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

Alabama:  On October 1, the Alabama Department of Insurance (Department) issued Bulletin 2020-19, which amends measures taken during the COVID-19 Pandemic relating to producer, adjuster, and agent licensing. The Bulletin and is retroactively effective to March 25, 2020.  The expiration dates for Prelicensing Certificates of Completion are extended. Certain continuing education courses are authorized to be offered as webinars. For self-study continuing education courses, the Department has waived the examination proctoring requirement through December 31, 2020.

D.C.:  On October 7, the Mayor of the District of Columbia has issued Mayor’s Order 2020-103, which extends the COVID-19 public health emergency and prior emergency orders through December 31, 2020. The order went into effect immediately upon issuance on October 7, 2020, and remains in effect through December 31, 2020, or until the date to which the state of emergency is extended, whichever is later.  On April 27, 2020, the D.C. Department of Insurance issued Commissioner’s Order 03-2020, which among other provisions, prohibited termination of insurance policies due to non-payment and required reasonable accommodations to policyholders. The emergency order creating the moratorium remains in effect through the duration of the Public Health Emergency, including any extensions. Mayor’s Order 2020-103, incorporates the findings of prior emergency orders relating to COVID-19 until December 31, 2020.

Massachusetts:  On October 7, the Division of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-29 to rescind eight of Governor Baker’s COVID-19 Orders (issued June 26, 2020) related to individual insurance licenses, and rescind the extension of renewal for certain licenses (including insurance producers, public insurance adjusters, insurance advisers, surplus lines brokers, reinsurance intermediaries, life settlement brokers, and others). The Division issued Bulletin 2020-29 to return to regularly scheduled license renewals for individual insurance licenses.

New Hampshire: On October 6, 2020, Commissioner Christopher R. Nicolopoulos issued Bulletin No.: 20-072-AB regarding Title 37 Financial Regulation Filing Requirements.  The Department will accept electronic filing of the Third Quarter filings due November 15th via email.  The date of the receipt will be the date of the electronic filing for statutory compliance.

New Hampshire: On October 8, 2020, Commissioner Christopher R. Nicolopoulos issued Bulletin No.: 20-073-AB to all insurers and third party administrators regarding third party administrator on-site audits. Due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, the New Hampshire Insurance Department will not seek to enforce the requirement that an insurer perform an on-site audit of a third party administrator. Rather, in this state of emergency, virtual audits shall be sufficient to comply with RSA 402-H:6, III.

Ohio: On October 2nd, the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI) issued Bulletin 2020-12 to rescind Bulletin 2020-07, and to encourage insurers to provide insureds affected by the COVID-19 pandemic a grace period to pay insurance premiums. Insurers are not required to waive any premiums and a failure to pay premiums upon the end of a grace period may subject the policy to a retroactive cancellation pursuant to the terms of the policy.  Bulletin 2020-07 had required insurers to provide 60-day grace periods to policyholders facing financial difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Texas:  In a notice released October 1st, the Texas Department of Insurance (DOI) extended the time frame in which financial filings can be submitted to its office without sworn statements, affidavits, and notarizations from September 30, 2020 to December 31, 2020. This is the DOI’s seventh extension since March 31.

Property and Casualty Insurance

Oregon:  On October 1, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services/Workers’ Compensation Division (WCD) adopted temporary rule OAR 436-060-0141 that defines terms and informs insurers of the process on workers’ compensation claims for COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2 exposure. The process includes the obligation on insurers to conduct a “reasonable investigation” before denying claims and the circumstances under which the WCD will audit insurer files for all COVID-19-related denials. The adopted rule became effective on October 1, 2020 and will remain in effect until March 29, 2021.

Oregon:  On October 2, 2020, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services Division of Financial Regulation issued Bulletin No. DFR 2020-19 to all insurers issuing personal lines auto policies. The purpose of the bulletin is to provide guidance to auto insurers issuing personal lines auto policies with step-down limits. It outlines disclosures necessary to inform consumers of the nature and extent of coverage. Policy forms that do not adequately disclose the nature and scope of step-down limits will be disapproved. Any policies issued or renewed one year after this bulletin is published must have all consumer disclosures and filings in place. Attempting to implement step-down limits without meeting the disclosure and filing requirements listed in this bulletin may constitute a violation of the Insurance Code and result in civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

Health Insurance

 New Mexico:  On October 1, 2020, the state of New Mexico Office of Superintendent of Insurance issued Bulletin 2020-017 to every insurer intending to sell, or offer to sell an excepted benefits plan in Mexico regarding a partial lifting of the filing moratorium imposed by Bulletin 2020-003. In Bulletin 2020-003, the superintendent of insurance imposed a moratorium on excepted benefits filings until rules are promulgated pursuant to Section 59A-23G-3 NMSA 1978. Effective October 1, 2020, the following excepted benefits products are subject to the rules promulgated in 13.10.34 NMAC: (1) coverage-only for accident insurance; (2) coverage-only for a specified disease or illness; (3) hospital indemnity or other fixed indemnity insurance; and (4) Champus/TRICARE supplement plans that provide one or more of the coverages specified in (l) through (3). Because rules now apply to these excepted benefits products, the superintendent hereby lifts the filing moratorium with respect to these plans, effective immediately.

New York:  On October 1, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced final regulations requiring insurers to put into place policies and procedures that will ensure that they are providing comparable coverage for mental health and substance use disorders. The parity compliance program regulations were proposed by the New York State Department of Financial Services and Department of Health and were adopted following a 60-day period for public comments. The regulations require insurers to designate an appropriately experienced individual who shall:  (i) Be responsible for assessing, monitoring, and managing parity compliance;  (ii) Report directly to the insurer’s chief executive officer or other senior manager; and  (iii) Report no less than annually to the insurer’s board of directors or other governing body, or the appropriate committee thereof, on the activities of the compliance program.