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FCC proposes $45 million fine for health insurance robocaller

FCC


The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today proposed the largest-ever fine against a robocaller for Telephone Consumer Protection Act violations.

The Commission wants to hit Florida-based lead generator Interstate Brokers with a $45 million TCPA fine for making more than 500,000 unlawful robocalls without an emergency purpose or the consumers’ prior express consent.

The company allegedly used false claims about the COVID-19 pandemic to convince people to purchase health insurance products and offered health plans that included telemedicine services.

Consumers contacted in this illegal robocall campaign received pre-recorded voice messages on phone numbers collected while they were looking for health insurance quotes online or from third-party vendors.

If they answered the call, the automated system transferred them to call centers and were offered health insurance products from several insurance companies that had hired Interstate Brokers’ services.

“The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau investigation found that Interstate Brokers made 514,196 robocalls to wireless phones and 271 telemarketing robocalls to landline phones in apparent violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act,” the FCC press release reads.

“The Bureau reviewed a sample of 10,000 calls, confirmed with the dialing platform provider that the calls were pre-recorded messages, and spoke to several recipients who confirmed they had not provided to consent to be called. [..] This is the largest TCPA robocall fine ever proposed by the Commission.”

TCPA and Do Not Call Registry violations

Many of these automated telemarketing calls were made to phone numbers without prior written consent as required under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Furthermore, some of these calls were also received by people on the Do Not Call Registry that should’ve prevented unwanted sales calls.

Today’s proposal comes after an FCC order issued in May 2020 saying it will no longer warn robocallers before fining them for harassing US consumers and violating the law.

This order also increased the maximum penalty for each intentional unlawful robocall to $10,000, in addition to the FCC-proposed forfeiture penalty amount.

In the past, the Commission has also carried out other enforcement actions under the Truth in Caller ID Act targeting spoofed robocalls.

For instance, the FCC issued a $120 million fine in May 2018 against a Florida-based telemarketer for making approximately 100 million spoofed robocalls over three months.

In September 2018, the FCC issued an $82 million penalty against a North Carolina-based health insurance telemarketer for over 21 million spoofed robocalls made to market health insurance plans.





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Fears of Losing Insurance Prompt Some Truckers to Leave Weeks-Long Protest

Trucker Protests Canada Ottawa Insurance Trudeau


After demonstrating for three weeks, some truckers are beginning to leave anti-COVID mandate protests across Canada over fears that the federal government might revoke their insurance—a move that could make it difficult for these drivers to ever work again.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brought insurance companies into the ongoing conflict, asking insurers to suspend coverage on trucks and vehicles used in the blockades, when he enacted the Emergencies Act.

“We are today serving notice: if your truck is being used in these illegal blockades, your corporate accounts will be frozen. The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday. “Send your semi-trailers home.”

As banks began freezing accounts of protesters and their supporters on Thursday, some truckers began leaving the protests after the government’s latest announcement out of concerns that auto insurance may be suspended soon as well.

On Thursday, Eric Mullera key trucker figure in the demonstrations in Ottawa, drove away from the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in his Load Safe truck after spending 20 days in the nation’s capital protesting the federal government’s vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers, social media posts show.

Rich Russell, the owner of shipping company Load Safe, told the Toronto Star that he risked losing his entire company because one independent owner-operator employed by Russell was part of the Freedom Convoy.

He said that his insurance company had informed him that the insurance of the entire fleet could be suspended and the company bank account frozen due to the one driver’s involvement with the protests.

Russell, who has not been involved with the demonstrations, did not name the driver but said they finally left their parking spot outside a hotel after Russell pleaded with him to do so.

“The insurance on your vehicle will be suspended,” Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland warned trucker protesters on Monday. Trucks block a street in front of Parliament Hill during the protest against Covid-19 mandates, in Ottawa on February 18, 2022.
Anrej Ivanov/AFP

Insurance-related fears have also pushed out truckers in Alberta, who had been blocking a border crossing between the community of Coutts and Sweet Grass, Montana.

Corporal Gina Slaney of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told Fortune on Tuesday that demonstrators were beginning to leave after hearing of the news that the federal government was imposing new and sweeping action against protesters.

“A lot of grown men were crying,” trucker Jake Klassen told the outlet. “We didn’t think [Trudeau] was going to enact that. We could lose everything.”

