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.

Arkansas: On March 23rd, Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr issued Bulletin No. 9-2020, to all admitted and surplus lines carriers doing business in the state, to inform consumers about Business Interruption Insurance in relation to the COVID-19 health emergency. The Bulletin explains Business Interruption coverage and approves two new ISO endorsement forms related to Business Interruption Coverage.

 Arkansas: On March 20th, Insurance Commissioner Allen Kerr issued Bulletin No. 6-2020, to all admitted and surplus lines carriers doing business in the state, establishing a 60-day moratorium on the cancellation/non-renewal of insurance policies for the non-payment of premiums for Arkansans diagnosed with/positively tested for COVID-19. This moratorium applies to all insurance policies issued in the state.  Policyholders are advised that the moratorium is not a waiver, and it is only an extension or grace period in which to pay premiums. Additionally, the Bulletin advises insurers and other regulated industries that they must continue to adjust claims as expeditiously as possible during the emergency in compliance with the provisions of AID Rule 43.  The 60 day period is effective starting from the date of issuance of Executive Order 20-03 (Executive order to declare an emergency).

Connecticut: On March 24th, Insurance Commissioner Andrew Mais issued Bulletin IC-40 to all admitted and non-admitted insurance companies, requesting all such companies provide their insureds with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums so that insurance policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium.  This includes all carriers who issue policies including life, health, auto, property, casualty and other types of insurance.

D.C.: On March 24th, the District of Columbia Office of Securities and Banking issued Order 20202-053,  temporarily ceasing all non-essential business activities in the District of Columbia other than those conducted safely from home. Insurance is defined as essential under Section IV (Definitions) 1(l) Professional Services.  The order goes into effect at 10:00 p.m. on March 25, 2020.  The Order remains in effect through April 24, 2020, unless extended or amended by a subsequent order.

D.C.: The District of Columbia’s Acting Commissioner of the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (“DISB”), Karima Woods released  Commissioner’s Order 01-2020 on March 20, 2020 (the “Order”). The Order applies to all carriers offering health benefit plans in the District and all medical services obtained during the ongoing public health emergency, as declared by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.  Please see a full breakdown of our post here.

Delaware: On March 24th, Governor John Carney, in consultation with the Delaware Department of Insurance, issued a sixth modification to the state of emergency requiring that insurers cease cancellations or non-renewals of insurance policies due to nonpayment of premium duration the declared Delaware State of Emergency for those residents and businessowners experiencing a loss of income. Previously, Insurance Commissioner Navarro had only recommended insurers take these action.  Our full breakdown on this post can be viewed here.

Florida: On March 25th, 2020, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation issued Informational Memorandum OIR-20-04M providing guidance to insurers on the treatment of policyholders during the COVID-19 crisis.  The memorandum requests insurers exercise leniency of premium payments, remove exclusions on certain personal auto exclusions, explore virtual options for underwriting and claims inspections, and generally move toward telecommunication arrangement where possible.

Georgia: On March 23rd, the Governor Brian Kemp  issued Executive Order which limits the number of people allowed to gather in one place to no more than ten people. This Order is effective until April 6, 2020.

Georgia: On March 24th, Insurance Commissioner John King Bulletin 20-EX-4, urging counties and municipalities to consider insurance an essential business service.

Idaho: On March 24, 2020, APCIA and other industry representatives participated in a conference call with Idaho Insurance Director.  APCIA provided a summary of the phone call indicating:

  • Idaho is considering a declaration including Insurance as an essential service
  • Idaho is not considering retroactive business interruption coverage
  • Insurers that need an extension on the April 1 deadline to file their business plan should send an email to the director requesting an extension and the length of the extension
  • Idaho will consider waivers to any rule or adjustment based on COVID-19

 Louisiana: (Litigation) On March 17, 2020, the Oceana Grill, a popular restaurant in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans, filed the first known business interruption lawsuit arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Oceana Grill alleges that it purchased an “all risk policy” from defendant Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London (“Underwriters”) which covers all direct physical losses to its property “unless the loss is specifically excluded or limited in the policy.”  According to Oceana Grill, the coronavirus is “physically impacting public and private property, and physical spaces in cities around the world.”  The coronavirus allegedly physically infects and stays on the surface of objects or materials (“fomites”) for up to 28 days.  Notably, Oceana Grill does not allege that the coronavirus is or has been found on the insured premises or that it has filed a claim against the Underwriters.  Instead, Oceana Grill seeks a declaration that it’s all risk policy should respond in the event of a future direct physical loss from the coronavirus.  Oceana Grill also alleges that the “civil authority” provisions in its policy provides coverage in the event that Louisiana’s Governor or New Orleans’ Mayor orders all restaurants to shut down.  For a full breakdown please review our post here.

Minnesota: On March 25th, Governor Tim Walz issued Executive Order 20-20 directing Minnesotans to stay at home or in their place of residence except to engage in the activities and Critical Sector work described by the Order.  Insurance is part of the Critical Sectors (Financial Services) described by the Order. The Order goes into effect on March 27th 11:59 PM through April 10, 2020 at 5:00 PM.

Mississippi: On March 23rd, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney issued Bulletin 2020-2, encouraging insurers of commercial policies rated using auditable exposure bases, when requested by policyholders, to allow mid-term audits, self-audits or other adjustment to rating bases thereby reducing the associated premium and more accurately reflecting annual exposure projections.

 Missouri: On March 24th, the Department of Commerce and Insurance issued Insurance Bulletin 20-06 notifying all admitted and surplus lines insurers, of the process for filings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bulletin is effective until May 15, 2020.

 North Carolina: On March 23rd, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order No. 120, amending Executive Order 117, limiting mass gatherings to no more than 50 people at one time. The Order is effective as of March 25th at 5:00 PM.  The Order remains in effect for 30 days.

North Carolina: On March 24th, in anticipation of the Gov. Cooper issuing a “Shelter in Place” order, the North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance has issued a request to the Governor that financial services, including insurance services, be deemed essential businesses and kept open during the COVID-19 response.

 Tennessee: On March 24th, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance issued Bulletin 20-03 to requesting carriers provide employers and individuals with as much flexibility as practicable during the COVID-19 pandemics. The Bulletin requests carriers across all lines of business work with policyholders, and explain existing applicable grace periods that may allow policyholders to delay premium payments without losing coverage. Additionally, the Bulletin encourages carriers to explore ways to streamline administrative processes to ease burdens on policy holders.

Wyoming: On March 24th, Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon issued Executive Order 2020-4, providing a grace period for expired driver licenses and identification cards.  Additionally, the Order suspends non-commercial driving tests and continues driving tests by appointment. The Order shall remain in effect until such time it is rescinded or the extensions have expired.

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.