IFAwebnews.com http://ifawebnews.com The nation’s homepage for insurance industry news Thu, 03 Sep 2015 11:42:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Andrew Agency acquires southern Virginia agency http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/03/andrew-agency-acquires-southern-virginia-agency/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/03/andrew-agency-acquires-southern-virginia-agency/#comments Thu, 03 Sep 2015 10:43:26 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50063
Andrew Agency acquires southern Virginia agency via IFAwebnews.com .

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The Andrew Agency, a Richmond, Va.-based independent insurance agency has acquired Crowder & Holloway in South Hill, Va.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1936, Crowder & Holloway is an insurance broker providing personal and commercial insurance services to clients throughout Virginia and North Carolina. The agency’s South Hill office, in Mecklenburg County about 75 miles south of Richmon, will continue to operate under the Crowder & Holloway name, and two employees from Crowder & Holloway will join The Andrew Agency as part of the transaction.

The Andrew Agency, which was founded by Ryan Andrew in 2009, has made five acquisitions since its inception.

The Andrew Agency serves clients in Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina, offering personal and business property/casualty insurance.

See related stories: Richmond insurance agency acquires fellow local agency

Andrew Agency acquires two Richmond agencies


Andrew Agency acquires southern Virginia agency via IFAwebnews.com .

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D.C. health exchange launches doctor directory, Spanish version http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/d-c-health-exchange-launches-doctor-directory-spanish-version/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/d-c-health-exchange-launches-doctor-directory-spanish-version/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:55:04 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50058
D.C. health exchange launches doctor directory, Spanish version via IFAwebnews.com .

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The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (HBX) announced the launch of the DC Health Link Universal Doctor Directory 1.0, and the introduction of a Spanish Language Beta version on DCHealthLink.com.

According to the District government agency in charge of the Affordable Care Act-mandated exchange, DC Health Link’s Universal Doctor Directory makes it possible for customers to easily search for doctors – in English and Spanish – by name, location, specialty, and determine which qualified health plans (QHPs) those doctors accept.

“Our customers need accurate information about doctors participating in different health plans,” said Mila Kofman, J.D., Executive Director of the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority. “Doctor information is as critical as how much people pay for coverage. It is important information that people use to make a decision when shopping for a health plan or using their health coverage. We are pleased to offer a universal doctor directory tool to our customers.”

DC Health Link’s Universal Doctor Directory is powered by Consumers’ CHECKBOOK and allows customers to search all individual and family DC Health Link plans to find the health plans in which their doctor participates. Additionally, the directory helps customers who are looking for a doctor. To search, a customer simply goes to DC Health Link’s Universal Doctor Directory, enters their zip code, a doctor’s last name or specialty, and instantly they will see a list of doctors and the insurance plans they accept. Additional filters are available for customers to further narrow their searches.

The Universal Doctor Directory is a consumer-friendly tool that enables customers to search one directory with all doctors and health plan information. Before the Universal Doctor Directory, a consumer had to use directories on the health plans’ websites to find a doctor. Importantly, the new doctor directory is one of several steps HBX has taken to improve information available on-line about participating doctors. HBX requested its Standing Advisory Board to review health insurance carrier directories. Using a “secret shopper” approach, Board members identified several problems with health insurance carrier directories including incorrect and disconnected phone numbers, listings of doctors who were retired or no longer practicing in the area, and incorrect information about a doctor’s practice area. Earlier this year, HBX’s Executive Board adopted the recommendations from the Insurance Market Committee, which used these findings and advice from members of the Standing Advisory Board to add new consumer protection standards for QHP certification to improve the accuracy of plan provider directories.

The Universal Doctor Directory relies on health plan data as well as other data sources for information about doctors. During Beta testing earlier this year, health plans and consumers identified information to be corrected. Corrections were made to the Universal Directory for its release 1.0. Consumers’ CHECKBOOK also provides monthly reports of inconsistent or incorrect information to the health plans and to HBX for follow up with health plans. This new approach will provide more accurate information to DC Health Link customers and will help improve some of the information in the carriers’ own directories.


D.C. health exchange launches doctor directory, Spanish version via IFAwebnews.com .

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Pa. start-up to market renters’ insurance through independent agencies http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/pa-start-up-to-market-renters-insurance-through-independent-agencies/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/pa-start-up-to-market-renters-insurance-through-independent-agencies/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 22:35:14 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50055
Pa. start-up to market renters’ insurance through independent agencies via IFAwebnews.com .

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Bungalow Insurance, a Philadelphia start-up, provides a simple platform geared toward Pennsylvania millennials interested in purchasing renters insurance, but the real money may not be with consumers.

