Wednesday, May 12, 2021

INSURANCE 5/12/2021

 

Cyber Insurance A Likely Bet For TxDOT, A Year After Ransomware Attack

Gas pumps are seen out of service at a station in Annapolis, Maryland, on May 12, 2021. Fears the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline because of a cyberattack would cause a gasoline shortage led to some panic buying and prompted U.S. Regulators on May 11, 2021 to temporarily suspend clean fuel requirements in three eastern states and the nation's capital.

Pending final approval from the legislature, the Texas Department of Transportation plans to spend about $100,000 annually on cybersecurity insurance aimed at repaying the state should it incur expenses related to loss of business or recouping costs related to correcting a cyber attack. To buy the insurance, TxDOT needs some minor language changes to state law. HB 3390 by State Rep. Ed Thompson, R-Pearland, would make those adjustments, clearing the way for the transportation agency to buy a policy.

Thompson’s bill is awaiting Senate approval before going to Gov. Greg Abbott for his signature.

State Sen. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, who sponsored an identical bill in the senate, said the premium on the insurance would cost TxDOT about $100,000 annually.

The insurance comes about a year after the department was the victim of a ransomware attack on its systems that cost about $10 million to correct and prevent future invaders.

“It was pretty bad,” said State Sen. Robert Nichols, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

A number of state agencies, smaller public entities and major businesses in Texas have faced internet assaults, including school districts, the Houston Rockets, Texas’ court system and Texas Children’s Hospital.

TxDOT did not pay a ransom, officials at the time said, but spent weeks working with consultants and companies, such as AT&T, to identify the issue and install new hardware related to stopping infiltrations. James Bass, TxDOT’s executive director, said analysts believe the breach happened when a contract employee clicked a link disguised as coming from an internal source.

“Unlike in the movies, it does not come up with a skull and crossbones on the laptop,” Bass told lawmakers on May 5 during a discussion of Thompson’s bill.

Officials reported the attack to the FBI, but it was determined the perpetrators likely were not in the United States, making prosecution unlikely.

Bass said the need for the insurance at this time is somewhat confusing, since last year’s attack was covered by insurance. To satisfy bond holders, who lent money for the state to build toll roads, TxDOT purchased cyberattack insurance on its tolling systems about a decade ago. At that time, the insurer allowed TxDOT to add all of its operations free of charge.

Now that the state has been attacked, however, Bass said it likely will need separate insurance, which requires the change in law so TxDOT can use state money — not toll revenue — to pay the premium.

State email accounts and systems remain under constant attack, Bass said, in the flurry of emails coming in because state addresses are so publicly accessible.

“The amazing thing to me … 70 percent of those never make it to our inbox because they are spam,” Bass said. “The attempts are just astounding to try and penetrate.”

dug.Begley@chron.Com


No More 'Grateful Patient' Bonuses; Med School Cheating Saga; Junk Insurance Fallout

Welcome to the latest edition of Investigative Roundup, highlighting some of the best investigative reporting on healthcare each week.

Docs Won't Get Bonuses for Fundraiser Referrals

Jefferson Health has changed course when it comes to a policy that linked some doctors' bonuses to their referrals of patients to the health system's fundraising office, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Grateful patient fundraising, steering patients who have expressed gratitude for care to a health system's fundraising office in the hope they'll give money, isn't new, The Inquirer noted. However, earlier this year several Jefferson Health doctors called attention to their concern when the health system linked those referrals to incentive pay, the outlet reported.

"After receiving internal feedback, Jefferson has gone back to the original grateful patient referral program, which does not have an incentive component," John Brand, Jefferson's chief communications officer, told The Inquirer.

The outlet reported that Jefferson Health's reversal comes on the heels of The Inquirer's February report that some of the health system's doctors were "being asked to refer at least one 'grateful' patient each month," and that efforts could affect their annual bonus.

Patients had also expressed their alarm over the policy.

After reading The Inquirer's initial reporting on the issue, Steven Cohen, PhD, a Southampton psychologist and Jefferson Health patient, sent a letter to the hospital's CEO, the outlet reported.

