Saturday, November 21, 2009

Prevent Strokes, Save Lives: Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin and DOI Honor Memory of Jim Long

Your North Carolina Department of Insurance (NCDOI) is supporting Rex Healthcare's Red Tie Campaign to prevent stroke. This campaign is in memory of former Insurance Commissioner Jim Long. Please take a moment to read through the Red Tie Campaign website and tell your family and friends about how to prevent stroke! The link is here.

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin on November 19, a day he declared as "Red Tie Day", led a large band of NCDOI employees during a walk to support the Rex Healthcare Red Tie Campaign to prevent stroke. Employees wore red in memory of Jim Long, who was known for wearing a red tie.

"Jim Long's public life was all about 'teaching moments.' Whether it was with the Safe Kids program, the Seniors Health Insurance Information Program, the Office of State Fire Marshal or a myriad of others, he zeroed in on real-life ways to help people. Even with his unfortunate and unexpected passing, another 'teaching moment' emerged, this time so that many others could be aware of the symptoms of stroke and learning early on how to prevent the number one cause of death among adults," said Insurance Commissioner Goodwin.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tony Rand Brought Rock-and-Roll to Rockingham

Persons interested in North Carolina politics have been all abuzz over the last two weeks about the surprise decision of Senate Majority Leader and uber-lawmaker Tony Rand to retire.

Equally surprising – and yet still related to Senator Rand – is the most common reason for visitors to my Wayne’s World blog over the last year, including as recently as yesterday.

Specifically, these Internet guests from around the globe (including Japan, Norway and Australia) all want to read about the legendary Rockingham Peachtree Rock Festival held in Richmond County, North Carolina at the North Carolina Motor Speedway.

By popular demand and in light of Senator Rand’s decision to retire, here is the link to my original post from more than two years ago.

Perhaps Wayne’s World will hear from more personages - including the General Assembly’s own
Gerry Cohen, a commenter to the 2007 post – who fondly remember the occasion.

Of course, in light of the “haze” that settled over the Rockingham speedway before, during and after the mega-concert, many more guests may not recall anything at all. And for good reason.

And that doesn’t count the streakers.

Remember, it was the early ‘70s. Folks did that a lot back then.

I’m sure that all the attendees and the historic performers from North Carolina’s own version of Woodstock wish to thank Tony Rand of Cumberland County who, years before his entry into legislative politics, brought rock-and-roll to Rockingham. We haven’t been the same since.

Goodwin Appoints New Members to FAIR, Beach Plan Boards: First African-American Female, First Native American and Lumbee Join Board

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin announced his appointment of five new members to the N.C. Joint Underwriting Association and the N.C. Insurance Underwriting Association, better known as the FAIR and Beach plans, respectively.

"I’m proud to announce the new appointees to the FAIR and Beach plan boards, and to bring a new level of diversity and expertise to each board,” said Commissioner Goodwin. “I’m confident that both the new and the existing board members will serve the citizens of North Carolina well and provide new perspective.”

Goodwin was especially pleased to accomplish several firsts with these appointments: Melanie Cook of Wilmington, Executive Director of Coastal Carolina Tomorrow, is the first African-American; Lumbee Tribal Chairman Jimmy Goins of Red Springs is the first Native American. Joining them are members who are also the most geographically diverse in many years. These are Goodwin’s first appointees since election last year.

The other new appointees of the Commissioner are: UNC Law School Professor Donald Hornstein, and insurance agents Rod Evans, Richard Heckle, and Murray White, III.

Learn more about all five appointees here at this link.

The Commissioner of Insurance is responsible for naming seven public members for each 14-member board; the insurance industry names the remaining seven members on each board. Of the seven appointees by the Commissioner, State law requires that four of them be insurance agents.

The FAIR and Beach Plans provide property insurance to North Carolinians who are not able to purchase it through traditional insurance markets. The FAIR Plan provides coverage in the coastal areas and the western 82 counties, and the Beach Plan covers 18 coastal counties and barrier islands. The members of one board are alternates with the other board. The General Assembly, as was the case with many states back then, created these board 40 years ago.

During the recent legislative session the General Assembly re-named the Beach Plan and enacted wide-ranging reforms in House Bill 1305. Instead of "the Beach Plan," the organization or program is now to be known as the “Coastal Property Insurance Pool.”

The new Board members took their positions immediately after last week's annual meeting.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin Urges Citizens to Prevent Flu

Because it is an excellent safety precaution that saves lives and keeps insurance costs down, North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance Wayne Goodwin this past week received both his seasonal flu vaccine and also the H1N1 vaccine.

"Stay healthy, protect yourself and your family, and fight the flu before you get it," said Goodwin.

He also urged kids and adults alike to wash hands very frequently and thoroughly, to keep your hands away from your eyes and nose, and to sneeze into the bend of one's arm or otherwise cover one's mouth.

"It doesn't take a shot in the arm - in my case, one in each arm - to know how important it is to protect your health."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chris Heagarty: From Advocate Frying Pan Into the Legislative Fire

It is an unusual set of recent circumstances for my good friend, Chris Heagarty of Raleigh.

For many years he has been a citizen leader advocating for campaign finance reforms and election law changes.

