News Briefs

October 3, 2005

INDIANA

Ind. Targets Unemployment System: The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD) has taken another step toward modernizing its unemployment insurance system by contracting with Carmel, Ind.-based Haverstick Consulting Inc. as the prime vendor for the Unemployment Insurance Modernization (UIM) project.

“The overhaul of our unemployment insurance system is a much-needed and long- anticipated reform,” said Ron Stiver, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “I am pleased that an Indiana company such as Haverstick Consulting will help us meet this challenge and ensure Hoosiers receive the benefits of a state-of-the-art unemployment insurance system.”

Indiana’s unemployment insurance system currently runs on an archaic framework of patchwork technology. The modernization project will automate IDWD’s processes for both claimants and employers, and is expected to save taxpayer dollars by reducing overpayments and improving customer service by making the unemployment insurance system more accessible.

Haverstick will lead the team of companies which have developed unemployment insurance solutions in 14 states, including Tier Technologies, Crew Technical Services, Source and Number Six Software. Haverstick was chosen from among five vendors in a highly competitive procurement process.

The new system will enable Indiana employers and the 250,000 individuals who use the system annually, to interact with IDWD at their convenience.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is charged with assisting companies to create new jobs and improve employee skills.

IOWA

Hole-in-One Case Set for Trial: Trial started in September week for a man who said he should have been paid $10,000 after he hit a hole-in-one during a golf tournament.

Adam Fisher, who was 18 when he made the shot in 2003, filed a lawsuit against event’s sponsor, The Iowa FFA Foundation, claiming it withheld the $10,000 prize. The prize was never paid because the tournament’s insurance policy didn’t cover the use of mulligans-a golf term for a do-over shot-tournament officials said.

Fisher, two friends and their FFA adviser each paid about $100 to enter the tournament at the Legacy Golf Course in Norwalk. All four shanked their tee shots on the 196-yard par three fifth hole. So Fisher decided to use one of his mulligans that his team had bought from tournament officials for $5. The shot landed in the hole and Fisher claims he should receive the $10,000 prize.

FFA attorney Ed Skinner, of Altoona, said a hole-in-one scored using a mulligan is not a hole-in-one.

Roger Stone, Fisher’s lawyer, said tournament rules included nothing about mulligans being banned from the hole-in-one contest.

He said the sponsors claim that an insurance policy was incorporated into the contest, but an insurance policy was not listed on any sign or contract.

NORTH DAKOTA

DOI Issues Cease & Desist Order: North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman issued a cease and desist order against Choice Benefits, a Houston, Texas-based company that was marketing “discount health plans” in the state.

Choice Benefits had advertised in North Dakota, violating a new state law aimed at curbing abuses in the marketing of discount medical plans. Poolman warned consumers to be aware of Choice Benefits and similar companies that may be trying to market these types of plans throughout the state.

Poolman’s order alleges that Choice Benefits’ advertisement failed to disclose that the discount medical plan was not an insurance policy; it used misleading terminology that could cause a consumer to believe the plan was insurance; it failed to disclose that plan members are obligated to pay for all health care services, but will receive a discount from those health care providers that have contracted with the discount medical plan organization; and finally, the advertisement failed to include the name and address of the marketer and of the discount medical plan organization.

The Choice Benefits cease and desist was the first such order issued under the new law, which was passed during the last legislative session.

“These plans are not health insurance-they aren’t even close, and these companies should not be tricking North Dakotans into believing that they are,” Poolman said.

Typically, discount medical plans claim that by seeking services from participating providers the bills for dental work, prescription drugs, or even medical and hospital care will be significantly discounted, Poolman said. However, most of these plans have few, if any, participating providers in the state.

Poolman warned that before purchasing a discount medical plan, consumers should check the plan’s list of providers to make sure they are located in their community or surrounding area.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Insurance Covers Repairs, Not Value: Siding with a majority of courts in other states, the South Dakota Supreme Court last month ruled unanimously that auto insurers cannot be forced to pay policyholders for the lost market value of wrecked vehicles that have been repaired.

The ruling in a pending lawsuit reverses Circuit Judge Jon Erickson of Huron, S.D., who decided last year that jurors must determine whether Nancy Turbak and Patrick Culhane of Watertown should be compensated for the diminished market value of their car.

Turbak was driving a 2001 Audi Quattro that blew a tire and struck a guardrail in 2003. Western National Mutual Insurance Co. of Edina, Minn., sent the couple a check for $12,459 to repair the car.

The couple demanded that Western National pay them another $10,000 because the car, even after repair, would worth less than similar vehicles never wrecked.

In their lawsuit against Western National, the couple argued that their insurance policy obligated the firm to provide payment for the lost value of the 2001 vehicle.

Ruling in favor of Western National, the high court said the firm’s liability extended only to the lesser of the actual cash value of the wrecked car or the amount necessary to repair it, and any lost market value is not covered by the standard insurance policy.

Although the justices agreed that wrecked cars that have been repaired may be worth less than identical cars that have never been damaged, they said the language of the insurance policy does not provide that contractual coverage.

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