On March 25, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud announced that Joseph Matos has joined the association as its director of communications. His experience includes working for top ad agencies and providing creative and marketing direction for such clients as Citibank, Procter and Gamble, HBO en Español, Toyota, Alka-Seltzer, Verizon and Seiko. Starting in 2014, Matos led the advertising, marketing branding and communications efforts for a trade organization in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Matos led the marketing and outreach for a new health organization in Virginia. Matos graduated from the High School of Art and Design in New York and earned his degree at the City College of New York.
Charles “Buddy” Gillenwater was elected chairman of the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas when the board met on March 31. Gillenwater has been on the board as a public member since 2017, and previously served on the board from 2012 to 2014. He is in the final year of his current term. Currently Gillenwater is risk manager for the City of Mesquite, a position he has held since 2001. Gillenwater served as SLTX vice chairman in 2019, and he is a former member of the city council in Kaufman. Other officers elected include Leslie Milvo, vice chairwoman, and Penni Chambers, secretary. Milvo is the risk manager for the City of Austin, and Chambers, who just completed a one-year term as SLTX chairwoman, is the vice president of risk management at Hillwood, a Perot Company. All three of the officers for 2022 are public members of the SLTX board.
Three new directors were appointed to the WSIA Board of Directors. Henry Lopez was appointed by the board to fill the remaining term for Bryan Sanders, Markel, who concluded his term as immediate past president. Lopez serves as head of wholesale financial lines for Navigators, a brand of The Hartford. He has served on the WSIA PAC and Internship committees and was honored as the Dana Roehrig Award recipient in 2003. Robert Sanders was appointed to a new board seat. In 2020, the WSIA Board of Directors voted to expand the number of seats on the board. His seat is the first of three planned additions over the next three years. Sanders is the founder and president of Preferred Specialty in South Carolina. Adam Care was appointed as the U40 representative to the board for 2022-2023. He is immediate past president of WSIA’s U40 and serves on WSIA’s Insurtech Committee. He is a business segment leader vice president with HSB, where he works in the Custom Accounts Division.
Sharon Foster Hubbard, office manager for Barnard Insurance Group, was appointed by the board of the Federation of Insurance Women of Texas as the association’s interim treasurer, a post made necessary by the resignation of Kristie Gray, FIWT’s executive director. Hubbard’s assignment began on April 22, when she completed paperwork during the FIWT Mid Year Expo in College Station. Hubbard previously served as president of FIWT for the 2015-16 term. Hubbard first held state office as corresponding secretary in 2011-12, then moved up through recording secretary, vice president, and president-elect. Before that, she served as chairman of FIWT’s Scholarship and Budget/Audit committees, twice for each. She also served on committees for career awareness, community service, and as convention liaison, all from 2002 through 2011. Hubbard has been a member of the North Texas Insurance Professionals since 1983. She is eligible for a full term as treasurer when the office is made an official part of the FIWT bylaws, an action expected during the FIWT annual business meeting in October.
The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud will host its Midyear Meeting on June 6-7 at the Caribe Royale Resort in Orlando, Florida. The members-only event will feature updates on fraud trends and the Coalition’s government affairs, legal updates, public outreach and research activities. Online registration is available at www.insurancefraud.org.
On April 19, the Insurance Council of Texas announced that it had received a $40,000 grant this year from State Farm to boost the association’s public service and educational campaigns that inform Texans of antitheft and home safety initiatives. “We now have the opportunity to reach more Texans with our campaigns,” said Rich Johnson, director of communications and public affairs for ICT. “We can continue our ‘Hide, Lock and Take’ antitheft and ‘We’re Out to Alarm Texas’ fire safety campaigns, hurricane preparedness educations and promotion of best practices for resilient home improvement and construction methods throughout the year.” ICT distributes thousands of Hide, Lock, and Take signs every year to communities across the state, partnering with local police departments and commercial property owners to place the highly visible and effective reminders in parking lots, shopping centers, apartment complexes and other areas.
On March 24, Fort Worth-headquartered Higginbotham announced it acquired Mississippi broker Insurance and Risk Managers (IRM), based in Brookhaven with locations in McComb, Hazlehurst and Winona. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. The deal marks Higginbotham’s entrance into Mississippi, adding a 13th state to its footprint. The acquisition gives IRM the resources to expand its services to include employee benefits, life insurance, retirement plan services, HR outsourcing and additional risk management capabilities. “We’re on a growth path, focusing on the lower half of the United States,” said Higginbotham Chairman and CEO Rusty Reid. “Our partners draw on Higginbotham’s collective market strength and the expertise of our individual teams to provide their clients with an all-encompassing solution that’s still local.” IRM President Josh Smith said, “We’re excited about the opportunities to serve clients with more well-rounded services and our people with Higginbotham’s employee ownership structure.” Higginbotham named Smith a managing partner, and he will continue overseeing IRM’s existing 30-person team in the four Mississippi locations.
The Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas recognized several surplus lines agencies for reporting policy information timely in 2021. According to SLTX, 907 filers submitted 1.06 million transactions, including nearly 700,000 policies. The top 20 agents were responsible for reporting 55 percent of all transactions and seven of those agencies had no late filings during the year. These agencies submitting all filings timely were Amwins Access Insurance Services, Amwins Brokerage of Texas, Ashley General Agency, Bass Underwriters, Seacoast Brokers of Texas, Specialty Insurance Managers and William Paul Pinson. Outside the top 20, there were 454 agents and agencies achieving this same all on-time feat. There were 446 agents or agencies with at least one late filing.
On April 15, the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud announced the release of a new study by CyberEdge Group, which reveals that 85 percent of all organizations suffered a successful cyberattack last year while most IT security budgets increased by only five percent. “The future outlook for increased cyber-fraud bodes well only for scammers,” said CyberEdge. The full report can be downloaded at www.cyber-edge.com/cdr/.
In an agreement with Hannover Re, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will pay $61.23 million in premiums to transfer $450 million in National Flood Insurance Program risk to the capital markets via a series of sponsored catastrophe bonds, the agency said in a news release earlier this year. This is the fifth time FEMA entered into a three-year reinsurance agreement with Hannover Re (Ireland) Designated Activity Company, having transferred $575 million in 2021 and $400 million in 2020. The new agreement will cover the following losses for any single flood event: 2.5 percent of losses between $6 billion and $7 billion, 5.0 percent of losses between $7 billion and $9 billion and 32.5 percent of losses between $9 billion and $10 billion. Combined with the other outstanding bonds and the January 2022 traditional reinsurance placement, FEMA has transferred $2.664 billion of the NFIP’s flood risk to the private sector ahead of the 2022 hurricane season.
On March 24, the Texas Department of Insurance issued a news release alerting the public to a “security issue TDI web application that manages workers’ compensation information.” TDI became aware of the issue on Jan. 4 and stated that the department immediately took the application offline, fixed the issue and began to investigate the nature and scope of the event. TDI will send letters to people who had a new workers’ comp claim between March 2019 and January 2022 and may have been affected by this event. These potential security breach victims will receive instructions on how to enroll in credit monitoring service at no cost to them. Prior workers’ comp claimants, dating back to 2006, may qualify for credit monitoring. Inquiries should be directed to 855-248-7100, a hotline that will operate from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, except U.S. holidays. The types of information that may have been accessed include names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, parts or all of social security numbers and information about the injuries and claims. TDI stated that it worked with a forensics company to search the web for evidence of misuse of the information and found no evidence of abuse, as of March 24. Visit www.tdi.texas.gov/data-security-event for more information.
On March 24, a U.S. district judge sentenced Clinton Battle, M.D., of Arlington, Texas, to 12 years in federal prison, $376,368 in restitution payments and supervised release for three years after his imprisonment. The sentence was based on a conviction and guilty plea from July 2021. Battle admitted to submitting fraudulent bills for physical therapy, office exams, and functional capacity evaluations for a period of five years starting in 2012. The sentence includes 60 months directly related to submitting fraudulent workers’ compensation medical bills. He also illegally issued prescriptions for controlled substances. The DWC Fraud Unit, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Dallas Field Division, the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. Postal Service and the IRS conducted the investigation.
TDI will host its 2022 Texas Workers’ Compensation Conference June 27-29 at the Hyatt Regency Austin. The conference will explore emerging trends in health care, successful return to work strategies, partnerships in the fight against fraud and the experiences of companies with solid safety cultures. Up to 11 hours of credit will be available for attorneys, adjusters, human resource professionals and rehabilitation providers; adjusters must attend all sessions each day, as no partial credit will be awarded. Registration is $325 per person prior to May 1, and $425 thereafter. The fee includes conference materials, reception, breakfast, lunch, refreshments and access to the exhibitor area. The exhibitor fee is $825. Online registration is available. A block of rooms at a group rate is available at the Hyatt Regency Austin.
TDI issued a data call for information from insurance companies writing property coverage in Texas during 2021. The information will be used by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to calculate participation shares if assessments become necessary in 2022. The responses are due May 30. Visit the TDI website for reporting instructions.