California — Lara’s New Fire Insurance Regulations: Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced new regulations intended to improve wildfire safety and drive down the cost of insurance for homeowners and businesses. Under the proposed regulations, which could be in effect by this summer, insurance companies would be required to factor consumers’ and businesses’ wildfire safety actions into their pricing of residential and commercial coverage. The new regulations also will provide consumers with transparency about their “wildfire risk score” that insurance companies assign to properties. These regulations address complaints Commissioner Lara heard from many consumers and businesses across the state that insurance companies are unwilling to account for steps taken to harden their properties and communities against wildfire, lowering their risk of loss and damage.
“With more Californians rolling up their sleeves and reaching into their own pockets to protect their homes and businesses, insurance pricing must reflect their efforts,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “Holding insurance companies accountable for accurately rating wildfire risk in the premiums they charge Californians will help save lives and reduce losses. My new regulations will help encourage a competitive insurance market for all by putting safety first and driving down costs for consumers.”
The announced regulations incorporate the new “Safer from Wildfires” framework, a list of achievable, expert-endorsed actions that will help save lives and reduce risk for property owners. Commissioner Lara unveiled the Safer from Wildfires framework with state emergency leaders on February 14, marking the first time that state agencies have been brought together to identify a common insurance framework of mitigation actions for existing homes and businesses.
By requiring insurance companies to utilize the Safer from Wildfires framework in their pricing for insurance, Commissioner Lara is sending a strong signal to consumers about the need to better prepare for extreme wildfires – which will lead to a more competitive market for all California residents and businesses. Specifically, the regulations will require insurance companies to comply with Proposition 103, passed by voters in 1988 to give the Insurance Commissioner authority to approve rates set by insurance companies, by incorporating the new framework in “wildfire risk scores” that insurance companies commonly use to rate individual and commercial properties.
In community meetings and town halls that Commissioner Lara held across California before the pandemic and in his virtual investigatory wildfire hearing in October 2020, consumers described taking action to protect their homes – often at the cost of thousands of dollars out of pocket – while many insurance companies simply declined to recognize the value of these actions. Still other insurance companies assigned opaque wildfire risk scores to increase the price of insurance for a given property. Consumers rarely know their property’s wildfire risk scores let alone how to improve them, even though these scores are a critical factor in many insurance companies’ decisions about how much to charge for insurance.
These regulations will help Commissioner Lara increase consumer discounts that insurance companies offer for safer homes and businesses, which has been a major focus of his comprehensive strategy to reduce the growing threat of wildfires. Currently, 17 insurance companies representing 40 percent of the insurance marketplace have answered Commissioner Lara’s call to offer discounts, up from just 7 percent of the market when Commissioner Lara took office three years ago, demonstrating expanding options for consumers. View the list of insurance companies currently offering discounts at the Department of Insurance website.
These regulations also increases transparency by providing an opportunity for consumers and businesses to review their property’s risk score or other factors used in pricing for accuracy based on mitigation work they have undertaken. Consumers and businesses will be able to appeal scores or other factors insurance companies use to assess wildfire risk.
Fire chiefs and consumer advocates joined Commissioner Lara in calling for increased wildfire safety efforts.
“By rewarding homeowners and businesses for the wildfire safety actions they take, these regulations will be a huge assist to our efforts to prevent the severe loss of life and property from wildfires like we saw in the devastating Thomas Fire and debris flow that followed,” said Montecito Fire Chief Kevin Taylor, who testified at the investigatory hearing the Department of Insurance held in October 2020. “I am glad to see the state supporting local communities like ours with wildfire safety programs like this.”
“This is the most significant, concrete step forward on wildfire safety that brings all of the pieces together to help Californians maintain and obtain high quality insurance at a reasonable cost,” said Novato Fire District Chief Bill Tyler, who also testified at the investigatory hearing. “This helps people take back control over their risk by having insurance companies recognize their efforts.”
