Monday, July 27, 2015

Medicare and Medicaid celebrate 50 years this week

July 30 is the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid, which serves 1 out of every 3 Americans. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler will join the celebration by speaking at the Northwest regional event, held on July 30 from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Greenwood Senior Center in Seattle. The event is being hosted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Region X Office.

Commissioner Kreidler will join a panel of experts to discuss how Medicare and Medicaid have changed society and the ways in which we can work together to strengthen and improve health care for future generations in Washington state.

You’re invited to attend the celebration; register here.

CMS is observing the 50th anniversary by reflecting on the impact of these two programs and raising awareness about the services they provide to Americans.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Contract forges stronger bond with Washington’s Indian tribes for health care

Commissioner Mike Kreidler and representatives of the American Indian Health Commission signed a landmark contract July 21 that is designed to improve health care for Washington state Indian tribes.

From left: Vicki Lowe, John Hamje, Leslie Wosnig, Carolyn Smith,
Commissioner Kreidler, Todd Dixon

The contract will fund and support training for tribal staff and members regarding their Medicare insurance options.

The support comes through the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors program, better known as SHIBA. Kreidler’s office manages the program in Washington. Funding is split by the state and federal governments.

“I’m proud of the strong working relationship we have with the American Indian Health Commission and Washington tribes,” Kreidler said at the contract signing. “This will help us better understand and respect the rights and interests of tribal members.”

Signing the contract on behalf of the tribes was Leslie Wosnig of the Suquamish Tribe. She is also secretary of the American Indian Health Commission. Vicki Lowe, grant manager for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, also attended the event.

SHIBA provides free and unbiased information about health care access and coverage in Washington. The contract with the American Indian Health Commission will support several activities, including helping tribal elders understand their Medicare options and get assistance with prescription drug plans.

The program serves more than 100,000 state residents annually through volunteer advisers.

“This is an unprecedented partnership. Now we’ll be working even more closely together to make quality health care more accessible to tribal members throughout the state,” Kreidler said. “Our goal is to reduce disparities in health care. Our mission is to help all who live in Washington.”

Monday, July 20, 2015

OIC hiring Deputy Commissioner for Company Supervision

The OIC is looking for a Deputy Insurance Commissioner for our Company Supervision Division. This rewarding position manages a wide variety of situations and influences the course of insurance affairs, at the state, national, and international levels through contacts with the regulatory community and through colleagues in the agency. This position works together with the other members of the Executive Management Team to set strategic direction of the agency; establish legislative goals; ensure fiscal responsibility; and, create an inclusive, performance based culture. This is a civil service exempt position.

The Deputy for the Company Supervision Division is an executive leader who manages a division of approximately 57 employees at two locations. This position is the highest authority within OIC with designated responsibility to direct the regulatory program and internal operations of the Company Supervision Division.

This position is responsible for the financial and market examination and supervision of all Washington organized insuring entities and all other insuring entities licensed to do business in this state. The position’s mission is to protect insurance consumers, the public generally, and the state’s economy by ensuring the safety and soundness of insuring entities, and to ensure that they comply with applicable law. This position has broad statutory discretion and specific statutory authority involving the registration/licensing, operation, supervision, receivership, liquidation, and merger of insuring entities.

Duties of this position include:
  • Regulating and supervising all insuring entities organized in Washington to assure financial stability and compliance with consumer facing market activity regulations.
  • Licensing, regulating, and supervising all insuring entities organized in other states or non-U.S. jurisdictions that do business in Washington to assure financial stability and compliance with consumer facing market activity regulations.
  • Supervising programs designed to ensure protection of insurance consumers from the failure of insurers doing business in this state and from insurer deviation from legally required market practices. These programs include the management of financially troubled or insolvent insurers and the coordination with insurer guaranty associations.
  • Exercising broad statutory discretion over laws and regulations regarding registration or licensing, operation, liquidation, merger or acquisition of insurers, and insurer activity in the Washington marketplace.
Find more information about this job and other openings at http://bit.ly/OICjobs

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Did you know adjusters need an insurance license?

