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Novus Cannabis MedPlans is Well-Received at Major ICMG Insurance Conference

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Market Changes Gather Interest From Carriers and Wholesalers, Prompting Distribution Agreements To A Larger Target Audience

MIAMI, FL /ACCESSWIRE/February 9, 2022/ Novus Acquisition and Development, Corp. (OTC PINK:NDEV), through its wholly-owned subsidiary WCIG Insurance Services, Inc., is a hybrid health insurance carrier and, the nation’s first health carrier offering cannabis in health plans to recreational and medicinal users, describes breakthrough meetings with key decision -makers in the insurance industry at the ICMG conference in Miami.

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Last week Novus attended the ICMG conference, a forum for developing business relationships and enhancing existing contacts with carriers and their wholesalers. Novus had many one-on-one meetings with the industry’s top health insurance executives.

Our presentation, “How Cannabis Is Reshaping Health Plans With Personalized Healthcare Packages” and that there is an established national provider network of dispensaries that offer preferred pricing to policyholders, during the presentation you can visually see these executives’ eyes widen in response to interest and engagement.

Certain topics that drew their attention and reformed their belief system, as recent changes in the landscape where precedence was set by several State Supreme Courts on the Compassionate Care Act. Stating, that employers are obligated to accept employees that use legal medicinal cannabis and should not be discriminated against in the workplace. Our presentation also covered:

  • Rising Recreational Cannabis Taxation: Especially in California, taxation is as high as 37%. Then, once federally legal, there will be an additional 25% tax on rec cannabis, hitting the consumer with a 45% to 50% tax rate. Prompting recreational users in getting their state cannabis cards and joining our health plan to get the medicinal tax rate vs the rec tax which is 50% less.

  • Opioid Settlement Framework: A consortia of State Attorney Generals, settling litigation claims with health carrier distribution networks with compensatory damages, rehabilitation, and opioid diversion programs, for example, utilizing Novus Cannabis MedPlan in their health benefits.

  • Ever Changing Complexities of the Workforce: Wellness and rewriting HR policies that will be the newest metric that companies use to recruit and maintain quality employees.

  • Combatting Illicit Weed Market: Using insurance as a safe alternative to combat the $4 billion illegal market that will prove costly to state law enforcement budgets.

After the presentation, we immediately came away with a distribution /transactional arrangement with a regional brokerage/wholesale firm Leb Insurance Group, which will be able to position Novus benefits packages on the leading Insurtech platform called Ease.

Ease’s technology truly changed the nature of the industry on how consumer engagement will shift from complex, one size fits all, long-term insurance products to the ala carte of benefits that suites a fluid time and budget constraints for consumers.

In the partnership with Leb, we estimate 45 to 60 day configuration and we then begin a go-to-market strategy. Further meetings have been scheduled and we anticipate deals being struck in the near future.

Continued Expansion of Provider Network

Despite losing a few dispensaries through retail consolidation in Southern California, Novus remains strong with the ability to cover the entire state. We would like to thank the following dispensaries that are now a part of the Novus Provider Network:

Cannabis 21+:Four locations and delivery in Mission Valley, Sorrento Valley, Mendocino, and Palm Desert.

Nature’s Care and Wellness: With one location and delivery throughout the entire state, this dispensary will be vital to Novus’ continued expansion to its insurance member base in Maryland, where medicinal cannabis users grew 40% in the past two years.

Levitated Nebraska: This dispensary gives Novus the ability to cover all of eastern Nebraska, an up-and-coming state with ballot initiatives to bring recreational cannabis in November 2022.

Lightheart Farms located in Tulsa, with two new dispensaries, we estimate an unprecedented expansion of Providers that will service approximately the state’s four million residents. By far the most active of any other state with 369,247 registered MMJ patients and 2,255 caregivers, which represents nearly 10% of the state population. Even with a 1% market capture, Oklahoma could be one of our most profitable states.

Conclusion

The success of the conference showcased our adaptability through unprecedented changes in the health insurance marketplace as consumer inclinations remain on the rise. On the political forefront, the last hurdle could be in April of 2022 with federal legalization and then comes more taxation.

While we believe that any increase of taxation will work in Novus’ favor, through the inherent tax abatement of medical cannabis from health plans and that will support our ongoing growth and profitability.