As Executive Director of the North Carolina Center of Voter Education (also known as "The Center" or "NCCVE") for seven years, Chris played a large role in advocating for and recommending substantial improvements to the state's election laws. Unlike some folks currently involved on those subjects, his efforts predate and were bolstered by the various scandals involving Meg Scott Phipps, Jim Black, Frank Ballance, and Thomas Wright.

Among the changes Chris advocated for were:

- greater transparency in campaign reporting
- State-published voter guides mailed to households statewide
- an emphasis on legislative and candidate ethics

as well as

- the nationally-recognized and much-lauded public finance system option for judicial elections and several Council of State posts, experiments that have proven successful, by the way.

To accomplish these feats he was a daily fixture among the Honorables down on Jones Street and sometimes in other settings such as in the courts or speaking at rallies or in press conferences.

Every waking day Chris focused his energy and zeal toward educating voters and encouraging more citizens to be active and engaged in the political process, no matter their party preference.

Chris also focused on voter registration and establishing a partnership with UNC-TV public television so that candidate fora could be broadcast statewide and greater links to information for voters about issues and campaigns could be created.

After taking an almost three year sabbatical in law school, Chris witnessed yet another lawmaker and public official ousted by a serious pattern of major campaign finance violations. This time, though, it was his own State Representative in the North Carolina General Assembly and it was personal.

Chris decided to put theory into practice -- to walk the walk and not just talk the talk: He decided to throw his own hat into the ring for the seat.

After a deftly-organized and successful campaign effort among those persons authorized to select and recommend a replacement in the House seat, Governor Bev Perdue appointed Heagarty to the post last week.

Chris joins the legislature at an awkward time in some respects. It's between sessions, he has to file for election almost immediately, and he is in a swing district that could make the difference in whether the Democrats retain the majority in the House or not. And, on top of that, we're in the midst of the worst economy in 70 years.

But he also faces some high expectations: Chris, as the knight who fought many a battle royale on the outside for clean elections and public financing and good government, is now on the inside and is expected to continue his crusade.

I trust he will prevail, and am very proud of my friend who has chosen this new means of engaging civic participation.

After all, I've personally had the benefit of watching him in action before,
during and after my own years as State Representative. Chris is well-respected
by legislators and folks all across party lines, and is a trusted, hard-working, ready-to-serve advocate well-versed in constituent service and the bedrock
principles of the Democratic Party. In my opinion, he will be an immediately
effective legislator for District 41.

Congratulations, Representative Chris Heagarty!

Fighting Fraud is a Full-Time Job, Says Insurance Commissioner Goodwin

Fighting fraud is a full-time job itself, says North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin.

As an update to an item referenced in a previous post on Wayne's World here, last night NBC-17 News in Raleigh aired a story about the recent horrific Smithfield embezzlement case and how one of the fourteen victims identified to date has been effected.

Furthermore, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin shared with the audience several tips on how to prevent being defrauded by insurance agents, investment advisers and others who offer to help manage your economic security.

As reported by NBC-17:
"The North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations Division, which is investigating Hall, has more fraud cases than ever before, according to Commissioner Wayne Goodwin. [He] attributes it to the high unemployment rate.

'Fraud comes in many forms. And one thing which I have learned is that it can happen to anybody,' he said.

But Goodwin offers tips on how you can protect yourself:

-Always get a second opinion
-Ask family members to help with background checks
-Check out companies with the Department of Insurance
-Always ask brokers for verification and statements
-Never sign blank forms
-Never pay in cash for premiums
-And keep every record.

'I don't want to discourage people from developing trusting relationships. But you should always, always, when you are talking about your security get as much background information as you can and verify that that trust is warranted,' Goodwin said."
Click here for the link to the NBC-17 news item.

In addition to the high unemployment rate, the Commissioner attributes the spike in attempted and actual fraud to a plethora of causes tied to the dour economy. Among them are also the drop in value of stocks, securities and homes; job losses; the drop in consumer spending; and, the failure of wages generally to keep up with the cost of living.

"Your Insurance Commissioner and your state Department of Insurance are on the job every day fighting scammers, embezzlers, and thieves," said Goodwin. "Ultimately, we root them out, help send them to prison, and seek recovery and restitution for the victims."

In 2009 alone the Department has recovered approximately $10 million for affected individuals and businesses.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Goodwin Orders 9.6 % Cuts in Workers Comp Insurance Rates, Implements Public Comment Period

Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin today announced that he has settled the workers compensation rate filings from the North Carolina Rate Bureau, the organization that represents the state's workers compensation insurance companies. The settlement ordered a 9.6 percent decrease to the voluntary market loss costs and no change (zero percent) to the assigned risk markets. The changes are effective April 1, 2010.

"I'm also proud that we were able to implement a public comment period for this filing, and I look forward to continuing this practice for future rate filings that the Department handles," said Commissioner Goodwin.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin's order "is expected to generate more than $119 million in annual savings for the state's employers."

The 9.6 percent decrease, which takes effect in April, follows a 4.4 percent decline this year.The full filings and settlements are available for public review on the Department's Web site. Visit by clicking on this link and search for Serff Tracking numbers NCPC-126289369 and NCPC-126289290.

Goodwin's news complements his earlier feat this year of a significant automobile insurance rate cut that involved a rollback of and freezing of the rates - which saved drivers $450 million - and additional refunds of $50 million.

"I am very pleased with the work of my excellent expert staff, who join me in our ongoing efforts to protect consumers - families and small business owners, in particular - during these challenging economic times," said Goodwin.