Monthly Archives: July 2014

Louisiana Agent Booked with 29 Counts of Insurance Fraud

Louisiana State Police have booked a 58-year-old West Monroe guy with 29 counts of insurance coverage fraud and a single count of theft.

Trooper Albert Paxton tells The News-Star that John Whittington, a licensed insurance agent, allegedly obtained insurance coverage premiums in income from clients in the Winnsboro region in 2013 and failed to turn in the income to an insurance workplace in Monroe.

An audit of Whittington’s customer accounts showed almost $ 2,200 was paid by the buyers but never ever remitted to the insurance coverage company.

Whittington surrendered to investigators in front of the Ouachita Correctional Center.

It was unclear whether or not Whittington has an attorney.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

American Suicide Bomber Experimented with to Recruit US Friends

When an American suicide bomber drove a truck packed with explosives into a government building in Syria in Might, he had just returned from several months in his Florida hometown, the place U.S. officials say he attempted to recruit some of his friends for Syria’;s violent revolution.

At least one of the men he attempted to recruit told the FBI, but by then, Moner Mohammad Abusalha was previously headed back to Syria and his suicide bombing mission.

The threat raises questions about how Abusalha, who grew up a basketball-obsessed teenager in a gated community in Florida, ended up as a suicide bomber. And, could he — ought to he — have been stopped by U.S. law enforcement?

Mentioned a senior law enforcement official, “The Abusalha case is an object lesson in how tough it is to determine self-radicalized folks in the U.S., and to track people who go from the U.S. to Syria and return. This trouble has been a repeated subject of publicly expressed concern for months.”

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The revelation came after the al-Qaeda-backed group Abusalha died for — the al-Nusrah Front — launched a 31-minute video that amounts to his last will, typical for suicide bombers. In it, he wishes his family members well, tells his mother, “I enjoy, I really like you, Mom. Remain robust for Allah,” and is proven ripping, chewing and setting fire to his U.S. passport.

The sequence of occasions that led up to the bombing, a single of numerous on the final weekend in May, is murky. U.S. officials admit they do not have all the specifics of Abusalha’s travels. His journey began far more than a year ago, when soon after wandering close to in the Middle East he wound up in Syria. In his video will, he says the Syrian rebels clothed and fed him and educated him as a fighter.

Soon after that education, he returned to Ft. Pierce, Florida for numerous months in 2013. It was throughout that pay a visit to, say law enforcement officials, that he tried to recruit others to go back to Syria with him. They refused. The official tells NBC Information that 1 of individuals individuals contacted the FBI, and that is how the U.S. became aware of him as he returned to Syria the 2nd time.

Law enforcement officials admit U.S. intelligence, like the FBI, did not know about Abusalha’s radicalization and his first pay a visit to to Syria or that he had returned to the U.S. to recruit. They have been also unaware, say intelligence officials, of his strategy to destroy himself.

3 days right after the May possibly 25 bombing, al-Nusrah tweeted out word of his position in the suicide bombing.

“Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki carried out a martrydom operation in Idlib, Jabal Al-Arba’;een. Could Allah accept him,” it explained.

The tweet incorporated an image of Abusalha holding a cat, as properly as photos of the bombing al-Nusrah stated he had carried out. “Amriki” indicates “American” and 1 U.S. official pointed out that “Abu Hurayra” is Arabic for “father of the kitten” or “of the kitten,” and was the title adopted by a cat-loving companion of Muhammad, Islam’s founder. A video showed him loading a car with explosives. Al-Nusrah claimed this was the motor vehicle he had detonated in the assault.

Then, on Monday, al-Nusrah launched his will. In it, Abusalha attacks American culture and problems a risk.

“I lived in America. I know how it is,” he says. “You have all the fancy amusement parks, and the dining establishments, and the meals, and all this crap and vehicles. You consider you happen to be happy? You are not happy.”

“You feel you’;re secure where you are, in America or Britain,” he adds. “You feel you are safe. You are not protected.”

Michael Leiter, former director of the National Counterterrorism Center and an NBC News analyst, says it appears no red flags have been missed.