"All patients should have the assurance that when they receive care the health-care provider is focused on the diagnosis and treatment and is not burdened by any conflicts of interest imposed by the employer," Cohen told The Inquirer after Jefferson Health walked back its policy.

Questionable Cheating Allegations Rile Medical Students

At Dartmouth's Geisel School of Medicine, 17 students have been accused of cheating on remote exams while in-person tests were shut down due to COVID-19, according to a New York Times report. But the finger-pointing hasn't been without backlash.

"The allegations have prompted an on-campus protest, letters of concern to school administrators from more than two dozen faculty members, and complaints of unfair treatment from the student government," The Times reported, "turning the pastoral Ivy League campus into a national battleground over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic."

Dartmouth's use of a technology system called Canvas to retroactively track students' activity during remote exams without their knowledge is at the center of the debate. The process may have led to erroneous allegations, The Times wrote, citing technology experts, a review of the software code, and school documents it obtained.

"If other schools follow the precedent that Dartmouth is setting here, any student can be accused based on the flimsiest technical evidence," Cooper Quintin, senior staff technologist at the digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation, told The Times.

Though seven of the accused students have had their cases dismissed, the other 10 have been expelled, suspended, or received course failures and unprofessional conduct marks on their records, according to the report. Such consequences "could curtail their medical careers," the outlet wrote.

'Junk Insurance' Stuck Patient with $33,000 Bill

When Cory Dowd was diagnosed with appendicitis last summer and had an appendectomy, he never imagined his final hospital statement would show his insurance paid just $1,682 for the procedure, leaving him on the hook for $33,600. But that's exactly what happened, ProPublica reported.

In 2019, Dowd -- a self-employed event planner in between a Peace Corps stint and graduate school -- turned to the internet to shop for insurance, ProPublica reported. "But the individual insurance market he was about to enter was one dramatically changed under President Donald Trump's push to dismantle Obamacare, offering more choices at cheaper prices," the outlet wrote.

The short-term plans that Dowd signed up for aren't beholden to the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) strict coverage rules and have been called "'junk insurance'" by both consumer advocates and health policy experts. "The plans can deny coverage for people with preexisting conditions, exclude payments for common treatments and impose limits on how much is paid for care," ProPublica wrote.

But Dowd and millions of others have only seen what they believe to be a good deal, according to the ProPublica report. And the Biden administration now faces a challenge when it comes to the proliferation of short-term plans.

The American Rescue Plan includes an extension of the special enrollment period to sign up for ACA-compliant plans, subsidizes COBRA payments, and expands federal assistance to lower ACA plan premiums, ProPublica reported. But some experts worry that may not be enough, especially for people who haven't yet realized the limits of non-ACA-compliant plans.

"It will take the same level of intentionality that got people on these plans to get them off of them," Dorianne Mason, director of health equity for the National Women's Law Center, told ProPublica.

After an appeal, Dowd's insurer ultimately paid $32,772 for his procedure, with the hospital waiving the remaining amount.

  • Jennifer Henderson joined MedPage Today as an enterprise and investigative writer in Jan. 2021. She has covered the healthcare industry in NYC, life sciences and the business of law, among other areas.


  • Best Cheap Car Insurance In Connecticut

    MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article.

    Looking for low-cost car insurance in Connecticut? The best way to find cheap car insurance in any state is to compare rates and discounts from a number of providers. Of course, cost isn’t the only important factor when choosing an insurer — you’ll also want to look for quality customer service.

    In this article, we’ll outline which providers offer the best car insurance in Connecticut. Our review team has chosen these providers based on their reputation and availability in the state, as well as the types of coverage they offer, average pricing and customer service.

    To start comparing free, personalized car insurance quotes right away, enter your zip code below.

    In this article:

  • 5 best car insurance companies in Connecticut
  • Cost of Connecticut insurance
  • Connecticut car insurance requirements
  • How to get car insurance in Connecticut
  • Our methodology
  • 5 best car insurance companies in Connecticut

    The chart below outlines what we’ve identified to be the five of the best options for car insurance in Connecticut. In making this list, we considered factors such as cost, coverage, reputation and customer experience in Connecticut.