Novus Research:

About Novus

Novus Acquisition & Development Corp. (OTC Markets:NDEV), through its subsidiary WCIG Insurance, provides health insurance and related insurance solutions within the wellness and medical marijuana industries in states where legal programs exist. Novus has developed its infrastructure within many lines of the insurance business such as health, life, and fixed annuities.

Novus’ medical cannabis benefits package will work as outside developers and will not cultivate, handle, transport grow, extract, dispense, put up for sale, put on the market, sell, deliver, supply, circulate, or trade cannabis or any substances that violate the United States law or the Controlled Substances Act, nor does it intend to do so in the future and will continue to follow state and federal laws. The statements made about specific products have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. All information provided on these press releases, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. Once a push notification is completed the transaction is solely between the state-licensed dispensary and the registered patient.

The state laws are in conflict with the federal Controlled Substances Act. The current administration has effectively stated that it is not an efficient use of resources to direct federal law enforcement agencies to prosecute those lawfully abiding by state-designated laws, allowing the use and distribution of medical marijuana. Changes in consolidation may affect the provider network. However, there is no guarantee that the current administration, nor any future administration, will not change this policy and decide to enforce the federal laws strongly. Any such change in the federal government’s enforcement of current federal laws could cause significant financial changes. While we do not intend to harvest, distribute, or sell cannabis or cannabis-related products, we may be harmed by a change in enforcement by federal or state governments.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release includes forward-looking statements, which are based on certain assumptions and reflect management’s current expectations. These forward-looking statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results or events to differ materially from current expectations. Some of these factors include: general global economic conditions; general industry and market conditions and growth rates; uncertainty as to whether our strategies and business plans will yield the expected benefits; increasing competition; availability and cost of capital; the ability to identify and develop and achieve commercial success; the level of expenditures necessary to maintain and improve the quality of services; changes in the economy; changes in laws and regulations, includes codes and standards, intellectual property rights, and tax matters; or other matters not anticipated; our ability to secure and maintain strategic relationships and distribution agreements. Novus disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Investor Contact Information:

855-228-7355
Email: [email protected]

SOURCE: Novus Acquisition and Development, Corp.

View source version on accesswire.com:
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hubb becomes first insurance broker ready for the metaverse

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The challenger broker aims to make staff onboarding and customer service smoother.

Challenger insurer hubb has announced that it is preparing for a shift to the metaverse, with the aid of investment in VR devices and hybrid onboarding infrastructure

The insurance brand, which was founded in 2019, has been regularly hosting meetings in Oculus’s Horizon Workrooms, via the company’s investment in VR devices.

Through using the virtual workspace, hubb aims to ensure that clients are offered new, adaptable ways to work with the usage-based broker, with customer preferences at front of mind.

Internally, hubb is using the metaverse to establish a hybrid working environment that is defined by the division of time in and out of a shared virtual space.

According to the firm, this move facilitates onboarding of new staff, by providing instant access to senior staff in a more personal and productive manner than video meetings, while still allowing workers to operate from home.

In addition, hubb is also engaging with a metaverse accelerator, ensuring continuation of metaverse tech adoption, as well as helping the company keep up with future developments.

Four key factors driving demand for digital insurance workers

Leon Stafford, sales director at Digital Workforce, and Lee Melia, program director at Tasika, provide four key factors driving demand for digital insurance workers. Read here

“This move towards the virtual environments of the metaverse isn’t just a convenient working practice – it also emblematizes our client-led philosophy, allowing us to literally meet our customers where they are, whether that be a sunny beachfront or the summit of Everest ,” said Edward Halsey, chief operating officer of hubb.

“Not only do we now conduct our board meetings in Horizon Workrooms, but we have already engaged with clients via this kind of metaverse-driven technology. By becoming the first metaverse-ready insurance broker, we’re ensuring that we won’t miss an opportunity to put clients at their ease – wherever they are and whatever their preferences.”

Identity Theft Insurance Market to Reach $2.09 Bn, Globally, by 2030 at 14.2% CAGR: Allied Market Research

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Surge in adoption of digital payments, rise in cybercrimes, and increase in the number of credit card users drive the growth of the global identity theft insurance market.

PORTLAND, Ore., Feb. 9, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Allied Market Research published a report, titled,Identity Theft Insurance Market By Type (Credit Card Fraud, Employment Or Tax-Related Fraud, Phone Or Utilities Fraud, Bank Fraud and Others) and Application (Individuals and Business): Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2021–2030″. According to the report, the global identity theft insurance industry generated $0.57 billion in 2020, and is anticipated to generate $2.09 billion by 2030, witnessing a CAGR of 14.2% from 2021 to 2030.

