Arizona Man Arrested in New Jersey on 92 Counts of Fraud

Phoenix, AZ –The Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit, in a joint effort with the New Jersey Department of Insurance, arrested Brian McFarland on a total of 92 criminal counts involving fraud schemes, identity theft, and theft totaling more than $450,000. On October 17th, McFarland was taken into custody in New Jersey and will be transported back to Phoenix, where he faces prosecution by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. McFarland is alleged to have forged his name on the Arizona insurance producer license of another agent with the same last name in 2005, and to have worked under the falsified license as an insurance agent for Resource Marketing Insurance Agency, LLC, which conducted business under the name Legends Environmental Insurance Services, LLC (“Legends”). In September 2013, Legends merged with Insurance Office of America, Inc. In the process of checking the background of the Legends employees they intended to retain, Insurance Office of America discovered McFarland’s forgery and reported it to the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit.

Based on evidence obtained from Insurance Offices of America, on July 23, 2014, the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit obtained a warrant to search Mr. McFarland’s place of business and his residences in both Phoenix and Flagstaff, Arizona. Initially, Mr. McFarland was believed to have sold over 200 commercial insurance policies while posing as a licensed agent. However, the Fraud Unit’s investigation suggests McFarland set up fraudulent bank accounts under Legends’ name without the agency’s knowledge, and diverted into these bank accounts approximately $453,614.84 in premium payments belonging to 87 different commercial environmental companies located throughout the U.S. No insurance policies were ever issued for the premiums paid by the environmental companies.

During the investigation, McFarland moved out of Arizona and was recently located in New Jersey. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of the New Jersey Department of Insurance and the Fugitive Investigations Unit of the Gloucester County, New Jersey Prosecutor’s Office, Brian McFarland was arrested and will be returned to Arizona for prosecution.

Director's Message Regarding Health Insurance Premiums for 2018

Open enrollment will be available from November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 for health insurance coverage commencing January 1, 2018.  Here are a few things you can expect when purchasing or renewing health insurance this year.

In Arizona, the overall average Marketplace (“on-exchange”) Plan Year 2018 rates have stabilized with only slight changes from last year’s premium rates.  This is significant for our market after sustaining large premium increases in 2017.  This premium rate stabilization gives us hope that more insurers may consider entering our market for Plan Year 2019. Unfortunately, like last year, Arizonan’s health insurance plan choices are limited.  Only two insurance carriers will be issuing tax subsidized major medical policies on the exchange in 2018.  One insurer will be offering health plans in Maricopa and Pima counties, and the other insurer will be offering plans in the other 13 counties.  Additionally, we are down to a total of 4 health insurers offering individual plans off-exchange for 2018. Visit our Health insurance rate page to see a list of plans and premium averages by county. 

Additionally, you can view detailed information, compare plans, and complete the enrollment process at the federal Marketplace website at https://www.healthcare.gov.

As you may have read, the federal government announced that it will stop reimbursing insurers for Cost Share Reductions (CSR) associated with major medical policies issued to Marketplace customers that meet the federal poverty level criteria.  This announcement did not result in any changes to the 2018 Arizona Marketplace plan rates for Open Enrollment.

Families with children should be aware that the federal government made some changes to the “child” premium rate calculations which will result in higher premiums for children.  This will have the greatest impact on families that do not qualify for the premium tax credit.  For an explanation of how rates for children will be changing, please read our Frequently Asked Questions document.

Under Arizona state law, the Department of Insurance is not given the legal authority to approve or disapprove the major medical health insurance rates filed with us.  Instead, the Department’s role is to review the rate filings and confirm that valid, detailed financial and actuarial justification (as required by federal and state law) is provided and any change in the rate is found reasonable by these standards.  In order to perform that review, the Department engages independent actuaries to scrutinize the rate filings in depth to confirm compliance with the laws and regulations.  You can read the insurers’ justification of their rate increases and a narrative describing the data and assumptions that the insurer used to develop its rate (a consumer justification) by visiting www.RateReview.Healthcare.gov.   Visitors can also see a list of all rate change filings (On and Off Marketplace, Individual and Small Group) on the Department’s Health Insurance Rate Information webpage.

