|Insurers Prepare for Claims as East States See Property Damage from Civil Unrest|
|Insurance Journal (06/04/20) Blosfield, Elizabeth|
Recent riots in several states recall earlier times of civil unrest in the 1960s that led to hefty property damage and deaths. The Insurance Information Institute estimates that the Martin Luther King, Jr., assassination riots in New York in 1968 caused $4 million in losses for the state's insurance industry, equating to $30 million today. The Property Claims Service, a unit of the Insurance Services Office, has already labeled this as a catastrophe since it will meet the threshold of exceeding $25 million in losses. Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said she expects the flexibility insurers provided with payment plans and claims administration during the coronavirus pandemic to continue for policyholders impacted by civil unrest. "We encourage impacted businesses to contact their insurance agents and companies with any coverage questions and also to coordinate their policies with any additional coverage, such as a policy maintained by a building owner," she added. In Washington D.C., where incidents of civil unrest also occurred on the back of peaceful demonstrations, the Department of Insurance said it expects insurers to process claims in a timely manner. Related Stories: CNBC; Bloomberg; MarketWatch
|Businesses on King Street Rebuilding, Reopening, Filing Insurance Claims After Riots|
|Charleston Post and Courier (SC) (06/02/20) Brown, Andrew|
Some restaurants and storefronts along King Street in Charleston, South Carolina, are still covered with plywood after the recent protests, but others are preparing to reopen. Some of those business owners had to adjust their schedules to comply with temporary curfews and are now planning to reopen with security services. Many of the businesses that were damaged are likely to be covered if they have the right insurance policies. South Carolina Department of Insurance Director Ray Farmer says every insurance policy is different, but most will help pay for this type of damage. He says, "Normally, damages caused by the commotion of rioting is covered." On June 2, Farmer spoke with several business owners in Columbia who also suffered damage during rioting in that city. He told them they should learn what is included in their policy by talking to their agent, insurance company, or the Department of Insurance, which plans to place information on its website for businesses hit by the violence.
|Washington Commissioner Urges Businesses Damaged During Protests to File Claims ASAP|
|Insurance Journal (06/03/20)|
Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler advises business owners who have experienced damage during protests to contact their insurance companies as soon as possible. Damage to businesses and commercial properties caused by theft and vandalism, including fires, should be covered under their commercial property insurance policy. However, Kreidler's office notes that the only exception would be if the policy specifically excludes that type of loss. Further, damage to plate glass windows may require separate coverage, depending on the language in each policy. Businesses that have been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus outbreak are not considered vacant under the terms of an insurance policy. In addition, Kreidler notes that damage caused during a protest should not be considered a "war and military action," and says businesses should contact their insurer if they plan to file a claim. They should consider retaining professional help to clean up debris and secure the property to protect it from further damage, and Kreidler's office says that many commercial insurance policies will reimburse businesses for these costs.
|Deputy Insurance Commissioner on Civil Unrest Claims|
|KFBK News Radio (06/03/20) O'Neal, Kitty|
California Deputy Insurance Commissioner Tony Cignarale recently talked with KFBK News Radio about insurance claims for civil unrest. Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara will join business and legislative leaders in tele-town halls addressing civil unrest and insurance resources available to small businesses during this difficult time. Lara will discuss Department of Insurance actions to assist small businesses recovering from the COVID-19 crisis and damage sustained following demonstrations over the death of George Floyd. In addition, the department has posted a fact sheet for small businesses affected by civil unrest on its website.
