For September we have provided a monthly recap of insurance regulatory COVID-19 updates. Moving forward updates will be published on a weekly basis.
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
Mississippi: On September 1, the Mississippi Insurance department published Bulletin 2020-12 waiving on-site review requirements during the COVID-19 Emergency. Specifically, this Bulletin relaxes requirements for insurers to conduct on-site reviews of managing general agents and third-party administers in 2020, and for 2020 only. During this time insurers may conduct these reviews through electronic means.
Nevada: On September 2, the Nevada Commissioner of Insurance issued proposed regulation LCB File No. R087-20. The proposed regulation aims to prohibit an insurer from using changes in consumer credit information to increase a policyholder’s premium if the changes occurred between March 1, 2020, and the date which is 2 years after the termination date of the Declaration of Emergency for COVID-19 issued by the Governor on March 12, 2020. The regulation requires an insurer to identify any policyholder whose premium was increased as a result of changes in the policyholder’s consumer credit report and revise premiums by using the information as it existed before March 1, 2020.
New Jersey: On September 11, the New Jersey Department of Insurance published Bulletin No. 20-32 to all insurance producer and public adjuster license candidates required to take an examination, insurance education schools, and interests regarding remote testing options for insurance producer and public adjuster license candidates. In-person and remote examinations may be scheduled by candidates beginning on September 15, 2020 through PSI’s new scheduling website at https://www.psiexams.com/njin.
New Jersey: On September 14, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed SB 2380 into law. SB 2380 is an act concerning essential employees contracting coronavirus disease. In relevant part, if, during the public health emergency, an individual contracts COVID-19 and is an essential employee, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the contraction of the disease is work-related and fully compensable for the purposes of benefits provided under R.S.34:15-1 et seq.
New Mexico: On September 4 (originally drafted March 20, 2020, but reported on September 4, 2020), the State of New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance released Bulletin 2020-006 to all admitted and non-admitted insurance companies regarding a request to all insurance companies to refrain from cancelling or non-renewing policies of business and individuals negatively impacted by the disruption due to non-payment of premiums during the public emergency.
Ohio: On September 14, the Governor of Ohio signed House Bill 606 into law. The Bill provides civil immunity to essential workers that unknowingly spread coronavirus among the workplace. The Bill states, “[n]o civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property shall be brought against any person if the cause of action on which the civil action is based, in whole or in part, is that the injury, death, or loss to person or property is caused by the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV, or SARS-CoV-2, or any mutation thereof, unless it is established that the exposure to, or the transmission or contraction of, any of those viruses or mutations was by reckless conduct or intentional misconduct or willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person against whom the action is brought[.]” The Bill applies from the date of the Governor’s March 9, 2020, emergency declaration, through September 30, 2021.
Oklahoma: On September 25, Oklahoma Governor Stitt issued the Fifth Amended Executive Order 2020-20, extending the emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic to October 25. The order extends the validity date of occupational licenses until November 8, 2020.
Puerto Rico: On September 14, the Puerto Rico Department of Insurance issued Circular Letter CC-2020-1972-D regarding the extension of effect of provisional licenses.
South Carolina: On September 15, the South Carolina Department of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-03A, which modifies the temporary licensing section of Bulletin 2020-03 originally issued on April 2, 2020. Effective September 15, 2020, the Department of Insurance stopped issuing temporary producer licenses related solely to the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Additionally, testing centers are now able to test at full capacity and online proctoring of examinations is available. Temporary licenses that have already been issued will expire automatically 180 days after the issue date.
South Dakota: On September 10, South Dakota issued Bulletin 20-05, terminating temporary insurance producer licensing. Due to the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19 and the ensuing closure of producer testing centers, the South Dakota Division of Insurance (“Division”) issued Bulletin 20-03 on April 17, 2020 which outlined grounds for the issuance of temporary insurance producer licenses. As of now, testing centers have fully reopened in South Dakota and appropriate mitigation measures are in place. Therefore, the Division will not accept temporary insurance producer applications based on the criteria of Bulletin 20-03 after September 11, 2020.
