Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Insurance news: Surge in kidnap-and-ransom coverage, and back-and-forth on the Hill

The New York Times has a fascinating story today about hostage-taking, including a recent surge in "K&R" -- meaning "kidnap and ransom" -- insurance coverage.

On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, Politico reports that a public option compromise is taking shape, and the Washington Post talks about some of the remaining hurdles to passing the bill.

The NYT has a longer take on the latter topic, with more detail on the abortion fight over the Senate bill.

Kreidler wins consumer advocacy award

More about us: Washington state insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler has won a national award for consumer advocacy.

Kreidler last weekend received the "Excellence in Consumer Advocacy Award" given out annually by consumer advisors to a nationwide association of insurance regulators.

The award honors "the regulator we believe has most effectively represented and advanced the interests of consumers,” according toSally B. McCarty, one of the 16 consumer representatives who participate in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Consumer Liaison Program.

Kreidler and his staff have:

-Cut excessive rate increases on home and auto policies by more than $300 million since 2000,

-Helped consumers recover about $10 million a year in denied and delayed payments on their coverage,

-Rejected a bid by the state’s largest non-profit health insurer to become a for-profit company,

-And worked with lawmakers to close a waiting-period loophole that was endangering the lives of organ-transplant patients.

Kreidler, a former member of Congress, is Washington’s eighth insurance commissioner. First elected commissioner in 2000, he was re-elected to a third term in 2008.

At Kreidler’s urging, Washington also became one of the first states in the nation to strongly limit the use of credit scoring in auto and homeowner’s insurance. Kreidler is now trying to ban its use entirely in insurance.

WA insurance commissioner retains national accreditation

Washington state's Office of the Insurance Commissioner has retained national accreditation as a regulator following an audit by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler received the award at the NAIC's winter meeting over the weekend. Accreditation means that the office's ability to monitor insurance companies for financial stability -- which is a big part of what the agency does -- meets or exceeds national standards.

Accreditation was lost in 1999 under a prior administration. An NAIC audit at the time found that staffing levels, training, exam procedures, timeliness and oversight at the agency were not up to national standards.

Kreidler made restoring accreditation a top priority when he took office in 2001, and the agency was re-accredited six months after he took office.