October 19, 2009

Mud Flows After Fires

“After the smoke has cleared from any wildfire, there is still the potential for catastrophic damage and losses to homes and neighborhoods when winter storms come. Most homeowners policies do not provide coverage for damage that is flood-related. Typically, it takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to kick in.”

—Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner in an advisory just as the first big rain storm of the year hit Northern California. The risk of flooding is considered particularly high because of all the fires that have occurred in the state. Flooding is more likely after fire because vegetation soaks up rain, and when vegetation is destroyed mud flows may happen. California had 7,500 fires this year, and hundreds of thousands of acres burned.

Allstate, Agents and the IRS

“It’s a situation where Allstate gets to have its cake and eat it, too. Agents bear all of the expenses and risks associated with operating an independent business, but are controlled as employees. Meanwhile Allstate enjoys a huge competitive cost advantage by avoiding expenses associated with pensions, health insurance, 401ks, Social Security and, most importantly, federal taxes. You would think that alone would rate the IRS’s attention, but that’s not been the case.”

—Jim Fish, executive director for the National Association of Professional Allstate Agents, which has petitioned the Internal Revenue Service, questioning whether Allstate had been given tax status by promising the IRS that the agents would become true independent contractors and be treated as such.

Frank Assessment

“What a challenge to come in and manage an organization that had never had an outside person before, and she certainly did a fine job.”

—Jerry O’Kane, a consultant and the former chief executive officer of Insurance Brokers and Agents of the West, on the news that Janet D. Frank is leaving her position as chief executive officer of the California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund. Frank said she is leaving because her mother is seriously ill. Frank was praised by others for coming in at a difficult time and turning things around. Frank was hired in 2007 in the wake of a conflict-of-interest scandal that led to the firing of the previous director.

Hiring Hit

“The more qualified the individual was, the less interest they expressed in the Hartford top job.”

—Bob MacDonald, former CEO of Allianz Life of North America and self-described financial services contrarian, criticizing the failure of the Hartford Financial Service Group to hire someone other than former Bank of America executive Liam McGee as its new CEO to replace Ramani Ayer.

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Insurance Journal West October 19, 2009
October 19, 2009
Insurance Journal West Magazine

Salute to Program Managers; Top Commercial Lines Agencies; Top Performing P/C Insurers: 3Q