Bungalow currently offers its renters insurance through the Travelers Insurance brand and takes a 10%-18% commission off of every policy sale. Zack Stiefler, the company’s co-founder, said the firm plans to start licensing Bungalow to independent insurance agencies, offering them a leg-up on the nation’s biggest providers.

“That’s going to be a really interesting driver for us over the next few months,” Stiefler told the Philadelphia Business Journal. “I think it’ll help [Bungalow’s B2C business]. When agents use this, it’ll have a powered by Bungalow at the bottom. We view it as a way to build our brand while also providing independent agents with some tools and generating some additional revenue for us in the near-term.”

Bungalow plans to scale by eventually offering policies outside of Pennsylvania, and not just renters insurance, but potentially homeowners and auto insurance as well.

Read the full story at the Philadelphia Business Journal: Local startup Bungalow Insurance to sell to independent providers – Philadelphia Business Journal.


Pa. start-up to market renters’ insurance through independent agencies via IFAwebnews.com .

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Firm launches pay-per-mile auto insurance in Pennsylvania, expands along East Coast http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/firm-launches-pay-per-mile-auto-insurance-in-pennsylvania-expands-along-east-coast/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/firm-launches-pay-per-mile-auto-insurance-in-pennsylvania-expands-along-east-coast/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:16:36 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50053
Firm launches pay-per-mile auto insurance in Pennsylvania, expands along East Coast via IFAwebnews.com .

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Metromile, which offers pay-per-mile car insurance in the United States, announced its Pennsylvania launch as part of an East Coast expansion.

Metromile uses technology and a data-driven approach to deliver lower premiums by the mile and personalized data to make all aspects of owning and driving a car simpler, less expensive, and more convenient. Pennsylvania joins Virginia, California, Illinois, Washington and Oregon as states where Metromile offers per-mile insurance.

Metromile says it is the first and only agent offering pay-per-mile insurance in the nation, specifically benefiting those who drive less than 10,000 miles per year, saving customers on average $500 annually. To use per-mile insurance, Metromile drivers simply plug the Metromile Pulse device into the onboard diagnostic (OBD-II) port of the car, which then obtains data and wirelessly transmits to secure servers. Through Metromile’s driving app and this connected device (Pulse), Metromile is taking car insurance beyond the claim and reinventing how drivers can effectively manage the costs of car ownership.

“Pennsylvania is a great fit for a per-mile auto insurance option,” said Dan Preston, CEO of Metromile. “Drivers in the big cities of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have access to a wide variety of public transportation in addition to bike-friendly commute options. Ultimately, those Pennsylvanians who own cars they rarely drive are overpaying for auto insurance.”

In addition to its flagship per-mile insurance product, Metromile also offers all Pennsylvania drivers the latest innovation in smart driving, Metromile Tag. Designed for people who are not quite ready to switch to pay-per-mile car insurance, Metromile Tag helps drivers become more informed about their vehicle and driving behavior with innovative features including commute optimization, find parked location, customizable trip logs, mileage tracking for expense reporting, driving trends and street cleaning notifications. Metromile Tag is available for free with iOS and Android devices.

Policies are sold through Metromile Insurance Services LLC  and are written by insurers in the National General Insurance Group.


Firm launches pay-per-mile auto insurance in Pennsylvania, expands along East Coast via IFAwebnews.com .

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Md. small business health insurance portal, SHOP, goes live http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/md-small-business-health-insurance-portal-shop-goes-live/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/md-small-business-health-insurance-portal-shop-goes-live/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 19:11:00 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50050
Md. small business health insurance portal, SHOP, goes live via IFAwebnews.com .

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Maryland’s small business health exchange is operational, following more than a year of delays, technical problems and other changes.

Health insurance exchanges established under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act were to include benefits to make plans more affordable for small business owners and give more options to employees. The small business portal was to be established for state-run and federally facilitated exchanges.

The Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP, was originally to be part of the online insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, designed for individuals to buy health coverage. Businesses were to be able to sign up for tax credits and let employees choose from a wide range of health plans with similar price and value.

However, those plans changed in the wake of severe technical glitches with the individual marketplace. Small business tax credits have been available all along, but the employee choice program is newly available this year.

The exchange last year selected three third-party administrators— Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, BenefitMall and Group Benefit Services — to add the exchange’s small business offerings to their existing menu of services.

Each firm has set up an online portal to help process sign ups.

Visit the SHOP site here.

