Alera Group snaps up Seattle firm

Alera Group | January 24, 2020

Alera Group has acquired Seattle-based Muench Financial. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Muench Financial works with small and medium-sized businesses throughout the Northwest. Its service offerings included the evaluation of retirement plan features, plan participant education, monitoring and evaluating plan investments, and implementing effective retirement programs. “We are excited to join Alera Group, and we look forward to continued growth with the power of national resources behind us,” said Jon Muench, president of Muench Financial. “Our goal, as always, is to serve our clients with excellence, and as an Alera Group company, we will be even better equipped to do that.”

Spotlight

Could it be time to make telematics insurance policies available to drivers in much greater numbers? To what extent is there still consumer resistance or lack of awareness? How can we define the inertia, the motor policy systems duplication, or other technology shortcomings that are preventing such products being widely available? From our recent research at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we discovered that the majority of UK motorists are open to adopting usage-based insurance (UBI) programmes, when the real benefits are explained. The data quality, data availability and the hardware cost have been improving many times over since the early period of telematics and retro-fitted vehicle black boxes.

Spotlight

Could it be time to make telematics insurance policies available to drivers in much greater numbers? To what extent is there still consumer resistance or lack of awareness? How can we define the inertia, the motor policy systems duplication, or other technology shortcomings that are preventing such products being widely available? From our recent research at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we discovered that the majority of UK motorists are open to adopting usage-based insurance (UBI) programmes, when the real benefits are explained. The data quality, data availability and the hardware cost have been improving many times over since the early period of telematics and retro-fitted vehicle black boxes.

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INSURANCE TECHNOLOGY

Agentero Partners with Digital Insurance Carriers

Agentero | December 03, 2020

Agentero, a tech-enabled insurance aggregator, announced that it has integrated with five leading digital carriers and partners, including Openly, Clearcover, Cover, Haven Life Insurance Agency and Aon Edge to provide tech-enabled market access for independent insurance agents on its platform. Agentero's platform combines market access to digital carriers with data-driven technology that proactively identifies the needs of policyholders, matches them to the best products and streamlines the selling process for agents. Founded in 2017, the company raised a $10 million seed round of funding led by Foundation Capital and Union Square Ventures in early 2020. Today it works with more than 500 independent agencies and is growing rapidly. Through its network of insurance carriers, Agentero provides access to homeowners, auto, flood, and life insurance, and is continually adding tech-forward carriers to help agents meet the needs of the modern consumer. "Agents, which today sell more than 50% of P&C and life insurance in the US, are the present and future of insurance distribution, helping consumers select the right coverage for their risks. At the same time, most consumers are seeking a highly customized, digital buying experience. Our vision is to create a smarter, more intuitive insurance ecosystem that is built on strengthening agents' ability to compete in the digital market by giving them best-in-class data-driven technology combined with direct access to today's most innovative leading digital carriers," said Luis Pino, CEO of Agentero. "Openly's value proposition to independent agents is a transparent and efficient platform that provides agents' customers with superior and comprehensive coverages," said Matt Wielbut, Openly CTO and co-founder. "Partnering with Agentero brings together two teams that are focusing on revolutionizing the insurance purchasing process by aligning cutting-edge technology and superior products. About Agentero With more than 500 insurance agencies, Agentero uses robust data and analytics enabling agents to proactively offer insurance choices to customers at the right time, every time, mitigating risks for consumers while growing relationships and revenue for agents. Founder and CEO Luis Pino was the first employee at insurtech CoverWallet, and has also worked for McKinsey & Co. The company is backed by Foundation Capital, Union Square Ventures in addition to other investors.

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RISK MANAGEMENT

Motus Insurance Services Partners With Beazley via BHI Digital, Launching Its Earthquake Product in All 50 States

