In conjunction with the Locke Lord COVID-19 task force, we are reviewing, analyzing, and compiling information from state and federal resources, including insurance trade associations, to provide clients easy access to information during this unprecedented time. If you have any questions on the subject matter below, do not hesitate to reach out. The information below relates to state and federal bulletins, emergency orders, pending/enacted legislation, and other related actions taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alaska: On March 20th, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, issued Bulletin B 20-10, encouraging insurers, for policies that are subject to audit, to allow policyholders to self-audit and self-report changes in their exposure or risk profile, in lieu of physical audits. Bulletin B 20-10 also clarifies regulatory concerns related to policy modification, stating, “[p]rospective reductions in premium or retroactive refunds of premium made pursuant to this bulletin to accommodate COVID-19-related changes in exposure or risk profile will not be considered a rebate or unfair discrimination to the extent they are reasonable and consistently applied. Reasonable and consistently applied premium adjustments or audit accommodations as described in this bulletin will likewise not be pursued by the [Alaska] Division [of Insurance] as violations of statutes governing returning premiums to policyholders or the frequency of premium changes, nor will they be considered out of compliance with approved rating plans, rules, or policy language.” Bulletin B 20-10 will remain in effect until June 1, 2020.
Delaware: On March 22, Governor John Carney issued the fourth and fifth modifications to the Delaware State of Emergency order, ordering Delaware residents to stay at home whenever possible and only leave their homes for essential activities. Additionally, Governor Carney ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses. Insurance Services are designated as an Essential Business and are therefore exempt from the order. The order is effective March 24, 2020 until further notice.
Indiana: On March 23rd, Governor Eric Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-08, directing all persons living in Indiana to stay at home or at their place of residence. Additionally, Executive Order 20-08 directs all Non-essential businesses to cease operation. Financial and Insurance Institutions are deemed Essential under Section 14 (h) of the Order. The Order lists “[i]nsurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services” as essential and exempt from the order. The order goes into effect on March 24, 2020 at 11:59 PM and remains in effect until April 6th, 2020.
Maryland: On March 23rd, Governor Lawrence Hogan, Jr. ordered non-essential businesses to close to the general public by 5 p.m. on March 23, 2020. This order amends and restates the March 19, 2020 order on large gatherings. Insurance companies, as part of the financial services sector, are considered an essential business and are exempt from the order.
Massachusetts: On March 23rd, Governor Charles Baker, issued COVID-19 Order No. 3, directing the closure of all non-essential businesses “brick and mortar” operations. Insurers are deemed to be Essential COVID-10 Services and are exempt from the order. The order is effective at noon on March 24, 2020 and is effective until noon on April 7, 2020.
Nevada: On March 20th, Governor Steve Sisolak issued Directive 003, declaring a state of emergency in Nevada, ordering the closure of all nonessential businesses, and prohibiting public gatherings. As part of the essential critical infrastructure, the business of insurance is exempt from the directive. However, according to the directive, “insurers are to cease all retail sales and implement social distancing for the protection of their employees.” Additionally, “insurers must also perform operations without contact with the Nevada general public and provide services without causing the members of the Nevada general public to congregate in groups of more than ten people and without social distancing.” The directive went into effect on March 20, 2020, and is effective until April 16, 2020.
Ohio: The Director of the Department of Health has issued an order requiring Ohio residents to stay at home, with an exception for essential business operations. Insurance is defined as essential business and operations. The order is effective March 24, 2020, and remains in effect through April 6, 2020.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island has issued Executive Order 20-09, which limits public gatherings, closes close-contact businesses as well as public entertainment and recreation establishments, and requires all business service personnel that can work from home to do so. Business service personnel subject to the Executive Order include, but are not limited to accountants, lawyers, human resources and procurement professionals. The Executive Order applies whether such business services personnel work within a standalone business (e.g. an accounting firm or law firm) or within a larger business (e.g. an accounting, legal, human resources, or procurement division or team). To the extent an employer has business service personnel who cannot perform their normal functions via telework or work-from-home arrangements, the business should permit only critical personnel to work on the business’ premises so that only the minimal number of employees necessary to ensure that critical operations can continue are present. To the extent an employer has personnel who are not involved in critical operations but who cannot perform their ordinary functions via telework or work-at-home arrangements, employers should consider providing alternative work assignments that are beneficial to the employer including but not limited to training modules or other forms of workforce development that can be completed at home. The restrictions are effective at 5 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2020.
Tennessee: On March 22, 2020, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced for Metro Nashville the “Safer at Home Order,” issued by the medical director pursuant to the Metro of Public Health Department’s declaration of a Health Emergency. Until further notice, all businesses not performing essential services have been ordered closed for 14 days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23, 2020. The order closes non-essential businesses and encourages residents throughout Davidson County to stay home and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people. As an essential activity/business, insurance companies are exempt from the order.
Texas: The Texas Department of Insurance issued Commissioner’s Bulletin # B-0007-20, notifying insurers that certain claims handling deadlines have been extended and encouraging carriers to work with policyholders who may experience financial hardships due to the COVID-19 crisis. Please see our recent post here for more information.
West Virginia: On March 13th, West Virginia issued bulletin (20-04) requesting assurance that all foreign insurers have continuity of operations and preparedness plans to address any operational risks, and that they are identifying, monitoring, and managing the financial risk posed by the COVID-19 crisis. All responses to this request for information will be treated as confidential. The West Virginia Department of Insurance has asked that responses be provided as soon as possible, but in no event later than April 2, 2020.
Locke Lord will continue to monitor these events.
Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.