Key points of Maryland’s SHOP:

  • The two main benefits the exchange offers small businesses are tax credits and what’s called an “employee choice” program. Businesses can qualify for a two-year tax credit if they have 25 or fewer employees. Tax credits, a percentage of the company’s overall premium costs, vary depending on employees’ average salary. For example, a company with 15 full-time employees who earn an average salary of $35,000 can get a tax credit worth 13 percent of their total premium payments.
  • The “employee choice” program is intended to allow employers to offer more health plan options. Typically businesses select a two or three plans and let employees choose which they want. The smaller the business, the fewer plan options employers can offer. The employee choice option leans on the exchange’s “metal levels,” which is a way of categorizing health plans based on cost and value. Plans on each metal level — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — are priced similarly and offer similar value, but benefits may vary. Employers can give employees the right amount of money to buy a health plan from a specific metal level and let them choose from among the dozen or so plans in that category.
  • Unlike the exchange’s individual plans, there is not a set enrollment period. Businesses can move to the employee choice program or sign up for tax credits anytime throughout the year, though it would make the most sense to make the change when their current health plan expires.
  • Business that want to participate in the exchange’s small business offerings or learn more about them must contact Kelly & Associates Insurance Group, BenefitMall or Group Benefit Services.


Md. small business health insurance portal, SHOP, goes live via IFAwebnews.com .

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Md. tech firm buys health research company http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/md-tech-firm-buys-health-research-company/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/md-tech-firm-buys-health-research-company/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:55:11 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50048
Md. tech firm buys health research company via IFAwebnews.com .

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Cloud-based data company Inovalon Holdings, based in Bowie, Md., has acquired Washington, D.C., health research and advisory firm Avalere Health for $140 million, the companies announced.

The addition of Avalere, with its more than 200 pharma/life sciences clients, is expected to significantly expand Inovalon’s leadership in the broader healthcare marketplace and enables the company to expand its industry leading capabilities into an expansive adjacent market, according to a statement from the firm.

Avalere is a provider of data-driven advisory services and business intelligence solutions whose core purpose is to create innovative solutions to complex healthcare problems.

Avalere reported $47.1 million in revenue in 2014.

Inovalon offers a data analytics platform to track the efficiency and cost effectiveness of health care services. Walgreens is one of the company’s bigger clients. In January, Inovalon raised $600 million in an initial public offering.

Inovalon officials said they believe the acquisition will allow them to expand into a “materially untapped” market of more than $30 billion.

Dan Mendelson

Dan Mendelson

In recent years, Avalere has weighed in on issues such as the impact of health reform on health insurance premiums and soaring costs of specialty drugs.

Avalere will operate as a subsidiary of Inovalon and Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson will join Inovalon’s executive leadership team.


Md. tech firm buys health research company via IFAwebnews.com .

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NY employers change health plan provisions in response to costs, ACA provisions http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/ny-employers-change-health-plan-provisions-in-response-to-costs-aca-provisions/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/ny-employers-change-health-plan-provisions-in-response-to-costs-aca-provisions/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 18:10:47 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50045
NY employers change health plan provisions in response to costs, ACA provisions via IFAwebnews.com .

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Many New York businesses are making changes to the health insurance plans they offer employees in response to rising costs and provisions of the Affordable Care Act, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

While higher premiums are not causing some employers to raise the amount employees must contribute for monthly premiums, more than 70% of those businesses making changes are increasing other cost-sharing provisions by raising deductibles, co-pays or out-of-pocket maximums, the Fed report said.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 23% of manufacturers plan to reduce the number of employees they have in response to the ACA’s effects. Twelve% of service-based businesses plan to do the same.
  • 16% of service-based businesses plan to raise prices they charge to deal with rising costs. Thirty-four% of manufacturers said the same.
  • 15% of manufacturers expect their health insurance plans to hit the 40% excise tax on high-value plans that takes effect in 2018.
  • Manufacturers and and service business leaders in New York and northern New Jersey anticipate health care costs will increase by at least 10% from 2015 to 2016.


NY employers change health plan provisions in response to costs, ACA provisions via IFAwebnews.com .

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Middle-class benefits at risk as employers hit Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax’ thresholds http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/middle-class-benefits-at-risk-as-employers-hit-obamacare-cadillac-tax-thresholds/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/middle-class-benefits-at-risk-as-employers-hit-obamacare-cadillac-tax-thresholds/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 16:15:41 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50042 The last major piece of President Barack Obama‘s health care law could raise costs for thrifty consumers as well as large corporations and union members when it takes effect in ...  Read →


Middle-class benefits at risk as employers hit Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax’ thresholds via IFAwebnews.com .

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The last major piece of President Barack Obama‘s health care law could raise costs for thrifty consumers as well as large corporations and union members when it takes effect in 2018.

The so-called Cadillac tax was meant to discourage extravagant coverage. Critics say it’s a tax on essentials, not luxuries. It’s getting attention now because employers plan ahead for major costs like health care.

With time, an increasing number of companies will be exposed to the tax, according to a recent study. The risk is that middle-class workers could see their job-based benefits diminished.

First to go might be the “flexible spending accounts” offered by many companies. The accounts allow employees to set aside money tax-free for annual insurance deductibles and out-of-pocket health costs. That money comes out of employees’ paychecks, and they’re not able to use it for other expenses. Savvy consumers see it as a way to stretch their health care dollars.