Many consumers are not aware that insurance adjusters are required to have a license.

First, what’s an adjuster? Most people who have had an auto accident or a homeowner’s claim have worked with an adjuster, the person who investigates or reports claims to the insurer. There are three primary types of adjusters:
  • Crop adjusters work on claims under crop insurance.
  • Independent adjusters represent the insurer and work for the insurer. They interact with consumers who file claims with the company.
  • Public adjusters represent the insured. Consumers can hire a public adjuster to represent them to their insurance company. 
Adjusters can get a resident license, meaning that Washington is their state of residence, or they can have a nonresident license, meaning they reside in another state and conduct business in Washington.

Why is important that an adjuster have a license?
Just like an insurance agent or broker has, there are rules of conduct that adjusters must follow. If they don’t, our office can take action against them via a fine and/or taking action against their license. Before you work with an adjuster, regardless of the type of license he or she has, take a moment to look them up in the OIC’s licensing database. You can see the status of the license, agencies the adjuster may represent, and investigations into and disciplinary action taken against the adjuster.

If you have a bad experience with an adjuster, you can file a complaint through our website.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Use extreme caution this Fourth of July

This year's Fourth of July festivities in Washington are complicated by the statewide drought we are experiencing. As a result, many local and state government officials are asking Washington citizens to forego fireworks, even where they are legal. 

Many municipalities in Washington have banned the use of fireworks. Washington State Patrol has a list of fireworks laws in Washington cities. They also have a list of public fireworks displays in Washington

Insurance policies generally cover fires that are accidental in origin. We recommend you talk to your insurance agent or broker about your coverage in the event of a fire or injury on your property.

If guests are injured by a personal display of fireworks, the homeowner policy may include medical coverage and personal liability coverage. 

Find more information about your insurance on our website.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Central Washington fire kicks off wildfire season – get insurance tips here

A wildfire, called the Sleepy Hollow Fire,  is burning in Wenatchee and it has a high potential to spread to neighboring areas. People near the fire are being evacuated and so far several thousand acres dozens of homes have burned. You can follow breaking news about the fire on Twitter using #SleepyHollowFire.

The Insurance Commissioner’s website has information for consumers about wildfires and homeowner’s insurance, including things you should talk to your insurance agent about and tips for protecting your home and belongings. We also have tips for filing a claim after a natural disaster and how to find disaster resources.

Here are some other resources for Washingtonians:
Wildfires are predicted to be extensive this summer. Here are some tips for preparing for wildfire risk:
  • Check your policy to make sure damage from wildfires is covered. Some policies include some coverage for emergency shelter, such as a hotel, if a home is uninhabitable. 
  • Review your policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Things like fine art, jewelry and computer equipment may have limited coverage under a standard policy. But you can buy special coverage that gives you more protection for those types of items, called a rider. Contact your insurance agent or broker to ask about supplemental policies. 
  • Catalog your home’s belongings in case you need to make an insurance claim. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has a printable home inventory checklist or you can try free iPhone/iPad or Android apps. 
  • You can help protect a rural home and limit the danger by clearing a natural fire break between your home and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has information on how to protect yourself and your home before, during and even after a wildfire. 
  • Have an emergency kit and a family communication plan. Know the location of your valuable papers, including insurance policy and contact information, mementos and anything you can't live without, so you can evacuate with them, if needed. 
  • Here's a list of recommended emergency supplies to keep on hand in the case of an evacuation. 
  • Don’t forget about planning for your pets. Ready.gov has tips for pet owners
Consumers can seek help with their insurance or ask insurance-related questions by calling our consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900 or contacting us online.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Consumers should beware of flood damage when shopping for used cars

The New York Times recently reported a warning to consumers about how to identify a flood-damaged car when shopping for used vehicles. Flooding this month in Texas has damaged upwards of 10,000 cars, leaving them at risk for damaged mechanical, electrical and computerized components that could render a car unsafe to drive.