“I have not witnessed anything that suggests that the FBI and Homeland Security missed some thing with this person at first traveling to Syria. And once they had been tipped off after he came back to the United States, I believe they tried to track him. But it is very challenging to track 1000’;s of miles away any single personal… who he is fighting with, exactly where he’;s going, and no matter whether he poses a risk.”

Leiter and other folks in intelligence and law enforcement are concerned about what some are calling “vacationing terrorists,” individuals who go and fight in Syria, then return property to American soil. Officials say at any a single time, close to a dozen U.S. nationals are fighting in Syria with radical groups and that somewhere amongst 70 and 100 Americans have manufactured the trip to Syria to fight for al-Nusrah or ISIS, the group that not too long ago established an Islamic caliphate in Reqqah, Syria, covering a stretch of territory amongst eastern Syria and western Iraq.

There is at least one particular “extremely lively” federal investigation, say U.S. officials. In Minnesota, the FBI is investigating a “handful of individuals” from the greater Minneapolis area who went to Syria and then returned to the States.

“Westerners traveling to Syria are the single greatest threat the counterterrorism local community faces nowadays,” stated Leiter. “Not al Qaeda in Pakistan… this is the group that more than 1000 Westerners have traveled to, are fighting for, are getting coaching from. And the challenge is identifying them and then stopping them when they come back if they are in fact plotting attacks back in the United States.”

Both the FBI and the Division of Homeland Security are taking into consideration rule changes to far more stringently screen these traveling in and out of the U.S. to consider to determine others who pose a threat.

First published July 31 2014, 3:19 PM

A.M. Ideal: Outlook Secure for Wisconsin Mutual Insurance

A.M. Best has revised the outlook to steady from adverse and affirmed the financial strength rating of A- (Outstanding) and the issuer credit score rating of “a-” of Wisconsin Mutual Insurance Co. (WMIC), based in Madison.

The ratings reflect WMIC’s sound capitalization, favorable balance sheet liquidity, stable loss-reserve growth and generally good operating money flows. Greatest explained. The ratings and outlook recognize WMIC’s generally improved operating efficiency and return to underwriting profitability above the previous a number of many years as a end result of fewer severe storm losses and management actions to increase earnings.

Partially offsetting these positive rating variables is WMIC’s concentration of private lines business in a single state that exposes it to regular and extreme weather-connected occasions, regulatory adjustments and probably adverse judicial actions. This concentration danger was evident in 2010 and 2011 when widespread hail storms and frequent wind occasions resulted in operating losses and declines in policyholders’ surplus and threat-adjusted capitalization. Moreover, an adverse judicial determination resulted in an added-contractual settlement in 2010 that contributed to underwriting losses.

A.M. Best believes that the recent ratings and outlook are reflective of WMI’s overall profile and does not anticipate any positive rating actions above the intermediate phrase. Future negative rating actions and/or an outlook revision may possibly happen if damaging operating trends return that result in a decline in policyholders’ surplus and chance-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s Capital Adequacy Ratio.

Source: A.M. Very best

Illinois Warns Insurers of Ban on Transgender Discrimination

The state of Illinois has cautioned insurers about discriminating against transgender folks.

The Illinois Department of Insurance coverage bulletin issued to insurers this week information nondiscrimination provisions in the federal Reasonably priced Care Act along with Illinois laws.

Backers say the move was prompted by issues for transgender people’s rights, a concentrate for some gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights advocates right after Illinois legalized exact same-sex marriage this year.

A number of other states such as Oregon, California, Massachusetts and Vermont have not too long ago issued equivalent statements to insurers.

The guidance reminds insurers that both excluding and denying coverage based on a person’s gender identity are unlawful.

Even so, some query the move. The Illinois Family Institute’s Executive Director David Smith says it puts some religious company owners in a place that forces them to compromise their faiths.

Copyright 2014 Related Press. All rights reserved. This material could not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

20K Maine Residents to Get Health Insurance Premium Rebates

Almost 20,000 Maine customers of overall health insurer Aetna are receiving premium rebates because a provision in the Inexpensive Care Act limits what insurance organizations can spend on administrative costs.

