Friday, July 16, 2010

A cell phone infraction while driving in WA does NOT affect your insurance rates (but don't do it)

We've been fielding some questions today about cell phones and driving in Washington state, due to an apparent glitch in enforcing the new law. In some cities, cited drivers are reportedly having their infractions voided due to the glitch.

All of which leads to the logical question: What if people's insurance rates went up as a result?

The good news: They didn't. The state's cell phone law was updated earlier this year to make driving while talking on a cell phone a primary offense. (That means you can be pulled over for that alone.) But the law includes sections explicitly stating that:
Infractions under this section shall not become part of the driver's record under RCW 46.52.101 and 46.52.120. Additionally, a finding that a person has committed a traffic infraction under this section shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers.
The upshot: Your insurance rates won't go up for a cell phone violation while driving.

Still, know this: If you're gabbing on the phone and cause an accident, that could be a very different story.

Our advice: follow the law. Put the cell phone down.

Job opportunity: Financial examiner in our Seattle office

Due to a retirement, our agency -- Washington state's insurance regulator -- is seeking a senior financial examiner to work in our Seattle office. The person would supervise at least 6 financial examiners.

From the job announcement:

"As a senior financial examiner, this position plans, conducts and supervises the field and/or in-office financial examinations" of major insurance companies. "Performs advanced reviews of examination work papers, reinsurance, investments, automated systems, management assessment, training needs and coordination, etc., and is responsible for timely submission of draft reports for supervisory review."

The salary range is $5,266 to $6,908 per month, depending on qualifications, experience, etc.

For a list of required qualifications and an application form, see the link above.

Insurance news: credit scoring, bank reform and redlining, big Medicare bust

The Insurance Journal airs the industry's response to our recent consumer alert warning consumers to watch their credit use.

A story on the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the Huffington Post focuses on the new federal insurance office and its duty to tackle potential redlining:

"Buried in the over 2,000 page Dodd-Frank bill is a subsection entitled "Federal Insurance Office." It is charged with several duties including the responsibility "to monitor the extent to which traditionally underserved communities and consumers, minorities, and low- and moderate-income persons have access to affordable insurance products regarding all lines of insurance..." And the office is empowered to "receive and collect data and information on and from the insurance industry and insurers" and to "analyze and disseminate data and information."

And according to AP, "Federal authorities said Friday they are conducting the largest Medicare fraud bust ever in five different states and arrested dozens of suspects accused in scams totaling $251 million."