Comprehensive coverage will generally pay for damage to an insured car that’s been in a flood. However, when flood-damaged vehicles are not repairable, many states issue a “salvage” title or a new title that specifies the car has been in a flood.

Before you purchase a used car, it’s important to run the vehicle identification number (VIN) through a database to see its vehicle history.
In addition to running a vehicle history report, here are tips from the Northwest Insurance Council about how to avoid purchasing a vehicle that’s been in a flood:
  • Check for mud or grit in the spare tire compartment, alternator crevices, behind wiring harnesses, around the small recesses of starter motors, power steering pumps and relays. 
  • Check inside the seatbelt retractors by pulling the seatbelt all the way out and inspect for moisture, mildew or grime. 
  • Check door speakers as they will often be damaged due to flooding.
  • Inspect the vehicle for water stains, mildew, sand or silt under the carpets, floor mats, headliner cloth and behind the dashboard.
If you suspect that a car dealer or individual is knowingly selling flooded cars without disclosing the damage, you should contact local law enforcement or the NICB at 800-TEL-NICB.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

OIC is hiring an Investigator 1 in training for our Legal Affairs division

The OIC is hiring an Investigator 1 (in training) in our Legal Affairs division, located at our Tumwater headquarters. We will hire the position as an Insurance Technician 3 and upon successful completion of a 12-month in-training plan, will promote to an Investigator 1.

This position conducts routine preliminary investigations into complaints alleging violations of the insurance code and proactive Internet investigations aimed at uncovering unauthorized insurance sales in Washington state.

Duties include:
  • Conducting routine preliminary investigations of complaints alleging violations of the insurance code involving licensed and unlicensed individuals and entities operating throughout Washington. 
  • Responding to all investigative requests received by the Investigations Unit via the OIC website, telephone, in writing, email, and in person. 
  • Gathering facts and evidence from multiple sources, conduct interviews, review insurance practices, forms, contracts, service agreements, and other documents.
  • Analyzing and evaluating the evidence obtained to determine if there is sufficient reason to believe a violation of the insurance code may have occurred. 
  • Providing investigative support to other investigators, the Investigator Supervisor, or the Investigations Manager on more complex investigations or special projects.
View the full description or apply: Investigator 1 (In-Training)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

OIC hiring applications, database developer in Tumwater

The OIC is hiring an IT Systems/App Specialist 6 in our Operations Division at our Tumwater headquarters. We are looking for an expert professional-level application and database developer to provide the highest level of technical expertise in the areas of application development and data management.

Duties include:
  • Plan, analyze, develop, test, and implement enhancements and new functionality to the codebase (including .NET, C#, ASPX, jquery, javascript, html, etc) and database (MS SQL Server) as required for strategic IT business initiatives.
  • Apply appropriate software change control procedures and IT “best practices” when applying software changes including to production, integration, UAT, and development environments.
  • Provide .Net, C#, and SQL expertise to other developers (staff and vendors).
For more information or to apply, view the full description: IT Systems/App Specialist 6

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pools and trampolines increase summer fun, but also insurance risk


Before inviting friends and family over to enjoy your swimming pool or trampoline, know that either may increase your insurance risk. Because pools and trampolines can be dangerous, some companies may not insure your property if you own them, or your policy may have exclusions for liability for related injuries. 

An insurance company may also deny coverage or cancel your policy if you do not follow its safety guidelines or fail to inform the company when you build a pool or purchase a trampoline. Some insurers offer lower rates or discounts if you add safety features, such as installing a fence or locked gate.

Talk to your insurer about purchasing an umbrella policy in addition to your homeowner’s insurance to increase your liability coverage in the event of an injury. But be forewarned, if you do have an injury claim, your insurer may cancel your coverage later.

If you lease or rent a property with a pool, discuss your insurance options with your agent or insurance company.

Read more about homeowner’s insurance on our website. Questions? You can contact our consumer advocates online or at 1-800-562-6900.