|Opinion: Info, Testing, Teamwork Key to Defeating Virus|
|Atlanta Journal-Constitution (06/03/20) King, John|
Georgia Insurance Commissioner John King writes that education and information are key components needed to stop the spread of coronavirus. In May, Gov. Brian Kemp set a goal that each person in Georgia should be tested for the coronavirus. To achieve this goal, Georgia has received help through state agencies, universities, public-private partnerships, and an ever-growing number of companies dedicating their resources to the effort. Augusta University (AU) recently partnered with Sharecare, the State Health Benefits Plan's official wellness provider, to integrate its digital platforms with the AU ExpressCare app to disseminate testing information and screenings to the more than 400,000 employees of the state health plan. King says, "I am honored to continue to serve alongside Gov. Kemp on the Coronavirus Task Force and lead the Emergency Preparedness Committee against the coronavirus. Georgia is on the mend, but information, proper reaction, and ongoing testing will the help bring Georgia back to the thriving state we are." Related Story: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (blog)
|Auditor Advises Steps to Take After Storm Damage|
|Daily Inter Lake (MT) (06/03/20)|
Montana Insurance Commissioner and State Auditor Matt Rosendale says people in the state need to be vigilant following recent storms that brought strong winds and damaged properties in Northwest Montana. He says, "Folks need to take steps immediately to document storm damage and be on the lookout for storm chasers. Work with your insurance company to get the claims process started and make sure you have a reputable contractor or auto body shop. My office is available to answer questions and assist with any insurance-related problems after these severe storms." It is essential for homeowners to take the right steps from the beginning to prevent larger problems down the road. For instance, they are advised to verify that the contractor they are considering is registered to do business in Montana, has workers' compensation insurance and liability insurance, and is bonded. Homeowners should not hand over Power of Attorney or responsibility for settling the insurance claim.
|Insurance Commissioner: Are You Ready for Hurricane Season£|
|KTBS Channel 3 (LA) (06/04/20)|
As hurricane season begins, Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon encourages people to review their current insurance so they know what is covered and what is not, along with the amount of deductible for a named storm. He also recommends taking pictures of every room in the house in case of a storm-related insurance claim. Only 25% of Louisiana residents have flood insurance, and it is important to note that flood insurance must be purchased 30 days before it takes effect. Related Story: KATC
|Health Insurers Offer Premium Discounts|
|Wall Street Journal (06/04/20) Mathews, Anna Wilde|
A rising number of health insurers are offering premium discounts as surgeries and other types of care decline because of the ongoing pandemic. Anthem, for instance, said it would provide $2.5 billion to customers, health care providers, and others in various forms. "We just feel like they need to give the consumer a break," says Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who says he asked health insurers in his state to consider consumer rate reductions. Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler notes that health insurers are "not paying out much in the way of claims and have an awful lot of premiums coming in. This is one where I think insurers have a real moral responsibility." Larry Levitt at the Kaiser Family Foundation points out that by granting premium credits, health insurers are likely reducing rebates that they could end up owing to consumers under the Affordable Care Act.
|Insurance Coverage for Losses Caused by Riots, Civil Commotion, and Vandalism|
|South Carolina Department of Insurance (06/03/20)|
The South Carolina Department of Insurance (SCDOI) would like to provide consumers and business owners with information on insurance coverage for losses caused by riots, civil commotion, and vandalism. South Carolina law defines a riot as a tumultuous disturbance of the peace by three or more persons assembled together on their own authority, with the intent to assist each other against anyone who should oppose them and putting their design into execution in a terrific and violent manner, whether the object was lawful or not. A civil commotion is similar to a riot but it involves more people. It is a revolt by a large gathering of people in a public place. Riot and civil commotion can be difficult to differentiate so the perils are often listed together. Vandalism refers to the intentional destruction of another party's property. Generally speaking, many property insurance policies and comprehensive auto insurance coverage provide coverage for damages caused by riots, civil commotion, or vandalism. The SCDOI urges policyholders to read and review their polices to fully understand what is covered and what type of insurance they have.
