California — 2023 Insurance Changes: The new laws address climate change, expand health access and reproductive care, preserve health protections, protect against fraud, and ensure public safety.
“Protecting consumers is my number one priority,” said Commissioner Lara. “Partnership with the Legislature and Governor Newsom is essential to my Department’s mission of bringing fairness for all in our oversight of the nation’s largest insurance market. I look forward to putting these eleven new laws into effect while taking further actions that benefit California consumers.”
New laws that start taking effect on January 1, 2023 include:
AB 2238, jointly authored by Assembly members Luz Rivas, Eduardo Garcia, and former Assembly member Cristina Garcia, directs the creation of a statewide extreme heat advance warning and ranking system based on climate and health impact information by the California Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the Department of Insurance and the Integrated Climate Adaption and Resiliency program in the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. This would be the nation’s first-ever extreme heat wave ranking system when it is finalized by January 1, 2025.
SB 852, authored by Senator Bill Dodd, authorizes the creation of Climate Resilience Districts statewide to help communities mitigate risk in advance of a disaster and promote recovery, a recommendation from the Department of Insurance’s first-ever climate insurance report that would improve access to insurance for all, so that we can better prepare ourselves from increasing climate change-related threats. Civic Well was also a co-sponsor to this measure.
AB 2134, jointly authored by Assembly member Dr. Akilah Weber and former Assembly member Cristina Garcia, establishes the “Reproductive Health Equity Program” to make available grants to providers who offer reproductive and sexual health care free of cost to patients with low incomes and those who lack health care coverage for reproductive health services, including consumers who come to California from other states that have decreased access to abortion care services. The grants afforded under AB 2134 are in addition to $40 million appropriated in the enacted 2022-23 State Budget to help cover these important health care services. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, NARAL Pro-Choice of California, Access Reproductive Justice, Essential Access Health, and the National Health Law Program were also co-sponsors to this measure.
AB 1823, authored by Assembly member Isaac Bryan, aligns the definition of student blanket policies that are purchased by colleges and universities with the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). This alignment is necessary to ensure state regulatory oversight and that consumer protections under the ACA are also applicable to these student health policies sold through a university or college to their enrolled students, including Dreamers and refugee students.
AB 2127, authored by Assembly member Miguel Santiago, is an important follow-up measure to Commissioner Lara’s previously sponsored “Parent Healthcare Act” last year, that would clarify and strengthen notice requirements for Medicare-eligible older adults who are seeking to be added as dependents to their adult child’s individual health insurance policy or health care service plan contract.
AB 2568, authored by former Assembly member Ken Cooley, creates a ”safe harbor” by stating that an individual or firm providing insurance or related services to a state legal cannabis business does not commit a crime under California law solely for providing that insurance or related service.
SB 972, authored by Senator Lena Gonzalez, brings thousands of entrepreneurial sidewalk food vendors into a more equitable and well-regulated food economy by updating the “Safe Sidewalk Vending Act,” which Commissioner Lara authored in 2018 as a member of the California State Senate to end the criminalization of sidewalk vending. Inclusive Action for the City, Public Counsel, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, the Community Power Collective, and the Western Center on Law and Poverty – all part of the California Street Vendor Campaign – were also co-sponsors to this measure.
SB 1040, authored by Senator Susan Rubio, authorizes the Insurance Commissioner to order restitution from persons who sell insurance without the necessary license from the Department of Insurance, including “extended vehicle warranties” sold illegally through robocalls and misappropriation of consumers’ and businesses’ premiums, among other insurance scams.
SB 1242, authored by the Senate Committee on Insurance, bolsters anti-insurance fraud efforts essential to protecting consumers from unnecessary economic loss by further clarifying agent-broker anti-fraud education requirements as well as the process by which alleged fraud is reported to the Department of Insurance, in addition to other consumer protection proposals.
New laws that start taking effect in July 2023 include:
AB 2205, authored by Assembly member Wendy Carrillo, requires health insurers and health plans offering coverage through Covered California to report annually to the Department of Insurance and the Department of Managed Health Care the total amount of abortion funds. This new law will require transparency and disclosure from health carriers to regulators regarding the amount of separate abortion premium payments that are being collected from policyholders and distributed as claims. As we consider options available for payment of abortion services, this new law will help regulators and policymakers identify available funds to support abortion patients in California. Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California and the National Health Law Program were also co-sponsors of this measure.
AB 2043, authored by Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer Sr., requires all bail fugitive recovery agents, commonly known as “bounty hunters,” to be licensed by the Department of Insurance to ensure that appropriate education and training requirements are met prior to licensure and that all applicants successfully pass fingerprint-based background checks, obtain an appointment from a licensed bail agent or surety insurer, and maintain a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy so that harmed consumers have an avenue to collect damages.