Property and Casualty Insurance
Colorado: On September 17, the Colorado Division of Insurance issued a second Revised Bulletin No. B-5.38 to provide guidance on the reasonable accommodations provided to policyholders to prevent cancellation for nonpayment of premium due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the repayment process. Insurers are expected to offer insureds flexible payment arrangements that allow the repayment of overdue premiums over a reasonable period of time. The Bulletin was originally issued March 27, 2020.
Maryland: On September 1, the Maryland Insurance Administration issued Bulletin 20-25, regarding required informational filings. According to the Bulletin, in order to properly document the record of all insurers’ actions in responding to the challenges of COVID-19, the Administration requires each property and casualty insurer holding a certificate of authority and the Maryland Automobile Insurance Fund and the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Company to submit an informational filing in SERFF no later than October 31, 2020 providing the details of all actions each insurer has taken to date in response to the Bulletins listed above and any other measures taken in response to COVID-19.
Maryland: On September 17, the Maryland Insurance Administration issued Bulletin 20-38 to all private passenger automobile insurers regarding private passenger automobile rate filings. Due to the reduction in motor vehicle usage as a result of COVID-19, current in-force filed rates could be excessive in light of the market conditions present at this time. As such, the Administration is encouraging all PPA insurers to review their most recent data, including frequency of accident reports and miles driven captured by telematics programs or other sources, to ascertain if it is appropriate at this time to provide additional immediate premium relief to Maryland policyholders. Insurers that choose to provide relief at the time should make a rate/ rule filing in SERFF on or before November 1, 2020 that provides the details. In addition to evaluating the need for, and if appropriate implementing, a second round of temporary premium relief measures by PPA insurers, the Administration expects insurers will take the necessary steps to analyze current market conditions, project future loss costs, and make a rate filing on or before January 1, 2021 to incorporate post-COVID-19 onset data.
Nevada: The Nevada Division of Insurance (“NVDOI”) informed property and casualty insurers offering coverage for business interruption and related perils that the NVDOI will not approve any new policy or endorsement language containing exclusions of coverage that specifically mention COVID-19, viruses, or pandemics. The NVDOI’s authority to disallow such exclusions stems from the State of Emergency in effect since March 12, 2020. Until the Governor’s Declaration of Emergency related to COVID-19 is lifted, the NVDOI will not approve any exclusion language related to COVID-19, viruses, or pandemics. Furthermore, insurers who submitted and received approval for such exclusionary language on or after March 12, 2020, are requested to voluntarily withdraw said language.
North Carolina: On September 15, the North Carolina Industrial Commission adopted a temporary amendment to 11 NCAC 23G.0104 which specifies when attendance for worker’s compensation mediation settlement conferences must be satisfied using remote technology. This rule was effective retroactively to August 28, 2020.
Illinois: On September 2, the Department of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-17 to notify Illinois-licensed health insurance issuers that no state enforcement actions will be taken against issuers for availing themselves of CMS’ relaxed enforcement to provide financial relief to their small group and individual enrollees in the 2020 plan year, provided that it is done in the manner set forth in the CMS guidance on premium credits, published on August 4th, 2020. This Bulletin applies to all health insurance issuers in the individual and small group markets.
Maine: On September 22, Superintendent Cioppa issued Bulletin 453 (which supersedes Bulletin 451) regarding the state epidemiologist’s revised Standing Order for COVID-19 Testing dated September 22, 2020. The Bulletin clarifies that the revised Standing Order, while removing the defined risk criteria as discussed in Bulletins 450 and 451, does not change the obligations of insurance carriers or other third-party payers, and guidance issued on September 22 by the Department of Health and Human Services specifically clarifies that point.
Maryland: On September 4, Maryland released Bulletin 20-36, in which the Commissioner promulgated new emergency regulations including changes to COMAR 31.01.02.02, .03 and .06, which took effect on an emergency basis on September 1, 2020. These emergency regulations require that health carriers waive any cost-sharing, including co-payments, coinsurance, and deductibles for any visit to diagnose or test for COVID-19, laboratory fees, or vaccines for COVED-19 (when a vaccine becomes available). The emergency regulations shall be in until the emergency declaration is lifted or the Commissioner issues a Bulletin deactivating the regulations at issue.