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Premium Determinants of growth

Surge in adoption of digital payments, rise in cybercrimes, and increase in the number of credit card users drive the growth of the global identity theft insurance market. However, lack of awareness among consumers hinders the market growth. On the other hand, growth in digitalization in developing countries and increase in number of users on online platform present new opportunities in the coming years.

Covid-19 Scenario

  • The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the identity theft insurance, owing to increase in usage and adoption of online & digitalized platforms among consumers globally.

  • Identity theft insurance cost are experiencing massive growth as consumers are getting familiar with the risks related with electronic identification technologies in the market.

Tea credit card fraud Segment to Maintain its Leadership Status throughout the Forecast Period

Based on type, the credit card fraud segment held the highest market share in 2020, accounting for nearly two-fifths of the global identity theft insurance market, and is estimated to maintain its leadership status throughout the forecast period. The increase in cases of credit card fraud owing to digitization is proving beneficial for the growth of identity theft insurance market. Moreover, the bank fraud segment is projected to manifest the highest CAGR of 18.6% from 2021 to 2030, owing to rise in digital usage in the banking industry.

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The Individuals Segment to Maintain its Lead Position during the Forecast Period

Based on application, the individuals segment accounted for the largest share in 2020, contributing to more than half of the global identity theft insurance market, and is projected to maintain its lead position during the forecast period. This is due to rise in cases for the personal data theft on social media. However, the business segment is expected to portray the largest CAGR of 15.5% from 2021 to 2030. While imitating a company’s letterhead or sending forged communications are traditional approaches, newer and more sophisticated methods are being developed. As a result, the demand for identity insurance have been surged in recent years by business firms.

North America to Maintain its Dominance by 2030

Based on region, North America held the highest market share in terms of revenue 2020, accounting for more than two-fifths of the global identity theft insurance market, owing to developed digitalized platform. Moreover, the Asia Pacific region is expected to witness the fastest CAGR of 17.8% during the forecast period. This is attributed to the continued high speed of digital adoption, along with a rapidly increasing digital ecosystem.

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We are in professional corporate relations with various companies and this helps us in digging out market data that helps us generate accurate research data tables and confirms utmost accuracy in our market forecasting. Each and every data presented in the reports published by us is extracted through primary interviews with top officials from leading companies of the domain concerned. Our secondary data procurement methodology includes deep online and offline research and discussion with knowledgeable professionals and analysts in the industry.

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SOURCE Allied Market Research

Greenlight Re Innovations Announces Investment in Cargo Insurance Platform Redkik

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GRAND CAYMAN, Cayman Islands–(BUSINESS WIRE)–
Greenlight Re Innovations (“GRI”), part of Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd. (NASDAQ: GLRE) (“Greenlight Re” or the “Company”), has announced an investment in Redkik, Inc. (“Redkik”), a cargo insurance administration and analytics platform.

Cargo insurance policies have traditionally been written on an annual basis and priced based on projected cargo volume and value. For cargo owners that cannot accurately predict the frequency and value of future shipments, pricing inefficiencies can represent significant additional costs. Redkik has created an API-embedded solution and platform positioned between freight forwarders and insurance carriers, enabling transport intermediaries to offer appropriately priced, per-shipment cargo insurance policies to their clients at the point of booking.

Simon BurtonChief Executive Officer at Greenlight Re, said, “Some time ago, we identified cargo insurance as an ideal candidate for a more granular and data-driven approach to underwriting and pricing, that’s more responsive to the needs of small and large enterprises alike. Redkik’s product perfectly matches our vision for the future of cargo insurance and we’re excited to play a role in their development.”

Chris KalinskyFounder and Chief Executive Officer at Redkik, said, “For years, there has been a disconnect in the market between customer needs and insurance products. The dynamic nature of the logistics process forces the insurance industry to adapt to meet the changing demands. Redkik offers a transactional, on-demand solution tailored for the unique and evolving needs of the global logistics sector, which solves this industry-wide problem and adds direct value for the customer. Working with Greenlight Re has been instrumental in accelerating our journey to transform the industries.”

About Greenlight Capital Re, Ltd.