“Now that experts concur and the Safer from Wildfires framework has been established, we need regulations to ensure that consistent and clear rewards will be in place to incentivize and accomplish wildfire risk reduction at the parcel and community level,” said Amy Bach, United Policyholders’ Executive Director and architect of the Wildfire Risk Reduction and Asset Protection (WRAP) working group that contributed to the Safer from Wildfires framework. “United Policyholders commends Commissioner Lara for this important progress.”
“California’s farmers, ranchers and agriculture communities are very appreciative of Commissioner Lara’s work to create an insurance framework we can all use to make our businesses safer from wildfires,” said Jamie Johansson, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation. “By pricing insurance to recognize farmers’ wildfire safety efforts, these regulations will help drive insurance companies to better support our agriculture sector, which is not only critical to our state but to our entire country.”
The Department of Insurance invites the public to testify on the new regulations at a hearing on April 13 or in writing.
Source link: California Department of Insurance — https://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/0100-press-releases/2022/release019-2022.cfm
California — FAIR Plan has New President: California’s FAIR Plan executive committee has made Victoria Roach the association’s new president. She took office on March 1st and has been on the board since 2019. Roach served as the vice president of business operations.
She is replacing Anneliese Jivan who is retiring.
Roach’s experience in insurance spans 30 years. She has been in underwriting, human resources and technology. At one time Roach worked at Farmers Insurance as the director of underwriting and the director of product management.
Source link: Insurance Journal —https://bit.ly/3pwbDkP
Oregon — The Oregon Division of Financial Regulation recently announced the following permanent rulemaking:
ID 1-2022: Behavioral health benefit reporting requirements, Or Laws 2021, ch 629
Rule affected: 836-053-1420
Rule Summary: Adopt to establish reporting of behavioral health benefits.
Rule affected: 836-053-1425
Rule Summary: Adopt definitions for behavioral health benefits reporting.
Rule affected: 836-053-1430
Rule Summary: Adopt form and manner for behavioral health benefits reporting.
Filed: February 11, 2022
Effective: February 15, 2022
For more information on this recently adopted rule, please visit the division’s website:
Oregon — Updated Product Standards Health, Life, Annuities and PC should pay attention to this updated Product Standards.
Current forms list has been added to our website:
440-3637 Changes to Business Operations
Name changes or demutualization,
Discontinuing a PC Line or type of product,
440-4872 Individual and Small Group Health Benefit Plan Rates
This e-notify was distributed to the following groups:
● Product Standards updates
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Washington — Health care costs in Washington grew 13% between 2016-2019: A new analysis from Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) shows health care costs for the commercial health insurance market increased 13% between 2016 and 2019 at the same time the consumer price index rose 7%.
“For years, we’ve seen the cost of health care grow, especially with advances in technology and prescription drugs,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “These increases have impacted how much people pay for their health insurance. We need to get a handle on what’s driving costs if we want to address the issue and help lower health insurance premiums. This report helps us take a much closer look at what’s behind health care cost increases and understand whether it’s the use of health care services or their price that is contributing more to the growth in costs.”
Using claims data from Washington’s All-Payer Claims Database, Kreidler’s analysis looked at two key areas: How much health care was used and the price of each claim.
Source link: https://bit.ly/3vt0aGq
Washington — Kreidler extends emergency order on coronavirus testing and surprise billing to March 29: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has extended two emergency orders. His order requiring health insurers to waive copays and deductibles for any consumer requiring testing for the coronavirus (COVID-19) and his order protecting consumers from receiving surprise bills for lab fees related to medically necessary diagnostic testing for COVID-19 are both extended until March 29.
Kreidler’s order waiving cost-sharing applies to all state-regulated health insurance plans and short-term, limited-duration medical plans. The order on surprise billing applies to both in-state and out-of-state laboratories when a provider orders diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
Also, insurers must continue:
Allowing a one-time early refill for prescription drugs.
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.
“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 is using powers granted to him following the statewide emergency that Gov. Jay Inslee declared to protect Washington residents against the spread of the coronavirus.
When the governor issues an emergency proclamation, the commissioner can issue an emergency order related to health care coverage to ensure access to care. The order can be extended by the commissioner for 30 days at a time as long as the governor’s emergency proclamation remains in effect.
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