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
D.C.: On April 23, the Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking issued Bulletin 20-IB-2-04/10, to insurers, captives, and RRGs domiciled in the District of Columbia, regarding modified regulatory filing requirements during the public health emergency. The Bulletin issues guidance on regulatory filing deadlines, electronic filings and signatures, on-site examinations. The Bulletin states, that companies are still required to make all mandated electronic filings with the NAIC, or to the analyst assigned to such company for those filings that are not filed directly with the NAIC. The Department is willing to allow insurers an additional 30 days to complete most filings (and 60 days for some). If an insurer needs an extension, they are asked to request a late filing extension. The hard copy, original signature, and related filing requirements are currently waived. Additionally, the Department will not conduct any on-site examination work during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Kentucky: On April 24, the Kentucky Department of Insurance (Department) issued guidance in response to insurers returning premium to insureds during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the guidance, the Department is aware of the administrative burden placed on insurers if a pro-rated return of local government premium tax was ordered by the Department, and that the revenue is needed by local governments to fund critical services. Due to this, the Department has taken the positon that a refund of local government premium taxes in relation to the return of premium as a result of altered driving patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic is unwarranted. Additionally, the guidance does not apply to the return of premium associated with a typical policy cancellation, or any other insurance transaction outside the scope of the state of emergency.
Kentucky: On April 24, the Kentucky Department of Insurance (Department) issued guidance on practices of premium relief and use of technology to promote social distancing. The guidance outlines certain activities that may be implemented at the discretion of the insurer, which will not be considered unfair trade practices, rebating, or unfair methods of competition, during the COVID-19 pandemic. These activities, among other things, include:
- performing mid-term adjustments to retroactively or prospectively apply returned premium according to the change in risk exposure;
- placing coverage in abeyance, at the request of the insured, due to pandemic-related changes in risk and desire to prevent lapse in coverage,
- waiving fees, penalties, or other charges relating to an insured’s temporary inability to submit premium payments or otherwise respond to an insurer’s inquiries;
- virtual auditing or allowing self-auditing and self-reporting in lieu of physical auditing;
- extending grace periods for premium payment;
- extending the effective termination date of non-renewals and cancellations;
- extending submission deadlines for proof of loss; and,
- encouraging insureds to use electronic payment technology that aids social distancing.
Minnesota: On April 27, the Commissioner of Commerce issued a Commissioners Order providing guidance related to regulatory flexibility. According to the Order, in order to provide relief or safe harbor from legal obligations with respect to licensees or other persons regulated by the Department of Commerce, or to ensure continuity of department operations and processes, the Commissioner has delayed, stayed, or waived the deadlines and requirements set forth in Regulatory Guidance 20-21 through 20-24, which is incorporated into and made part of this Order.
Minnesota: On April 27, Minnesota issued Regulatory Guidance 20-21, Regulatory Guidance 20-22, Regulatory Guidance 20-23 and Regulatory Guidance 20-24 (the “Guidance”). The Guidance extends the deadlines for renewals and reinstatements for insurance producers and adjusters. For Regulatory Guidance 20-21, the March 31, 2020 deadline for insurance producers to comply with renewal requirements is extended to May 31, 2020. For Regulatory Guidance 20-22, the March 31, 2020 deadline for adjusters to comply with renewal requirements is extended to May 31, 2020. For Regulatory Guidance 20-23, the April 30, 2020 deadline for insurance producers to comply with renewal requirements is extended to May 31, 2020. For Regulatory Guidance 20-24, the April 30, 2020 deadline for adjusters to comply with renewal requirements is extended to May 31, 2020.
Mississippi: On April 24, Mississippi issued Bulletin 2020-9. On March 16, 2020, Mississippi Insurance Department issued Bulletin 2020-1, which directs insurers to adopt procedures to encourage their members to use telemedicine in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Bulletin 2020-1 also suspended certain limitations applicable to telemedicine services found in existing statute. Bulletin 2020-1 was to be in effect through April 30, 2020. Bulletin 2020-9 extends the applicability of Bulletin 2020-1 through the end of June.
New Hampshire: On April 24, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #35, temporarily waiving the 28-day separation period before a retired public employee can return to work on a part-time basis.
New Hampshire: On April 24, Governor Sununu issued Emergency Order #36, which creates a prima facie presumption that a first responder’s COVID-19 exposure and infection are occupationally related.