While the broadened powers under the Emergencies Act seem to be doing more to quell the protests in Canada, some have warned that taking away insurance is not the best solution.

“I think as a government it would be bonkers,” Queen’s University law professor Erik Knutsen told the CBC last week. “If you yank insurance coverage and the person that did something, that hurt somebody, in one of these gatherings has no assets, it doesn’t hurt the wrongdoer. It’s hurting the victim.”

“If that trucker didn’t have a policy, and the pedestrian didn’t have a policy to claim on, what would happen in that situation?” Bryan Yetman, president at First Durham Insurance, told Canadian Underwriter. “Having people who aren’t really clear as to whether they’re covered or not driving around doesn’t seem like a particularly good idea.”

Ottawa police are expected to crack down on protesters in the downtown core and other parts of Ottawa on Friday afternoon, prompting the House of Commons’ to cancel its sitting to take up debate on Trudeau’s emergency powers.





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Are fences covered by insurance?

Are fences covered by insurance?


(iStock)

With winds of up to 90mph, Storm Eunice has arrived in southern parts of England and Wales.

The gale-force tastes are so strong that the Met Office issued not one, but two, rare red weather warnings ahead of the Storm’s arrival on 18 February.

And while there have been reports of bins flying down roads and trampolines being blown onto railway tracks, what can you do if your personal property is damaged by the storm?

More specifically, what can you do if the storm damages your fence?

If your property has faced any damage due to Storm Eunice, it’s important to check out your home, buildings and contents insurance policy to see what it covers.

The BBC reports that most buildings insurance policies will not pay out for storm damage to hedges, gates or fences. Which is why it’s important to read the fine print when selecting a policy.

However, Citizens Advice says that buildings insurance covers the cost of repairing damage to the structure of your property. This includes garages, sheds, fences, pipes, cables and drains.

It adds that it usually covers these costs if they were damaged due to fallen trees, lampposts, aerials or satellites, which could be the case with Storm Eunice.

For those who own their own home, buildings insurance is their own responsibility.

For tenants renting a property from a landlord, Citizens Advice says it’s generally the landlord’s responsibility to take out the insurance, but the tenant may be responsible for the loss or damage to fixtures and fittings.

So if you do have a damaged fence, it’s best to check your buildings insurance policy to see whether it is covered. If you rent your home, check with your landlord about their policy.



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Everything Drivers Need to Know About Rental Car Insurance | News

 Everything Drivers Need to Know About Rental Car Insurance |  News


LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — Compare-autoinsurance.org has launched a new blog post that explains what rental car insurance is and presents the different types of this insurance.

For more info and free car insurance quotes online, visit https://compare-autoinsurance.org/what-is-rental-car-insurance-and-when-drivers-need-this-coverage/

Renting a car from a traditional car rental company or using a peer-to-peer car-sharing service is getting more popular. Different types of car rental services offer varying types of insurance, and requirements vary from state to state. In many cases, the personal car insurance policy may even cover the rental of a vehicle. To find out if their insurance policy covers rentals, policyholders should contact their insurance providers. However, drivers who don’t own a car will likely don’t have their own car insurance and will need to buy insurance from the rental service.

When looking to get rental insurance, drivers will probably see the same types of rental coverage no matter where they went. The most common types of rental car insurance are the following:

  • Collision damage waiver, also known as loss damage waiver. Although this isn’t actually a form of insurance, this waiver is meant to relieve renters of responsibility if the car is damaged or stolen. This waiver is quite helpful if the policyholder’s personal car worth is less than the worth of the rented vehicle.
  • Personal accident insurance. This option covers both the driver and the passengers for any kind of medical costs incurred during a car accident. Depending on the policyholder’s health insurance or personal car insurance, this option may not be necessary. However, if this option is needed, it usually costs about $2 per day.
  • Personal effects insurance. This coverage is used to reimburse the policyholder if any of his belongings get stolen from or damaged in the car. In some cases, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance can indemnify the policyholder if the personal belongings are stolen from or damaged in the rental car. This option may cost from $3 to $4.
  • Liability insurance. This coverage is the minimum amount of coverage required by the state. This policy could provide coverage if the policyholder is being sued as a result of damaging property or injuring another person while driving the rental car.