    Top Car Insurance Companies in Connecticut Overall Rating Coverage Rating Cost Rating 1. Amica Mutual 8.5 8.5 8.0 2. State Farm 8.6 8.5 8.0 3. Geico 9.1 8.5 8.5 4. USAA 9.1 8.5 9.5 5. Progressive 9.0 9.0 8.5

    *Our research team considers nationwide factors when scoring providers. However, the order of providers in this table is specific to car insurance in Connecticut.

    1. Amica Mutual

    In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Satisfaction StudySM for the New England region — which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — Amica Mutual ranked in first place. The company received a satisfaction score of 863 out of 1,000. The regional average was 821.

    Amica Mutual has been in business for more than 100 years and it currently has an A+ rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The company also has an A+ financial strength rating from AM Best, indicating a superior ability to meet customer claims.

    In addition to the standard types of auto insurance — liability insurance, collision insurance, comprehensive insurance, medical payments, personal injury protection and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage — Amica offers the following add-on coverage options:

  • Gap coverage: Pays the difference between the actual cash value (ACV) of your vehicle and the amount you still owe on your loan or lease if your car is totaled
  • Glass coverage: Covers repairs or replacements for windshield glass without a deductible
  • Roadside assistance: Includes towing, flat tire changes, battery jump-starts, fuel deliveries, winching and lockout services
  • Rental reimbursement: Helps pay for the cost of alternative transportation while your vehicle is in the shop for covered repairs
  • 2. State Farm

    State Farm placed second in the J.D. Power Satisfaction Study for the New England region. The insurer scored 855 out of a possible 1,000 points. State Farm insurance is offered through local agents, so customer service quality can vary by region. When it comes to car insurance in Connecticut, the insurer has a positive customer service reputation.

    State Farm has an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, but it is not rated by the BBB. In addition to standard coverage, State Farm offers the following auto insurance add-ons:

  • Rental insurance: Pays for the cost of a rental car while your vehicle is in the shop for covered repairs
  • Travel expense coverage: Helps pay for meals, lodging and transportation if you are in an accident more than 50 miles from your home
  • Rideshare insurance: Extends your existing coverage to include accidents that happen while you use your car for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft
  • Emergency road service: Covers up to one hour of roadside labor, towing, fuel delivery, battery jump-starts, tire changes and locksmith services
  • 3. Geico

    Geico ranked first in our review of the best auto insurance companies nationwide. It is a good option for any state, including car insurance in Connecticut. Geico offers competitive rates across the U.S. And has a positive customer reputation in the Constitution State. It scored above average with 841 points in the J.D. Power Satisfaction Study for the region.

    Geico has an A+ rating from the BBB and an A++ rating from AM Best. The insurer offers standard auto insurance policies as well as the following coverage:

  • Emergency roadside service: Provides access to roadside services through the Geico app
  • Rental reimbursement: Helps pay for car rental costs while your vehicle undergoes covered repairs
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance: Pays for the cost of repairs after an unexpected breakdown
  • Rideshare insurance: Required if you plan to use your vehicle to drive for a rideshare service such as Uber or Lyft
  • 4. USAA

    USAA is typically one of the best-regarded insurers in every state. In the J.D. Power Satisfaction Study for the New England region, the insurer scored the most points of any company (895). However, USAA is not eligible for formal ranking with J.D. Power because it is not available to all drivers. Only those who are members of the U.S. Armed services or who have a parent, grandparent or spouse with a USAA account are eligible for a USAA auto insurance policy.

    USAA has an A rating from the BBB and an A++ rating from AM Best. In addition to standard coverage options, USAA policyholders can also purchase the following add-ons:

  • Roadside assistance: Provides access to roadside help such as towing, lockout services, fuel deliveries and battery jump-starts
  • Rental reimbursement: Pays for a rental car while your vehicle is being repaired due to a covered incident
  • Accident forgiveness: A promise that your rates won’t rise after you file a claim, provided for free after five years without filing a claim
  • Car replacement assistance: Pays an additional 20% above your car’s estimated value if it is declared a total loss and you need a new vehicle
  • 5. Progressive

    Progressive insurance is a good option for high-risk drivers. If you have a recent accident or DUI on your record, a policy with Progressive may be your cheapest option for car insurance in Connecticut. Progressive is rated A+ in financial strength by AM Best and has an A- rating from the BBB.