Advertisement

Greenlight Re (www.greenlightre.com) provides multi-line property and casualty reinsurance through its licensed and regulated reinsurance entities in the Cayman Islands and Ireland. The Company complements its underwriting activities with a non-traditional investment approach designed to achieve higher rates of return over the long term than reinsurance companies that exclusively employ more traditional investment strategies. In 2018, the Company launched its Greenlight Re Innovations unit, which supports technology innovators in the (re)insurance space by providing investment, risk capacity, and access to a broad insurance network.

About Redkik

Redkik is a global Insurtech start-up with the mission to transform and improve the insurance industry for all parties within logistics and transportation. Redkik’s platform eliminates the need for annual and complex insurance policies. Through Redkik’s embedded integration with licensed cargo insurance providers, transport intermediaries can offer their customers on-demand per-shipment, customized cargo insurance when their freight is booked.

Forward-Looking Statements

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the US federal securities laws. The Company intends these forward-looking statements to be covered by the safe harbor provisions for forward-looking statements in the US federal securities laws. These statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in forward-looking statements made on the Company’s behalf. These risks and uncertainties include the impact of general economic conditions and conditions affecting the insurance and reinsurance industry, the adequacy of our reserves, our ability to assess underwriting risk, trends in rates for property and casualty insurance and reinsurance, competition, investment market fluctuations, trends in insured and paid losses, catastrophes, regulatory and legal uncertainties and other factors described in the Company’s annual report on Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

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Investor Relations
Karin Daly
The Equity Group Inc.

(212) 836-9623

[email protected]

Source: Greenlight Re Innovations

Should You Get Travel Insurance for Your Spring Break Trip?

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Winter is thawing, midterms are on the horizon and beach travel deals are populating every other post on your social feeds. This can only mean one thing—spring break is coming.

NerdWallet – NerdWallet

Amid the daydreams of sun and relaxation, ski hills and hot tubs, or community service trips, college and graduate students might be weighing the pros and cons of spring break travel in the COVID-19 era.

If you choose to travel, getting a travel insurance policy can be a smart money move. This coverage can help protect not only you, but the money you prepay for trip expenses like flights, hotels or that must-see concert. In case your plans go awry (which, let’s face it, feels more likely now than ever before), this coverage can be your saving grace.

What kind of travel insurance is out there? Do you even need it? Here are a few important points to keep in mind when deciding whether to purchase travel insurance for spring break.

Seek travel insurance that includes COVID coverage

Regardless of if you’re traveling abroad or domestically, if you’re considering purchasing travel insurance, it’s wise to ensure it covers COVID-related losses. While it is tempting to buy cheap basic travel insurance, getting more comprehensive coverage will better protect you during the pandemic.

This is important for a few reasons:

  1. You’ll be covered for any medical costs incurred if you become sick with COVID during your trip.
  2. If you catch COVID a few days before departure and need to cancel your nonrefundable trip plans, COVID-related trip cancellation coverage will protect your down payments.
  3. If you test positive before your return flight home and need to quarantine, trip interruption insurance will kick in.

“If you or a traveling companion are individually ordered to quarantine before or during your trip because you were exposed to COVID-19, that can be a covered reason for trip interruption,” according to Allianz Travel Insurance policies that include COVID coverage.

In a scenario like this, the covered limits will vary. But generally, you can expect to be covered for extra hotel nights, transportation costs because of the interruption and the money needed to potentially cancel your existing flight and rebook a new one.

These last-minute costs can really add up, so a policy that protects you against these losses is helpful.

Not all bookings are nonrefundable

As a general rule, travel insurance is best for protecting nonrefundable trip plans. If your transport or stay is nonrefundable, trip insurance will help you get your money back if you need to cancel for a covered reason.

However, many travel companies, including most airlines and hotels, have loosened their change and cancellation policies in recent years. United, for instance, has “permanently gotten rid of change fees for most economy and premium cabin tickets for flights within the US, or between the US and Mexico or the Caribbean.” Note that this doesn’t include its basic economy fares.

If your spring break trip can be changed or canceled without a penalty, decide if you still need the benefits of a comprehensive travel insurance policy. You might not.

You can buy specific policies a la carte

If you’re still worried about trip interruptions — such as potentially catching COVID while traveling — you can buy separate trip interruption and travel medical insurance policies a la carte. This can be cheaper than buying a comprehensive plan.

Another instance when you may not need a comprehensive policy is if you booked your spring break trip with a credit card that offers travel insurance. While the limits may be lower than on a comprehensive plan, it may be enough for you. Built-in credit card travel insurance typically includes trip interruption coverage but not medical emergency expenses.

