions of industry, and the exposures are hard to control,” Holzheu told Insurance Business. “But the insurance industry is really in between, and that’s another reason why we wrote this report. When assuming liability risks, insurers need to be aware of this trend, and need to be mindful of this potential for these nuclear verdicts.

“When underwriting certain industries and determining the amount of limit to put out there – all of this can be adapted and adjusted, and that really requires insurers to monitor this space much more carefully and to look at the drivers and trends. I think that’s an important takeaway. While it may be difficult in the short term to change the underlying trend, the underwriting of these trends is more flexible, and it’s quite important for the insurance industry to take action.”

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JAG Insurance Group Opens Account with TradeStation Crypto as Part of Corporate Treasury Solution

JAG Insurance Group Partners with TradeStation Crypto to Provide Corporate Cryptocurrency Solution


MIAMI–(BUSINESSWIRE)–JAG Insurance Group (JAG) – a full-service South Florida-based commercial insurance agency with offices in Coral Gables and Delray Beach, and Charlotte, NC – announced today that it has opened a corporate treasury account with TradeStation Crypto, Inc ., a subsidiary of TradeStation Group, Inc., and expanded the firm’s employee benefit offerings by matching employee crypto investments.

As digital pioneers with a deep understanding of the current market, JAG’s decision to open a corporate account with TradeStation Crypto reinforces the firm’s forward-thinking approach. Focused on creating a culture of innovation within the insurance industry, selecting a cryptocurrency platform with TradeStation Crypto allows the firm to diversify its investment portfolio.

“Dedicated to enriching the experience of our employees, our firm is constantly expanding our benefits to align with the current global environment,” said Luis R. Gazitua, JAG Insurance Group principal. “With Cryptocurrency rising in prominence, TradeStation Crypto’s brokerage offering and educational content helps us to better understand the market and provide our staff with ongoing access to education. We’re excited at the possibilities this provides for our company and staff.”

Adapting to new demands by proactively staying ahead of emerging trends, JAG has implemented new technology to create a bridge between digital currencies and traditional payment options, officially issuing an insurance policy using cryptocurrency. Committed to pushing the envelope and offering their staff a robust and competitive benefit program, JAG recognizes the growing importance of cryptocurrency, providing employees with insight on how to invest. More than half of JAG’s staff has enrolled in the firm’s bonus matching program using TradeStation Crypto’s platform.

“We’re excited to see more South Florida-based companies entering the cryptocurrency space,” said James Putra, Vice President of Product Strategy at TradeStation Crypto. “There continues to be an increase in crypto investing at the corporate level, and we’re proud to provide companies with the tools needed to invest in cryptocurrency assets. We expect, as more companies uncover the benefits of cryptocurrency, the trend will continue to grow.”

About JAG

JAG Insurance Group is a South Florida-based full-service insurance agency, specializing in commercial real estate, hospitality, non-profit, manufacturing, transportation, long-term care, life insurance, disability, and sports & entertainment. Co-founded by Douglas Jones, Fernando Alvarez and Luis Gazitua, the firm has offices in Coral Gables, Delray Beach, and Charlotte, NC The firm serves a diverse business community and individual needs, delivering innovative comprehensive and complete insurance solutions for a multitude of sectors. The company integrates an entrepreneurial approach to provide clients with the expertise and support of a large insurance conglomerate, but with the personalized attention of a boutique business. JAG’s attention to detail and atypical approach to the traditional insurance environment fosters a successful experience that aligns with clients’ goals. For more information, visit www.jaginsgroup.com.



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Valley family urges importance of renters insurance after fire

Valley family urges importance of renters insurance after losing everything in fire


The family did not have insurance and is now finding refuge with family as they try to get back on their feet.

PHOENIX — A Valley family is urging the importance of renters insurance after a raging fire consumed the home they’ve rented for years.

One minute Monica Peñuelas was comfortably sleeping on her bed, the next she was running for her life as the home she shared with her mother and stepfather was engulfed in flames.

