Action Ordered to Protect Highmark Medicare Supplement Consumers

Series of changes come after reports of Highmark premium notice errors

Dozens of complaints have been registered with the Delaware Department of Insurance after Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield processed hundreds of customer birthdates incorrectly, leading to notices of higher July 1 premiums for many Medicare Supplement participants, including those in the company’s Medigap Blue Plan. Department staff have taken action to ensure that these errors are corrected, and impacted consumers will be notified. Additionally, the company has agreed to reduce their July 1 rate increase significantly.

“Medicare Supplement customers should continue to feel secure knowing that the Department of Insurance is working to ensure this problem is corrected quickly,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “As we worked to resolve this issue with Highmark, the company has also agreed to cut its average premium increase in half due to the reduction in claims activity throughout the coronavirus pandemic.”

Initially pursued prior to the advent of COVID-19, Highmark planned to increase Medicare Supplement premiums an average of 7.2%, the first increase on these plans in several years. The increase was justified for a normal plan year by independent actuaries, but the Department of Insurance and Highmark agree that due to the pandemic, these estimates no longer apply due to low utilization and fewer claims being paid by the company. Highmark has agreed to reduce the premium increase to an average of 3.5%. Consumers can expect to receive additional information in the mail.

The Department of Insurance Market Conduct investigators are monitoring the resolution of this issue, will work with the company to explore the causes of the error as well as any other instances that it may have occurred, and will review measures taken to prevent billing issues in the future.

Medicare Supplement plan premiums are, in part, based on the age of the participant. While the department has not approved a rate increase for Highmark’s plan in several years, participants may have had premium adjustments due to their birthday. These age-based increases are generally very low, are included in the consumer’s policy, and are not reviewed by the department. An error in the birthdate of a consumer can result in an increase, as occurred within the Highmark plan. Plan participants are urged to review the date of birth that is recorded with their insurer.

Contact the Delaware Department of Insurance Consumer Services team to report insurance issues by visiting insurance.delaware.gov, emailing consumer@delaware.gov, or calling (302) 674-7300.


Reduced Driving Leads to Rebates, Reimbursements, Reduced Insurance Rates

This page updated May 7, 2020.

The Delaware Department of Insurance today released a list of consumer-friendly automobile insurer actions that are being implemented due to reduced vehicle use throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As filed with the department, these actions represent millions of dollars being returned to or saved by policyholders throughout the state.

The following list may not be inclusive and may be updated online. The commitments below apply to only personal automobile insurance policies. Customer eligibility requirements may exist. Residents should direct questions about specific commitments to the insurer.

  • AIPSO: Providing rate relief through a 15% credit on April and May premiums or a 15% refund for customers already paid in full.
  • Allstate: Issuing refunds equal to 15% of March and April auto premiums. A total of 19,155 Delaware Allstate customers will be refunded well over $1 million.
  • American Family: Distributing a one-time check payment of $50.00 per covered vehicle.
  • American National: Providing premium relief equal to a 15% credit of April and May premium.
  • Amica Mutual: Crediting 20% of the policyholder’s monthly auto premium.
  • Bakers Standard: Applying a one-time 6% credit to the premium of auto policies renewing between October 1, 2020 and October 1, 2021.
  • Chubb: Renewing customers will receive a discount equal to 35% of their April and May costs, an estimated $110 per vehicle. A one-time 6% credit will be applied to the premium for auto policies renewing between August 11, 2020 and August 11, 2021.
  • Cincinnati Insurance: Refunding policyholders 15% of their April and May premium.
  • Electric Insurance: Distributing a payback equal to 15% of three months of the policyholder’s premium, an estimated $72 per policy.
  • Encompass: Issuing refunds of 15% of March and April auto premiums. Approximately 2,835 Delaware Encompass customers will be refunded about $168,882.
  • Esurance: Issuing refunds equal to 15% of March and April auto premiums.
  • Farm Family: Providing premium relief equal to a 15% credit of April and May premium.
  • Farmers: Discounting April premiums by 25% discount or providing 25% refunds to customers already paid in full.
  • GEICO: The GEICO Giveback Credit will discount renewed or newly purchased policies between April 8 and October 7, 2020 by 15%. Customers can expect to save an average of $150 on their next auto policy and $30 per motorcycle policy.
  • Goodville Mutual: Issuing a Safe@home premium credit of 15% on two months of new or renewal premium. Members can choose to waive their credit and request that it be donated to local food banks, first responders, or international relief. Goodville Mutual will match donated funds up to $100,000.
  • Hartford: The COVID-19 Personal Auto Payback Plan will credit customers 15% of April and May auto premiums.
  • Horace Mann: The Teacher Appreciation Relief Program will credit customers 15% of two months of premiums.
  • Integon Indemnity: Issuing a 15% credit on April premiums.
  • Liberty Mutual: Providing a 15% refund on two months of annual premiums.
  • Mercury: Refunding 15% of monthly premiums paid in April and May.
  • MetLife: Crediting 15% of monthly premiums paid in April and May.
  • Nationwide: Applying a one-time payment of $50.00 to each policy.
  • Next Insurance: Discounting April premiums by 25%.
  • NGM Insurance: Distributing a Relief Payment of $50.00 per each insured vehicle. In Delaware, approximately 899 private passenger vehicles insured will generate a total refund of $44,950.
  • Progressive: Crediting back 20% of April and May premiums.
  • State Farm Fire and Casualty Company: Distributing a credit equal to 27.5% of a policyholder’s premium from March 20 to May 31, 2020.
  • State Farm Mutual: The Good Neighbor Relief Program will distribute a dividend of approximately 27.5% of premium from March 20 to May 31, 2020.
  • Travelers: The Stay-at-Home Auto Premium Credit Program will issue a credit of 15% to April and May premiums.
  • USAA: Crediting approximately 20% on three months of premiums.
  • 21st Century Insurance: Discounting April premiums by 25% discount, or providing 25% refunds to customers paid in full.