The Motus Solution | March 02, 2022

Motus Insurance Services, LLC has added Beazley PLC via BHI Digital to provide an elective earthquake program for residential and commercial associations. Beazley is a publicly traded company (LSE:BEZ) with over $3 billion in premium and maintains an A rating by AM Best with a stable outlook. Beazley will give residential associations and their individual unit owners access to the leader in catastrophic deductible buydown insurance in the market, adding more flexibility to the Motus product set with a carrier that can properly underwrite this targeted risk. "This is an important step for Motus and for our clients, We can officially write our earthquake program in all 50 states, and adding Beazley as our 4th insurance carrier further validates our unique earthquake insurance program for associations. Each of our carriers takes a different view on earthquake risk, and the addition of Beazley adds additional capabilities to our program. This means we can offer the most competitive pricing to our clients, whether they're focused on full coverage in the case of a major earthquake, or paying for minor repairs." -CEO Dan Wallis. "Motus Insurance Services, in my opinion, is as innovative of a company in the insurance industry as there is today Through our partnership with Motus Insurance Services, together we are able to provide lower Earthquake deductibles to individual residential owners in an association than are typically available in the insurance marketplace. Instead of being handcuffed with a massive deductible in the event of a loss and the prospect of potential cash flow issues, unit owners are able to purchase through Motus Insurance Services a lower deductible amount that best fits their desires and needs. The team at Motus Insurance Services is as good as there is and we are glad to be partnering with them not just in California, but now throughout the United States." -Kevin Ware, co-founder of BHI Digital. Motus was founded to provide residential association boards and membership with a third option: a custom elective earthquake insurance program that offers individual unit owners the benefits of commercial underwriting and commercial coverages without placing a burden on the association budget. The Motus Opt-in Earthquake Program offers a better option for associations struggling to manage risks within increasingly challenging financial constraints. About The Motus Solution The Motus Opt-In Earthquake Program is designed to bring all the benefits of a traditional master earthquake insurance policy to the more than 30,000 associations and 2.2 million condo owners who are not covered by one. Only a master earthquake policy can allow a condo owner to fully protect the equity in their home. This is because only a master policy can fully cover damages to residential buildings, foundations, garages, underground pipes, and other common areas within the community. Traditional unit owner policies (which are unavailable to many condo owners) were designed to supplement a traditional master policy – not replace the coverage they provide. These traditional unit owner earthquake policies depend on zip code rates and cap critical coverages like loss assessment coverage or contingent liability. Each Motus program is custom-built based on the specific exposures of the association. Once the board approves the Motus program for their association, each unit owner then has the option to purchase their pro-rated share of a master policy – covering unit interiors, residential buildings and common areas. No more mind boggling exclusions.

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LIFE INSURANCE

Consumer Watchdog Calls on Insurance Commissioner Lara To Issue Refund Rules In Response to CA Supreme Court

Consumer Watchdog | February 19, 2022

The California Supreme Court has refused to review a lower court ruling that stripped the Insurance Commissioner of critical powers granted by California voters to protect against excessive insurance rates. In a challenge to State Farm's homeowners insurance rates originally brought by Consumer Watchdog in 2014, the state's Insurance Commissioner ordered the company to lower its rates by 7% and refund overcharges dating back to July 2015. State Farm sued, and last October, the San Diego Court of Appeal overturned the Commissioner's rate order. It decided that the Commissioner could not take into account the investment income earned by other State Farm subsidiaries when determining State Farm's rates. This will result in State Farm charging an additional $117 million in premiums a year to its California policyholders. The Court of Appeal also held that the Commissioner could not force State Farm to refund an estimated $110 million plus interest in overcharges to customers who bought home, condo or renter insurance from the company. Consumer advocates said the Court of Appeal ruling flouts Proposition 103 and could cost Californians hundreds of billions dollars in the future – starting with an estimated $3.6 billion in overcharges during the pandemic that insurance companies have refused to refund – unless Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara takes action to resolve the matter through regulations. "Commissioner Lara told the Supreme Court that, notwithstanding the ruling by the Court of Appeal, he has the ability to protect Californians against State Farm's price manipulations by issuing formal regulations governing refunds and investment income, He needs to do that immediately to avert a consumer swindle at the hands of the greed-driven insurance industry. Consumer Watchdog is committed to securing the strongest possible regulations for the people of California." -Harvey Rosenfield, the author of Proposition 103 and one of Consumer Watchdog's lawyers. Challenge to Unlawful Rates Appealed by State Farm Under Proposition 103, insurance companies are barred from charging excessive auto, home and business rates. Companies are required to apply for and justify any rate changes before they take effect under a formula that takes into account their investment income and limits their profits and expenses to fair levels. The law also requires companies to maintain existing rates at fair levels at all times. The measure authorizes consumers to challenge illegal rates and other insurance practices. In 2014, Consumer Watchdog challenged a request by State Farm General, the company's California homeowners insurance subsidiary, for a 6.4% overall rate increase for its home, condo and renter insurance. In November 2016, after a year-long public hearing, then Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones determined that State Farm's rate increase was unjustified and ordered the company to reduce its home insurance rates going forward by about $77 million per year. The Commissioner also concluded that the company had been overcharging its existing customers since July 2015 and ordered State Farm to refund over $100 million to California policyholders, with interest. State Farm then filed multiple separate lawsuits in San Diego Superior Court, seeking to overturn the Commissioner's decision on numerous grounds. Read more about the lawsuits here. https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/newsrelease/state-farm-sues-avoid-256-million-refunds-and-rate-savings-consumers. However, the Superior Court agreed with State Farm that the Commissioner could not consider the investment income of other State Farm's affiliates when considering whether the rate increase was warranted. Consumer Watchdog and the Commissioner appealed to the Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego. The Court of Appeal ruling agreed with the Superior Court on investment income, which eliminated the prospect of refunds. But the Court of Appeal nevertheless declared that the Commissioner could not have required State Farm to pay refunds. Read more about the Court of Appeal decision here: https://www.consumerwatchdog.org/insurance/insurance-commissioner-cannot-force-state-farm-pay-refunds-overcharges-san-diego-court.

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