States of Emergency
Sep 12, 2018


Hurricane warnings were issued yesterday as Hurricane Florence barrels towards the U.S. East Coast.  Hurricane Florence is currently a Category 4 storm with 140 mph winds and more than a million people are evacuating before it makes landfall.  Florence is expected to produce 15 to 20 inches of rainfall in some areas and possibly 30 inches in isolated locations along the storm’s path. 



Florence is one of the strongest hurricanes to churn toward the eastern seaboard in decades. Both North Carolina and South Carolina declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.  States of emergency were also declared in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.  Mandatory evacuation orders were issued in the coastal areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.  However, depending on how the storm progresses, record flooding could reach into Georgia, Tennessee, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.



Congress has extended the flood insurance program without change seven times over the past year, with the latest extension set to expire on Nov. 30.  With the program more than $20 million in debt, the House passed the 21st Century Flood Reform Act (H.R. 2874) last November to reform the program.  The reforms include limiting future coverage and discounts for high-risk properties, requiring communities to come up with plans for minimizing flood risk, and modifying premiums and surcharges paid by policyholders. However, the Senate has yet to take up the measure.  As part of its Legislative Summit, members of the RIMS organization will meet with Congressional members later this week asking them to support this bill. 



Last week a U.S. government audit found federal disaster responders were overwhelmed by the outbreak of major hurricanes and wildfires that hit the country in 2017.  Last September, Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that killed nearly 3,000 people.  Just a few weeks ago, the governor announced that power was finally fully restored to the entire island.  As Florence moves in, please keep safe. 


Cybersecurity on the Move


Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer introduced the Consumer Information Notification Requirement Act, a bill that would codify existing data breach notification standards for the financial services and insurance industries.  This bill would create a national standard for data security and breach notifications and preempt state-by-state requirements.  The bill provides uniform reporting obligations for covered insurance companies and would prohibit states from imposing any additional or different requirements.



However, the bill differs significantly from draft partisan legislation that was circulated earlier this year that would have established broad standards for data protection across industries, especially industries that handle consumer information.  The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) released a comprehensive report examining the reasons behind the massive breach of personal information from Equifax one year ago.  Equifax had a breach of personal information that affected over 148 million people and waited six weeks to disclose the breach.  The House Financial Services Committee will meet Thursday to mark up the bill.  We’re keeping a close eye on this one.


Making Our Way Around the Country


The Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) announced that employers on average will pay approximately 10% less for workers’ compensation insurance next year.  This will mark the sixth year in a row that employers will see an average decrease in their workers’ compensation costs resulting in a decline of almost 40% between 2013 and 2019.  The DCBS attributes the decrease to lower medical care costs and less severe claims as well as the efforts of the Workers’ Compensation Division, Oregon OSHA, and the Workers’ Compensation Board.



The California Division of Workers’ Compensation issued an Order updating the drug formulary effective Oct. 1.  The update adopts changes based on the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) Practice Guidelines, including the addition of drugs addressed in the Chronic Pain Guideline and Opioids Guideline.  The announcement noted that changes to the drug formulary will be made on a quarterly or more frequent basis.



Yesterday marked the 17th anniversary of the attacks of September 11 with memorial ceremonies held across the country.  In remembrance of the first responders, I want to highlight that first responders have higher rates of depression, PTSD, and suicide than the general population.  According to a recent study, first responders are more likely to die by suicide than to be killed in the line of duty.  This week is National Suicide Prevention Week – learn what you can do to help prevent suicide or find resources to help.


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