Excessive Homeowners Insurance Increase Denied by Insurance Commissioner

DOVER, DE – A request by Windsor-Mount Joy Mutual Insurance Company (“WNMJ”) to increase insurance rates on over 2,000 manufactured housing policyholders by 20%-30% has been denied by Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. Many of these homeowners have already received premium increase notices from WNMJ effective March 15, 2017. Because of the Insurance Commissioner’s denial, those increases will not go into effect. For reasons set forth in his order, Commissioner Navarro has deemed the request excessive and unreasonable.

WNMJ’s requested increase would unfairly impact manufactured homeowners in one geographic region-Eastern Sussex County. After reviewing the request, Commissioner Navarro found the request to be unreasonable. The Department of Insurance subsequently hired an independent actuary to determine the fairness of the requested rate increase. After reviewing 1 0 years of claims files for the company, the Department contracted actuary concluded that this area, receiving the largest proposed increase, is also the area that has had the fewest claims. The company’s cost for reinsurance and brokerage fees were also indicated as being higher than the industry average.

In response, Commissioner Navarro issued the following statement:

“As Insurance Commissioner, it is my duty to look out for and protect consumers. After our analysis, we believe it is unfair for a company to pass on its negotiable reinsurance costs and negotiable brokerage fees to its policyholders by increasing their rates.

At this point, there are several routes we can take. WNMJ can either negotiate a better rate for consumers, or file for a public hearing on this matter. That decision will be forthcoming.

When I ran for this position, I promised to thoroughly review and deny any requests for rate increases that I deem to be excessive. I have already negotiated lower rate increases in other cases, however, this is the first that I have had to outright deny. In the future, I will not hesitate to apply strict standards and scrutiny to any rate filing. I will also continue to deny any request for rate increase that I find excessive.”

View PDF (see page 2 of 2): windsor-mt-joy-rate-denial

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Contact: Vince Ryan

Office: 302-674-7303

Mobile: 302-387-7670

vince.ryan@delaware.gov


Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Period Ends January 31; See Plan Options and Enroll at Healthcare.gov

Dover, DE-The open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace ends on January 31, 2017. If you qualify for coverage through the Marketplace, tomorrow is the last day you will be able to sign up for a health insurance plan for 2017. In previous years there has been a surge in website traffic and phone calls to sign up in the final days of the open enrollment period, sometimes causing the federal government to issue extensions. No extensions are expected to be issued this year so consumers need to sign up now if they want to be covered. “Eight out of ten uninsured Delawareans who were eligible for a Marketplace plan qualified for some level of financial assistance to help offset the cost of monthly premiums,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro.

Ready to enroll? Consumers can find more details about the various plans and their related premiums and deductibles, as well as any potential premium subsidies they may be eligible for www.healthcare.gov. Federal application counselors are also available to help with enrollment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling 1-800-318-2596. All of the plans sold on the federal marketplace meet the coverage standards and consumer protections mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“It is important for consumers to be cautious when shopping for health insurance coverage outside of the Marketplace, especially when looking for plans online,” said Commissioner Navarro. The Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division has received numerous complaints from members of the public who thought they had enrolled in an ACA-compliant plan only to learn that they had actually purchased a limited benefit plan. A limited benefit medical plan is not a comprehensive major medical plan, nor is it intended to replace a major medical plan.

After January 31, 2017, you cannot buy a health insurance plan for the rest of 2017 unless you have a qualifying life event—a change in your situation like having a baby, getting married, or losing other health coverage — which makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period. Once you have enrolled in a plan, check your mail for information from your insurance company. When a welcome packet has arrived or is delivered to your email inbox, be sure to read the information thoroughly and save everything in a secure place.

It is also very important that you pay your premium on time. If you fail to pay your monthly premiums then your insurance company can eventually cancel your policy. If your policy is cancelled due to non-payment you will likely not qualify for any other coverage until January 1, 2018.

“When you are shopping for health insurance coverage it is important to consider more than just the cost of the monthly premium alone,” said Commissioner Navarro. “Before you enroll in a plan make sure you know how much the deductible will be since deductibles on different plans can vary by thousands of dollars. It is also important to see what the plan will require you to contribute for co-pays or co-insurance,” he said. Need help understanding the words and terms used by the health insurance industry? Visit https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/ for simple definitions.

Small businesses can apply for SHOP coverage for their employees any time, all year. Simply click on the Small Business tab at the top of Healthcare.gov to get started.

For more information about health insurance visit www.choosehealthde.com or www.healthcare.gov.

Additional resources are available at insurance.delaware.gov. Consumers in Delaware who have insurance related issues or complaints may also contact the Delaware Department of Insurance Consumer Services Division at 1-800-282-8611.