So if you choose not to buy a travel insurance policy, consider getting a separate travel medical insurance plan for peace of mind.

Award travel cancellations are a slightly different ballgame

Some award travel bookings — that is, bookings made with points and miles — still incur out-of-pocket taxes or redeposit fees for cancellations. In instances of covered trip changes, travel insurance can cover those costs.

However, several airlines and hotels have also loosened their change and cancellation policies for award bookings, and many allow travel rewards to be reinstated without cost.

Some travel credit card issuers, like Chase, offer cardholders an online travel booking portal. If you book travel on the platform with the credit card that includes built-in travel insurance, your trip will be covered. However, if you transfer points to an airline or a hotel, you no longer get the coverage from your credit card.

If you’re nervous you’ll change your mind

What if you found a good spring break deal that you want to book, but you’re not sure whether you’ll want to travel when the time comes? In this case, weigh your options.

If the flight and hotel have a flexible cancellation policy or the plans are refundable, you don’t need to get travel insurance right away. If you end up going, you can always purchase a policy a few days before departure.

However, if it’s a nonrefundable booking, the only way you can cancel and get some of your money back for any reason is if you purchase a travel insurance policy and add on the optional Cancel For Any Reason coverage. CFAR will allow you to cancel a trip up to 48-72 hours before departure and gives back 75% of your nonrefundable deposits.

CFAR must be purchased at the same time as a comprehensive travel insurance plan, within 10-21 days of booking the trip, and must insure the entire amount of the trip.

Final thoughts on spring break travel insurance

If spring break travel is doodled in your planner, travel insurance can be useful for a variety of reasons — but it doesn’t make sense for every trip. Look at what coverage you have and comb through cancellation policies before booking. If you’re still nervous about the what-ifs, consider giving yourself more confidence in your travel plans and protect yourself with coverage.

It could be one less thing to worry about; plus, you’ll get an A in preparedness.

The article Should You Get Travel Insurance for Your Spring Break Trip? originally appeared on NerdWallet.

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What is the Average Cost of Trucking Insurance?

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When you own a semi-truck, are a semi-truck driver, or own a trucking company, you must purchase insurance for your truck; that way, the driver and your truck are covered if anything happens to either of them. Afterall, accidents happenand the driver can get injured, or the truck can get damaged.

On average, trucking insurance can cost anywhere from $9000 to $15,000 a year, though it can go as high as $30,000. The average is $2000 to $4000 for owners and operators that lease their vehicles. When an owner or operator leases a truck, they pretty much rent a truck for a certain amount of time. Owners and operators with carrier authority can spend anywhere from $9,000 to $12,000 per truck. An owner with carrier authority means that they have the government’s permission to get paid to transport freight. Lastly, new authorities can expect to pay anywhere from $12,000 to $16,000 per year. So, how much you spend per year depends on what type of authority or lease you have.

Trucking Insurance Categories

The category of insurance you choose will determine the average cost you have to pay. If you need help finding insurance, you can learn more here.

Primary Liability

Primary liability covers the insured driver when an accident involves bodily injuries to the driver or causes property damage to someone else. For example, if the driver gets in a car accident and breaks their leg, the insurance would cover the medical expenses from the accident. If the driver rear ends another car, the insurance will cover the damages. Primary liability insurance will cost you anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 a year.

General Liability

General liability will cover customer bodily injuries and customer property damage that does not directly involve the truck. For example, suppose a customer slips and falls. In that case, general liability will cover medical expenses, attorney fees, court-ordered judgments, and funeral expenses if the injury was fatal. This insurance does not cover employee injury; to cover employee injuries, you must get workers’ compensation insurance. General liability insurance is less expensive than primary liability ranging from $500 to $600 a year.

Umbrella Policy

An umbrella policy, also known as excess liability insurance, covers laws when the primary liability insurance gets depleted. For example, if your primary liability insurance is set to $1 million and your company gets sued in excess of $1.5 million, excess liability insurance will give you the extra coverage to cover the remaining amount. This insurance coverage will provide you with additional protection if your business is the target of a lawsuit. Choosing an umbrella policy will cost you anywhere from $500 to $700 a year.

physical damage

Physical damage insurance will cover costs for damages that occur to your truck. For example, if you accidentally drive into a brick wall and damage the front end of your truck, your insurance will cover the repairs needed for the damages. This insurance will also cover damage to the truck caused by natural disasters, extreme weather events, fire, theft, and vandalism. Physical damage insurance will cost $1000 to $3000 a year. If you are the owner and operator, this may be a category you need to add to protect your assets.

