Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Washington State intends on running its own temporary federally funded High risk Health Insurance Program

We here at Sav-on like to help spread the word regarding Insurance related news affecting the Pacific North West.  This was a news release sent out by Washington State Insurance Commissioner's Office.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Gov. Chris Gregoire have notified Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius that Washington state intends to run its own temporary, federally-funded high risk health insurance program.

“We cannot afford to miss this opportunity to provide much needed coverage to our uninsured,” said Kreidler. “There are many details that need to be worked out, but we plan to leverage the administrative framework and experience of the Washington State Health Insurance Program (WSHIP).”

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act designated $5 billion in federal funds to create temporary high risk pool programs to provide health insurance to currently uninsured individuals with preexisting conditions from July 1, 2010 to Jan. 1, 2014. States could either let the federal government run the program or contract with the federal government to set up the high risk pools through state programs or private non-profit entities.

“Signaling our intent to run the new program ourselves is the first step in the process,” said Kreidler. “We expect to receive more details before formal applications are due at the end of May.”

Under the new law, there are specific requirements for the high risk pools regarding eligibility, benefits, and funding. For instance, participants must:
■be a citizen or national of the U.S. or lawfully reside in the U.S.,

■must have been uninsured for at least six months,

■and must have a preexisting health condition.

“Many of the details regarding benefits still need to be determined, but once the formal application has been made we intend to hold a public meeting to share information about the new program,” added Kreidler.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Her Last Call Was From a Cell Phone

Cell phone use is a dangerous practice and many states -- including Washington -- have outlawed the use of a hand-held cell phone. Why? Because a distracted driver is a danger to themselves and everyone on the road.
The photos you see are of a deadly crash between a speeding motorcycle and a compact car. The woman driving the VW was talking on her cell phone when she pulled out from a side street, apparently not seeing the speeding motorcycle racing towards her.
The rider's reaction time was not sufficient enough to avoid this terrible accident. The bike rider was found INSIDE the car with the occupants of the car. All had been killed instantly.
The Volkswagen actually flipped over from the force of the impact and landed 20 feet from where the collision took place.
This graphic wreck was displayed at at motorcycle show by the police, in order to remind people what can happen when a driver is distracted while talking on a cell phone.

Please do not talk on a cell phone while behind the wheel of a car. Either use a hands-free device or pull safely off the road, away from traffic, and make your call. Better yet, wait until you have exited your vehicle, then make the call. If you try to talk or text while driving, it may be the last call you ever make!

Monday, May 10, 2010

40% of Workplace Fatalities are Transportation Related

Transportation incidents continue to be the No. 1 cause of on-the job deaths, a trend that has been the case since 1992, according to the American Society of Safety Engineers' (ASSE). In fact, in 2008, 40 percent of all workplace fatalities were transportation related, the association noted.

"These crashes are preventable. With roadway construction up and the summer travel season just around the corner we must all do our part to prevent roadway crashes," said Portland, Oregon's Lee Briney, ASSE Columbia-Willamette Chapter President. "What is stunning is that the overall price tag for transportation crashes in the U.S. each year is $170 billion dollars (NHTSA) and we all end up paying for it. Those costs represent about $1,000 per person each year for property damage (streets, lampposts, guardrails, emergency services, court costs, insurance administration and much more). This figure doesn't take into account the extreme grief caused by the loss of a loved one. There is no way to calculate that cost."

Briney recently met with several trucking, state and federal officials to discuss the high, tangible and intangible costs of car crashes . She joined several officials including ASSE's David Parsons, Oregon's May Trucking Company Senior Vice President David R. Jostad, Oregon Department of Transportation's Motor Carrier Division's Investigative/Safety/Federal Programs Department Head David McKane, Jubitz Travel Center COO Mark Gram and Sgt. John Naccarato of the Clackamus, Ore., police department, to address this issue.

Briney went on to note that businesses alone pay about $60 billion per year in medical care, legal expenses, property damages, lost productivity and increased workers' compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance costs as well as for the administration of all these programs. The average vehicle crash cost to an employer, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is $16,500. When a worker is involved in an on-the-job crash with injuries the cost to the employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved -- many times the employees did not cause these accidents, they were the victims.

A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report estimates that the cost of a police-reported crash involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112; a crash with trucks with two or three trailers involved were the rarest, but their cost was $289,549. The cost per nonfatal injury crash averaged $195,258 and fatal crashes cost an estimated $3,604,518 per crash.

"Many businesses have driver safety programs that protect their workers," Briney said. These programs not only make good business sense but also help reduce the risks faced by employees and their families while protecting the bottom line."

Those programs include: garnering senior management commitment and employee involvement; developing written policies and procedures (including seat belt use); regularly checking the safety of the motor vehicles; crash reporting and investigation; vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection; driver training and communication; not requiring workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their normal working hours; developing work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations; enforcing mandatory seat belt use; and banning cell phone use or texting while driving; not allowing employees to conduct work while driving, and more.

Safety professionals also provide information on:

•Securing materials for transport. L oose objects can slide around or come out of the vehicle and become airborne;
•Requiring seat belt use. Each year seatbelts save more than 12,000 lives and prevent 325,000 serious injuries;
•Distracted driving is a factor in 25 percent to 30 percent of all traffic crashes;
•Driving under the influence. DUIs are involved in 40 percent of all fatal crashes;
•Fatigued driving causes about 100,000 crashes a year;
•Aggressive driving -- speeding, tailgating, failure to signal, and running a red light -- can be deadly;
•Young drivers. Under federal law 16-year-old workers are not allowed to drive as part of their job;
•17-year-olds may drive for work but only under strictly limited circumstances. Some state laws may be more restrictive.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, Ill.-based ASSE is a professional safety organization and is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. Its more than 32,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members lead, manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor, health care and education.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sharing your car for profit? Insurance Companies frown?

Sharing cars in one way or another has grabbed quite a few headlines lately. From iPhone apps that help you line-up carpooling buddies to private companies that find vehicles available for use, several options exist to help you either find a ride or share your vehicle with someone else. All of these programs are great, but when it comes down to the simplest method of car sharing, handing the keys over to someone in return for cash, the law frowns.

You see, insurance companies don't like this idea of offering up your car to someone else for dough. In fact, they can legally deny coverage of your vehicle if you do so. Current laws In California, and many other states, prohibit the private rental of your vehicle to somebody else, but that could change soon. A bill (AB 1871) written up by Assemblyman Dave Jones (D-Sacramento) aims to change the state's car insurance laws to allow personal vehicles to be rented out without the risk of losing insurance.

You may be wondering why anyone would want to rent out their ride to a stranger. It makes sense if you look at a heavily congested city like San Francisco (pictured). Many residents of the Bay Area do not own personal vehicles and must rent one for trips outside of the city limits. On the flip side, people who do own vehicles rarely use them. In situations like this, private car sharing could be a perfect answer, if the law allowed it.