The following are summaries some of the key legislative bills that the Georgia General Assembly adopted in its 2017 legislative regular session that affect the insurance industry. The 2017 legislative session, which ended on March 30, 2017, was the first year of the state’s two year regular legislative session, and thus bills that did not pass will be carried over to next year’s session. Unless a passed bill has a specific effective date, passed bills become effective on July 1, 2017.

Firefighters’ Cancer Insurance: HB 146 requires fire departments to buy and maintain insurance covering fire departments’ members’ cancer related health risks as defined by statute by amending [Title 21] of the Georgia Code. This bill becomes effective in January 1, 2018. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.

Regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers: SB 103 and HB 276 amends The Pharmacy Patient Protection Act, Chapter 64 of the Georgia Insurance Code, to provide express authority for the Georgia Insurance Commissioner to adopt regulations governing pharmacy benefit managers, prohibit pharmacy benefit managers from requiring insureds under group or individual health insurance policies to use mail order pharmacies in certain circumstances, and imposing certain prohibitions on pharmacy benefit managers in dealing with insureds, pharmacies and pharmacists. This bill applies to group or individual health insurance policies issued on or after July 1, 2017. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.

Children’s Hearing Aid Insurance Coverage: SB 206 amends Chapter 24 of the Georgia Insurance Code to create the Hearing Aid Coverage for Children Act, which requires group and individual health insurance policies issued on or after January 1, 2018 to provide coverage for one hearing aid per impaired ear for billed charges not to exceed $3,000 per hearing aid for covered individuals of 18 years of age or younger and one replacement of a hearing aid every 48 months and various other children’s hearing aid coverage requirements. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.

Life and Health Insurer Risk-Based Capital Negative Trend Trigger: HB 74 amends Georgia Insurance Coe Section 33-56-3 to require a life or health insurer to file a risk-based capital report if the insurer’s total adjusted capital is equal to or great than its company action level RBC but less than the product of its authorized control level RBC multiplied by 3, amending the former 2.5 multiplier to conform to the NAIC’s accreditation standards. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.

More Captive Insurance Companies Amendments: SB 173 constitutes the third series of amendments to Georgia Insurance Code’s Chapter 41, Captive Insurance Companies, which (a) amends various defined terms, (b) limits agency captives acting as a reinsurer to reinsuring only (i) insurance policies and annuities sold by the sponsoring insurance producer and (ii) contractual liability insurance policies in the case of a sponsoring service contract provider or administrator, (c) simplifies and streamlines the formation, merger and dissolution of captive insurers in coordination with the Georgia Business Corporation Code and (d) allows captive insurers to be in limited liability company form. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.

Autonomous Vehicles: SB 219 authorizes the operation of autonomous and provides that liability insurance coverage is required to be equal to 250% of the required amount for limousines ($100,000/$300,000/$50,000).

Medical Marijuana Expansion: SB 16 add six new types of illnesses which can be treated with cannabis oil with a physician’s prescription: Autism, AIDS, Alzheimer’s Disease, Epidermolysis Bullosa, Peripheral Neuropathy, Tourette’s Syndrome.

Vetoed: Expansion of Insurers’ Permissible Payment Means: The Georgia Governor vetoed HB 174 which would have amended Georgia Insurance Code Section 33-24-43 to expand the means by which insurers may pay insurance policy benefits or covered losses to include wire transfers, cashier’s checks, bank checks and drafts, electronic funds transfers and other forms of electronic payments, general us gift cards without any expiration date, dormancy or non-use fee and any other payment method that the Georgia Insurance Commissioner may approved. Brian T. Casey, Co-Chair Regulatory & Transactions Insurance Practice Group, Locke Lord LLP (Atlanta), bcasey@lockelord.com, (404) 870-4638.