Non-trucking Liability Insurance

Non-trucking liability insurance covers the truck when the driver is not transporting cargo and is using the truck on their personal time. For example, if the driver gets into an accident when they are off-duty and not hauling cargo, the truck will still be covered when you have this insurance. When the driver uses the truck on their own personal time, the truck will not be covered under the primary liability insurance. Therefore, it is essential to have this coverage on your trucks. If you choose to get non-trucking liability insurance, it will cost anywhere from $350 to $400 a year.

Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist

Uninsured motorist coverage covers your expense and damages in the event of an accident where the other motorist was at fault, and they do not have insurance. Under-insured motorist coverage applies when another driver is at fault, and their limits are too low to cover medical or property damage expenses. This coverage will cost anywhere from $50 to $100 a year.

Occupational Accident

Occupational accident insurance covers workers for medical, disability, death, and dismemberment benefits for accidents caused by the job. This coverage will cost anywhere from $1600 to $2000 a year.

Do you Need Trucking Insurance?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), every truck on the road needs to have the proper insurance to conduct business and transport cargo. The FMCSA wants to ensure everyone’s safety on the road. Insurance helps because bodily injuries and property damage are covered if an accident happens. Plus, you cannot legally drive on the road without insurance. When you hire drivers with clean driving records and lots of experience, this can help to reduce insurance costs for your business.

Although the list of insurance coverage options above is a wide variety of categories, you do have the opportunity to add or refuse certain coverages. When choosing your insurance, it is essential to think about what you would need to pay for if something happened to your drivers or your trucks. Paying for insurance may seem expensive, but it will be even more expensive if you have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in a lawsuit. Therefore, this makes insurance a small cost compared to not having it in the first place. If you do not have insurance, you also risk the status of your business because you need insurance to legally transport cargo across the country.

What Can Affect the Cost of Insurance?

Some factors that affect the cost of trucking insurance include the following:

  • Age and experience of truck drivers
  • Driver’s accident history
  • Previous coverage history
  • The number of years your operation has been in business
  • Where you are driving and for how many miles
  • Type of cargo
  • Safety features of the truck
  • Weight of the truck

All of these factors will be taken into account when an insurance company decides your monthly premium. It is essential to hire experienced and professional drivers without any history of accidents and that you ensure that your truck is safe. Although you cannot control some things, you should try to have the best conditions to lower the cost of your insurance.

Senate committee passes unemployment insurance tax freeze for businesses

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As Kentucky businesses continue to recover from the pandemic, Kentucky lawmakers are working on a policy to shield companies from increased costs related to the unemployment insurance system.

House Bill 144, sponsored by Rep. Russell Webber, suspends the taxable wage base and holds the 2020 tax schedule for 2022 when it comes to unemployment insurance, as employers face a huge increase in the face of high unemployment rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation also requires all benefits paid due to a declared emergency come from a pooled account and not individual employer’s reserve accounts.

This language was passed through the General Assembly in the 2021 session with the year 2022 included in the bill, but that portion of the legislation was line-item vetoed by Gov. Andy Beshear.

Rep. Russell Webber told the Senate Economic Development, Tourism, and Labor Committee the legislation would save Kentucky employers around $70 per employee on average by freezing the rate. He also noted the House budget also took steps to shore up the UI system with money to bring the fund closer to pre-pandemic levels.

When asked about other initiatives to tackle Kentucky’s workforce shortage which contributes to these ongoing issues, Kentucky Chamber Senior Vice President of Public Affairs Kate Shanks told the committee about the many programs being run by the Kentucky Chamber Foundation including Talent Pipeline Management, Bus to Business, recovery efforts and more. She also pointed to the Chamber’s top legislative priority of reforming Kentucky’s tax code to make the state more competitive to bring more jobs and employees to Kentucky.

Click here for more Kentucky business news.

Cascade pharmacy fire + Teacher health insurance + Landfill renewable gas

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Hello wednesday. Gretchen Parsons here with your morning headlines.

Good morning. Sadly, Watkins Pharmacy in Cascade burned to the ground, we have the details. Plus, what the Ada County Landfill is doing to become more sustainable.

