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
Arkansas: On April 13th, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued Executive Order No. 20-18, amending Executive Order No. 20-03, temporarily providing civil liability immunity to emergency responders who provide medical services to individuals who die or are injured as a result of the responder’s care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Arkansas: On April 13th, Governor Asa Hutchinson issued Executive Order No. 20-19 expanding workers compensation for occasional exposure to COVID-19 to first responders and health care workers.
First responders and front-line health care workers who test positive for COVID-19, may be eligible for workers compensation if they can demonstrate a causal connection between their diagnosis and exposure to COVID-19 as a result of their employment or occupation.
Arkansas: On April 14th, Commissioner Alan McClain issued Bulletin No. 18-2020 to all admitted and surplus lines insurance carriers doing business in the state, advising insurance companies regarding compliance with regulatory requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bulletin reminds companies that they are still required to make all mandated electronic filings with the NAIC, as well as those that are not filed with the NAIC but filed with Arkansas Insurance Department. Additionally, the Department will accept electronic filings with electronic signatures, and may allow an extension of time to make required filings. If an extension is needed companies must contact the finance division and submit a request for extension.
California: On April 14th, Commissioner Ricardo Lara issued a Notice to all admitted and non-admitted insurance companies, all licensed insurance adjusters and producers, and other licensees and interested parties, regarding the requirement to accept, forward, acknowledge, and fairly investigate all business interruption insurance claims caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Notice reminds insurers that they are required to comply with their legal obligations in connection with all insurance claims including, but not limited to, Business Interruption insurance claims, event cancellation claims, and other related claims filed by California businesses. Additionally, insurers must acknowledge notice of claim immediately, but in no event more than 15 calendar days after receipt of the notice. If the acknowledgment of a claim is not in writing, a written acknowledgment of the receipt and date of the notice of claim must be made in the claim file of the insurer. Insurers are also reminded that they are required to comply with their contractual, statutory, regulatory, and other legal obligations, including but not limited to, the obligations set forth in the California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations (Cal. Code Regs. tit. 10; sections 2695.1 et seq.) in connection with all California insurance claims including, but not limited to, Business Interruption insurance claims, event cancellation claims, and other related claims filed by California businesses.
Maine: On April 15th, Superintendent Eric Cioppa issued Bulletin 445 stating that the Maine Department of Insurance will issue temporary insurance producer licenses to applicants who otherwise meet the requirements for licensure without requiring the successful completion of an examination. Temporary licenses issued pursuant to this Bulletin are subject to the certain conditions discussed in the Bulletin.
Minnesota: On April 15, Minnesota issued Regulatory Guidance 20-17, which provides that, since persons may be unable to execute surety bonds that require multiple notarized signatures, the Department will temporarily accept surety bonds that have electronic signatures, subject to requirements identified in the Guidance.
Mississippi: On April 14, Mississippi issued Bulletin 2020-7, which extends the deadline for certain regulatory filings. It also provides that certain hard copy, original signature, notary, mailing and related filing requirements are currently waived. Companies are expected to keep a list of all filings that were made electronically in lieu of hard copy, so that hard copy filings can be made within sixty days after the State of Mississippi has allowed a return to work.
Nebraska: On April 15th, The Nebraska Department of Insurance updated the supplemental form required for the issuance of temporary resident insurance producer licenses. The original notice was issued on March 31, 2020.
Ohio: Effective April 15, 2020, The Ohio Department of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-09 (the “Order”) for the purpose of providing individuals, companies, and other entities licensed pursuant to the laws of Ohio relating to insurance with flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, companies are still instructed to continue to submit all required financial filings, including filings with the NAIC and the Department of Insurance. However the Department is willing to allow companies an additional thirty (30) to sixty (60) days to complete most of the financial filings identified in “Attachment A” of the Order. The Department is willing to consider companies’ written request for late filing, but reserves the right to reject any such individual company request. Regarding filing requirements, mailing, wet signature, and notary requirements are currently waived, but companies are expected to keep a record of filings that were made electronically in lieu of hard filings so that they can eventually file all hard copies within 60 days after the expiration of the Order.
Texas: On April 15th, the Texas Department of Insurance issued Commissioner’s Bulletin No. B-0020-20 providing guidance that the Department expects insurers to work with commercial policyholders that have reduced operations. For policies calculated using an auditable exposure that may have changed as a result of the outbreak, the Department encourages insurers to conduct midterm premium audits if requested by policyholders. Insurers may also allow policyholders to self-audit their policies.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Maine: On April 15th, Superintendent Eric Cioppa issued Bulletin 444 to property casualty insurers, producers with property or casualty authority, surplus lines insurers, and surplus lines brokers, providing guidance to property and casualty insurers on how to implement premium reductions and refunds in compliance with Maine law. The Bulletin states that the Superintendent will not consider prospective reductions in premium, or refunds of premium made to accommodate COVID-19-related changes in exposure or risk profile, to be an unfairly discriminatory rating practice to the extent that they are reasonable and consistently applied. Likewise, the Superintendent will not regard reasonable and consistently applied premium adjustments or audit accommodations, as described in this Bulletin, as violations of statutes that govern the return of premium to policyholders, limit the frequency of premium changes, prohibit improper rebates to induce the purchase or retention of insurance, or impose a duty to adhere to approved rating plans. Additionally, the Superintendent will only require insurers that plan to implement COVID-19-related premium reductions or refunds to file either a rate or a form that is sufficient to notify the Superintendent of the adjustment. Insurers do not need to file these rates and forms before implementing a premium adjustment. Finally, the Bulletin encourages insurers to allow policyholders to self-audit and self-report changes in their exposure or risk profile and adjust premiums accordingly. These guidelines will apply until July 1, 2020.
Massachusetts: On April 13th, The Massachusetts Division of Insurance issued Filing Guidance Notice 2020-B, to all carriers offering automobile policies, providing guidance as carriers look to implement COVID-19 refunds or premium credits. The Notice, among other things, reminds carriers looking to process refunds or premium credits to submit form filings to the Division that will be used to notify covered persons about the refund or premium credit, and rule filing, where appropriate, if the refund or premium credit is only being provided to policyholders who meet certain actuarially appropriate criteria. Additionally, the Division does not expect that carriers would be submitting rate filings to process such refunds or premium credits- since carriers are not altering the rates being charged for coverage. If a company finds that it does need to submit a rate filing, the Division reminds them of the proper filing instructions, including Property & Casualty Filing Guidance Notices 2008-C and 2013-A.
Vermont: On April 14, Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation published Emergency Rule H-2020-03-E. The Rule mandates coverage of medically necessary COVID-19 diagnostic testing at no cost-sharing. It also requires coverage, without cost-sharing, of provider office, urgent care visits and emergency services visits to determine whether COVID-19 testing is medically necessary. Additionally, the Rule requires coverage of medically necessary COVID-19 treatment, prescription drugs and related ambulance transportation without cost-sharing. The Rule requires plans to process and reimburse appropriate claims for the foregoing mandated services retroactively to March 13, 2020. All of the foregoing services must be covered on an out-of-network basis, without cost sharing, when no in-network providers are available.
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.