Talent Gap, Access to Healthcare for Transgender Patients, and Hurricane Ian Recovery

This post is part of a series sponsored by AgentSync.

State by state variations of laws, compliance protocols, industry transparency, and general regulatory cultures can lend one the impression that keeping up with industry changes is a little bit like herding cats. So, what better way to wrangle some of the more localized insurance news than in a Regulatory Roundup?

On an ongoing basis, in no particular order or rank, we’re wrestling the various regulatory changes, compliance actions, and commissioner decisions into our roundup. As a disclaimer: There’s a lot going on at any given time in these here United States, so this isn’t a comprehensive picture of state-level action by any means. Think of it as, instead, a sample platter of regulation.

Also important to note: If we’re recapping interpretations of legal decisions, this is some armchair insurance speculation and not at all legal advice. If you need legal advice, get a lawyer.

Connecticut aims to address insurance talent gap

After dishing out hot takes on how to recruit fresh blood to insurance at the NAIC convention in September, Connecticut Commissioner Andrew Mais hosted the second annual NextGen Career Academy Oct. 17 as a free, virtual event to recruit students and young professionals to the insurance industry.

With speakers from insurance technology startups to financial technology to regulation and consulting, the showcase gave attendees their pick of professional options. From introductory glances at what these positions are and what they do to actual opportunities to apply for careers and internships, the event is one innovative way to address the talent gap that plagues insurance like so many other industries.

“Why not kick-start your professional journey by working in an ever-growing industry with endless opportunities for advancement? The financial security, flexibility, and room for growth that everyone is seeking, can be found through a career in insurance,” said Commissioner Mais in a news release. “It’s time to introduce job seekers to what insurance has to offer.” We agree! See our previous coverage of the wide range of career paths within the insurance industry.

Michigan applauds Biden Administration proposal to protect healthcare for transgender Americans

The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) under the direction of Anita Fox issued a statement in October 2022 encouraging U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra to support regulatory action that would prevent discrimination against transgender patients in healthcare.

Fox joined 20 other insurance commissioners in encouraging the Biden Administration to reverse a Trump Administration rule that posed a barrier to care. Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers can’t discriminate against patients or consumers on the basis of sex. Under the Obama Administration, the initial law interpreted this to include a ban against discrimination based on transgender status.

The Trump Administration reversed this interpretation in 2020 through policy at the HHS, and President Joseph Biden has signaled he intends to revert to the initial policy. The 21 insurance commissioners submitted a joint letter to Becerra to support the proposed rule.

“Comprehensive, high quality health insurance is critical to the health of Michiganders, and we want to eliminate barriers to coverage and health care services for all, no matter their gender identity or sexuality,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “All Michiganders should be able to access insurance benefits without fear of discrimination, and I am proud to stand with insurance regulators from across the country in supporting this proposed action to further that goal.”

Florida begins recovery from Hurricane Ian

Florida property insurance carriers are beginning to receive claims in the wake of Hurricane Ian, a process of rebuilding and negotiations that will take quite some time based on estimates about the extent of damages.

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis had a press conference in October to highlight his efforts to fight insurance fraud in the wake of Ian. Patronis also deployed his “fraud fighting squads” to patrol for unlicensed contracting or price gouging.

The fraud squads consist “of sending more than 40 officers to storm impacted areas to educate the public on fraud and arrest anyone conducting unlicensed or fraudulent post-storm activity.”

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) required a daily data report Oct. 24 through 28 for insurers processing Ian-related claims, and opened up a registry to quickly license emergency hurricane adjusters.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has expanded its presence in Florida for the foreseeable future as it disperses more than $300 million in aid. The agency has deployed hotel and motel costs for transitional sheltering assistance after a request from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and 4,400 federal workers are giving aid to counties in Hurricane Ian’s path.

FEMA has also encouraged Floridians without jobs to apply for paycheck assistance as people are slowly rehoused by their insurers or by the federal government. In other job-related news, FEMA is hiring local residents in hurricane-affected areas to assist with recovery efforts. These full-time jobs will last at least 120 days, with the possibility to extend. FEMA encourages Florida residents to apply at USAJobs.gov.

Disasters such as this are a curious affair, putting a spotlight on the overlap of public and private efforts to make people whole again. Public and private hurricane adjusters will both face scrutiny, insurance companies will test the limits of their speed in claims processing and in maintaining their adjusters’ licensing.

Other state insurance regulations

Wisconsin has set its 2023 insurance company appointment renewals cycle. Terminations are due by Dec. 31, 2022, and the state will post invoices for renewals from Jan. 5 to March 15, 2023. Wisconsin has also posted notice for a public hearing Nov. 27, 2022, to discuss a permanent rule for insurance carrier surplus requirements.

Maryland has changed banks and is now encouraging surplus lines insurers who have to pay their taxes and industry assessed payments to use the Online Premium Tax for Insurance system, or OPTins.

Wyoming issued a bulletin to clarify the state’s July missive on adjusters’ Designated Home State (DHS) licensing – “If a licensed adjuster has a resident address in a state which offers adjuster licensing, but holds a DHS license in a different state, that adjuster’s license will not be renewed until an acceptable license is procured. If an applicant resides in a state which offers adjuster licensing but holds a DHS license in a different state, that application will not be approved until an acceptable license is procured. If an applicant that resides in a state that offers adjuster licensing applies for a Wyoming DHS license that application will not be approved.” We’ve covered the DHS issue before on the blog, if you need to catch up. And it was a hot topic at the NAIC conference this year.

Montana announced in the Commissioner of Securities and Insurance (CSI) newsletter that the state will explore adopting the NAIC’s pet insurance model of regulation as the product line emerges in the state.

Louisiana approved the Louisiana Citizens’ (the state-backed insurer of last resort) request for a rate increase. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, residential property insurance policy premiums for Louisiana Citizens customers will increase by 63 percent. The state also set its appointment renewal dates, requiring carriers to submit terminations by Nov. 23, 2022. Louisiana will post invoices for renewals from Dec. 1, 2022, to Jan. 3, 2023.

Washington added health care benefit managers (HCBMs) to the rules dictating how carriers must submit provider agreements (and now HCBM contracts). Truly, if you are inclined to read the rule and its explanation, this is pedantry at its best.

Iowa has announced carrier appointment renewals, with terminations due Dec. 27, 2022, and the invoice available to pay for renewals from Jan. 5 to March 15, 2023. If you have issues, the state is asking you to address them to producer.licensing@iid.iowa.gov.

Alabama has adopted the NAIC’s 2023 Valuation Manual for the coming year (actuarial guidelines for establishing practices for pricing life insurance and annuity products). The state has also announced changes to service contract providers’ and premium finance companies’ fees, updated fees and emergency adjuster protocols for independent adjusters, and changes to surplus notes (which are financial vehicles that increase insurance carrier funding surpluses). The state has also set its appointment renewal timeline for 2023 – appointment terminations are due by Dec. 31, 2022, and renewal invoices will be posted for payment from Jan. 5 to March 1, 2023.

Delaware has announced an expected rate decrease for workers’ compensation insurance.

While these points of interest aren’t comprehensive, our knowledge of producer license and compliance maintenance is. See how AgentSync can help make you look smarter today.

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