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North Carolina Urges Insurers To Be ‘Flexible,’ Available During COVID-19 Emergency

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North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has asked the state’s insurance companies to be economically flexible with consumers in light of the COVID-19 health emergency.

“Some of the mitigating efforts implemented on a state and local level to limit further spread of the virus have had a significant economic impact on consumers,” said Causey said in a statement Tuesday. “Many consumers have lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, which may adversely affect the ability of these individuals to make timely payment for monetary obligations, including payments for insurance premiums.”

As a result, Causey has asked the state’s insurance industry to consider taking several actions, including:

  • Relax due dates for premiums payments.
  • Extend grace periods.
  • Waive late fees and penalties.
  • Allow payment plans for premiums payments to otherwise avoid a lapse in coverage.
  • Consider cancellation or non-renewal of policies only after exhausting other efforts to work with policyholders to continue coverage

In addition, Causey is requesting that all insurance agents, brokers, and other licensees who accept premium payments on behalf of insurers take steps to ensure that customers are able to make premium payments in safe manner. This should include online payments or other alternative methods to eliminate the need for in-person payment options to protect the safety of workers and customers.

Causey has also requested that Governor Roy Cooper determine that financial services, including insurance services, be deemed essential businesses that will remain open to the public throughout the COVID-19 health emergency.

“This designation, if approved, will allow consumers to have access to their insurance agents at all times during this critical period,” Causey said. “Consumers and businesses will need easy access to insurance services during this time sensitive emergency to make claims, purchase or renew policies, make payments and discuss coverage issues.”

Causey requested insurance services remain open if and when Gov. Roy Cooper declares a “Shelter in Place” order. This means consumers will have access to speak with a licensed agent or adjuster at all times to determine the next step.

Causey said the NCDOI will continue to operate to serve citizens during a “Shelter in Place” declaration.

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Source: North Carolina Department of Insurance

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Texas Windstorm Insurer Lowers Initial Premium Amount Due; Extends Payment Deadline

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Texas’ property insurer of last resort for wind and hail in counties along the state’s coastline is temporarily reducing the amount of premium due in order to issue a policy and providing 75 days to pay the remaining premium.

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) said its actions are in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The changes are effective immediately and will remain in place for all new business and renewals until we determine it is no longer necessary.

Any TWIA policyholder who is experiencing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis can use this option. Interested policyholders and their agents do not have to notify TWIA if they are using this option.

TWIA outlined the details of the new payment options:

How this Temporary Payment Option Works
  1. Pay at least 25% of the full premium prior to the effective date to have a policy issued.
  2. No later than 75 days from the policy effective date, the remaining balance is due.

If the policyholder’s balance is not paid within the 75-day period, TWIA will issue a Notice of Cancellation (NOC) that states the policy will cancel if the delinquent balance is not paid by the end of the 15-day NOC period.

Invoices Will Still Show a 30-Day Due Date

The policyholder’s invoice will still show the due date as being 30 days from the effective date, but this notice may be disregarded. Payment will be due as described in “2.” above (see: How this Temporary Payment Option Works).

Payment Options

At this time, the 25% premium down payment cannot be paid by EFT or ACH. It must be paid by check or money order and mailed to TWIA. Payment must either be received by TWIA on or before the effective date of the policy, or mailed on or before the effective date of the policy using one of the following United States Postal Service (USPS) methods:

  • USPS Registered Mail
  • USPS Certified Mail
  • USPS Priority Mail Express
  • Regular mail that is hand-cancelled by USPS

TWIA is evaluating system changes that could enable this payment by EFT or ACH.

Premium Financing

If a policyholder is considering the use of premium financing, they may want to discuss their options with those companies before taking any action. This includes policyholders who are interested in making the initial payment themselves and premium financing the balance; this option would be offered at the discretion of the premium financing company.

For TWIA to accept a premium finance agreement, it must first be signed by the policyholder.

Reinstating Policies Cancelled for Non-Payment

If a policy is cancelled for non-payment (of either the initial 25% minimum or the remaining balance) and the property owner wishes to reinstate their policy, it will be considered new business.

Renewals

TWIA must receive at least 25% of the full policy premium in order to issue a policy and provide coverage. This applies to both new business and renewals.

Agent Commissions

Agents will continue to receive the full commission when a policy is issued under this temporary payment option (i.e. when the down payment is received).

Source: TWIA

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Fire Near Florida Airport Burns 3,500 Rental Cars

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More than 3,500 rental cars were damaged or destroyed in a fire that burned near a Florida airport before being contained late Friday night.

The Fort Myers News-Press reports the cars were in a grassy area used as an overflow lot by car rental companies that service Southwest Florida International Airport. The vehicles weren’t occupied.

Witnesses said they heard multiple small explosions and flames leaping high into the air as the flames spread across the area. Another 3,850 vehicles were undamaged, according to airport spokeswoman Vicki Moreland.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire.

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Oklahoma House OKs New Powers for Governor Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

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The Oklahoma House has granted sweeping new powers to the governor to respond to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The House met in special session and approved the resolution under the never-before-used Catastrophic Health Emergency Act, which gives Gov. Kevin Stitt the authority to temporary suspend laws and regulations that interfere with the state’s ability to respond to the outbreak.

It also gives the governor the authority to redirect state employees and other resources, including state funds, from one agency to another, among other things. The measure now heads to the Senate, which is expected to approve it.

Some House and Senate members wore masks and gloves as they filed onto the floor in groups of 10 or less to cast their votes. Some members in the House also voted by proxy, a move authorized under new rules approved last month.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

The House and Senate are expected to convene in regular session later Monday to approve tapping the state’s Rainy Day Fund to shore up an estimated $416 million hole in the state budget for the fiscal year ending June 30.

The number of coronavirus cases in the state surpassed 1,300 on April 6 and five more people died of COVID-19, the Oklahoma State Department of Health reported. There are at least 1,327 cases and 51 COVID-19 deaths, and health officials expect that number to continue to rise.

President Donald Trump declared a major disaster in Oklahoma on Sunday, making more federal funding available for recovery efforts.

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