|Hurricane Season Is Here: Review Your Insurance Coverage Now|
|Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (06/03/20)|
With the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation reminds Floridians to review their insurance policies and coverage now. "I urge all Floridians to review their insurance policy now and be prepared this hurricane season. It's also important to know that most homeowners insurance policies do not include flood coverage. Consumers should reach out now to their agent or insurer to make sure they have the coverage they need," said Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier. "My office has been actively planning for the 2020 hurricane season. As we consider social distancing and other important safety measures in response to COVID-19, we are encouraging insurers to identify new ways of doing business, such as deploying virtual claims handling, to protect consumers. It will always be my expectation that insurers clearly communicate with policyholders and provide prompt, efficient, and fair claims adjustment service."
|Minnesota Department of Commerce and Department of Health Warn Minnesotans of COVID-19 Contact Tracing Scam|
|Minnesota Department of Commerce (05/29/20)|
The Minnesota Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Department of Health warn Minnesotans to be on alert for text scams related to contact tracing of COVID-19. Public health workers conducting contact tracing initially will reach out to people by phone. However, in recent weeks there have been reports of scammers impersonating public health workers. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are sending texts that tell the recipient that someone with whom they had contact has tested positive, and to click a link for more information. Depending on the specific attack, by clicking on the link, the victim could be prompted to download unwanted software that can access data on their phone, or they may be directed to a site that tries to trick them into revealing sensitive information like their Social Security number, bank information, passwords, or medical information. "As testing expands and more people are diagnosed with COVID-19, contact tracing efforts are providing an opportunity for scammers to try and defraud Minnesotans," said Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley.
|Commissioner Extends Emergency Order to July 3 for Waiving Deductibles and Copays for Coronavirus Testing|
|Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner (06/03/20)|
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler extended his emergency order to Washington state health insurers for an additional 30 days, requiring them to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for coronavirus (COVID-19). Insurers also must continue allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs and suspending any prior authorization requirement for treatment or testing of COVID-19. In addition, if an insurer does not have enough medical providers in its network to provide testing or treatment for COVID-19, it must allow enrollees to be treated by another provider within a reasonable distance at no additional cost. The extension is effective immediately and applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term limited duration medical plans until July 3. "Consumers are rightly concerned about prevention, testing, and possible treatment," Kreidler said. "My emergency order provides guidance to health insurers and should help reassure the public that we will take all necessary steps to protect them." Kreidler urged state residents without health insurance to contact the Washington Health Benefit Exchange to determine if they qualify for free health coverage or a special enrollment for individual health insurance.
|DFS and France ACPR Sign MOU to Boost International FinTech Cooperation|
|New York State Department of Financial Services (06/03/20)|
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with France's Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR) to ease entry for FinTech innovators into the New York and French markets, furthering New York and France as innovation hubs for financial services technology. DFS is the first U.S. financial services regulator to sign a MOU with the ACPR. The agreement was signed by DFS Superintendent Linda A. Lacewell and Governor of the Banque de France and ACPR Chairman François Villeroy de Galhau. "DFS is pleased to partner with our French regulatory counterparts through this signed agreement," said Lacewell. "This will foster collaboration to support cross-border FinTech developments, providing entrepreneurs speed to market opportunities in New York and France, while upholding robust consumer protection." DFS and ACPR will refer FinTech innovators to each other, which can improve speed to market; exchange information about regulatory and policy issues; ensure that innovators in each other's jurisdiction receive equivalent levels of support; and share regulatory and supervisory expertise and best practices.
|Fed Promised to Buy Bonds but Is Finding Few Takers|
|Wall Street Journal (06/03/20) Wirz, Matt|
The U.S. Federal Reserve thawed credit markets in March by promising a program to buy corporate bonds. Just the announcement of the backstop ended panic selling, boosted prices, and fueled a record surge of new corporate-bond sales. Companies are now reluctant to sign up for Fed purchases because such a move could be seen as a sign of weakness during a market rebound, some bond fund managers and bank executives said. The central bank, however, has yet to officially launch the initiative, which enables it to buy limited amounts of new and preexisting bonds of companies, in part because it is hashing out the technical details. The Fed indirectly bolstered corporate-bond prices in May by purchasing $3 billion in shares of exchange-traded bond funds, but that is a fraction of the up to $750 billion earmarked for corporate debt purchases. The program should be "ready to go by the end of this month," said Fed Chairman Jerome Powell in Senate testimony in May.
