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Updated: 51 min 19 sec ago

Emergency funds support three drought-relief projects

August 10, 2015 - 10:00
Emergency funding is going to support three drought-relief projects in Eastern, Central and Western Washington. The money will help pay for a new well in Stevens County, water conservation in Benton County, and protect spawning salmon in the Dungeness River on the Olympic Peninsula. Read more....

Consumer alert: Life insurance mail scam still alive in Washington

August 7, 2015 - 11:15
Some Washington residents are receiving mailers from National Processing Center advertising a “state-regulated life insurance program to pay Final Expenses for just pennies a day…  Return this card today and you will receive the latest information on how this Special Program will pay 100% of all funeral expenses not paid by government funds, up to $25,000 (TAX FREE), for each Washington citizen covered.”

This is a mail phishing scam and we are alerting consumers to not return the card or provide any personal information.

Here’s what the mailer looks like:

Here are some red flags we identified in this mailer that consumers should be aware of:
  • The mailer doesn’t identify the name of the insurance company.
  • The mailer doesn’t give an agent or broker to contact.
  • The card gets returned to “National Processing Center,” which is not an insurance company.
  • The mailer gives no information about the policy.
The Virginia Better Business Bureau issued a consumer alert about the mailings in 2013.

A handful of companies are authorized to sell final-expense life insurance policies in Washington, which typically are purchased to cover funeral expenses. Before you buy any insurance, you should make sure the person or company selling the policy is licensed to do business in this state. If you are interested in finding one of the companies that sells final-expense life insurance, you can contact our consumer advocates at 1-800-562-6900 for a list.

Read more about life insurance and what to consider before you buy it.

Inslee to lead trade mission to Korea, Japan

August 7, 2015 - 09:40

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee will kick-off a 9-day trade mission to Korea and Japan on August 28, accompanied by Derek Sandison, Director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture, and Brian Bonlender, Commerce Director.

AG: Clallam County jury sends dangerous sex offender to Special Commitment Center

August 6, 2015 - 15:16

PORT ANGELES — A Clallam County jury has decided that repeat sex offender Brian Taylor-Rose is a dangerous predator and must be confined in the state’s Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island.

In the interest of public safety, prosecutors from Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit have been fighting since December 2012 to prevent Taylor-Rose’s release into the community.

JSS helps Remember the fallen, honor survivors

August 5, 2015 - 15:51
Gold Star Lapel Button and U.S. flag presented to Silverdale woman

Think your driving habits are the basis for your insurance rates? Think again

August 5, 2015 - 14:46

Consumer Reports recently reported on auto insurance premiums and rates, and is doing a social media campaign to raise awareness of the issue. They found that auto insurers use factors like your credit score, shopping habits and a loyalty penalty –your tolerance for rate hikes--when setting your insurance rates. The publication is urging consumers to contact state insurance regulators like Commissioner Kreidler to voice their support for premiums that are based on driving behavior.

Kreidler has long advocated for abolishing credit scoring, which is the practice of using consumers’ credit scores to set rates. In 2002, it was his top legislative priority; the state Legislature did not support a complete ban on credit scoring but it did restrict the use of consumers’ credit history in personal insurance rates. However, the use of credit history by insurers is not illegal and was in fact authorized by the federal government in the 1970 Fair Credit Reporting Act.

More recently, Kreidler issued an advisory to insurance companies about price optimization, which he calls a loyalty penalty because it penalizes consumers who don’t shop around for lower rates. “This practice discriminates against people who don’t shop around, and discriminatory pricing is against state law,” said Kreidler. “It’s hard to root out loyalty penalty pricing, but our actuaries are actively watching for it.”

We’ve also seen reports that insurers are using consumers’ social media posts as a factor in setting rates. The practice is called social media risk scoring and it looks at things like if you post vacation plans, thereby leaving your home vacant and primed for burglary. But why stop there, who’s to say pictures of happy hour at the bar won’t result in higher premiums for your auto insurance? Or photos of you smoking while skydiving won’t result in increased life insurance premiums?

Our consumer experts have fielded more calls on this topic since the Consumer Reports information was posted, and we encourage people to keep contacting us. Our advice on this topic is to shop around. That’s really consumers’ best option until state and federal lawmakers take on credit scoring and other factors that are not directly related to consumers’ rates.

Do you have questions about this? Contact our insurance experts: