In conjunction with the Locke Lord COVID-19 task force, we are reviewing, analyzing, and compiling regulatory updates 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.
All Lines of Insurance
Alaska: On April 9th, Alaska Senate Bill 241 was enacted. The Bill provides that, a first responder who contracts COVID-19 (confirmed by a diagnosis), after being exposed to COVID-19 in the course of employment, is conclusively presumed to have contracted an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment. Among other things the Bill also extends the state of emergency until November 15.
Arizona: On April 9th, Governor Douglas Ducey issued Executive Order 2020-27, providing immunity from civil liability for frontline healthcare workers, healthcare facilities, and entities operating as a temporary healthcare facility for providing services in response to COVID-19.
California: On April 13th, Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued Bulletin 2020-3, ordering insurers to make an initial premium refund for the months of March and April to all adversely impacted California policyholders in the below listed lines of insurance, as quickly as practicable, but in any event no later than 120 days after April 13. The lines of insurance are:
- Private passenger automobile insurance
- Commercial automobile insurance
- Workers’ compensation insurance
- Commercial multiple peril insurance
- Commercial liability insurance
- Medical malpractice insurance
- Any other line of coverage where the measures of risk have become substantially overstated as a result of the pandemic
Georgia: On April 9th, Governor Brian Kemp issued Executive Order 04.09.20.1 temporarily allowing remote notarization and attestation.
Kentucky: On April 9th, Governor Andy Beshear issued Executive Order 2020-277, stating that an employee removed from work by a physician due to occupational exposure to COVID-19 shall be entitled to receive temporary total disability payments. It is presumed that removal of the following workers from work by a physician is due to occupational exposure to COVID-19: employees of a healthcare facility; first responders; corrections officers; military; activated national guard; domestic violence shelter workers; child advocacy workers; rape crisis center staff; department for community based services workers; grocery workers; postal service workers; and, child care workers.
Michigan: On April 13th, Michigan issued Bulletin 2020-16-INS, concerning carrier applicability in connection with the ongoing pandemic. The Bulletin advises all carriers doing business in Michigan, regardless of the line of coverage, to consider flexibility to help insureds avoid additional financial consequences as a result of their inability to pay premiums or timely file claims. The Bulletin “strongly encourages” insurers to provide their insureds with at least a 60-day grace period to pay insurance premiums so that policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium. The Bulletin also asks that insurers make adjustments to claim filing deadlines to accommodate insureds who may encounter difficulty in timely providing notice of a claim. Finally, the Bulletin requires insurers taking any measures to provide flexibility due to COVID-19 to submit their plan regarding the steps to be followed to implement flexibility for their insureds. The plans must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than 7 days after implementation of such measures.
Michigan: On April 13th, Michigan issued Bulletin 2020-17-INS, concerning flexibility in regulatory filing deadlines. The Bulletin identifies specific delays in filing deadlines by each type of filing.
Minnesota: On April 13th, Minnesota issued a Commissioner’s Order and Regulatory Guidance 20-16, which jointly serve to grant temporary extensions of certain regulatory filing deadlines. The Guidance identifies specific extensions in filing deadlines by each type of filing.
Mississippi: On April 10th, Governor Tate Reeves issued Executive Order 1471, providing protection from civil liability to healthcare facilities and professionals for any injury or death alleged to have been sustained because of the healthcare professional or facility’s acts or omissions while providing healthcare services treating patients, or in support of Mississippi’s COVID-19 response.
Montana: On April 9th, the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance issued an Informational Bulletin requiring insurers who have issued or are considering issuing refunds or proposed refunds, discounts or credits to file rate adjustments. Filings should contain an explanation supporting the refund/discount. Insurers that have already issued a refund/discount must file with by April 19th.
New Jersey: On April 10th, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Finance issued Bulletin No. 20-17 applicable to all insurance premium finance companies, insureds, and all other interested parties. The Bulletin addresses a 90-day grace period to clients of insurance premium finance companies due to the disruption caused by COVID-19. Currently, an insurance premium finance company may cancel an insurance contract for failure to pay premium upon not less than 10 days’ notice. In response to the disruption caused by COVID-19, all licensed insurance premium finance companies are directed to provide their clients who are experiencing a financial hardship due to COVID-19 with a 90-day grace period to pay for their insurance premiums so that insurance policies are not cancelled for nonpayment of premium during this time. During this extended grace period, insurance premium finance companies shall not cancel any insurance policy for nonpayment of installment payments for the term of the insurance policy. The Bulletin also outlines other actions insurance premium finance companies are directed to take. Lastly, insurance premium finance companies are further directed to, in addition to posting information on the its website, provide each policyholder with an easily readable written description of the terms of the extended grace period offered pursuant to this guidance, which shall be submitted to the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org as an informational filing.
Oklahoma: On April 8th, the Oklahoma Department of Insurance (DOI) issued Financial Regulation Bulletin No. 2020-02 advising all insurance companies that they are still required to make all electronic filings with the NAIC. Additionally, the Bulletin advises insurance companies about the potential delays in the due dates of most financial filings from 30 to 60 days, provided the insurer requests an extension and satisfies certain financial condition requirements. The Bulletin states that electronic filings will be allowed during the stay at home order.