|Private Insurance Telehealth Claims Grow by 4,347%|
|Health Leaders Media (06/03/20) Roth, Mandy|
According to a FAIR Health report, there has been a dramatic increase (4,347%) in private telehealth insurance claims across the United States, including a 15,503% increase in the Northeast in March. Mental health conditions were the leading reason patients used telehealth, followed by acute respiratory diseases and infections, joint/soft tissue diseases and issues, and hypertension. As the pandemic hit, health systems and providers ramped up their telehealth services to reduce the risk of disease transmission from in-person visits and continue providing care to patients who need it. The report indicates that total telehealth claim lines volume rose from 0.17% in March 2019 to 7.52% in March 2020. Although not as dramatic, increases were seen in all other regions, led by a 3,427% increase in telehealth claim lines growth in the South, 2,842% in the Midwest, and 1,986% in the West.
|Insurers Face New Wave of COVID-19 Litigation as U.S. Economy Cracks Open, Observers Say|
|BestWire (06/02/20) Klimko, Frank|
Insurers already flooded with a barrage of coronavirus business interruption litigation will probably face a continuing blitz of new lawsuits — likely through the commercial general liability, surety, and trade credit sectors — as the U.S. economy reopens, market observers said. "We are entering a very dangerous period with respect to broad-based litigation, potentially involving almost every segment of the American economy," said Robert Hartwig, director of the Center for Risk and Uncertainty Management at the Darla Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina. "It's a dangerous period because the potential litigation is unprecedented in scale and scope." More than 2,295 state and federal lawsuits have been filed over COVID-19, including 374 dealing with insurance matters, as of May 27, according to Hunton Andrews Kurth, a law firm tracking the cases. Most of the insurance cases are for business interruption claims. Observers doubt any new litigation surge will match the depth of the business interruption lawsuits, but a coming wave of legal challenges will nevertheless be substantial.
|Warning of 'Green Swan' Risks, Climate Group Ceres and Bipartisan Supporters Lay Out 50-Step Plan for Markets and Regulators|
|MarketWatch (06/01/20) Beals, Rachel Koning|
According to a recent Ceres report, the United States has sustained more than $1.775 trillion in costs from more than 265 climate-related extreme weather events since 1980 by some measures, and more than $500 billion in economic losses between 2015 and 2019. U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), co-chair and co-founder of the Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change and the bipartisan Senate Oceans Caucus, joined California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and other stakeholders to promote the report's findings. The report recommends that financial regulators affirm climate change as a systemic threat to capital markets and conduct research to determine how it impacts the aspects of the economy they're responsible for safeguarding; ensure that supervised entities like banks and insurers operate in a way that plans for climate change and its impacts; mandate the consistent, comparable, reliable, and decision-useful climate risk disclosure; and coordinate and share findings on how to better understand and address the intersecting ways climate change relates to their respective mandates.
|Ecoroofs, Bioswales, Water Gardens: Cities Get Creative to Tame Stormwater Floods|
|Insurance Journal (06/01/20) McConnaughey, Janet|
New Orleans has used canals and pumps to keep stormwater out of the city, but now the city is spending $270 million to create spaces for rainwater, including a water garden on a 25-acre site. The city also plans to install underground holding tanks, porous pavement, and other measures to reduce storm flooding and stress on huge pumps built in the 1910s. Hurricane season has begun, and while hurricanes can devastate the area, smaller storms can also overwhelm storm drainage. Cities around the nation are taking creative steps to reduce flooding as climate change continues to intensify hurricanes and other storms, and rising sea levels elevate groundwater levels in coastal communities. Other techniques include planting trees and digging lagoons in wide roadway medians, requiring greenery-covered "ecoroofs" on some buildings, and returning regularly flooded neighborhoods to natural areas.