Life Insurance Policy Locator finds over $3.5 Million for Users

Over $1 million claimed by Delaware residents in 2019, More than $400,000 in early 2020

The Delaware Department of Insurance has released new data about local use of the Life Insurance Policy Locator, a free tool offered in conjunction with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). In total, 1,116 requests have been submitted, and 387 matches have been reported since the tool’s implementation – a match rate of nearly 35%. Throughout Delaware’s use of the tool, a total of $3,504,850 has been claimed by beneficiaries through located policies, and $1,071,516 during 2019 alone. In the first five months of 2020, residents were able to access $402,574 as a result of successful searches.

“The Life Insurance Policy Locator is a great tool for Delawareans to be aware of. When a loved one passes, there isn’t always a will or a detailed plan for the family’s future financially. Using the Policy Locator, it is easy to find out if a life insurance policy or annuity contract existed, and simple to claim the policy if there was one in place,” said Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro. “This is just one of the many ways our department is offering a consumer-friendly insurance experience.”

Simplifying what can often be a long and frustrating process, only a nominal amount of information is needed to begin a search in the Life Insurance Policy Locator. After a request is submitted by a beneficiary, executor, or legal representative, dedicated NAIC liaisons take on the task of asking participating companies to search their records to identify any policies or annuity contracts in the name of the deceased. Then, if a participating company does have policy information on file, they will respond to the requester if they are authorized to receive information or are the designated beneficiary. Data is typically made available within 90 business days.

Delaware implemented the Life Insurance Policy Locator in November of 2016. Requestor preference and beneficiary specification may result in more matches than claimed policies.

Visit insurance.delaware.gov/services/missingpolicy to access the tool.


Department Of Insurance Renews National Accreditation

Bureau of Examination, Rehabilitation, and Guaranty (BERG) team from back left: Tracey Weaver, Alisa Pritchard, Danielle Hopp, Matthew Aidala, Kelly West, Laura Hufschmidt, Deputy Commissioner Tanisha Merced, Jasmine Jenkins, Beth Short, Hollylynn Ford, Sherry Wilson, Blake Synnestvedt, and Steven Carlson. From front left, Nicole Brittingham, Charles Santana, Rylynn Brown, Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, Dave Lonchar, Tom Hudson and Adrienne Lupo.

After anticipating accreditation from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) in March at their meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, the Delaware Department of Insurance earned a five-year accreditation from the organization on June 23. The cancellation of the NAIC spring meeting due to COVID-19 led to a months-long delay in confirmation after the department completed on-site reviews in February. NAIC’s Financial Regulation Standards and Accreditation Committee’s intensive assessment consisted of an in-depth review of department regulations, state laws, financial analyses and examinations of companies, personnel practices, licensing, and interaction with domestic insurers.

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro praised department staff for their performance: “Earning accreditation, along with such impressive feedback, speaks to our team’s hard work and expertise. This was my first accreditation process, but we have been planning for this for years by implementing key processes, working with the General Assembly to pass legislation, setting regulations, and investigating company financials. Our commitment to these sound management principals is representative of our commitment to the public.”

The accreditation renewal signals the department’s performance these specific areas, but also the achievement of widespread consumer protection – ensuring that companies are financially solvent safeguards their ability pay consumer claims when they arise without going under and taking paid premiums with them.

During the process of accreditation, a comprehensive, independent review of the department took place on-site in Delaware, with a focus on standards and processes related to the financial solvency of insurers domiciled in the state. The work of the Bureau of Examination, Rehabilitation, and Guaranty (BERG) team was scrutinized closely, and interviews were conducted with Commissioner Navarro and Deputy Insurance Commissioner Tanisha Merced. During the NAIC meeting on the matter, the committee praised the department’s leadership and the expertise of its staff.

“The decades of experience in our office show a passion for public service that is unmatched across the country, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard work that went into earning this five-year accreditation,” said Deputy Insurance Commissioner Tanisha Merced.

BERG has many critical roles in the insurance management process, including reviewing applications to do business in Delaware and monitoring the financial operations of 1,800 foreign and 140 domestic insurers licensed in the state.

In total, Delaware-domiciled insurers held approximately $650 billion in assets at year-end 2019. BERG completed 26 financial exams and reviewed an additional 750 projects and form submissions in 2019, completing 485 hours of training as well. The work of BERG preserves a healthy, competitive market, while protecting the public.

More information on accreditation from NAIC


Insurance Commissioner Shares Reopening Reminders

Businesses urged to revisit insurance needs, encourage workplace safety

The Delaware Department of Insurance is sharing reminders with businessowners regarding important measures to take as phased reopenings begin and providing resources that can help companies enhance worker and customer safety throughout the reopening process.

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro recommends that businesses revisit their insurance plans in order to verify that they remain active and account for any changes that occurred due to COVID-19 related closures and economic impacts, stating “Businesses have gone through a lot of transition during COVID-19, and their insurance circumstances may have changed as well.” Companies should contact their insurer if they have policy questions or concerns.

Governor John Carney’s reopening plan provides a phased approach to economic rehabilitation, with Phase 1 of business openings beginning on June 1. During Phase 1, enumerated establishments including restaurants, retail establishments, and malls may open with a maximum capacity of 30%, requires face coverings, and strict social distancing guidelines. Industry-specific requirements are included in the reopening plan.

“As businesses bring employees back to work and start interacting with members of the public, there are many aspects of COVID-19 prevention that management should take into account to ensure the safety of all involved,” said Commissioner Navarro.

Last week, the Delaware Division of Small Business, in association with the Division of Public Health, announced COVID-19 Consumer Protection Standards. This voluntary self-reporting program offers a checklist of safety precautions and a public-facing window cling for participants. It is important to note that this program is not related to the Delaware Department of Insurance Workplace Safety Program. Participants in the COVID-19 Consumer Protection Standards will not receive the workers’ compensation insurance discounts that are available in the Department of Insurance Workplace Safety Program.

Additional guidance for businesses is available on the Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration COVID-19 website, including industry-specific information for retail businesses, restaurants, transportation companies, construction, manufacturing, healthcare, and more, as well as content in multiple languages.

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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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