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Division of Insurance offers new online insurance guide for consumers, including types of insurance, comparisons of benefits and premiums offered by carriers and number of complaints against companies.

Marjorie Renee Hill named judge of compensation claims. She has served as director of the First District Court of Appeal’s Workers Compensation Unit since July of 2008 and succeeds Judge John Thurman, who retired. >> Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., says he’ll introduce legislation for federally backed loans by the private sector to Florida’s Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. This is an alternative to either an outright federal bailout or state bankruptcy when the next major hurricane strikes the state.

SB 155 proposes to change workers comp law to allow employee choice of physician care for workers injured on the job. Objections are that employer-chosen doctors specialize in occupational injuries and illnesses as well as return-to-work diagnoses and that employee-chosen doctors might not be as qualified in the field. >> A wrongful death bill, HF 758, has passed the state House. It broadens liability in wrongful death cases to include “loss of enjoyment of life” damages.

Commissioner Ken Ross denies rate increases for seven auto insurers because of their use of credit scoring. Says he’ll reject any filings that use it. State Supreme Court has yet to rule on validity of credit scoring. Gov. Jennifer Granholm had already called for a voluntary freeze on auto rate hikes. She says she will use whatever means at her disposal to stop increases if insurers don’t comply with the “voluntary” action. Critics argue that the majority (60%) of policyholders benefit from credit-based pricing.

Gov. Haley Barbour signs law enacting state’s membership in the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Committee’s Interstate Compact.

Passes law allowing state-licensed captives to write surety and marine. Maximum premium tax remains at $100,000 per year. Prorated schedule now available for the first year a captive operates in the state. The law gives the insurance commissioner authority to waive the risk-based capital report for risk retention groups (RRGs) less than two years old and to approve up to 20% of admitted assets in rated credit instruments in any one investment that meets certain requirements for RRGs with less than $5 million in total admitted assets. A captive may now also be formed with one organizer, down from the previously required three.

Supt. Dinallo signs memorandum of understanding with the Monetary Authority of Macau, agreeing on general coordination of insurance regulatory activities, such as exchanging information, taking testimony and conducting inspections.

Commissioner Holland angry about ongoing backlog of more than 200,000 unpaid health insurance claims for state workers. Electronic Data Systems (EDS) contracted to provide third party claims services, but its payment system missed its up-and-running date by a month and EDS hasn’t been able to eliminate the backlog. Holland says she’s “pretty much run out of patience.” Some providers are refusing to honor the state workers’ insurance plan. EDS faces mandatory penalties of 10% simple interest on claims older than 45 days.

Proposes changes to state’s workers comp medical fee schedules, increasing overall payments to medical service providers and resulting in cost increases for insurers. Included in the proposals are billing requirements, compensability rules, and payment guidelines for providers. For detailed information on the proposal, visit www.cbs.state.or.us/external/wcd/policy/rules/rules.html#proprules.

Commissioner Joel Ario approves first-of-its-kind insurance discount for homeowners who insure with Donegal Insurance and use solar energy or geothermal heat pumps.

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