DORA Quarterly Spring 2017

 
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Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies | Spring 2017
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In this Issue


Joe Neguse, Executive Director

From Joe Neguse, DORA Executive Director

Greetings! What I appreciate most about a new year is the renewed outlook we feel about a fresh road ahead. As we continue our efforts to make DORA more effective and efficient for our customers, that “new year feeling” is alive and thriving as we begin to roll out projects and initiatives for this calendar year.

For example, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) recently unveiled a national service that helps consumers find unclaimed life insurance benefits. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Life Insurance Policy Locator  provides nationwide assistance in finding a deceased person’s life insurance policies and annuities. This new tool adds to the DOI’s efforts with the NAIC regarding over $143 million in unclaimed life insurance benefits for Coloradans.

Our Division of Professions and Occupations has launched a new website, “CO Health Professional Check,” colorado.gov/cohpc, to make it easier for anyone to find critical background information about their Colorado licensed health provider. In addition, Colorado recently became one of only 10 states in the country to offer online filing of discrimination complaints when the Civil Rights Division launched a new online portal, CaseConnect, enabling victims across the state to file charges of discrimination online.

Finally, we’re proud to report that $2.1 million in grants was awarded to seven business recipients in an effort to close the broadband internet service gap between rural and urban Colorado communities.

As always, we very much welcome your feedback, so please email me anytime dora_EDO@state.co.us.


Online 'Life Insurance Policy Locator' launches

Life Insurance Policy Locator

In the United States, an estimated $1 billion in benefits from life insurance policies are unclaimed, according to Consumer Reports. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) worked with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to offer a Life Insurance Policy Locator that helps find unclaimed life insurance benefits and annuities.

This new tool adds to the DOI’s efforts with the NAIC regarding over $143 million in unclaimed life insurance benefits for Coloradans. Since 2011, the DOI has participated in the settlements facilitated by the NAIC’s Life and Annuity Claims Settlement Practices Task Force, which has been conducting multi-state audits of the top 40 life insurance groups (based on national market share).

These audits found that many insurers made minimal efforts to locate beneficiaries for unpaid death benefits from life insurance policies. As part of the regulatory settlements that have occurred after the audits, each insurer has agreed to conduct more thorough searches for beneficiaries (attempting contact by direct mail, email, and telephone, as well as using online search tools), to determine if life insurance benefits are owed, and if so, pay them to the appropriate beneficiaries.

To date, 23 audits have resulted in returning more than $6.75 billion life insurance proceeds to U.S. consumers. Here in Colorado, insurers have paid $143,750,390 in death benefits to Colorado beneficiaries and another $2.86 million in penalties.

The Life Insurance Policy Locator is now expected help consumers find lost life insurance policies faster and easier than before. Insurance companies have 90 days to research inquiries. Nearly 500 companies are expected to participate, with more likely to come on board in the coming year for the convenience of a single, nationwide system.

The DOI is a consumer resource where insurance experts can answer your insurance questions and provide easy-to-understand information. Call 303-894-7490 or 800-930-3745 (outside the Denver metro area) or visit AskDORA.colorado.gov.


DORA receives national award for consumer information website 

Take 5 to Get Wise

DORA’s statewide “Take 5 to Get Wise” consumer information campaign, which provides access to information, tools and resources that can help consumers make more informed decisions, was recognized with a “Silver Davey Award” for government websites from the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, which honors the best in web, design, video, advertising, mobile and social from small agencies worldwide.

The site was designed by Denver-based firm Elevated Third, which developed the concept of DORA’s wise owl for its "Take 5 to Get Wise" consumer information campaign. DORA’s owl serves as a visual reminder for consumers that it only takes five minutes to “get wise” about consumer protection. Colorado Interactive (www.colorado.gov), which oversees Colorado.gov-based sites, nominated the site for award consideration.

In addition to consumer information under such categories as Health Insurance, Home & Repair, Money, Civil Rights, Utilities, Licensing and more, the site serves as a portal into the services provided by DORA as a state department, such as verifying professional licenses or filing a consumer complaint. The website also features social media and video integration and easy access to consumer advisories.

The Davey Awards is judged and overseen by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA), a 700-plus member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines. Find out more at http://www.daveyawards.com/ and www.aiva.org.


New Public Utilities Commissioners confirmed

Jeff AckermanGovernor John Hickenlooper has appointed former Colorado Energy Office (CEO) executive director Jeff Ackermann and telecommunications and utilities attorney Wendy Moser to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission(PUC). Ackermann and Moser were picked for terms effective January 9. Both appointments were confirmed by the Colorado Senate.

Ackermann, who was named PUC chairman by Governor Hickenlooper, replaced Glenn Vaad, who announced his retirement at the end of his term. Moser will fill the two years remaining on the term of previous chairman Joshua Epel, who resigned from the PUC effective January 3.

Ackermann, who was named CEO executive director in April of 2013, has more than three decades of experience in state government and the energy sector. Under his leadership, CEO made significant strides in improving the innovative production and efficient consumption of Colorado’s energy resources. Prior to his CEO appointment, he led the research efforts at the PUC, focusing on issues ranging from electric system planning to the effective use of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Wendy Moser

Moser was senior manager at Charter Communications, where she was responsible for government franchise relations, public affairs policies and procedures, and regulatory requirements in multiple western states. She has vast experience in telecommunications and utilities, and more than 25 years of experience in regulatory law.