Before relying on their personal car insurance policies, drivers should check what coverages their insurance policy offers. If it includes rental car coverage, drivers won’t have to buy extra insurance when renting a vehicle. Also, drivers should check if their policy coverage includes comprehensive and collision insurance. If not, drivers are advised to get these options from the rental company. To cover the cost of rental car coverage, policyholders can use their credit cards. Sometimes credit cards offer additional car insurance as an added benefit.

For additional info, money-saving tips and free car insurance quotes, visit https://compare-autoinsurance.org/

Compare-autoinsurance.org is an online provider of life, home, health, and auto insurance quotes. This website is unique because it does not simply stick to one kind of insurance provider, but brings the clients the best deals from many different online insurance carriers. In this way, clients have access to offers from multiple carriers all in one place: this website. On this site, customers have access to quotes for insurance plans from various agencies, such as local or nationwide agencies, brand names insurance companies, etc.

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Daniel C, Internet Marketing Company, 8183593898, [email protected]

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St. John’s Insurance going belly up

St. John's Insurance going belly up


Demotech ratings agency has downgraded St. Johns Insurance Company, putting thousands of policyholders out of compliance with their mortgage lender.

St. Johns, the eighth-largest homeowners’ insurance carrier in the state, was one of more than a half-dozen other carriers to announce this week they were suspending new business. Now it appears their estimated 170,000 policyholders will have to find a new insurer.

With Florida’s insurance market already hardened, most consumers have nowhere to turn but the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Company. Once at 420,000 policies, Citizens’ policy count has grown to 777,000 and is increasing by about 5,000 new policies each week.

OIR will decide the final fate of St. Johns as to whether it is ultimately placed into receivership.

“The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation is working closely with St. Johns Insurance Company to facilitate options for consumers so they have continuous access to coverage,” an OIR spokesperson said in an email to Florida Politics.

The St. Johns’s downgrade comes as lawmakers are considering legislation aimed at shoring up the state’s ailing property insurance market.

The Senate (SB 1728) plan hopes to curtail roof litigation by allowing insurers to write policies that cover the cash value of older roofs rather than replacement cost. Currently, insurers are mostly required to write policies covering replacement cost.

The House, however, is not on board with the plan, which has been publicly criticized by House Speaker Chris Sprows.

“I want to make sure people are compensated,” Sprows told reporters on Wednesday. “If you get a hurricane, and you’ve got a senior citizen on a fixed income, I am cognizant of the fact that they may not be able to go and get a huge roof. I totally understand the arguments, so we’ll see how the conversation goes in the next several weeks.”

Meanwhile, Senate President wilton simpson said property insurance remains a top priority for his chamber and that if lawmakers don’t pass legislation this year, then the Legislature will have “failed our citizens.”


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Maine to merge individual, small-group health insurance markets

Maine to merge individual, small-group health insurance markets


The bureau projects that pooling the market will reduce premiums by an average of 8% for individuals and about 6% for small employers in 2023. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Maine will merge individual and small-group insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to create more stable pricing for health coverage. The Maine Bureau of Insurance said the market for individual health insurance has been stable, but premiums for small-group insurance have been rising as enrollment declines.

“The Governor’s Made for Maine Health Coverage Act instructed the Bureau of Insurance to convene a stakeholder group and do the rigorous actuarial work to determine the potential benefit of merging the two markets,” Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa said. “The implementation of the merger was delayed from 2022 to 2023 based on input from the stakeholder group to undertake further study, which ultimately strengthened the case for the merger.”

Related: Small-group insurance market remained stable during pandemic, but long-term concerns remain

The merger will pool the risks of the two markets and also put the small-group market into the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association, or MGARA, a state-created body that helps provide reinsurance as a way to share the risks of large insurance claims. MGARA initially began in 2012 but was suspended in 2014 and then relaunched in 2019.

About 48,300 people were insured in the small-group market and about 63,000 in the individual market as of last March, according to the bureau. The small-group market has experienced declining membership and rising premiums, with average rate increases of 31% from 2019 to 2022. Meanwhile, premiums for the individual market declined by 14% over the same four-year period.

The bureau projects that pooling the market will reduce premiums by an average of 8% for individuals and about 6% for small employers in 2023. Premiums are projected to decline another 6.1% for individuals and 3.9% for small employers in 2024.

Massachusetts and Vermont also have merged their individual and small-group markets, and North Dakota is considering doing so, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund.

