Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our website's about to change dramatically. Here's what agents/brokers/insurers need to know

On Sunday, Jan. 13, we'll be rolling out our new agency website. It looks a lot different. We've tested the design on a variety of consumers and industry professionals, we've overhauled the navigational structure, and we've given the whole site a distinctly different look and feel.

There's one thing we're sure of: The site will be much more intuitive and easy to use. Early testing showed that consumers had a 1 in 3 task completion rate on our current site. On the new version, that jumped to 80 percent. And we hope that further fine-tuning boosts it further.

Here's the important part for agents, brokers and companies: The new site immediately splits users into a "consumer" area for laypersons and an "industry professionals" section for the folks that have to interact with our site for licensing, continuing education reporting, tax filing, financial statements, etc.

Update: And it's live! At the top of the home page, you'll see a tab marked "For industry professionals." There you go.

Two of WA's largest nonprofit health insurers have $2.2 billion in surplus

From a press release we sent out today:
OLYMPIA, Wash. – With two of the state’s largest health insurers sitting on surpluses totaling $2.2 billion, Washington’s top insurance regulator wants to use some of that money to lower costs for consumers.

According to the companies’ most recent financial statements, Regence BlueShield’s surplus has grown to $1.05 billion. Premera Blue Cross’ surplus is $1.15 billion.

“These are non-profit companies,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “It’s hard to square their billion-dollar surpluses with the fact that families are struggling to afford health insurance.”

Kreidler is proposing legislation that would allow his office to consider surpluses when reviewing nonprofit health insurers’ proposed rates. As things stand now, his staff must ignore them.

“As I’ve said before, it’s like trying to ignore an elephant in the room,” Kreidler said. “And the elephant’s getting bigger.”

The surpluses of both Regence and Premera have more than doubled in a decade. In the first nine months of 2012, Regence’s grew by $60 million. Premera’s grew by nearly $182 million.

“It’s important to remember that these are not reserves, which are set aside to pay future claims,” Kreidler said. “These billion-dollar surpluses are in addition to their reserves.”