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Oakland is the first city in the U.S. to approve large-scale industrial marijuana cultivation. Licensing of four production facilities will begin in January and include a mandate that the companies carry $2 million in liability insurance. >> Tom Rowe named president and CEO of the state’s workers comp fund. He was a consultant for the p-c industry. >> Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau expects 30% rate hike request for 2011. Medical costs still rising, and recession hasn’t lowered claims as much as predicted.

State Supreme Court rules unanimously that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal cannot publicize Brown & Brown’s confidential business documents, which it turned over under subpoena in a multi-year investigation on improper contingent commissions. The court, in its reversal of two lower court decisions, said state law bans disclosure of information gathered in an antitrust probe “to all persons outside of the attorney general’s office, with the exception of officials of other states and the federal government.” The brokerage, which hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing in the case, brought suit after a failed attempt to negotiate a non-disclosure agreement with the AG.

Workers comp rates drop 4.2% in NCCI filing, which cited a change in the Special Disability Trust Fund assessment rate, down to 1.46% from the previous 4.52%. This was the first decrease in that assessment since 1994. >> Commissioner Kevin McCarty has ordered 16 workers comp insurers or groups to return over $9.4 million in excessive profits earned from 2005 to 2007 to policyholders.

John Oxendine, who resigned his post as insurance commissioner to run for governor, lost in the primary. Fall election will determine his replacement at the Insurance Department. >> Fulton County judge denies request by two insurers (State Mutual and its subsidiary Admiral Life Insurance Company of America) to block ethics investigation into contributions funneled in Oxendine’s campaign through 10 Alabama-based political action committees. He was barred from taking money directly from companies he regulated. Oxendine returned the money, denies wrongdoing.

Gordon Ito promoted to insurance commissioner. He was chief deputy insurance commissioner.

As of July 1, all surplus lines contracts must be printed in black ink with at least a 12-point bold font. The change from red-ink stamps is due to advances in electronic signature and distribution of insurance policies. Purchasers should be notified that surplus lines are not covered by the state’s Insurance Guaranty Association or Life and Health Insurance Guaranty Association.

Certificate of insurance forms must be approved by the Insurance Division effective Sept. 1, 2010, before they can be used. Standard ACORD and ISO certs already approved by the Division don’t need to be filed again for approval by an insurer, but the carrier must submit a filing that indicates it has adopted a particular ACORD or ISO cert form. Each certificate must contain a statement that makes clear it doesn’t amend, extend or alter coverage and that it is for information purposes only. See the Division’s website for full details. >> Bulletin 10-02 issued, saying all agents and brokers selling or soliciting annuity products in the state must obtain four continuing education credits on annuity products given by an approved vendor. The one-time requirement is not a condition of license renewal. Producers from other states may qualify by satisfying comparable training requirements in their states.

Compensation committee of Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp. recommends $264,000 annual salary for its new president, Richard Robertson. He was hired in July to replace John Wortman, who retired but is helping facilitate the transition. Robertson was general manager of Michigan Basic Property Insurance Association in Detroit and has executive experience in the property residual market. >> Louisiana Workers Compensation Corp. has promoted Paul Buffone to SVP of risk management services and David White to VP of internal audit. >> Workers comp rate decreasing again with loss cost filing showing 4.3% drop. It has been approved. That’s a 40% drop since 2005. >> Legislature passes law relating to the Louisiana Insurance Guaranty Association, which backs claims against failed insurers. The law is based on NAIC model act, increasing the maximum amount paid on covered claims to $500,000 per accident or occurrence, other than workers comp and unearned premiums. The old limit was $300,000. The law also limits assessments on member insurers to a maximum 1% of net direct written premiums from the preceding calendar year and allows the association to work with other states to resolve claims in multi-state solvency events.

State’s highest court rules that property owners can be held liable for snow-related injuries even if the passageway has been cleared. Decision changes nearly 100 years of case law, which has held that there is a difference between natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice and that property owners who failed to remove natural accumulations could not be held liable for injuries. The ruling, which mandates “reasonable care” of a property, brings the state in line with most others in the nation on slip-and-fall lawsuits from snow and ice. The court says its decision is retroactive to previous suits.

State Supreme Court lowers threshold for serious impairment of body function that must be met before a claim for non-economic damages can be considered. It overturned its own ruling in the widely used Kreiner case of 2004, which held that a person’s general ability to “conduct the course and trajectory of his or her entire normal life” had to be impaired. The current decision says that the Kreiner ruling overstepped the statute by imposing extra conditions on an injury’s effects in both time and scope. Opponents of the decision warn of increased litigation in no-fault accidents. >> That court also ruled that state regulators exceeded their authority in banning the use of credit scores to determine insurance rates.

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