Friday, December 19, 2014

Oregon Insurance Commissioner extends comment period on Mutual of Enumclaw holding company conversion

The Oregon Insurance Commissioner has extended the open comment period following the Dec. 15 public hearing of the proposed mutual holding company conversion of Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Co. Comments must be delivered to the Oregon Insurance Commissioner by 5 p.m. on Dec. 29. Comments should be sent to Russell Latham, Financial Regulation Section, Oregon Insurance Division, P. O. Box 14480, Salem, OR 97309-0405.

Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Co. and its subsidiary, Enumclaw Property and Casualty Insurance Co., have requested permission from the Oregon Insurance Commissioner to reorganize into a holding company structure. Holding companies are corporations that own and control other companies. The new holding company would be the direct owner of Mutual of Enumclaw and the indirect owner of Enumclaw Property and Casualty Insurance Co. Read more about the request in our Dec. 9 blog post.

To find information about viewing the plan of reorganization, view the Dec. 15 public hearing notice from the Oregon Insurance Division.

Insurance Commissioner fines health insurer $50,000

LifeWise Health Plan of Washington has agreed to pay a $50,000 fine for overcharging 5,700 consumers $6 to $38 per month for the first six months of 2014. 

The health plans were WiseEssentials 25 and WiseSavings 20, which are catastrophic plans that trade a high deductible for a lower monthly premium. They are usually purchased by young, healthy people who want coverage in case of an injury, accident or serious illness. Each year, health insurers are required to file with the OIC their health plans--called "forms" in insurance vernacular--and the rates they will charge for each plan. The OIC then reviews and ultimately approves the plans and rates, working with the insurers when they need to. 

In this case, the 2014 rates that LifeWise filed for those catastrophic plans had decreased slightly, depending on the enrollee’s age, because the deductible increased. From January through June 2014, LifeWise charged those consumers rates that were based on the 2013 plans, which had higher deductibles.

As part of the agreement, called a consent order, LifeWise will repay the affected consumers the amounts they overpaid plus 8 percent annual interest. View the consent order here

You can search our disciplinary orders or file a complaint against an insurance company, agent or broker on our website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Edmonds man no longer able to sell insurance

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has revoked the license of insurance producer Earl C. Dennis of Edmonds.

In 2012, Dennis borrowed $210,000 from a 79-year-old insurance client, which was a significant portion of the client’s net worth. Dennis promised to secure the loan with the deed to his house, which he never did. He arranged to repay the client at a 2 percent interest rate; an unsecured personal loan from a bank ranges from 7 percent to 15 percent or higher. Dennis stopped making loan payments and still owes the client $90,000. State insurance law allows the Insurance Commissioner to revoke an insurance producer’s license if they borrow money from an insurance client who is not a family member or financial institution.

In 2011 and 2012, Dennis sold the same client three annuities, which the client paid for by surrendering two annuities that had higher guaranteed interest rates. In addition to having lower guaranteed interest rates, the three new annuities had limitations and penalties that the old annuities did not have. Insurance producers who sell annuities are required to make an effort to verify that annuities are suitable for their clients’ financial needs and they are required to adequately explain the products to their clients. Dennis did not meet those requirements in this case.

The OIC sought to revoke Dennis’ license in August 2014, but Dennis invoked his right to a hearing. The hearings officer upheld the OIC’s revocation, which means Dennis is no longer legally able to sell insurance in Washington state. You can read the findings from the hearing on the OIC’s website.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tacoma woman pleads guilty to felony insurance fraud


Christine Marie Larsen, 30, of Tacoma pled guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to insurance fraud for purchasing insurance on her vehicle after it was totaled. 

In November 2013, Larsen’s 2004 Lexus IS300 was totaled in a collision on the freeway while being driven by someone else. The next day, Larsen took out a policy on the car, which was uninsured. She filed a claim for the damages on Dec.1, 2013, stating she had been in a collision that day. The insurance company deemed the car a total loss and paid her $11,250.


The insurer, citing red flags, later investigated the claim and found a Washington State Patrol report for the Nov. 25 collision involving Larsen’s car. The driver was cited for the collision and for not having insurance. The insurer referred the case to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU). SIU investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases.  