Maryland: On September 28, Commissioner Birrane published Bulletin 20-39 which requires that immediately, health carriers are prohibited from suspending health benefit cancellations and nonrenewals of individual health policies for non-payment of premium, unless specific criteria (as detailed in the Bulletin) are met. This regulation will be in effect for a period of 60 days.
Massachusetts: On September 22, the Division of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-28 to continue relaxation of certain administrative procedures in response to the COVID-19 emergency. Specifically, Bulletin 2020-28 informs carriers that the Division is expecting carriers to continue the relaxation of the processes outlined in Bulletin 2020-21 until December 31, 2020.
Nevada: On September 14, 2020, the Division of Insurance published a press release reminding Nevadans covered by health insurance policies regulated by the Nevada Division of Insurance (individual health plans, small group plans, large group plans, and catastrophic plans) that they are able to obtain certain medical services and testing related to COVID-19 without being responsible for co-pays or the actual cost of the test itself. This means insurance companies are required to cover—with no out-of-pocket cost—testing for COVID-19 and the visit to a provider’s office, an urgent care center, a center for emergency medical care, an emergency room, or a COVID-19 screening or testing site when the purpose of the visit is to be tested for COVID-19 for a symptomatic individual.
New Mexico: On September 10, the New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance filed an amended notice and order to every insurer who has issued or delivered an individual or group plan to a New Mexico resident that provides excepted benefits coverage as defined in § 59A-23G-2(B), NMSA 1978. Every insurer who has underwritten an excepted benefits policy or plan described in the Notice must provide every New Mexico resident named as an insured, participant, member, or certificate holder under each such policy or plan the notice enclosed (link: https://newsletter.osi.state.nm.us/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Amended-Notice-and-Order-.pdf). The notice and order goes on to outline requirements about how to send the notice and how to verify compliance with the Office of Superintendent of Insurance.
Mississippi: On September 17, Bulletin 2020-13 was published to continue the provisions in Bulletin 2020-1 (“Insurance Coverage Regarding the Use of Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Crisis”), directing insurers to adopt procedures that would encourage their policyholders to use telemedicine in an effort to reduce the virus’ spread. Additionally, the Bulletin suspending certain limitations due to telemedicine, will be extended through December 31, 2020.
Texas: On September 25, Governor Abbott announced that Texas’ major health insurers have agreed to continue reimbursing network health care providers for telehealth appointments at the same rate which they pay for office visits through the end of 2020. While the agreement applies only to state-regulated plans, both the Employee Retirement System and the Teacher Retirement System will continue telehealth payment parity through the end of the year as well.
Vermont: On September 16, the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation issued Emergency Rule H-2020-05-E, regarding the relaxation of credentialing verification practices. The purpose of the emergency rule is to expand health insurance coverage for COVID-19 diagnosis, treatment and prevention by relaxing provider credentialing requirements in order to facilitate the reimbursement through commercial insurance for health care services provided by physicians or other health care professionals who hold an equivalent license in another State or who provide care at physical locations where such health care providers are not credentialed.
Washington: On September 14, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended Emergency Order 20-02, directing all state-regulated health insurers to make additional coverage changes to aid consumers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Order is in effect until Oct. 14 and requires health insurers to:
- Continue coverage for providing telehealth via methods including telephone and video chat tools such as Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangout video, Skype and Go-to-Meeting.
- Cover all medically necessary diagnostic testing for flu and certain other viral respiratory illnesses billed during a provider visit for COVID-19 with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
- Treat drive-up testing sites for COVID-19 as provider visit with no copay, coinsurance or deductible.
However, there was no extension of the grace period for payment of premiums as listed in Part E of the Order.
Washington: On September 25, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended Emergency Order 20-01 and Emergency Order 20-06. Order 20-01 requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) and Order 20-06 protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically-necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 are both extended until Oct. 25.