On Nov. 11, LUBA Workers’ Comp announced the addition of two executives to its leadership team. Luke Blalock was hired as vice president, controller, a new position for the company, and Ryan Inzenga as assistant vice president, underwriting manager. Blalock will oversee accounting and audit departments and work closely with management on financial matters, operational efficiency and strategic growth. Prior to joining LUBA, Blalock spent 12 years with Guaranty Corporation and its subsidiary, Guaranty Income Life Insurance Company. He is a licensed CPA and holds a B.S. from Louisiana State University and an M.S. from the University of New Orleans. Blalock is an active member of the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association, having served on Midsouth Chapter’s board. Inzenga brings 15 years of workers’ comp experience, having worked in Louisiana, New Mexico, Iowa and North Carolina, most recently with Falls Lake Insurance. He received his B.S.B.A from Mississippi College and Executive MBA from the University of New Mexico.
Lane and Associates on Nov. 1 announced the hiring of Don Lundy as a senior underwriter. Lundy, a graduate of St. Leo’s University with a degree in computer information systems, has 27 years’ experience in the insurance industry, on the retail, carrier and wholesale sides of the business. He recently served as a team lead for CRC Insurance in San Antonio and before that was a vice president/branch manager for IMS/London American in San Antonio. “We are truly honored to have Don Lundy as our first Texas-based underwriter. He brings a wealth of experience from both the carrier and wholesale sides. In addition, he is an excellent fit with Lane & Associates. Don will be a significant catalyst in our continued growth,” said Scott Landry, president of Lane and Associates. Lundy can be reached at email@example.com or via telephone at 800-899-1466, extension 112.
Lezlee Liljenberg was appointed to the board of the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas on Oct. 18. Liljenberg’s service on the board is as a non-public member; she is expected to complete required training in order to assume full duties as a board member by the December meeting. Liljenberg, a retail insurance agent who started her first agency in 2004, is also a real estate consultant, and expert witness. She holds a B.A. in journalism and public relations and a Master’s degree in political science and public administration from the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a self-employed professional financial representative, holding both Series 6 and Series 63 licenses, along with licenses as a property and casualty agent, public adjuster and Texas real estate broker. Her appointment to the SLTX board expires Dec. 31, 2022, as she fills the remainder of a term of Kori Johanson, who resigned from the board last May.
James “Jim” Sparks, 83, who retired from the insurance industry several years ago, died at home on Sept. 23. While Sparks served a stint in the army and graduated from Texas A&M, most of his career was in the insurance business. He served as the marketing representative for Charter General Agency in Dallas, then in 1991 joined Texas General Agency as marketing representative for central Texas, where he remained until his retirement in 2005. Since then, Sparks volunteered with his church, St. Matthew’s Episcopal, and as an unofficial greeter at an active senior citizen facility. Sparks is survived by his wife, Diane, two sons and two grandsons. “Sparky was a great person who will be missed dearly by all who knew him and worked with him,” said Saul Garcia, Burns and Wilcox, who worked with Sparks at Texas General Agency.