Pennsylvania: On April 13, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (“Department”) issued Notice #2020-11 applicable to Pennsylvania Premium Finance Companies and Insurance Carriers. The purpose of the notice is to communicate the Department’s expectations of premium finance companies during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department is encouraging premium finance companies, to the greatest extent possible, to accommodate insureds by extending or providing grace periods for loan payments or to be otherwise flexible with respect to determinations of default under premium finance agreements, especially with regard to cancellations for default governed by 40 P.S. § 3310. In addition, the Department is encouraging premium finance companies to waive or temporarily eliminate any delinquency or other charges that would ordinarily be permitted pursuant to 40 P.S. § 3309. The Department is also encouraging insurance carriers to work with premium finance companies to facilitate any grace period modifications.
Pennsylvania: On April 13th, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (“Department”) issued Notice #2020-10 applicable to all Domestic Insurers and Licensees. The purpose of the notice is to advise all Pennsylvania domestic insurance companies regarding continued compliance with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 public health emergency. At this time, companies are still required to make all required electronic filings (e.g., quarterly financial statements, audited financial statements) with the NAIC. If an insurer believes that it will not be able to meet a deadline required by law or regulation, it is instructed to contact its assigned analyst via email to request an extension in writing. The Department will consider providing insurers an additional 30 or 60 days, as provided in the Notice, to complete certain filings. The Department reserves the right to reject an extension request based upon the financial condition of the insurer or any other unique circumstances applicable to the company. In addition and until further notice, the hard copy, original signature, notarization and other in-person related filing requirements are currently waived. Companies shall submit all documents electronically to their assigned analyst.
Vermont: On April 10th, Governor Philip Scott issued Addendum 9 to Executive Order 01-20 (Extension of State of Emergency Declared March 13, 2020; Other COVID-19 Related Directives and Clarifications), extending the state of emergency until May 15th, among other things. Additionally, the Order provides immunity from liability to health care providers, and guidance on:
- motor vehicle inspections, lodging reservations,
- stay home/stay safe procedures,
- state agencies regarding non-congregate temporary housing, and
- COVID-19 emergency response services.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Illinois: On April 13th, the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission issued an emergency amendment to Title 50 Insurance, Chapter VI: Illinois Workers Compensation Commission, Part 9030 Arbitration, which creates a rebuttable presumption for front-line workers who contract COVID-19. The definition of front-line workers has been expanded to include grocery and pharmacy workers, among others.
Kentucky: On April 10th, the Kentucky Department of Workers’ Claims has issued Administrative Order 2020-001, clarifying that electronic signatures are digital signatures, and authorized for the adjustment of workers’ compensation claims during the COVID-19 pandemic. Any documents or form may be signed electronically by any party of that party’s attorney. Additionally, certain notarization requirements are suspended during this period.
Michigan: On April 13th, Michigan issued Bulletin 2020-18-INS to automobile insurers that plan to issue refunds or premium waivers to their customers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and advises them of the filing requirements for these plans. In light of the COVID-19 emergency, DIFS will expedite its review and urges insurers to submit the required information, as stated in the Bulletin, as soon as possible.
New Hampshire: On April 10th, the New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) issued Bulletin 20-025-AB, to all property and casualty automobile insurers, requiring auto insurers who provide temporary relief in the form of payback or credit programs to insureds to file such programs with the NHID.
Oregon: On April 10th, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation issued Bulletin No. DFR 2020-9 application to all Workers’ Compensation Insurers and Employers regarding changes in operations due to public health measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses when a change in classification code is appropriate for employees reassigned to work from home, when insurers should rerate a business, and the suspension of field audits. Employers directing employees to work from home may be eligible to assign payroll to a different classification code if their scope of work has changed. Employers must document the time period in which employees are reassigned and the change in scope of work. Insurers may also reduce an employer’s payroll assignment or bill the employer at reduced rate based on preliminary information. An insurer who makes this type of accommodation on an ad hoc basis should inform employers what information is necessary to verify payroll during a premium audit and develop a plan to help employers comply. At the request of the policyholder, insurers must rerate a business to reflect a change in operation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related public health measures. The Bulletin also addresses ways in which insurers will meet a field audit requirement in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oregon: On April 10th, the Oregon Division of Financial Regulation issued Bulletin No. DFR 2020-10 application to all Workers’ Compensation Insurers and Employers regarding guidance to workers compensation insurers and employers paying employees furloughed due to pandemic-related closures. Payments to employees furloughed or placed on administrative leave as a result of pandemic-related public health measures shall be classified as vacation time and excluded from payroll reported to workers compensation insurers for the for the purposes of calculating the premium basis. Vacation time is not an appropriate classification for sick leave or for employees teleworking or otherwise incurring risk covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Employers will need to separately track furlough payroll in sufficient detail for insurers to perform premium audits, and insurers are required to inform employers of what information is necessary to perform premium audits and develop a plan to help employers comply.
Texas: On April 10th, the Texas Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) issued Commissioner’s Bulletin No. B-0019-20 reminding insurers that the reporting and 10-day testing requirements for first responders seeking workers’ compensation due to work-related exposure to COVID-19 has been suspended until further notice.