New Jersey: On April 23, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (“DOBI”) issued an FAQ section related to Bulletin 20-17, which among other things, directed premium finance companies to exercise appropriate forbearances on collection documentation, amortizing any unpaid payments over the remainder of the policy term or a period of up to 12 months, as appropriate, and to refrain from seeking recoupment of paid claims during the emergency 90 day grace period.
Tennessee: On April 24, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance issued Bulletin 20-09, authorizing the issuance of temporary insurance producer licenses to applicants who have been unable to complete an examination due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Utah: On April 22, the Governor of Utah signed House Bill 3007 into law, establishing a rebuttable presumption that a first responder who contracts COVID-19 by accident during the course of performing the first responder’s duties. Among other things, HB 3007 amends the Workers’ Compensation Act to include coverage for volunteer first responders and health care providers who contract COVID-19.
Property And Casualty Insurance
Maryland: The Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission) adopted Emergency Regulation COMAR 14.09.17, granting emergency powers to the Chairman of the Commission (Chairman). Among other things, the Chairman may; (1) amend and superintend existing Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans; (2) suspend the operation of rules or regulations that cannot be implemented as intended because of the emergency; and (3) identify and direct the use of alternative locations to conduct Commission business if existing facilities become inaccessible or unusable. The emergency regulation is retroactive to March 13, 2020, and expires on September 8, 2020.
Maryland: On April 24, the Maryland Insurance Administration issued Bulletin No. 20-21, to all property and casualty insurance companies and producers and the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company, which states that the Administration has approved two recent filings from its authorized workers’ compensation rating organization, the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI).
New Jersey: On April 24, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (“DOBI”) issued Bulletin 20-19 regarding the use of telemedicine and telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency. The Bulletin provides guidance to all automobile insurers that provide medical expense benefits under Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage (collectively, “PIP carriers”) in the state regarding the use of telemedicine and telehealth, as defined in P.L. 2017, c.117, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maine: On April 24, Maine issued Bulletin 446, which supersedes Bulletin 441. Bulletin 446 provides updated deadlines for rate, form, and certain qualified health plans (“QHP”) filings for non-grandfathered individual and small group plans with 2021 effective dates of coverage.
New Jersey: On April 24, the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (“DOBI”) issued Bulletin 20-19 regarding the use of telemedicine and telehealth during the COVID-19 emergency. The Bulletin provides guidance to all automobile insurers that provide medical expense benefits under Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverage. According to the Bulletin, the DOBI is requiring that PIP carriers:
- review or establish their telemedicine and telehealth networks to ensure adequacy given the increased demand;
- encourage network providers to utilize telemedicine or telehealth services wherever possible and clinically appropriate to diagnose and treat PIP injuries during the ongoing public health emergency, in order to minimize exposure of provider staff and other patients to those who may have the COVID-19 virus;
- update their procedures to include reimbursement for telehealth services that are provided by a provider in any manner that is practicable and appropriate, including by telephone. PIP carriers should disseminate information on their website, or other reasonable means, to notify individuals of these updates. This would include the use of telephone-only communications to establish a physician-patient relationship and the expanded use of telehealth for the diagnosis, treatment, ordering of tests, and prescribing. PIP carriers are required to update telehealth policies to include telephone-only services within the definition of telehealth;
- reimburse providers that deliver covered services to claimants via telemedicine or telehealth in accordance with this guidance. Carriers may establish requirements for such telemedicine and/or telehealth services, similar to those developed by health insurance carriers in accordance with P.L. 2020, c.3, and guidance issued by the DOBI, including documentation and recordkeeping, but such requirements may not be more restrictive than those for in-person services. Carriers are not permitted to impose any specific requirements on the technologies used to deliver telemedicine and/or telehealth services (including any limitations on audio-only or live video technologies) during the state of emergency and public health emergency declared pursuant to EO 103;
- ensure that the payment to providers for services delivered via telemedicine or telehealth are not lower than would typically be paid for services rendered via traditional (i.e., in person) methods, and PIP carriers must notify providers of any instructions that are necessary to facilitate billing for such telehealth services;
- may not impose any restriction on the reimbursement for telehealth or telemedicine that requires that the provider who is delivering the services be licensed in a particular state, so long as the provider is in compliance with P.L. 2020, c. 4 and this guidance; and
- may not impose additional prior authorization requirements on medically-necessary treatment that is delivered via telemedicine or telehealth, instead of via traditional methods, during this public health emergency.