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Home arrow News arrow Business & Ag Life arrow Small business happenings December 24, 2013

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Small business happenings December 24, 2013

Small business happenings December 24, 2013

State fines bank for mishandling claims, denying claims benefits

SALEM — The Oregon Insurance Division has fined Bankers Life and Casualty Co., one of the state’s largest long-term care insurers, $115,000 for improper claims handling. 

Bankers Life must also review approximately 26,000 claims involving 2,069 policyholders as far back as Jan. 1, 2010, to find any other situations where the company owes benefits. Long-term care insurers typically pay bills for services on a monthly basis so one policyholder can have multiple claims. 

Also, the Chicago-based company must change practices to ensure proper claims handling in the future. 

“The company treated its policyholders unfairly,” Insurance Commissioner Laura Cali said. “In addition to the financial penalty, it must find and fix any problems we haven’t already uncovered and take steps to assure us that it will meet policyholder obligations going forward.” 

Other than multistate investigations, this is the second-largest fine the Oregon Insurance Division has issued against a company since 2008. In that year, the division fined Bankers Life $150,000 for selling unsuitable annuities to clients. 

The company already corrected errors or made refunds to consumers in cases that the Insurance Division investigated. However, it now must ensure no other policyholders were treated unfairly. 

The order requires Bankers Life to hire a division-approved industry professional to review certain claims that were filed from Jan. 1, 2010, through Oct. 31, including all benefit denials. 

SBA revises size standards for utilities, construction sectors

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Small Business Administration issued two final rules in the Federal Register Monday, revising size standards for firms in two North American Industry Classification System sectors, namely Utilities (Sector 22) and Construction (Sector 23).

Size standards define the maximum size a firm can be and still be considered a small business. The revised standards reflect changes in marketplace conditions and public comments that SBA received to its earlier proposed rules. 

New size standards will enable more businesses in these sectors to obtain or retain small business status; will give federal agencies a larger pool of small businesses from which to choose for their procurement programs; and will make more small businesses eligible for SBA’s loan programs.

For industries in Sector 22, Utilities, SBA increased revenue-based size standards for three industries and changed the basis for determining business size from megawatt hours to number of employees in 10 electric power generation, transmission and distribution industries. SBA retained the current 500 employee size standard for the one remaining industry (NAICS 221210) in the sector. 

The final rule also removes Footnote 1 from SBA’s Table of Size Standards, which stated that a firm was small if it, including its affiliates, was primarily engaged in the generation, transmission and/or distribution of electric energy for sale and its total electric output for the preceding fiscal year did not exceed 4 million megawatt hours.

More than 400 additional firms will qualify as small under these new size standards for utilities and become eligible for SBA’s loan and federal procurement programs. 

— From staff reports

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