Larsen was ordered to repay the insurance settlement and court costs. Read the news release about the case.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Mutual of Enumclaw seeks to convert to holding company

Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance Co. and its subsidiary, Enumclaw Property and Casualty Insurance Co., have requested permission from the Oregon Insurance Commissioner to reorganize into a holding company structure. Holding companies are corporations that own and control other companies. The new holding company would be the direct owner of Mutual of Enumclaw and the indirect owner of Enumclaw Property and Casualty Insurance Co.

While the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) is not overseeing this conversion, Mutual of Enumclaw has a large customer base in Washington state. The OIC wants Washington consumers to have an opportunity to attend this hearing or provide comment, if they wish to.

The hearing is at 6 p.m. on Dec. 15 in Seattle. View the notice for the hearing location and instructions on how to participate by telephone. Comments may be submitted in writing to this address before Dec. 22:

Russell Latham, Financial Regulation Section, Oregon Insurance Division
P.O. Box 14480
Salem, OR 97309-0405

Friday, December 5, 2014

OIC's online applications not available

Some of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner's online applications are down or do not have full functionality. We are working on resolving these issues and hope to restore all online services as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Contractors Bonding and Insurance Co. seeks OK to redomesticate

Contractors Bonding and Insurance Co. has requested approval from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) to redomesticate from Washington state to Illinois. View all related documents.

The OIC has scheduled a public hearing on this request for 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 16 in the Tumwater office. All interested parties may submit letters of support or objections to hearings@oic.wa.gov. Any member of the public may attend the hearing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Commonwealth Insurance Co. of America requests approval to change its state of domicile

Commonwealth Insurance Co. of America has requested approval from the Washington State Insurance Commissioner to redomesticate from Washington state to Delaware. In plain talk, that means it wants to move its corporate operations from Washington to Delaware. View the documents the company submitted.

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has scheduled a public hearing on this request for 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 16 in the Tumwater office. Interested parties may submit letters of support or objections to hearings@oic.wa.gov. Any member of the public may attend the hearing


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Direct practices lose 35 percent of enrollees, raise fees 23 percent

Each year, the OIC reports to the Legislature on the status of direct health care practices in Washington. A direct health care practice is an arrangement where a health care provider charges a patient a set monthly fee for primary health care services. The provider doesn’t bill the patient’s insurance for the services and only provides certain medical services in the office.

The December 2014 report contains data from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2014, which is two fiscal years’ worth of information.

Some highlights from the report:
  • As of June 30, 2014 there were approximately 8,658 direct-practice patients in Washington at 29 practices around the state. Patient participation decreased by 35 percent from fiscal year 2013. Four new practices opened in Seattle, Camas and Centralia. Three practices closed in Spokane and Lakewood.
  • Monthly fees at direct practices ranged from $25 to more than $200. The most expensive was $910 per month. The average monthly fee weighted by the number of patients was $150.78, a 23 percent increase from fiscal year 2013.
  • The OIC received no consumer complaints regarding direct patient practices in fiscal year 2014.
The Affordable Care Act now requires health insurance plans to cover 10 essential health benefits, which include preventive services and chronic disease management. It also puts a cap on deductibles that consumers pay each year and direct practice fees do not count toward that yearly maximum. In addition, Washington expanded its Apple Health (Medicaid) program and the state’s individual health insurance market grew 30 percent in fiscal year 2014 to more than 327,000 people.

View the full report to the Legislature.

Friday, November 21, 2014

What should I know about travel insurance?

If you are getting ready to travel for the holidays, here are some things to consider about travel insurance before you purchase it.

Many travel companies—airlines, cruise lines, resorts—offer travel insurance that will refund most or all of the cost of the trip in certain circumstances. Policies typically cover things like trip cancelations due to illness, civil unrest, job loss, or the transportation carrier going out of business. They’ll also pay for fees incurred by missed connections and delays; baggage damage or loss; medical expenses incurred by an injury or illness while traveling; emergency evacuation; car rental damage; and accidental death.

Before you decide whether to purchase travel insurance, you should consider:

  • What your medical insurance covers when you travel.
  • What your homeowner or renter insurance covers in the event of lost or stolen belongings.
  • What your life insurance policy covers in the event of accidental death while traveling.
  • The cancelation policy is for the travel insurance.
  • Read the policy's fine print. Some don't cover certain activities such as hang-gliding, bungee jumping or other activities. Some also exclude certain pre-existing conditions from the medical coverage they offer.
  • You should also make sure the travel insurance company is licensed to sell insurance in Washington.
Read more about travel insurance on our website.

Questions? You can contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.