  • Today: 47°🌤 Mostly sunny.

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First Up Today

Watkins Pharmacy in Cascade burns to the ground

Watkins Pharmacy in Cascade was destroyed by a fire early Tuesday morning.

According to Valley County Dispatch, the fire was called in at 2:46 am No injuries were reported but the building sustained significant damage.

Watkins is located at 104 Main St., alongside Highway 55. The Cascade Public Library sits across the street and posted about the tragedy on Facebook.

“Overnight our neighbors Watkins Pharmacy was destroyed because of a fire. Unfortunately, the Library sustained significant smoke and water damage. We are closed at present. We will be posting notice for an emergency trustee meeting shortly. Thank you for your understanding.”

The Idaho State Fire Marshall’s Office is currently working to determine how the fire started.

Lake Cascade Recreation Area & Cascade Chamber of Commerce also took toFacebook to speak about the loss.

“Please join us in prayer for our family of Watkins Pharmacy. The loss of Watkins Pharmacy is such a loss to our community. Our heartfelt prayers are with our Watkins family.”

Teacher health insurance bill signed into law

Governor Brad Little signed HB 443 into law Tuesday, a measure that allows school districts to leave private healthcare carriers and join the state’s self-funded insurance plan.

Backers of the bill say it will make Idaho more competitive when it comes to recruiting teachers, teachers will be able to pocket more of their paychecks, and it could reduce reliance on school levies, which raise property taxes.

“This investment means Idaho’s teachers will be able to access better health benefits to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. It means teachers will be able to keep more of what they earn,” Governor Little said.

The Idaho House passed the measure 55-14 in late January and the Idaho Senate voted 32 to 3 for approval last week. HB 443 was led by Representatives Rod Furniss, Wendy Horman and Senator Jim Woodward. More than 40 other lawmakers co-sponsored the measure.

Ada County to convert landfill gas into renewable natural gas

Ada County will begin converting gas from its landfill into renewable natural gas (RNG) in 2023.

Landfill gas is a natural byproduct of the decomposition of organic material in landfills.Currently, the county converts this gas into electricity, which is then sold to Idaho Power. Under a new agreement with LFG Development, the gas will be “cleaned and conditioned” into RNG, which “significantly” reduces greenhouse gas emissions, according to the county.

Ada County also says that there is a high demand for RNG, which is used to heat homes and run city buses. Revenue generated from the agreement will offset other costs at the landfill and keep tipping fees competitive.

“We are literally turning trash into cash for our taxpayers,” said Ada County Commissioner Ryan Davidson. “This process of capturing landfill gas and converting it to a usable and sustainable product is something that will benefit the entire Treasure Valley and beyond.”

Happening Today

  • CDHA: The Ada County Highway District (ACHD) released its 12th annual revenue and expenditures report, which outlines nearly $122 million in spending on new roads, sidewalks, and bridges last year. See the report here.
  • Tax: The Idaho Tax Commission has tips on how to receive your refund faster.
  • Tree Pruning: The City of Boise is hosting a free virtual class on how and when to prune fruit at 6 pm Tune in here.
  • Tickets: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE, a children’s show, will be at the Morrison Center in March. Tickets are on sale now.

Boise Dev Reports

Boise to change travel expense policies, 20 years after Coles’ misuse of funds

Boise City Council

The City of Boise is changing its policy on travel expenses in an attempt to be more transparent. This came about after BoiseDev started asking questions about where Mayor McLean was during a business trip. Don Day and Margaret Carmel explain the change.

Developers reveal plan for city-backed affordable housing project on old Smoky Davis site

Plans for an apartment building on the old Smoky Davis site in Boise have been formally submitted. The building would be five stories with 102 units. Find out how this fits into the city’s affordable housing plan from Margaret Carmel.

Boise startup passes on acquisition by Spotify, takes secondary investment

Spotify hoped to buy Boise-based email service provider ConvertKit, but ConvertKit passed. Find out why this frustrated members of the ConvertKit team and what the company did about it.

Majority of House passes bill blocking rental application fee caps

In yesterday’s newsletter, we told you about the Idaho House passing a bill that blocks Boise’s cap on rental application fees. Margaret Carmel has more on that.