Almost all of what she owned was destroyed in the house fire near McDowell Road and 41st Avenue on Monday.

“I keep having that memory of my mom shouting, ‘Monica wake up! The house is on fire!’ I just see the flames spreading within seconds,” she said.

It was shortly before 9 am when her neighbors woke her up by knocking on the door.

A fire was raging in the back of their house, making its way inside and around the front.

Peñuelas remembers being a little disoriented, but recalls grabbing her laptop, dog, and calling 911.

“Never, never would have I imagined this to happen and within a minute everything you own [is] just gone,” she said.

The fire possibly started after an electrical breaker failure, Peñuelas said she was told by firefighters.

During last week’s rainy weather, she recalls the breakers malfunctioning and the family being without electricity for several hours.

The breaker box is located in the back of the house, next to where Peñuelas’ carpet materials are stored for her business. She believes that helped fuel the fire, all the way to the room where she operated her at-home business.

“It’s all gone,” she said with a broken voice while entering a room that left holes in the ceiling and debris on the flood. “I’ve put in thousands and millions of dollars in my business, I remodeled this room too.”

Most of the equipment she used for her body sculpting and esthetician work was destroyed by the fire or damaged by water firefighters used to contain the flames.

“I’m going to have to start from scratch pretty much,” Peñuelas said. “We have nothing covered, so it’s not like we can try to reward everything we lost.”

The family had been renting the home for several years but did not have renters insurance to cover their possessions. The owner of the home will rebuild, but they are left finding refuge with family members.

“I would urge everyone to get renters insurance if you don’t already, that’s not something we knew about… but, for future reference now we know,” she said.

The family’s four family dogs survived the fire. Two of their three parrots died following in the blaze.

“At the end of the day none of us got hurt and [thanks to God] that’s all that matters to me at least,” Peñuelas said.

The family set up a GoFundMe account in hopes of getting back on their feet soon.

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Is tech making small business accounts more attractive?

Is tech making small business accounts more attractive?


“It can be a challenge. A lot of carriers won’t write new business as they have a minimum premium [requirement] or payroll threshold to even [offer] a quote,” Hannah Sullivan (pictured right), head of growth at SolePro explained. “That places [SMEs] in the assigned risk pool which no-one wants to be in.”

Read more: Small business is big business

The more agents touch a smaller account, the less money they make, but with the right technology that problem is alleviated.

“Technology is allowing agents to service [SMEs] through a platform where you can quote multiple carriers in one place,” Jade Sullivan (pictured left), head of innovation at SolePro added. “The ability to have instant quotes takes some of the work off their plates and gives agents the opportunity to build relationships with clients.”

New or smaller businesses are not always insurance savvy and tend to have lots of questions that agents may not have the time to answer. This is where digital solutions can swoop in and save the day.

SolePro has developed a retail agency POGO, to help SME clients understand the basics about what to look for in insurance coverage, and the agency offers an extra set of eyes, if needed, to make sure the right coverage is in place.

“We’re creating more resources online to answer specific questions,” Jade Sullivan mentioned. “We’re hoping to help smaller accounts throughout their whole journey, from research to quoting.”

“There’s a whole DIY movement; many accounts are researching their options online when it comes to insurance,” said Hannah Sullivan. “There are gaps when it comes to workers’ comp [and] independent agents go to multiple carriers to get all the necessary coverage which makes the process much harder.”

Insurtechs like SolePro are enabling more carrier quoting accessibility for small businesses on one platform, while also filling the gaps when it comes to workers’ comp protection.

“The main thing is that insurtechs are aggregating all that information and coding it,” Jade Sullivan added.

Read next: What do agents want in an insurtech?

Carriers are now looking to get on as many insurtech platforms as possible and building out their own APIs for easy integration. Hannah Sullivan noted that the carriers SolePro works with are making their APIs more robust, keeping distribution top of mind.

“There are some new carriers emerging that are tech-forward and others who are bound to old systems,” Hannah Sullivan continued. “Even if they can create an API, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can change other aspects within their processes, which are obstacles for insurtech platforms.”

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