In addition to these new laws, in October, Commissioner Lara enforced the nation’s first wildfire safety regulation to help drive down the cost of insurance for Californians at risk of wildfires, further protecting vulnerable consumers across the state. Commissioner Lara’s regulation is the first in the nation requiring insurance companies to provide discounts to consumers under the Safer from Wildfires framework created by the Department of Insurance in partnership with state emergency preparedness agencies. The regulation is now state law and enshrined in the California Code of Regulations. Under the new regulation, insurance companies are required to make new rate filings including wildfire safety discounts and comply with new transparency measures starting in April 2023.
Oregon — The PIA Congratulates Chris Humphreys, CISR: Chris Humphreys works for Assured Partners of Oregon in Eugene. He earned his CISR in November of last year.
Chris said he is proud of this designation.
“I have been in the insurance industry for almost 6 years and currently work in the commercial lines department specializing in both Senior Living and Construction,” he said. “Earning the CISR designation represents my commitment to increasing my overall insurance knowledge to better serve my clients. I plan to pursue additional designations in the future to continue improving and learning.”
Chris lives in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy spending time with his wife and trying to keep up with their two-year-old son.
Oregon — Oregon FAIR Plan Association seeks a new executive director: Longtime Oregon FAIR Plan Association Executive Director Phil Benson is retiring in 2023 and the organization is looking for his replacement. The Oregon FAIR Plan Association is a nonprofit created by statute that is supported by all property insurance companies licensed to do business in Oregon.
The FAIR Plan operates much like a small insurance company, writing only property insurance for dwellings, commercial property, and farms. The FAIR Plan issues all policies out of its office and handles and investigates all reported losses with independent local adjusters.
While the executive director position is not a state position, the director works closely with Department of Consumer and Business Services (DCBS) Director and Insurance Commissioner Andrew Stolfi and is selected by the Oregon FAIR Plan’s Board of Directors in consultation with the commissioner.
The executive director will work closely with the FAIR Plan board, the insurance commissioner, and the Division of Financial Regulation, and will be responsible for the ongoing review and assessment of the insurance needs of people who are eligible for the Oregon FAIR Plan.
“We are grateful to Phil for his years of service in leading the FAIR Plan,” Stolfi said. “This is a significant position – one that is central to the agency’s wildfire response – and directly helps many Oregonians secure insurance coverage when they are not able to get it through the normal markets. We look forward to working with the FAIR Plan’s board in finding a great candidate to lead them into the future.”
The position will be responsible for leading the daily operations of the Oregon Fair Plan Association and works under the direction of the board of directors and its standing committees.
The FAIR Plan is looking for someone with at least 10 years of leadership and management experience with a property and casualty insurer and skills in management, public relations, and legislative communications.
For more information and to see the full job description, click here.
The salary range for this position is between $125,000 and $150,000. Submit resumes and cover letters by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline to apply is Jan. 13, 2023.
Washington — Sovereign Nations Insurance ordered to stop selling unauthorized health insurance in Washington: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has ordered Sovereign Nations Insurance, LLC, to stop selling unauthorized health insurance in the state of Washington.
The company has sold health insurance policies in Washington, though it does not have authorization from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to do so. The company also sells some insurance plans with pre-existing condition waiting periods, which is illegal in Washington (RCW 48.43.012).
“The products simply don’t meet the standards we’ve established to protect consumers in Washington,” Kreidler said. “Allowing the sale of these plans isn’t in the best interests of consumers or fair to the authorized insurers with plans that qualify under the Affordable Care Act.”
Washington — Implementation of E2SHB 1688 CR-103 R2022-02
Implementation of E2SHB 1688 (Chapter 263, Laws of 2022) – Balance Billing Protection Act & the No Surprises Act: We adopted the Implementation of E2SHB 1688 (Chapter 263, Laws of 2022) – Balance Billing Protection Act & the No Surprises Act rule (R2022-02) on December 19, 2022. The rule takes effect on January 19, 2023. Chapter 263, Laws of 2022 amends state law related to health carrier coverage of emergency services, the Balance Billing Protection Act and network access provisions for services subject to the balance billing prohibition under the BBPA. Rulemaking is necessary to review the Independent Review Organization rule at chapter 284-43A WAC, Balance Billing Protection Act rules at chapter 284-43B WAC and OIC network access rules at chapter 284-170 WAC to be consistent with the new law. The rule will facilitate implementation of the law by ensuring that all affected entities understand their rights and obligations under the new law.
For more information, including the adopted rule (CR-103) and the concise explanatory statement, please visit the rule’s webpage.
Washington — Kreidler issues $367,500 in fines for violations in October: Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued fines in November totaling $367,500 against insurance companies, producers, brokers, and individuals who violated state insurance laws and regulations.
Companies fined include Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington & Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options ($150,000); Aetna Life Insurance ($50,000); Providence Health Plan ($50,000 with $25,000 suspended); and Carnival Cruise Lines ($30,000).
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