“Because market conditions can vary substantially by location, consumer options could be enhanced by providing select opportunities to cross this market border in either direction,” the report concluded. “Self-employed individuals might find better unsubsidized prices as a `group of one’ in the small-group market. Or small firms might be able to provide lower-cost coverage by subsidizing workers’ purchase of individual insurance. Policies that ease these market boundaries without substantially harmonizing market conditions may be valuable.”

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Car insurance for foster youth could be easier under Indiana bill

Car insurance for foster youth could be easier under Indiana bill


Indiana lawmakers are considering a bill that could help older foster youth cover the cost of car insurance.

Senate Bill 246 would, in part, create the Insuring Foster Youth Trust Fund, which would use public and private dollars to help older youth in the state’s foster care system cover the cost of their car insurance. The bill would also offset the cost of hiring a certified driving instructor to help the youth complete their 50 state-mandated hours of practice behind the wheel.

Not having car insurance or a license can be a barrier to self-sufficiency for these youth, according to Maggie Stevens, president and CEO of Foster Success, a nonprofit supporting the bill.

Indiana legislature:Lawmakers expand who can qualify for $125 taxpayer refund this spring





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Seeing a Hearing Instrument Specialist: Your Insurance Questions Answered

Seeing a Hearing Instrument Specialist: Your Insurance Questions Answered


RAPID CITY, SD — The majority of Americans rely on health insurance to cover essential needs, including hearing instruments. Unfortunately, there’s no standard for hearing coverage, so knowing what is or isn’t covered by your insurance plan can be confusing. When you need to see a hearing instrument specialist, it’s important to answer these questions prior to your appointment. Cassandra Garver, licensed hearing instrument specialist (HIS) and owner of Lifetime Hearing Solutions, breaks down what you need to know.

Does Health Insurance Cover Hearing Instruments?

Health insurance varies by the insurance company, plan, and location. Some states, like Illinois and Rhode Island, require that health insurance covers hearing aids for adults and children. Others do not. According to Garver, “Usually, insurance will just cover a flat amount every year towards hearing aid purchases.” For example, your insurance plan might cover $400 per year. If you’re getting a set of hearing aids, that won’t cover the entire cost. You’ll pay the rest of the cost beyond the $400.

It’s always best to contact your provider to get definitive answers. Garver says you should ask “whether they take the insurance and if they’re in-network or out of network. Ask if they submit the claim or if the patient has to submit for reimbursement themselves.”

What Does Insurance Typically Cover?

Aside from the initial cost of hearing aids, you might need to visit your hearing instrument specialist for follow-ups, repairs, reprogramming, and cleaning. All of these visits have costs associated, which begs the question of what insurance does or doesn’t cover.

According to Garver, it all comes down to that flat amount that your insurance plan covers. “You usually get a flat amount every three years or every year. For example, if you get a big amount of $2,500 every five years, when that’s paid, that’s all you get. So, anything within that time frame that’s over that amount is the responsibility of the patient.”

However, it’s worth noting that your warranty also matters. According to Garver, “I do include services for the same amount of years as the hearing aid has warranty. And that’s usually three years.” She notes that any tweaking or adjustments made beyond that warranty time are the patient’s responsibility.

Is There Any Additional Financial Support?

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that your insurance will cover the total cost of your hearing health services. Typically, the best option for financial support beyond what your plan covers is financing. “Care Credit is a big one. Some places also take payment plans,” says Garver. Care Credit is a popular credit card designed for health care expenses. It offers flexible financing options and repayment terms to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, like hearing health care.

It’s also important to keep state and federal support options in mind. For example, South Dakota’s Department of Human Services has the Hearing Aid Assistance Program (HAAP), which helps cover the cost of hearing aids for eligible children under the age of 19. Medicaid can also help cover the cost of certain prescribed hearing aids for adults in South Dakota, although there is a list of qualifications you must meet.

Ultimately, getting coverage for your hearing health care all comes down to research. Speak with your insurer and provider to ensure you have all the information you need to proceed. Your provider will be happy to help.

For more information on the hearing health services offered by Lifetime Hearing Solutions visit their website at https://lifetimehearingsolutions.com/ or call 605-342-1619.


