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.
Arizona: On March 23rd, Arizona Governor Douglas A Ducey issued an Executive Order 2020-12, prohibiting local municipalities from closing essential services. Insurance is considered essential under Professional and Personal Services. The Order became effective March 22, 2020.
Louisiana: On March 22nd, Governor John Bel Edwards issued proclamation 33 JBE 2020, ordering residents to stay at home unless providing an essential function. Additionally, the proclamation order the closure of non-essential businesses. Insurance services are exempt for the proclamation. As with a number of states, Louisiana defers to the Cybersecurity and Security Agency (CISA) Guidelines when determining what functions are part of the critical essential infrastructure. Under the CISA Guidelines, Insurance Services are deemed essential.
Maryland: On March 23rd, the Maryland Insurance Administration issued Bulletin 20-12, which encouraging all P&C insurers to consider making rate filings that provide temporary relief to insureds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Filings may take the form of a premium discount for specific perils or coverages, or any other appropriate reduction in premium commensurate with reduced loss exposure. The Maryland Insurance Administration will waive filing fees for rate relief filings and provide expedited review.
Massachusetts: On March 23rd, Insurance Commissioner Gary Anderson, has issued Bulletin 20-05, advising insurers (whether issuing P&C, life and annuity, or health products) during the COVID-19 crisis to provide employers and individuals with as much flexibility as is reasonably possible to maintain their existing coverage despite difficulties making timely payment of premiums.
Nebraska: On March 23rd, the Nebraska Department of Insurance issued a notice prohibiting the denial of insurance claims for telehealth on the basis of lack of a signed written statement. The notice is effective immediately and will remain in effect during the state of emergency.
New Hampshire: On March 23rd, the New Hampshire Insurance Department issued Bulletin Docket No. 20-019-AB relating to audit requirements during the COVID-19 crisis. Insurers, when conducting audits should use virtual audits, and if unable to complete an audit during the 120-day time limit (as a result of the COVID-19 emergency), insurers should properly document the file. Due to constraints placed on insurers during this time, the Department will not take regulatory action against an insurer if an audit cannot be completed within the 120-day time frame, if such failure to conduct the audit is the result of a documented COVID-19 concern.
New Mexico: On March 23, 2020, the New Mexico Cabinet Secretary of Health Kathyleen Kunkel, issued a Public Health Emergency Order, closing all businesses and non-profit entities except for essential businesses. Under the Order, all businesses, except those entities identified as essential businesses, are directed to reduce the in-person workforce at each business or business location by 100 percent. Insurance providers are deemed essential businesses under Section 3 (p) of the Order. The Order went into effect on March 24, 2020 and will remain in effect until rescinded.
Oregon: On March 23rd, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 20-12, the “Stay Home, Save Lives” order, ordering Oregon residents, to the maximum extent possible, to stay at home or their place of residence. Certain business, such as amusements parks, theatres, gyms, and other entertainment venues are closed effective as of March 24, 12:01 AM (please see the full Order for a complete list). Insurance services are exempt from the current Order and are not listed among the business being closed. This Executive Order becomes went into effect on March 23, 2020 and will remain in effect until terminated by the Governor.
Texas: Based on orders issued by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in response to COVID-19, the Texas Department of Insurance has announced that certain licensing requirements and fees have been suspended for Texas-licensed insurance agents, adjusters, title agents, escrow officers, life settlement brokers, and life settlement providers. These include the following:
- Renewal periods are extended to May 31, 2020 for licenses that expired on or before February 29, 2020.
- All current and new temporary licenses will remain active until further notice.
- Fingerprint are no longer necessary for temporary license applications until further notice.
- Late fees and continuing education fines will be waived for licenses that expire between March 31, 2020 and April 30, 2020 if the license is renewed by May 31, 2020.
These steps are part of TDI’s continuing response to the Coronavirus outbreak, which we have outlined in previous blog posts found here and here. A full list of the licensing requirements and fees suspended can be found in TDI’s March 21, 2020 bulletin.
Vermont: On March 23rd, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation issued guidance regarding the calculation of commercial lines premiums during mandatory closures. The Department encourages insurers to be flexible with premium payment plans and premium deposit requirements for businesses that are temporarily closed. The guidance states, “[t]he DFR encourages both Businessowner Package and Commercial Package policyholders to contact their agent or company to determine if their reported income should be adjusted for the current or renewal policy term. DFR encourages insurance carriers to be flexible with premium payment plans and premium deposit requirements for businesses that are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 mitigation actions. If carriers can delay/reduce premium payments, this action may assist insureds in keeping their policy active during their temporary shutdown. The DFR recommends that insureds keep their policies active as there are risks that all businesses encounter even if they are not open for business such as property damage from a peril and premises liability exposures.”
Virginia: On March 23rd, Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 53, ordering temporary restrictions, including that insurers are considered to offer professional rather than retail services and may remain open but should utilize teleworking as much as possible. The order shall remain in effect until amended or rescinded.
West Virginia: On March 23rd, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, issued Executive Order 9-20, directing all people living in West Virginia to stay home or at their place of residence. The Order also mandates non-essential businesses cease operations. The Order goes into effect at 8:00 pm on March 24, 2020. Under the Order, “[i]nsurance companies, underwriters, agents, brokers, and related insurance claims and agency services” are considered essential, and exempt from the order.
Washington: On March 23rd, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-05, which proclaims a State of Emergency for all counties throughout the state of Washington, and requires persons and businesses in Washington, with certain exceptions, to stay home for the period from midnight March 25, 2020, until midnight on April 6, 2020. The WA Stay Home Stay Healthy proclamation references the CISA Guidelines to identify what business are considered essential and exempt from the proclamation. Insurance is an essential service under the CISA Guidelines and exempt.
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.