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Germaine Marks named acting director of Department of Insurance, succeeding Christina Urias, who has retired. Marks was most recently deputy director of the department.

Connecticut Light & Power filed plan to upgrade system against storm risks. The $300 million, five-year plan is a condition of state’s approval of parent Northeast Utilities purchase of NStar in Boston. Connecticut Light & Power was vilified for extensive outages resulting from an August 2011 tropical storm that was followed by an October snowstorm.

Regulators don’t like numbers behind State Farm rate hike request for landlord policies. 57.3% proposed rate hike. Insurer says that would drop to 13.7% after reinsurance expenses and that profit would fall to 8.5% if you consider its 7% interest on a $750 million loan it had to take out to cover losses in the state.

Andrew Boron of the Department of Insurance assigned as rehabilitator of Millers First Insurance, formerly Millers Mutual, which was put into rehabilitation in July. It is not writing new policies and won’t renew policies until it is authorized by the department to do so. It is paying claims under current policies. >> Lumbermans Mutual Casualty Co. and American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co. placed into rehabilitation. Claims handling will be transitioned to State Guarantee Funds and Associations. The two related companies began voluntary runoff in 2003.

State inspectors kept giving the all-clear to Harlan County mine, but federal surprise safety inspection in May found enough violations to shut the facility down for nine days. After the federal inspection, state regulators did a surprise inspection at K & D Mining’s Mine No. 17 in Highsplint and found 37 violations. State admits previous inspections should have been more thorough. Director of Mine Safety and Licensing says of inspectors, “Their hearts are in it…but every once in a while, it’s easy to get complacent on any job.” Two weeks after the state’s surprise inspection, mine operators shut the whole thing down and laid off 40 workers. >> Insurance regulators have released new licensing application that allows retailers to offer insurance for electronic devices they sell. Available to insurance agents as well. Person overseeing insurance products sales must be licensed agent or business that sells portable electronic devices, and retailers can obtain blanket license for multiple stores. Insurance seller must tell purchaser that policy might duplicate coverage in other policies.

New law allows Department of Insurance to view expunged arrest records to verify insurance license applicants’ information. >> Former deputy insurance commissioner Richard Chambers Sr. pled guilty to charges of racketeering for accepting bribes to steer insurance business and to support, in his official capacity, a trash-can cleaning concept known as Cifer 5000. Chambers initiated a scheme to steer municipalities’ insurance business to an insurance agent in exchange for compensation. The first agent didn’t work out, so he went to a different one—an undercover FBI special agent. Chambers also accepted money to provide an official letter of recommendation for the commercial trash-container cleaning system in the effort to generate investor funding for the invention. It was a fictitious product created by the FBI. >> Ileana Ledet named deputy commissioner and head of public affairs for Department of Insurance. She was public information director at state Department of Education.

Passes healthcare cost-containment law, the most significant rework of the commonwealth’s healthcare marketplace since 2006’s Romneycare. The law includes measures to benchmark cost growth against overall economic movement and provides incentives for the adoption of alternative care delivery and payments to boost access to preventive care. In general it moves away from the fee-for-service system.

New law says an employee testing positive for drugs or alcohol in post-accident workers comp screening is assumed to have been intoxicated during the incident. Employer or agent handling claim no longer has to prove guilt. Also says employers are responsible only for effects of a new injury, not problems associated with preexisting condition. >> Kimberly Gilmer Causey promoted to general counsel of Insurance Department. >> David Browning promoted to director of Financial and Market Regulation Division.

State Supreme Court rules that law capping med mal awards for non-economic damages is unconstitutional. Says it interferes with the jury’s constitutionally protected purpose of determining amount of damages and is an innovation that is not supported by the foundational principles of the right to a jury trial.

Licenses first mutual insurer for U.S. municipal bond market. S&P AA rating makes Build America Mutual Assurance Company highest-rated bond insurer in nation. Targets small and mid-sized communities and bonds up to $75 million. Only investment-grade general obligation bonds or other revenue bonds that fund essential governmental facilities and services are eligible. Structured securities absolutely out. >> OKs first workers comp rate reduction since 2008. 1.2% decrease slated for upcoming year.

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