The rebates for 2013 support, totaling a lot more than $ 1.8 million, will be issued by Aug. 1.

The Portland Press Herald reviews that most will be in the kind of short-term premium reductions despite the fact that some clients might receive checks. The regular payment will be $ 149 for 1000’;s of the insurer’s Maine consumers with employer-based programs.

The rebates are the outcome of the “medical loss ratio” rule that caps administrative spending. The law is meant to safeguard buyers by ensuring that further profits produced by insurance coverage companies would be rebated to clients and not utilised for executive bonuses or other administrative costs.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material might not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Investment selections by pension funds and insurers ‘threaten stability’

bank of england

The Financial institution of England claims the tendency amid money to invest according to economic cycles was exacerbating monetary crises. Photograph: Stockcam/Getty Pictures

The investment selections of Uk pension funds and insurers pose a threat to economic stability and economic development, the Financial institution of England has warned.

It said a tendency amid funds to invest according to financial cycles – acquiring riskier assets this kind of as equities in good times and offloading them in instances of crises – was exacerbating fiscal crises.

A doing work group led by Andy Haldane, the Bank’;s chief economist, cited the dotcom crash of the early 2000s and the recent fiscal crisis as examples of this type of behaviour.

The proportion of Uk shares owned by pension funds and lifestyle insurance coverage firms has fallen sharply from in excess of 50% in the early 1990s to just above 10% in 2012.

The group of academics and sector specialists and academics, which includes the former Goldman Sachs chief economist Jim O’;Neill, mentioned in a paper that pension money and insurers were critical to the economic method, managing practically £3tn of assets in the Uk and £30tn globally.

They mentioned there was substantial proof that these investors tend to adopt a “herd” mentality, changing investment or asset allocation approaches at the exact same time for dread of currently being outperformed by peers.

If pension funds and insurers were far more ready to investing against the financial cycle, purchasing riskier assets when they are cheap in a downturn, they could advantage their policyholders and the wider economic climate, the Bank’;s paper concluded.

“In principle, by becoming greater positioned to appear via quick-term industry volatility than numerous other kinds of investor, they also have the likely to be a stabilising influence on the economic technique. [They] could for that reason perform a essential part in supporting both monetary stability and extended-term economic development, which are in flip mutually reinforcing.”

Cat Modeler’s Sharknado Model Follows Campy SyFy Sequel

Editor’s note: Wednesday night’s premier of “Sharknado 2: The Second One” on the SyFy Channel followed last year’s corny flick, which lit up Twitter with praise and insults for its camp and B-grade acting. The item placement-laden, cameo-hefty sequel pitted New Yorkers armed with chainsaws and bats in a battle for their lives against tornado-flung sharks while tv climate forecasters attempted to make sense of the phenomenon. AIR Globally modeler Scott Stransky provided his consider on building a sharknado model. The following opinions are his, and his alone.

As we all know, a Sharknado can be a potent and deadly force of nature as the documentary shown final night on SyFy confirmed. From a existence insurance and health insurance stage of view, this peril is near the top of the listing of worst attainable situations.

But what about from the property insurance coverage angle, which many of our consumers are concerned with?

Scott Stransky

Scott Stransky

Given that there have only been 2 Sharknadoes in recorded historical past, company claims expertise alone is not ample to get a extensive see of risk for the peril. In this posting, I’ll detail some of the aspects of Sharknadoes that need to be accounted for in any robust catastrophe model.

Initial, what is a Sharknado? The regular insurance definition is as follows:

“…any tornado that, by means of suctional forcing, picks up fish characterized by a cartilaginous skeleton, gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head, including, but not limited to excellent whites sharks, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, and whale sharks…”

See connected story on last year’s catastrophe: ‘SharkNado’ Affect on Los Angeles $ 100B!

You will note that this definition does not incorporate other related perils this kind of as Whalenadoes (which in Boston, and specially after the recent Revere tornado, need to be at the forefront of many New Englanders’ minds), Fishnadoes, Frognadoes, jellyfishnadoes or Wormnadoes.