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Contact: Vince Ryan

Office: (302) 674-7303

Mobile: (302) 387-7670

Vince.Ryan@delaware.gov

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Delaware Department of Insurance

http://www.insurance.delaware.gov

Dover Office: 302-674-7300

Consumer Services Division: 1-800-282-8611


Commissioner Navarro Opposes Delaware Compensation Commission Pay Raise Recommendations

DOVER, DE—In response to the Delaware Compensation Commission’s recommendation for pay raises for top state officials, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro issued the following statement:

“I am opposed to these pay raises. Our State is experiencing considerable budgetary and financial issues, including a potential $350 million shortfall. As such, it is not appropriate to consider such a measure. Moreover, it is unfair to the countless hardworking and dedicated state employees who have gone years without significant pay increases. I stand with Governor-elect Carney in pledging not to accept any pay raise if it is offered.”

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Contact:  Vince Ryan

(302) 674-7303


Commissioner Navarro Offers Cold Weather Safety & Insurance Tips

This winter, Delaware Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro is offering insurance and safety suggestions to Delawareans:

 Winter activities

If you’re traveling and ready to jump on a lift to take your board or skis down your favorite slope or get your ice skates laced up for the rink, check your homeowners or renters policy, as well as your health insurance, to ensure you know what to do in case of an accident or a loss.

Generally, equipment you own will be covered, up to a specific amount by your homeowners or renters policy. Check the limit in your policy and decide if that will be enough to replace damaged or stolen equipment. Remember to factor in your deductible. If you think you need more coverage, ask your insurance agent about an additional rider.

Another consideration is air ambulance rides if you’re skiing or snow-boarding in a remote location. Check out this Air Ambulance Alert for more information.

If you are out of town without access to your physician or local health care center, review your emergency medical treatment requirements:

  • Are you required to seek medical treatment at a certain hospital or urgent care center that is in your insurer’s network?
  • Will you have a copay?
  • If you need to fill a prescription, do you have to go to a certain pharmacy?

Make a list of these details and carry your insurance card with you when you travel.

 

Cold & flu season

Doctors’ offices are often crowded during the winter months, meaning you may have a time-consuming wait when seeking treatment for a sore throat or an earache. Your health insurance may offer alternatives. Ask whether your plan includes options such as phone or web consultations with health care professionals who can answer questions or provide remote diagnosis. Additionally, mini-med or urgent care centers may accept your health insurance and are likely more cost-effective than a trip to the ER. However, for any prolonged or acute illness, it is best to visit your doctor.

 

Snow plowing

If you plan to remove snow from your driveway with your own plow attached to your vehicle, your personal auto policy should cover your liability and any property damage you might cause. But before offering to help friends and family, read through your policy or talk with your auto insurance agent to make sure you are covered if something were to happen.

If you are using your plow to make a little extra cash this winter, your personal auto insurance policy will not likely provide coverage if an accident occurs. Ask your agent if an endorsement is available to add to your existing policy or if a commercial auto policy – one that includes coverage for plowing – makes sense before committing your services.

 

Snow removal at home

If you plan to remove snow from your driveway with your own plow attached to your vehicle, your personal auto policy should cover your liability and any property damage you might cause. But before offering to help friends and family, read through your policy or talk with your auto insurance agent to make sure you are covered if something were to happen.

If you are using your plow to make a little extra cash this winter, your personal auto insurance policy will not likely provide coverage if an accident occurs. Ask your agent if an endorsement is available to add to your existing policy or if a commercial auto policy – one that includes coverage for plowing – makes sense before committing your services.

 

Travel insurance

Traveling in the winter months can be full of surprises. Even if you’re traveling somewhere warm, bad weather can cause delays. To help mitigate the cost of rebooking a flight or an unexpected overnight stay, travel sites and airlines offer travel insurance that may cover unexpected delays or cancelations. Check out this Travel Insurance Consumer Alert for more information.
Travel insurance can cover everything from lost luggage to delays and cancellations. Make sure to closely read any policy you consider.

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Contact:  Vince Ryan

(302) 674-7303


Trinidad Navarro Sworn in as Delaware’s 26th Insurance Commissioner

Dover, DE—Former New Castle County Sheriff Trinidad Navarro was sworn in as Delaware’s 26th Insurance Commissioner by Senior Judge Rosalie Rutkowski in a ceremony at the Department of Insurance’s Dover offices on Tuesday, January 3, 2017. That swearing in was followed by Commissioner Navarro’s swearing in Mitch Crane, Esquire, of Lewes, as the Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

The ceremony was followed by an employee luncheon where Commissioner Navarro introduced his executive team and addressed the Department’s employees:

“I am honored to serve as Delaware’s Insurance Commissioner. There is much we need to accomplish for the consumer. I look forward to working with the staff, legislature, governor and industry to refocus the Department of Insurance’s priorities on the insurance consumer. We will work hard in the coming months and years to ensure a fair and affordable marketplace by ending discriminatory practices used in setting rates and holding the line on excessive costs that affect consumers and businesses.”

To learn more about Commissioner Navarro and the Delaware Department of Insurance, consumers are encouraged to visit the Department’s updated homepage at the new website URL insurance.delaware.gov.

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Contact: Vince Ryan

(302) 674-7303