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AM Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida; Affirms Credit Ratings of Auto Club Insurance Association and Subsidiaries

 AM Best Upgrades Credit Ratings of Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida;  Affirms Credit Ratings of Auto Club Insurance Association and Subsidiaries


OLDWICK, NJ–(BUSINESSWIRE)–AM Best has upgraded the Financial Strength Rating (FSR) to A (Excellent) from A- (Excellent) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating (Long-Term ICR) to “a” (Excellent) from “a-” (Excellent) of Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida (ACICF). Additionally, AM Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR of “a” (Excellent) of Auto Club South Insurance Company (ACSIC). Together these companies form Auto Club Florida Group (Auto Club Florida) and are domiciled in Tampa FL. The outlook of these Credit Ratings is stable. Concurrently, AM Best has affirmed the FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICR of “a” (Excellent) of Auto Club Insurance Association (ACIA) (Dearborn, MI) and its wholly owned subsidiaries, which are collectively referred to as Auto Club Group (ACG). The outlook of these ratings is stable.

The ratings of Auto Club Florida reflect its balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The ratings of Auto Club Florida also consider AM Best’s assessment of the financial support afforded by its ownership group (ACIA, 91.7% ownership and ACG, 8.3% ownership). Both ACIA and ACG have pledged to support ongoing growth and operations as needed. As in the past, capital will be called into the group at ownership’s discretion based on the guidance outlined in the predetermined capital risk tolerance framework.

The ratings of ACG reflect its balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as very strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, neutral business profile and appropriate ERM.

The FSR of A (Excellent) and the Long-Term ICRs of “a” (Excellent) have been affirmed for the following wholly owned subsidiaries of Auto Club Insurance Association:

  • MemberSelect Insurance Company

  • Auto Club Property-Casualty Insurance Company

  • Auto Club Group Insurance Company

  • Meemic Insurance Company

  • Fremont Insurance Company

  • The Members Insurance Company

  • Universal Insurance Company (NC)

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and relevant disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper use of Best’s Credit Ratings, Best’s Performance Assessments, Best’s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Ratings & Assessments.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2022 by AM Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



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AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of AXA Mansard Insurance Plc

AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of AXA Mansard Insurance Plc


LONDON–(BUSINESSWIRE)–AM Best has affirmed the Financial Strength Rating of B+ (Good) and the Long-Term Issuer Credit Rating of “bbb-” (Good) of AXA Mansard Insurance Plc (AXA Mansard) (Nigeria). The outlook of these Credit Ratings (ratings) is stable.

The ratings reflect AXA Mansard’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as strong, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management. The ratings also reflect rating enhancement from AXA Mansard’s ultimate parent, AXA SA

AXA Mansard’s balance sheet strength is underpinned by its risk-adjusted capitalization that is at the strongest level, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio (BCAR). Capital consumption is influenced significantly by the company’s real estate holdings, which in 2021, equated to a little under half of capital and surplus. The company’s BCAR scores declined in 2021, although remained at the strongest level. The deterioration was due largely to significant unrealized losses on fixed income investments, as well as the payment of an NGN 2.0 billion (USD 4.8 million) dividend. The balance sheet strength assessment also considers AXA Mansard’s high reinsurance dependence, driven by large cessions on energy and property risks, as well as its exposure to the high levels of economic, political and financial system risks that are associated with operating in Nigeria.

AXA Mansard’s underwriting performance has improved steadily over recent years, with its combined ratio reducing to 89% in 2020 from 113% in 2016. Historically, technical performance was impacted negatively by the company’s high expense ratio, which exceeded 44% in the years 2015- 2017; however, the ratio fell to a low of 21% in 2020 as the company’s health business line matured. For the year ended 2021, AXA Mansard reported solid unaudited results, with a pre-tax profit of NGN 5.6 billion (USD 13.5 million), a modest NGN 0.4 billion (USD 1.0 million) decline against 2020.

AXA Mansard is a composite insurer concentrated in Nigeria’s insurance market. The company has a solid foothold in its domestic market where it ranks among the leading companies in the non-life segment, enjoying a market leading position in the health line of business. With good long-term growth prospects, the company is expected to embed its position further in the health segment over the coming years.

This press release relates to Credit Ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and relevant disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For additional information regarding the use and limitations of Credit Rating opinions, please view Guide to Best’s Credit Ratings. For information on the proper use of Best’s Credit Ratings, Best’s Performance Assessments, Best’s Preliminary Credit Assessments and AM Best press releases, please view Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Ratings & Assessments.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in over 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2022 by AM Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.



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