Extension of Major Medical Transitional Policies through Calendar Year 2018

Phoenix - The Arizona Department of Insurance (ADOI) announced today that insurers in the individual and small group[1] major medical health insurance markets can choose to renew transitional policies for a policy year beginning on or before October 1, 2018, provided all transitional coverage ends by December 31, 2018.    Transitional policies are non-Affordable-Care-Act-compliant policies that have been continuously in effect since by or before December 31, 2013.  At least 6 health insurers have individual or small group transitional policies still in effect in Arizona.

This extension is the maximum extension permitted under the Insurance Standards Bulletin issued on February 23, 2017 by the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), and gives insurers the option to continue the pre-2014 individual and small group policies covering approximately 70,000 Arizonans through the end of 2018.  Insurers that offer this extension of transitional coverage are required to send each policyholder a renewal notice that explains the offer to continue the transitional policy through the end of 2018 and includes information regarding any related price increase.  Insurers must also send a 90-day notice for the final discontinuation of the transitional plans.

The extension does not affect grandfathered policies issued prior to March 23, 2010.  These policies can remain in effect as long as they maintain grandfathered status.

For additional information on the Affordable Care Act, please visit the Arizona Department of Insurance website or call Consumer Assistance at (602) 364-2499. 

 

[1] Small Group refers to a policy issued to an employer who employs at least two but not more than fifty eligible employees

(ARS § 20-2301(A)(21)).

 

Insurance Professional License Number Crosswalk (MS EXCEL)

With the Department of Insurance move off of its old regulatory system to State Based Systems ("SBS"), the license number for each Arizona-licensed insurance professional (insurance producer/agent, surplus lines broker, insurance adjuster, etc.) changed. Attached is a MICROSOFT EXCEL file that contains the name, old (legacy) license number, new license number and National Producer Number for each insurance professional licensed whose license expired/expires on or after 4/30/2016. Use the LICENSE SEARCH menu option at the top of this page to view the license record for a particular licensee or company.

2017-2018 Insurer Annual Assessments

This document contains all 2017-2018 assessments effective July 1, 2017, that will be mailed to insurers on Monday, July 3, 2017.  Please either use the insurer's page from this document or the notice we mail, and EITHER: Remit payment using the NAIC OPTins system (OPTins.org); or, if you are unable to use the OPTins system, send payment with a copy of the insurer's assessment notice.

Assessments are due July 31, 2017.

Notification of Close of Record

Notification of Close of Record on Holding Company rulemaking

Bureau of Justice Assistance Offers Resource on Damaged Vehicles

Washington - The Office of Justice Programs' (OJP) Bureau of Justice Assitsance (BJA) recommended today that in light of the anticipated high volume of flood-damaged automobiles in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, consumers educate themselves about a vhicle's history before making any purchase decisions.  Overseen by BJA, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is designed to prevent concealment of flood damage and other vehicle histories. After past hurricane events, authorities reported truckloads of flooded vehicles being taken out of the impact zone where they were dried out, cleaned and readied for sale to unsuspecting consumers in states that do not brand flood vehicles. It is currently estimated that due to Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, as many as 1 million flood-damaged automobiles could potentially be passed on to unsuspecting buyers in the coming weeks and months.

The floods caused by or associated with these hurricanes have resulted in severe water damage to thousands of vehicles that can make electrical systems and airbag sensors prone to failure. Prior to purchasing a vehicle, NMVTIS allows consumers to find information on the vehicle's title, most  recent odometer reading and brand history. A “brand” is a descriptive label that states assign to a vehicle to identify the vehicle's current or prior condition, such as “junk,” “salvage” or “flood” designation. By capturing into one system specific information from multiple entities such as state motor vehicle departments, insurance carriers, salvage auto auctions, automobile recyclers, and junk and salvage yards, NMVTIS offers states and consumers protection from title fraud and potentially unsafe vehicles.

“BJA remains committed to ensuring the consumer protection benefits provided by NMVTIS,” said Acting BJA Director Tracey Trautman. “We encourage prospective purchasers to consider obtaining a NMVTIS vehicle history report and have the vehicle checked by a trusted mechanic as part of making an informed used car-buying decision.” The list of approved NMVTIS vehicle history report providers can be found on the official NMVTIS website at: https://www.vehiclehistory.gov/nmvtis_vehiclehistory.html

The Office of Justice Programs, headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Alan R. Hanson, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control  crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six bureaus and offices: the Bureau of  Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office  of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of  Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about  OJP and its components can be found at:  www.ojp.gov.