  • Honored Heroes: The deputies who saved a driver from an hereby pond in Eagle were honored for their heroic actions. KBOI2 has the story.
  • Healthcare Workers: Idaho has about 170 pediatric primary care doctors — to care for about 450,000 children. As the Idaho Capital Sun reports, health care leaders have a plan to recruit and train more health care providers.
  • Masks in Schools: The Boise School District is considering making masks optional after requiring face coverings for the entire school year. Idaho Education News has the report.
  • Drug Bust: According to East Idaho News, six people are in custody following a high-speed chase, drug charges and outstanding warrants in separate incidents last week.

things to do

  • Ladies Night: The Melting Pot in downtown Boise is having a “Galentines Day” special for ladies tonight. $39 for cheese fondue, salad, chocolate fondue, and a glass of champagne. Reservations are recommended.
  • Yoga: JUMP is hosting a one-hour yoga class at noon today in the MOVE studio, a dance and yoga studio on the 5th floor with a stunning view of Boise’s skyline. The class is $12.
  • Gardening: For those with a green thumb, there is a virtual gardening class tonight focused on some lesser used annual plants that might inspire your 2022 garden beds & containers. Class starts at 6:30 pm and is $25.
  • Paint N Sip: Zoo Boise is hosting a DIY painting class Thursday at 6 pm Tickets are $50 and include supplies and wine.

pet of the day

Today’s Pet of the Day is extra special. This is Stewie. After 16 years of a great life, Stewie passed away several days ago. His young human siblings Avery and Chase are very sad. Owner Justin Hull says Stewie loved snacks, ear rubs and short walks around the living room. I’m sure Stewie is enjoying all the snacks and pets in doggy heaven! He will be missed.

Submit your pet’s photo here, and we may feature it Monday-Thursday! Plus, our friends at Zamzows will send along a prize to the winning pet (owners)!

Proposed insurance rule ignites debate over transgender health care

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Private insurance companies, patient advocacy groups and conservative organizations are at odds over a proposal to limit discrimination by health plans for medical care for transgender people and other LGBTQ consumers.

The Biden administration, Democratic lawmakers and advocates say the proposal is essential for ensuring that LGBTQ people can access care, but some private insurers say the policy could drive up costs and the language describing what counts as discrimination is too vague. Meanwhile, conservative advocacy groups argue there is no clinical evidence for covering care that affirms the gender the consumer identifies with, such as hormone blockers or surgery.

The policy is tucked into the Biden administration’s proposed rule for 2023 for the government health insurance exchanges. The rule, known as the Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters regulation, would require health plans to ensure their benefit designs and implementation do not discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender, age, sociodemographic factors or other conditions.

The Obama administration first used this standard, but President Donald Trump’s administration removed sexual orientation and gender identity from the anti-discrimination language. The Biden proposal would essentially restore and enforce protections for those groups.

Under the proposal, an insurer in the exchanges would not be considered to provide the essential health benefits required by federal law if that insurer is found to discriminate. Health plan benefit designs also must be based on clinical evidence. All of this would be enforced by state regulators.

Iceye Solidifies Investment, Tech Partnership with Insurance Company Tokio Marine

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Photo: Tokyo Marine

Tokyo Marine Holdings (Tokio Marine), a multinational insurance holding company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, has made a strategic investment in synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data provider iceeye and will start utilizing its satellite services for new insurance products.

Iceye announced the new investment on Tuesday as part of its Series D funding round that has raised a total of $136 million to date.

Tokio Marine’s investment is structured as a collaborative partnership. The two companies said they would develop initiatives to facilitate the digital transformation of insurance claims capabilities. Utilizing Iceyes “Daily Coherent Ground Track Repeat” technology, Tokio Marine said it would develop new insurance products that address the increasing frequency and severity of natural catastrophes and the growing impact of climate change.

Iceye’s ability to combine data from its spaceborne sensors with multiple auxiliary information sources allows it to produce ingestible hazard data that can quickly be delivered to insurance companies. Thus, it has focused specifically on the insurance sector as its primary target market.

Tokio Marina Group Chief Digital Officer Masashi Namatame said that his company has been working with Iceye since 2020 and has already jointly developed an insurance claims processing solution for floods, that streamlines and enables quicker delivery of claim payments.

“This collaboration represents both Iceye and Tokio Marine’s strong commitment to take positive action and initiative against additional risks,” said Namatame. “By combining Iceye’s vertically integrated satellite solutions and Tokio Marine’s historical data, we strongly believe that we can develop multiple solutions to address serious natural catastrophe risks and support our customers and society throughout the world in their time of need.”