Ackermann and Moser join Frances Koncilja on the three-member PUC, which regulates rates and services of investor-owned electric, gas and water utilities; some intrastate telecommunications services; for-hire motor carriers in Colorado; and safety of railroad crossings and intrastate natural gas pipelines.

Read more about the PUC in its Connections e-newsletter.


State awards $2.1 million in grants bring broadband to rural Colorado receives national award for consumer information website

Broadband Deployment Board

The Broadband Deployment Board within the Department of Regulatory Agencies announced that it has awarded $2.1 million in grants in an effort to close the broadband internet service gap between rural and urban Colorado communities.

Seven recipients were awarded grant funding for eight infrastructure projects that will be completed over the next two years. As a result, over 4,700 households and 175 businesses in Eagle, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lake, Mesa, Montrose, Ouray, Prowers, Sedgwick and Weld counties will benefit from Broadband Internet access.

This is the first award cycle of the fund, which was created in 2014 and received its first in a series of grant award money last year.

Grants provided by the Broadband Deployment Board are a key component of the State’s strategic effort to bring broadband access to every Colorado resident.

Additional information on the Broadband Fund grant program is available at dora.colorado.gov/broadband-fund.


National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11

National Consumer Protection WeekDORA will join dozens of government agencies and nonprofit organizations across America to recognize and celebrate National Consumer Protection Week, March 5-11 (#NCPW2017).

As the state’s consumer protection agency, DORA and its nine divisions are working to raise awareness about available consumer protection resources to Coloradans through a variety of events throughout National Consumer Protection Week and throughout the year.

On March 9, DORA will be at the University of Colorado Boulder campus, offering a Consumer Protection Resource Fair. DORA will be joined by other organizations such as Capital One Bank, the Better Business Bureau, Boulder District Attorney’s Office, Boulder County Human Services, Colorado Department of Revenue – Fraud and Investigations Unit, and many local organizations to provide free informational resources to consumers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event takes place at the University of Colorado - Boulder’s Kittredge Hall Central Multi-Purpose Room located at 2480 Kittredge Loop Drive Boulder, CO 80310.

DORA will also be present at other consumer protection-related activities throughout the month of March, as well as offering special trainings, webinars, social media chats and more.

In addition, a variety of helpful information and tips, social media chats, webinars and more will be available through DORA’s social media channels on Facebook, facebook.com/Dora.Colorado.gov, and Twitter, twitter.com/DORAcolorado, Look for the #Take5CO hashtag and follow the “Ask DORA Owl” throughout National Consumer Protection Week!

More information is available on DORA’s award-winning consumer protection website, askDORA.colorado.gov.


Upcoming Meetings

  • DORA Quarterly - Calendar clip art March 9:  Consumer Protection Week Resource Fair (CU Boulder)
  • March 10: State Physical Therapy Board
  • March 13: HOA Information Resource Webinar
  • March 14: Utility Consumers Board
  • March 15: Financial Industry Advisory Council 
  • March 16: Banking Board
  • Public Utilities Commission Hearings - Multiple dates

View the complete DORA calendar.

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Recent Strides ...

We strive to make doing business with us simple and to provide our customers access to helpful resources. Check out some of our recent strides below, and please send us your feedback ... we want to hear from you!

  • Supporting Economic Development
    The Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) launched a small business roundtable to create a network among public and private organizations to discuss emerging energy issues. The OCC represents residential, small business, and agricultural utility consumers, as a class, in electric and natural gas proceedings before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The OCC also advises and advocates on behalf of residential, small business, and agricultural consumers, and helps them by lowering or eliminating utility rate increases, and by ensuring more equitable utility rates, regulations, and policies. The small business roundtable meets quarterly to address energy issues affecting the small business community, pending proceedings before the Colorado PUC that will impact utility rates of small business owners, and legislation.
     
  • Customer Service
    Colorado became one of only 10 states in the country to offer online filing of discrimination complaints when the Civil Rights Division launched a new online portal, CaseConnect, enabling victims across the state to file charges of discrimination online. CaseConnect can be linked to via askDORA.colorado.gov or dora.colorado.gov/crd. Once a complaint is received, both respondents and complainants can log into their case to see the current status, edit contact information, and communicate with CCRD. In addition, the Division recently launched a Spanish language hotline -- (720)-432-4294 -- so that a "Charge of Discrimination" does not have to be filed in English. CaseConnect and the Spanish language hotline are part of the Colorado Civil Rights Division's expanded efforts to educate communities about the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act.
     

  • Education & Resources
    Senior$afe: DORA’s divisions of securities, banking and financial services offers presentations to businesses in financial industries on how to recognize the signs of senior financial fraud. Called Senior$afe, the program was featured on Colorado Public Radio. Get more information.
     
    Resources for Military Applicants: DORA helps current and transitioning military service members use military training and experience to obtain civilian licensure.
     
    Colorado Business Roundtable Radio: DORA has partnered with Colorado Business Roundtable and its “Connect and Collaborate” radio program on KDMT “Denver’s Money Talk” 1690 AM. Tune in each month to hear agency commissioners and leaders discuss regulations, cutting red tape, and ways DORA assists businesses. Interviews are also available as podcasts. For more information, visit http://www.cobrt.com/radio.

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