The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the National African American Insurance Association is accepting applications for its annual scholarship program from minority high school seniors interested in pursuing insurance as a career, as well as currently enrolled minority college students majoring in risk management, insurance, business , math, finance, accounting or engineering. Winners will be announced in February and formally recognized at the NAAIA-DFW luncheon on March 3. Award amounts range from $1,500 to $2,500. Along with a completed application, candidates must submit transcripts, an essay, two letters of recommendation and proof of enrollment in a two or four-year university. The deadline to apply is Jan. 18. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Independent Insurance Agents of Texas will host its 59th Annual Joe Vincent Management Seminar in person at the Renaissance Austin Hotel on Jan. 30-Feb 1. Sunday’s events include an ELITExas workshop on developing talent and optimizing performance. Monday morning’s sessions feature Steve Harvill, on concepts and strategies for success, and Commissioner of Insurance Cassie Brown. The afternoon offers several concurrent activities in best practices, employment law, industry update and mergers and acquisitions, with speakers Ann Price, partner in the Boulette Golden and Marin law firm; Lee Loftis, IIAT’s chief legislative officer; Regan Ellmer, IIAT’s director of government affairs; Jay Thompson, partner in Thompson Coe, and Carey Wallace, president of Agency Focus. Tuesday morning offerings include a presentation on cyber risk by Robert Anderson, Cyber Defense Labs, and a keynote address by Vanessa Van Edwards, author of Science of People. Cost is $395 for members, $525 for nonmembers. IIAT’s special group rate at the hotel is $209 per night, with a deadline for room reservations on Jan. 8. Online registration is available.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) released a new analysis of how cybersecurity risks impacted the U.S. insurance market in 2020. The report shows a cybersecurity insurance market of roughly $4.1 billion, with a premium increase of 29.1 percent from the prior year. In addition, insurers writing stand-alone cybersecurity insurance products reported approximately $2.58 billion in direct written premiums, and those writing cybersecurity insurance as part of a package policy reported about $1.49 billion in direct written premiums. The NAIC also reported a 55 percent increase in health care breaches last year, and a 62 percent increase in ransomware attacks. “State insurance regulators recognize cybersecurity as one of the most important topics for the insurance sector and businesses today,” said NAIC President and Florida Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier.
Reuters has reported that the state-level legal cannabis market is expected to exceed $40 billion nationwide by 2026, even though the industry remains illegal by federal law. According to the news service, 60 percent of adults believe that marijuana should be legal for both medical and recreational use. By remaining illegal at the federal level, the industry suffers a high cost of capital and loses federal protections such as bankruptcy, trademarks, and tax deductions. The proposed Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana (CLAIM) Act by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, would bar federal agencies from penalizing or discouraging a company in the business of insurance from transactions with marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) that are operating in compliance with state and local law. The CLAIM Act, originally introduced in 2019, expressly provides that insurance businesses may not be held liable pursuant to any federal law or regulation solely for engaging in the business of insurance with an MRB. Since 2012, 18 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized adult-use marijuana, while 37 states have legalized medical marijuana.
On Nov. 2, the Actuarial and Underwriting Committee of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association voted to recommend to TWIA’s board that the association contract with Willis Re for reinsurance broker services and with Aon for catastrophe modeling services. The two firms replace Guy Carpenter who has been providing both reinsurance broker services and cat modeling services for TWIA until the legislature passed a law requiring separation of the two services. In its proposal, Willis Re said it has been representing three of the largest residual markets in the placement of reinsurance since 2010 and it completed a rate study of TWIA and initiated TWIA’s data quality project in 2020. Aon’s proposal for cat modeling services stated, “(Aon brings) a deep understanding of the underlying science and assumptions within each catastrophe model and (can) provide insight into performance specific to TWIA’s portfolio.” The committee’s recommendation will be considered by the full board when it meets on Dec. 7.
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policyholders will see a five percent increase in rates reflected on new and renewal windstorm policies effective Jan. 1. Current TWIA policyholders started receiving renewal notices reflecting the new rates by mail on Nov. 1, 2021. This is the first TWIA rate increase to go into effect since 2018. The rate increase was approved by the TWIA board of directors in a 5 to 3 vote at its August meeting and applies to both residential and commercial policies. The vote followed the board receiving a recommendation for a five percent increase from TWIA’s Actuarial and Underwriting Committee. In a media release, TWIA stated that, in addition to the rate increase, individual policy premiums may change due to other factors including the amount of insurance coverage and deductible amount selected, changes made to the property since the last renewal, and any optional additional coverages. TWIA also encouraged policyholders to contact their agent and discuss coverage options that can affect premium.
The Research Group of the Texas Department of Insurance has released a report on the trends from 2014 to 2020 of medical necessity dispute resolutions in the Texas workers’ compensation system. The report highlights include: Medical necessity disputes are down 52 percent since 2014; 80 percent of disputes involve non-network claims; 98 percent of medical necessity disputes involve pre-authorization denials, and more than 70 percent of the dispute decisions upheld insurance carriers’ denials. Average time to resolve disputes is 18 to 20 days. The complete 12-page report is available on Texas Department of Insurance’s website.