From a cat modeling stage of see, there are 3 main components to fret about for any good Sharknado model – hazard, vulnerability, and economic. But I won’t commit any time on the fiscal part, because AIR’s financial methodologies are nicely trusted and they don’t lead to any jokes.

Sharknadoes can last for several days and affect multiple states. (Source: NOAA Storm Prediction Center)

Sharknadoes can last for several days and affect several states. (Supply: NOAA Storm Prediction Center)

From a hazard level of see there are a number of modules. Perhaps most crucial is the weight of the sharks that are impacting structures. As a result, it’s very essential to separate out little one sharks from adult sharks inside any outbreak. Seasonality plays a critical part in identifying the ratio of total grown to adolescent sharks. This has been well validated using information from all offered sources.

Similarly, effectively fed sharks will result in significantly more house injury (and probably have much less of an effect on existence insurance) due to their more substantial size. Because of this, even a cycle like El Niño plays a part in the model.

Under certain circumstances, algae will bloom sooner and more robustly. This can make its way up the food chain and helps make for greater, a lot more damaging, sharks. In an upcoming release of Touchstone, customers will be offered flexibility to make sharks heftier than AIR’s assumptions, based on their own reduction expertise.

One more important component of the hazard module is the area of aquariums, and AIR is proud to be the only modeler to account explicitly for this function. Throughout Sharknado occasions, even locations effectively inland are at risk if they are close to an aquarium. These particular sharks can be a lot more damaging, given that they have a tendency to be nicely-fed and in the ideal physical shape. They are employed to humans mocking them on a day-to-day basis, including, but not restricted to incessant tapping on their tank’s glass, and normally wish to precise revenge upon insured properties.

As with our typical Severe Thunderstorm model, AIR makes use of physically realistic swaths, as opposed to smearing out the danger across more substantial grid cells (that would get kind of messy with sharks!). Note that AIR’s catalog consists of each cat and non-cat events. For that reason, our clientele will be in a position to see the effect on their books of little occasions with just a number of child sharks, as effectively as huge outbreaks of wonderful white. We assume this to be specifically useful for inland insurers.

In addition, as per consumer suggestions, the occasion info displayed in Touchstone for every outbreak will be very particular, detailing the species and age of the sharks at an occasion by event level.

The vulnerability module was produced to enable customers to input numerous crucial building traits necessary for exact reduction estimates. The major mitigation methods proven in the film, chainsaws, bombs, and freezing the Sharknado are also deemed in AIR’s modeling strategy. The quantity of chainsaws in an insured’s home lowers threat tremendously and can be entered straight into Touchstone.

In addition, the model has regional vulnerability variables accounting for the place helicopters would have a tendency to concentrate their bombing efforts. These features let our clients to get really refined views of the chance, and let the model to be employed in underwriting. Residences with central air conditioning would generally have the Freon necessary to freeze a Sharknado, and their chance is lowered accordingly. We also can not overlook about the harm from the wind of the Sharknado itself. Of program that is accounted for in our normal Significant Thunderstorm model, which was recently up to date.

Strictly searching at residence injury, however, a Whalenado is what I would be much a lot more concerned about. A blue whale can weigh 150 tons, whilst even the most significant great white shark will only weigh 4 tons. A shark could simply consume a individual, but a full grown healthy blue whale could get down even the largest of commercial buildings.

As with all of its catastrophe versions, AIR is committed to creating the most exact and transparent loss estimates for all perils, which includes Sharknadoes. Hopefully this posting has given you some insight into our novel modeling methodologies for this distinctive peril. Please contemplate attending AIR’s Envision 2015 conference in Boston, in which we will discuss this in far more depth.

When not hamming it up or shamelessly plugging his employer, Stransky serves as manager and principal scientist in AIR Worldwide’s study and modeling group. 

20K Maine Residents to Get Health Insurance Premium Rebates

Practically twenty,000 Maine customers of health insurer Aetna are acquiring premium rebates due to the fact a provision in the Reasonably priced Care Act limits what insurance coverage businesses can spend on administrative fees.

The rebates for 2013 service, totaling a lot more than $ one.8 million, will be issued by Aug. 1.