The catch is that under the law those employee contributions count toward the thresholds for triggering the tax.

There are other wrinkles: Companies in areas with high medical costs, such as San Francisco, are more likely to be exposed to the Cadillac tax than those in lower-cost areas like Los Angeles. Ditto for employers with unionized workers who won better benefits through bargaining.

Republicans in Congress and a sizable contingent of Democrats are calling for repealing the tax. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the front-runner Democratic presidential candidate, says she’s concerned and would re-examine the tax. Since it doesn’t take effect right away, it’s an issue for the next president.

“As currently structured, I worry that it may create an incentive to substantially lower the value of the benefits package and shift more and more costs to consumers,” Clinton said in response to a candidate questionnaire from the American Federation of Teachers.

The Cadillac tax has two purposes: to act as a brake on health care spending and to raise money for covering the uninsured.

A recent study from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that 26 percent of all employers would face the tax in at least one of their plans during its first year, 2018. Nearly half of larger companies would face the consequences of the tax that same year, because they tend to offer better benefits.

Since the tax is indexed to general inflation, which rises more slowly than health insurance premiums, over time it would affect a growing share of health plans.

The Obama administration says such studies overstate the potential impact. The Treasury Department said in a statement that only “a small fraction of workers” would be affected.

The Cadillac tax is 40 percent of the value of employer-sponsored plans that exceeds certain thresholds: $10,200 for individual coverage and $27,500 for family coverage. The tax is levied on insurers and plan administrators, who are expected to pass it back to employers. The 40 percent rate is well above the income tax rates that most workers face.

Read the full story at the Charlotte Observer: Approaching health law tax is not just a levy on luxury | The Charlotte Observer.


Middle-class benefits at risk as employers hit Obamacare ‘Cadillac tax’ thresholds via IFAwebnews.com .

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Kingstone Insurance approved in Texas http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/kingstone-insurance-approved-in-texas/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/kingstone-insurance-approved-in-texas/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:53:24 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50037
Kingstone Insurance approved in Texas via IFAwebnews.com .

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Kingstone Insurance Co., a multi-line regional property and casualty insurer based in Kingston, N.Y., was granted authority to write insurance in Texas.

The company was previously authorized as an admitted carrier in New York and Pennsylvania.

Kingstone said in a statement that it will continue to expand, and has applications pending in at least three additional states, each of which share similar catastrophe exposures and opportunities as New York.

Kingstone’s Chairman and CEO, Barry Goldstein, commented, “We are pleased to move forward with our multi-state expansion plans outside of New York. We have targeted the Texas market for some time, and expect to build out an agency-only distribution network leveraging our stellar reputation within the New York independent producer community. We view receiving approval in Texas as a means to fuel future growth and look forward to building our market share in the state.”


Kingstone Insurance approved in Texas via IFAwebnews.com .

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NFP acquires New Jersey commercial insurance broker http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/nfp-acquires-new-jersey-commercial-insurance-broker/ http://ifawebnews.com/2015/09/02/nfp-acquires-new-jersey-commercial-insurance-broker/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 15:45:28 +0000 http://ifawebnews.com/?p=50035
NFP acquires New Jersey commercial insurance broker via IFAwebnews.com .

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NFP, a national insurance broker based in New York, has acquired Insurance Management Associates (IMA), a Voorhees, N.J.-based commercial property-casualty insurance broker serving New Jersey and the Philadelphia region.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Founded in 1962, IMA is a commercial P&C insurance broker offering specialty expertise in the real estate, construction, retail, manufacturer and wholesaler industries. The firm’s principals, Scott Stegall and Lisa Levin Stegall, will each assume the role of Vice President of NFP Property & Casualty and will report to Terrence Scali, Chief Executive Officer, NFP Property & Casualty.

NFP Property & Casualty’s current Mount Laurel, N.J., location will merge with the Voorhees office, and the combined operation will provide additional resources for NFP’s existing benefits firms in the Greater Philadelphia region.

Scali commented, “We continually aim to strengthen NFP’s P&C expertise. The acquisition of IMA enhances our commercial line capabilities, particularly in designing solutions for clients with complex risk profiles. We are pleased to welcome the IMA team to the NFP family.”

“Becoming part of NFP marks an important next step for our firm,” the Stegalls wrote jointly in a statement. “Gaining access to NFP’s expansive resources and scale within the industry enables us to better serve our existing clients while opening new opportunities. We are excited to join NFP.”

NFP Corp. is a large insurance broker and consultant that provides employee benefits, property & casualty, retirement, and individual insurance and wealth management solutions.


NFP acquires New Jersey commercial insurance broker via IFAwebnews.com .

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