Alliance Title promotes Keeton Potter to assistant vice president & branch manager

Keehton Potter will be joining the leadership team in Twin Falls as assistant vice president and branch manager. In early March, he will be relocating from Boise to assume management responsibility of the Alliance Title branch in Twin Falls. 

Keehton Potter

Potter worked as a business development representative at Alliance Title in the Treasure Valley for over five years. Prior to working at Alliance, he spent seven years as an Assistant Golf Professional which included three years working at Blue Lakes Country Club in Twin Falls.

Potter an Idaho native and was raised in Idaho Falls, Idaho, before moving to the Boise area in 2009. He and his girlfriend, Tiffany, are proud parents to their son, Beckham, and two dogs, Sophie and Eva.

Deeply rooted in the Pacific Northwest and dating back to the late 1800’s, Alliance Title and Escrow, LLC became part of the Futura Family of Companies in the spring of 1995. Since then, it has become one of the largest title insurance agencies in the Pacific Northwest. 

Alliance branches are spread throughout Idaho and parts of Montana, Washington, and Wyoming, and offer a range of residential and commercial real estate title, escrow, and information services.

Catastrophe Insurance 2020: Snow, floods and acts of terrorism

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Floods are increasingly a threat to Idaho businesses due to climate change. Photo courtesy of FEMA

Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series on business preparedness for the 2020s.  This article was updated on Dec. 22 to reflect President Donald Trump’s signing of the budget bill.

Back in the day, insurance was simple. You had car, house, life and business and you called it good.

But increasingly, insurance is getting more specialized. As more situations arise, insurance companies come up with more insurance to cover them. And new catastrophes are coming up all the time.

“Businesses in Idaho face a variety of risks and hazards and they come in all shapes and sizes,” said Jon Hanian, public-private partnerships program manager for the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, in an email message. “Those include natural events, like flooding, earthquakes, winter storms and wildfire, to man-made disasters like cyber attacks and active shooter events. Any one of these potential tragedies has the ability to seriously impact business. That impact is either magnified or lessened to the degree a business, the owner and his or her employees prepare and work together to mitigate these threats.”

Ironically, one of Idaho’s problems is that it doesn’t have disasters often enough to get people thinking about them, Hanian said.

“The challenge in Idaho is that we don’t have the kind of ‘battle rhythm’ that states in Tornado Alley, or people who live along the Gulf or East Coasts experience during periods of violent weather and hurricane season,” he said. “That is both a blessing and a curse because it creates a sense of complacency here when it comes to preparing for the worst. The challenge is to get businesses to start thinking about not just worst-case scenarios, but the kinds of events that can happen elsewhere that can create serious problems here we might not think about until it happens.”

Until 2017, for example, people might not have thought of ensuring that their business insurance covered situations like the collapse of roofs of onion sheds and grocery stores due to snow.

Terrorism insurance

Similarly, before 9/11, companies might not have thought of having terrorism insurance. But it now exists, as does the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, which aims to make sure it continues to be available at an affordable price.

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Emily Baker

“(TRIA) was created after 9/11 to prevent potential acts of terrorism from causing massive, long-term disruption to a city or state’s economy and has served as an unseen factor in keeping our economy stable and provided necessary coverage for businesses, especially developers and large construction operations,” said Emily Baker, executive director of the Idaho Coalition for Action on TRIA, in an email message. “Private insurers still provide terrorism insurance coverage.”

TRIA provides shared public and private compensation for insured losses resulting from acts of terrorism. It kicks in after a certain point, based on yearly increases – for example, after $200 million as of 2020.

TRIA also allows for a transitional period for private markets to stabilize, resume pricing of such insurance and build capacity to absorb any future losses, while preserving state insurance regulation and consumer protections, Baker added.

Without TRIA, insurers could decline to offer terrorism coverage, Baker said. And without private insurers, the federal government would be pressured to cover uninsured losses in case of an act of terrorism, she added.

The coalition launched in November to encourage extension of TRIA for the next seven years. Otherwise, it will expire on Dec. 31, 2020. Some 30 Idaho businesses and business organizations, including Idaho Power, St. Luke’s Health System and Boise State University, are members.

“Many of the events we all enjoy and love like the Snake River Stampede, the McCall Winter Carnival and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow benefit from TRIA and the availability of affordable priced insurance policies,” Baker said.

The bill to extend TRIA passed in the House and Senate earlier this year. It was included in the 2020 omnibus spending bill, which passed both the House and Senate during the week of Dec. 16 and was signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 21 to avoid a government shutdown.

Flood insurance

On a more mundane level, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging Idaho businesses to think about flood insurance before the spring thaw.

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Scott Van Hoff

“In the past, we had commercials on late-night TV that nobody saw,” said Scott Van Hoff, regional flood insurance liaison for FEMA Region X, based in Bothell, Washington.

Now, the organization is using targeted marketing related to flood risk after events like a forest fire or as snowpack builds up, he said.

It’s an odd thing to say about a desert, but parts of Idaho are subject to floods, and the long-term trend is toward less snowpack and more rain, said Van Hoff, who previously worked for the Department of Water Resources as state floodplain coordinator.

Van Hoff joked that he spent seven years in Idaho trying to convince people not to build in high-risk areas.

“Water is attractive,” he said. “People consider it an amenity, particularly in a desert environment.”

But governments are limited in how much they can prohibit development in a particular area, Van Hoff said. Moreover, “in much of the state, building codes are still a foreign concept,” he said. And in a lot of places, restricting development is unpopular, he said.

“Saying ‘no’ to development is something they just don’t do very often.”

Mountain Health CO-OP fined

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The Idaho Department of Insurance is housed in the Williams Building shown here in Boise. File photo.

An Idaho health insurance provider was fined $10,000 for inaccurate website information.

Mountain Health CO-OP “had represented to agents and posted on its website that certain medical providers at a regional medical facility in Idaho were within the MHC network when in actuality those providers were not,” said the Idaho Department of Insurance.

That complaint is uncommon, said Wes Trexler, product review bureau chief. “Generally, our carriers are very good about that,” he said. “Carriers are required by state law and federal law to have accurate information and update it on a regular basis.”

The mistake happened while MHC was transitioning between vendors, said Karen Early, director of marketing for the Eagle company, with 25,000 Idaho customers. “It’s extremely uncommon for insurance companies to change vendors,” she said. “We own that error. We have remedied the issue that caused it and will do everything to make sure an error like that doesn’t happen again.”

Mountain Health CO-OP was formed through the Affordable Care Act in 2014 in an effort to increase the number of players in areas that were seen as lacking competition in the health insurance market. It started in Montana.

CO-OP doesn’t mean “cooperative,” but means “consumer oriented and operated plan,” Early said. Its board of directors is primarily consumers elected from the membership.

The company recently appointed a new CEO but that is unrelated, Early said.

“They realize that many consumers did receive poor information and are working hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” Trexler said.