The Portland Press Herald reports that most will be in the form of short-term premium reductions though some buyers might get checks. The common payment will be $ 149 for thousands of the insurer’s Maine customers with employer-based mostly plans.

The rebates are the consequence of the “medical reduction ratio” rule that caps administrative paying. The law is meant to shield consumers by making certain that additional income created by insurance coverage companies would be rebated to buyers and not used for executive bonuses or other administrative fees.

Copyright 2014 Related Press. All rights reserved. This materials might not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Anthony to Direct Government Affairs at Insurance Institute

The Ohio Insurance coverage Institute (OII) announced it has hired Jeff Anthony to direct its legislative and regulatory initiatives.

Anthony most not too long ago worked at the Ohio Division of Aging as a legislative liaison and previously worked in the Ohio Residence as a legislative aide. In his new position as director of government relations, Anthony will collaborate with OII members on public policy initiatives, administrative guidelines, local community outreach and represent the organization prior to the legislative and executive branches of Ohio government.

OII is a trade and details association and its members incorporate top domestic, regional and national home and casualty insurance coverage businesses, trade groups and connected organizations.

Legal roadblocks lay ahead of driverless autos

Britain will see its 1st trials of automated automobiles in 2015, according to ministers. But there are nonetheless substantial obstacles to conquer, specialists warn.

Driverless car

The government has this week promised that driverless automobiles will seem on Uk roads as soon as up coming 12 months.

But insurance coverage professionals are warning that there are sizeable legal and regulatory hurdles to be cleared before automatic autos become a reality in Britain.

£10 million up for grabs

Business secretary Vince Cable said on Wednesday that United kingdom cities would be in a position to bid for a share of a £10 million fund to run trials of driverless cars.

These trials could commence as early as January 2015.

In California in Might, technologies firm Google demonstrated its driverless cars to journalists from about the world.

A pilot scheme run by Volvo is currently underway in the Swedish city of Gothenberg.

Cars have ‘huge potential’

Ministers in the United kingdom are seeking both at automobiles which have no human manage, as effectively as cars in which a driver can take the wheel when necessary.

Transport minister Claire Perry said: “Driverless vehicles have huge prospective to transform the UK’s transport ne2rk – they could enhance safety, decrease congestion and reduced emissions, especially CO2.

“We are established to make sure driverless autos can fulfil this prospective which is why we are actively reviewing regulatory obstacles to generate the right framework for trialling these automobiles on British roads.”

But it might take a good deal of time and hard work to clear these obstacles, specially when it comes to insurance coverage.

Important safety implications

James Dalton is head of motor at the Association of British Insurers.

He said: “The insurance coverage sector is operating with government, motor vehicle producers, regulators, the legal local community and by way of the industry’s analysis and repair centre on this potentially lifestyle-changing and life-conserving engineering.

“Though more research needs to be carried out, with human error accounting for close to 90% of street accidents, the prospective safety implications of autonomous technology are important.”

In accordance to the ABI, liability would nonetheless be likely to rest with the human driver in instances when they were in a position to get in excess of the controls of their vehicle.

But the place the automobiles had been fully automated, this liability could be totally transferred to manufacturers and/or other street customers in the event of an accident.

Premiums could fall

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance coverage, explained: “Driverless vehicles will need a fresh technique to insurance.

“Motor insurance is based on danger and significantly of the cost of a policy is linked with the driver – this kind of as age, experience, past claims and convictions.

“If that component is largely eliminated then driverless autos could potentially attract substantially reduce premiums than typical automobiles, offering the technological innovation that operates them demonstrably reduces the likelihood of a collision.”

Douglas additional that if underwriters had been confident that driverless automobiles did in truth reduce the danger of accidents, policy costs would fall speedily.

David Bizley, technical director at the RAC, said: “Driverless vehicles supply a variety of substantial rewards but many of these depend on solely getting these cars on the road.

“Therefore the biggest question for society has to be how we control the transition from having just a couple of of these vehicles on the road at first to possessing a mix of each driverless and driven automobiles to ultimately getting just driverless vehicles.”

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