April is National Volunteer Recognition Month and every year we recognize the volunteers in Washington state who help people make decisions about Medicare.

Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors logo from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner
Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors logo from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors, also known as SHIBA, are part of the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner. A network of trained volunteer counselors help people statewide understand their Medicare insurance options and rights. SHIBA provides free, unbiased and confidential help with all kinds of Medicare-related questions and issues.

It is an understatement to say that 2020 was a challenging year. Our 300 SHIBA volunteers stepped up in the midst of once-in-a-century pandemic to help…

Early last summer, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler signaled his intent to propose legislation banning insurers from using consumers’ credit information. A month later, when the country began confronting its long history of racial injustice and major corporations — including top insurers — voiced their commitment to racial equity, Kreidler asked industry CEOs to join him in his effort to ban credit scoring.

The silence was deafening.

But based on what we know now, it really wasn’t shocking.

The CEOs of major insurers across the country expressed their commitment to racial justice through social media posts and ad campaigns. Throughout the…

Comprehensive auto insurance should cover the repair cost — here’s what to watch for if you file a claim

Thefts of catalytic converters from cars are on the rise everywhere. In Seattle, reported thefts increased from 13 in 2019 to 738 in 2020 — a 1,000% increase. In January 2021 alone, Seattle police reported 123 thefts. Thieves sell them and it’s reported that Toyota Prius vehicles are frequent targets.

KIRO recently reported on the phenomenon, including what is driving these thefts

A catalytic converter is part of a gas-powered vehicle’s exhaust system and the EPA requires them on all cars. They are mounted underneath the car.

Here’s a graphic that was distributed by the San Bruno, Calif. Police Department:

Courtesy of the San Bruno, Calif., Police Department

A bill to ban insurance companies from using your credit information to determine how much you pay for auto and homeowners insurance is working its way through Washington’s Legislature. Insurers have argued that credit information is a good predictor of the likelihood you’ll file a claim in the future and there’s nothing unfair about it. They’re just assessing risk and isn’t that what insurance is all about?

Yes and no.

Scores of 690 or above are considered good credit. www.nerdwallet.com

Insurance companies can use any factor to set rates as long as they can actuarially justify its use and it doesn’t discriminate against protected classes of people. While insurers do…

For more than two decades, insurance companies have used your credit score to determine how much you pay for auto, homeowner, renters and other types of insurance. They file complex rating models with insurance commissioners across the country, claiming these scores predict who will file claims in the future. After all, insurance is about avoiding risk.

But what does your credit information have to do with how you drive your car or maintain your property? Shouldn’t your insurance premium be based on these factors or on how many claims you’ve filed and the cost of those claims?

What would…

Three people in Washington state face insurance fraud charges after investigations by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU).

Arnold Bodner was charged in Island County Superior Court with one felony count of filing a fraudulent insurance claim. According to the investigation, Bodner filed a claim with his auto insurer in March 2019 for his 2006 Hummer H2. He claimed that he loaned the car to a friend in December 2018 and the friend sold it without his permission. First National Insurance Co. of America, his insurer, investigated and found documentation showing Bodner had sold the vehicle to an…

Although the Trump administration has after four years has finally done something that could actually help the nation’s healthcare system, what’s distressing are its continuing actions that stand to reverse any positive movement.

The administration last week issued a final a rule designed to enhance price transparency requirements for healthcare. This includes a mandate that some health plans make public the rates negotiated with medical providers included in the plan’s network.

Prices for drugs would also be made available.

If carried out successfully — certainly no guarantee under this administration — the rule in practice would give consumers a realistic…

Wildfires in Washington state have burned hundreds of thousands of acres in recent weeks. Sadly, with recovery often comes people who are trying to profit off the large-scale disaster. Estimates for this year’s fire are that over 300 homes were destroyed or damaged and around 375 minor structures (outbuildings like standalone garages, sheds, etc.) were destroyed or damaged.

A graphic box with contact information for agency and other resources.
A graphic box with contact information for agency and other resources.

One consumer reported to us that contractors were waiting in the stairwell of an apartment building while people were evacuating, claiming to represent an insurance company and asking residents to sign a work authorization for restoration and repair. …

If you’re one of the thousands of people in Washington state who’ve lost your job and your health insurance, we know these are incredibly difficult times for you and your family. Unfortunately, you also need to watch out for bad actors trying to take advantage of your situation.

We’ve heard from consumers shopping for health insurance who thought they were on the state’s official health insurance exchange, only to learn later they’d been tricked into buying less substantial coverage.

Last week, we partnered with Washington’s Exchange, Wahealthplanfinder.org to help spread the word about what to look for.

an image of Washington’s official health insurance marketplace, www.wahealthplanfinder.org
an image of Washington’s official health insurance marketplace, www.wahealthplanfinder.org
Washington’s official health insurance marketplace, Wahealthplanfinder.org

This problem is…

Five people in Washington pleaded guilty to insurance fraud-related charges from March to August 2020.

Like many services, the court system had to rethink the way it does business during the coronavirus pandemic. Starting with the June cases, all suspects have attended hearings via video conference.

Kreidler’s Criminal Investigations Unit (CIU) investigates insurance fraud and works with the Washington State Patrol and state and local prosecutors on criminal cases. Insurance fraud costs the average family $400 to $700 per year in increased premiums. Insurance companies are required by law to report fraud to the commissioner.

Anyone can report suspected insurance fraud on the insurance commissioner’s website.

3 facts about insurance fraud and the harm it causes to consumers
3 facts about insurance fraud and the harm it causes to consumers


Jamar Glenn pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court…

WA State Office of the Insurance Commissioner

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler regulates the insurance industry and protects insurance consumers.

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