Individuals who are experiencing financial hardship due to income changes related to COVID-19 and are unable to pay their premium should contact their insurance company to discuss assistance. Delaware’s insurance carriers are required to freeze cancellations and nonrenewal of policies that might have otherwise occurred due to non-payment of premiums through the duration of the Delaware state of emergency for individuals who have been laid off or fired due to the state of emergency.

Residents may be using personal vehicles to augment income through commercial use, such as delivering food or other goods. At the request of Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, many auto insurers are temporarily allowing this activity. Residents are encouraged to review their insurance company’s COVID-19 policies prior to beginning to provide delivery services.

Have questions about insurance and COVID-19? Visit the Delaware Department of Insurance FAQ page.

If you are an insurer who would like to provide or modify information included in this list, or on our FAQ page, please email Christina.Haas@Delaware.Gov.

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Consumer-Friendly Auto Insurer Actions Will Give Residents More Than $1.5 Million

Premium paybacks, elimination of commercial exemptions during COVID-19 praised by Commissioner Trinidad Navarro

Automobile insurers in Delaware are taking a number of consumer-friendly actions in light of COVID-19, the Delaware Department of Insurance announced today. On Monday, Allstate announced it would embark on a premium payback program resulting in $1.5 million going back to Delaware residents. Multiple insurers have also temporarily removed their commercial use exemptions on their private passenger automobile plans to allow policyholders to comfortably gain income as delivery drivers using their personal vehicles, putting income into the pockets of thousands of eligible residents.

“As we all do our part to stay home and flatten the curve, our vehicles aren’t being used, and it makes sense for premiums to decrease or be paid back as fewer auto accidents and issues occur. Allstate’s implementation of a premium payback should be seen as a model for auto insurers serving Delawareans, and residents across the country,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, adding, “I urge all auto insurers to be responsive to the COVID-19 crisis and enact consumer-friendly policies like these.”

Allstate announced Monday that they will file an endorsement to enact a shelter-in-place payback that will distribute more than $600 million to their personal auto insurance customers nationwide, including $1.5 million to Delaware residents. Paybacks will equal 15% of a customer’s March and April premiums, payable in April and May respectively.

“It’s no secret that fewer cars are on the road,” Allstate stated, “With costs going down, Allstate is working to do what’s right for policyholders…We are trying to respond quickly and decisively to get money to customers when they need it most – now.”

The company has also offered a special payment plan for individuals facing financial hardship and is offering Allstate Identity Protection to all residents through the end of the year to combat the rise of COVID-19-related scams. Allstate has extended coverage for customers using personal vehicles to deliver food and supplies during the COVID-19 crisis, a recommendation of the Delaware Department of Insurance.

In an April 1 Bulletin to Insurers, the department encouraged companies remove a typically-seen commercial use exemption from their auto insurance policies throughout the pandemic to allow residents to gain income from delivering goods using their personal vehicles. Insurers including Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, Progressive, State Farm, and USAA have taken this action. Residents are encouraged to check their auto insurance company COVID-19 policies before beginning to provide delivery services. While encouraging insurers to take these steps, the department is waiving notice filing fees and has committed to reviewing provided notices within 24 hours of submission.

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Commissioner Navarro Statement on Sixth Modification to State of Emergency

In consultation with the Delaware Department of Insurance, Governor John Carney today issued a sixth modification to the state of emergency that requires that insurers cease cancellations or nonrenewals of insurance policies due to nonpayment throughout the duration of the declared Delaware State of Emergency for those residents and business owners who are experiencing a loss of income. In declaring a Public Health Emergency earlier this week, the Governor specified that health insurers are to waive all prior authorization constraints for lab testing and future treatment of COVID-19. Commissioner Navarro previously recommended insurers take these actions in a bulletin to the industry.

“We are grateful for Governor John Carney’s leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether it is ensuring care without delay by removing prior authorizations in the short-term, or limiting the long-term effects of the virus’s economic impact by helping people keep their insurance, this thoughtful, detailed approach is just what our state needs,” said Commissioner Navarro.

Delaware’s insurance carriers will freeze cancellations and nonrenewal of policies that might have otherwise occurred due to delays in payments through the duration of the state of emergency for individuals who have been laid off or fired due to the state of emergency or organizations who have had to close or significantly reduce business. A carrier would now be required to seek a court order before they could cancel or nonrenew any health, life, disability, property, auto, and commercial/business insurance policies.

In addition to the immediate assistance, this action helps to reduce the long-term impact of the virus on insurance, because if policies were not renewed or were cancelled, it could have hindered future insurance policy approvals or increased premium costs for those individuals and businesses due to the cancellation or nonrenewal creating a lapse of insurance.

Read the Governor’s Emergency Declaration


New Bulletin Provides Recommendations to Insurers During COVID-19

Insurers asked to waive prior authorization requirements, cease cancellations and nonrenewals due to missed or delayed payments

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro and the Delaware Department of Insurance today issued a bulletin with recommended actions for the insurance industry. Requests included asking health insurers waive all prior authorization constraints for lab testing and future treatment of COVID-19, and that insurers consider ceasing cancellations or nonrenewals of insurance policies due to nonpayment throughout the duration of the declared Delaware State of Emergency.

“The insurance industry has the opportunity to help tens of thousands of Delaware residents, businesses, and healthcare providers during this state of emergency,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “Waiving prior authorization requirements would help the entire healthcare system to run more efficiently and allow providers to focus on patient outcomes rather than paperwork.”

Prior authorization is a process that requires certain tests, medications, or other health services to be pre-approved by an insurance company before a medical provider serves an insured consumer, which can at times result in delays. Should prior-authorization be voluntarily waived by insurers, that would not mean that residents should not be in contact with their primary care provider prior to visiting a COVID-19 testing site.

The bulletin also asked insurance carriers to voluntarily freeze cancellations and nonrenewals of policies that might have otherwise occurred due to delays in payments through the duration of the state of emergency.

“Throughout Delaware’s State of Emergency, many companies have had to close or reduce their business, and employees have been laid off or fired as a result,” Commissioner Navarro explained. “After hearing from businesses and residents who were concerned about the choices they will have to make with limited finances, we ask insurers to help alleviate some of that stress and ensure that residents and business owners in this difficult situation can have the peace of mind that insurance provides throughout the duration of the emergency.”

Business interruption coverage will vary policy to policy, and some business interruption coverage may explicitly exclude viral infections. Companies are urged to review their related insurance policies and contact their insurance company with questions about coverage. Hospitality small businesses and nonprofits may be able to apply for no-interest loans from the Division of Small Business Hospitality Emergency Loan Program (HELP). Organizations can receive a $10,000 maximum loan per month for rent, utilities, and other unavoidable, non-personnel bills.

On March 18, Governor Carney’s updated State of Emergency Declaration waived certain telemedicine regulations to expand access to these services. The Governor clarified that residents do not need to see a provider in-person before receiving telemedicine services, and that if a Delaware resident is out-of-state, they can still receive telemedicine services. To increase availability of these services, out-of-state providers who are licensed to provide telemedicine in other jurisdictions will also be able to serve Delaware residents through the duration of the emergency declaration. Telehealth and telemedicine can be provided via phone, webcam, facetime, and a myriad of other easily accessible options, as the department recently reminded insurers via bulletin.

Department of Insurance March 20 Bulletin

National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s COVID-19 and Insurance Brief

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