PA Insurance Department Issues Notices to Regulated Entities to Urge Flexibility and Offer COVID-19 Outbreak Guidance

PA Insurance Department Issues Notices to Regulated Entities to Urge Flexibility and Offer COVID-19 Outbreak GuidanceInsurance Commissioner Jessica Altman (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

Harrisburg, PA — Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman announced that the Pennsylvania Insurance Department submitted to the Pennsylvania Bulletin notices to department-regulated entities, including insurers and insurance licensees, regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

The notices urge carriers to be flexible when assisting individuals and businesses affected by the outbreak, and offer guidance for continuing operations during the pandemic. These recommendations are being made to help mitigate the potential impact of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing challenging situations for all Pennsylvanians,” said Altman. “The department is urging all insurers to provide increased flexibility to assist those who may not be able to financially maintain their insurance plans, including through payment plans or extended grace periods. The insurance business is an essential one and we want our industry community to exercise discretion to ensure that operations continue as normal as possible as companies employ social distancing and remote workspaces to protect employees. Pennsylvania must be prepared to address this public health crisis, and we will continue to assess and make adjustments as necessary.”

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The notice was issued to department-regulated insurance companies to encourage flexibility for displaced Pennsylvanians who are no longer receiving regular salaries due to the outbreak mitigation efforts, thereby adversely affecting their ability to make timely payments for monetary obligations, including payments for insurance premiums.

Suggested assistance includes relaxing due dates for premiums payments, extending grace periods, waiving late fees and penalties, allowing payment plans for premiums payments, assisting affected policyholders to ensure that their insurance policies do not lapse, and a willingness to consider cancellation or non-renewal of policies only after exhausting other efforts to work with policyholders to continue coverage.

In addition, a second notice was issued to insurance licensees to temporarily suspend all in-person classroom education approved by the Pennsylvania Insurance Department and encourage all classroom courses to be offered via internet-based webinar format instead.

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To lessen the impact of these changes, the department is temporarily waiving CE requirements for licensees who cannot meet requirements due to extenuating circumstances related to COVID-19 and is similarly extending licensing renewal deadlines for impacted licensees.

Insurance companies were also notified that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the department may be limited in its ability to receive and process paper filings. To prevent disruption of business conducted by insurance companies and other licensees, the Office of Corporate and Financial Regulation will, for a limited time, accept filings electronically.

The insurance department is also requesting that any filings which are not immediately necessary be withdrawn and any filings which were to be made be held until further notice, to ensure that essential filings receive timely review.

The notices were drafted to help ease the hardships that are being felt by Pennsylvanians during this crisis and ensure minimum disruption to the department and commonwealth-regulated operations.

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The insurance department, in partnership with the Departments of Health and Human Services, developed an FAQ that provides information and answers to common questions related to insurance coverage and COVID-19.

For up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the PA Department of Health’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage that is updated daily.

If a consumer receives an unexpected bill related to COVID-19, or other healthcare services, they are encouraged to contact the department at 1-877-881-6388.

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