    In addition to standard auto insurance coverage, Progressive offers:

  • Loan/lease payoff: Helps pay off the amount you still owe on your car payments after a total loss accident
  • Rental car reimbursement: Helps cover the cost of a rental vehicle while your car is in the shop for covered repairs
  • Custom parts and equipment value: Pays to repair or replace items added to your car, like your stereo, navigation system or custom paint job
  • Rideshare coverage: Required if you use your vehicle for a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft
  • Roadside assistance: Pays for towing services, lockout services, flat tire changes, fluid deliveries and related issues
  • Cost of Connecticut insurance

    Every state sets its own minimum insurance coverage limits and regulations. Different states also have different weather, road conditions and driving cultures. This means differing crash and theft rates. For these reasons, the cost of car insurance in Connecticut can vary dramatically from that of another state.

    The following table outlines the average cost for car insurance in Connecticut compared to the national average. Data comes from the 2021 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Auto Insurance Database Report. Data represents average premiums paid in 2018. This report found that Connecticut was the 10th most expensive state for car insurance that year.

    Connecticut Car Insurance Average National Average Liability Premium $784.70 $644.11 Collision Premium $407.54 $377.62 Comprehensive Premium $133.86 $167.91 Average Expenditure* $1,216.55 $1,056.55

    *Average expenditure represents what drivers actually spent on their insurance policies. It takes into account all levels of coverage purchased by Connecticut drivers.

    Your own rates may vary. Not only can average rates change from city to city, but your personal driver profile is also used when insurers calculate your premium. The following factors may be taken into account when calculating premiums:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Vehicle
  • Driving record
  • City
  • Credit score
  • Overall, Connecticut car insurance rates are a little higher than the national average. The good news is that auto fatality rates in Connecticut are lower than the national average. Here are a few statistics about Connecticut drivers versus the national average, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS):

    Connecticut National Average Number of Miles Driven 31,601 63,956 Number of Deaths Resulting from Auto Accidents 249 707 Deaths Per 100,000 People 7 11 Deaths Per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled 0.79 1.11 Connecticut car insurance requirements

    Car insurance coverage is required in Connecticut. All drivers must maintain the following state minimum insurance limits:

    Type of Insurance Required Car Insurance in Connecticut Liability coverage $25,000 per person bodily injury liability $50,000 per accident bodily injury liability $25,000 per accident property damage liability Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) $25,000 per person  $50,000 per accident 

    If you are caught driving without the minimum required car insurance in Connecticut, you could face the following penalties:

  • Suspension of registration
  • Vehicle impoundment
  • Fine between $100 and $1,000
  • Suspension of license for one month on first conviction
  • Suspension of license for six months on second and subsequent convictions
  • Imprisonment up to three months
  • Connecticut is an at-fault insurance state. This means that if you are found at fault for a car accident, your own liability car insurance pays for the cost of damages and medical bills for the other driver. If your insurance does not cover the full cost of damages, you can be sued in civil court to make up the difference.

    If you want your own vehicle to be covered after an accident you cause, you must purchase collision insurance. Many drivers opt for full coverage auto insurance, which adds comprehensive coverage along with liability and collision.

    How to get car insurance in Connecticut

    Car insurance can be easily purchased online or over the phone in any state, including Connecticut. If you are unsure about your coverage needs, you may want to call one of the providers listed above.

    The easiest way to get car insurance in Connecticut is to start by requesting a quote. You can get free auto insurance quotes from many top insurers by using the tool below.

    Our methodology

    Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

    Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.
  • *Data accurate at time of publication.


    INSURANCE 5/12/2021

      Cyber Insurance A Likely Bet For TxDOT, A Year After Ransomware Attack Gas pumps are seen out of service at a station in Annapolis, Maryla...