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CALIFORNIA Commissioner Poizner rejects Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau’s 16% rate increase request but accepts 5% hike to reflect growth in medical and claims costs to the system. Although his decision isn’t binding, workers comp carriers will likely apply his recommendation to their January rates. >> Heather Lambert appointed deputy commissioner for community relations. She most recently served in the California Lottery commission.

COLORADO Workers comp loss costs down 16%, totaling a 43.4% decline since 2000 and the seventh decrease in eight years.

DELAWARE Voters elect first-term insurance regulator Karen Weldin Stewart, Democrat. Incumbent Matt Denn ran for and won as lieutenant governor.

FLORIDA Approves National Council on Compensation Insurance’s filing for an 18.6% cut in workers comp rates, the sixth consecutive year of decreases. Limits on attorney fees in workers comp cases are credited as a primary cause of the drop in rates. The cumulative rate drop, inclusive of 2009, exceeds 60%. Beware, though: A recent state Supreme Court ruling allows for increased attorney participation in workers comp cases and may lead to an amended filing that reverses some of the reductions. >> John McBride appointed as legislative affairs director of the Office of Insurance Regulation. He most recently served as chief performance officer at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

IDAHO Adds National Insurance Producer Registry service so agents can now apply for and renew licenses online using the Department of Insurance’s Web site link to NIPR.

IOWA Appoints state’s first consumer advocate for insurance, Angela Robinson, who will lead a new bureau within the Iowa Insurance Division.

KANSAS Insurance Department says customers who paid premiums to Brooke agents and agencies are considered to have coverage. If they receive a cancellation notice, they are to provide the carrier with proof of payment. The Department, however, has notified the public that it doesn’t have regulatory oversight in contractual matters between Brooke and its franchisees, many of whom are going under because of lack of payment on commissions and rents.

LOUISIANA Efforts to attract private market back to state pay off. Forty percent reduction in Citizens’ business touted as exemplary, and systemic problems encountered in the first half of the year have been addressed. Citizens approved a 2009 rate average increase of 14%. Policyholders who approve their own migration to a private carrier avoid the hikes.

MAINE Voters repeal tax increases passed earlier in the year and designed to buttress struggling state-subsidized health insurance coverage, DirigoChoice. Previous method of assessing insurers is reinstituted.

MINNESOTA Department of Commerce slaps Duluth agent and agency for $5,000 between them for running a newspaper ad soliciting current AIG policyholder business by questioning the insurer’s health. Other potential violators are being investigated.

MISSISSIPPI Commissioner of Insurance Mike Chaney approves Nationwide’s Wind Mitigation Discount Program, the first of its kind in the state. It takes effect in April and offers discounts based on home construction features that protect against wind damage. The discount applies to about 12,000 Nationwide policyholders in Jackson, Hancock, Harrison, George, Pearl River and Stone counties who currently have qualifying coverage. Commissioner Chaney says he will seek $25–35 million from tax base for grants to homeowners to reinforce houses against wind.

MONTANA Elects Democrat Monica Lindeen as first-term top insurance regulator. Incumbent, also Democrat, could not run because of term limits.

NEW JERSEY Holds first audit of New Jersey’s Compensation Rating and Inspection Bureau and finds bureau chief has charged $55,000 for travel, meals and candy. He says he has reimbursed the bureau for all personal purchases.

NEW YORK Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo gives insurance carriers one year to implement new procedures to assure contract certainty on large commercial policies written on a manuscript basis, as per Circular Letter No. 20. (Standardized forms are already subject to regulatory approval.) Carriers and brokers are to finalize all terms of 90% of policies that are not subject to more stringent requirements within 30 days of inception and are to document exceptions and extensions. >> Twenty medical providers who are outside the state’s “participating provider” program for state and local government employees submitted inflated claims to the New York State Health Insurance Plan after attracting the patients by not charging the “out-of-pocket” fees that would normally be associated with going to a non-plan provider. Four have now joined the state’s Empire Plan as participating providers. >> Insurance Department licenses Australian Macquarie Group’s newly formed bond insurer, allowing it to insure municipal and infrastructure debt. Municipal and Infrastructure Assurance Corp.’s license was fast-tracked by the Department.

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