Alert Edition March 2021

Welcome to the March 2021 edition of the FORC Alert. If you have any colleagues that may be interested in this publication, please forward it on. There is a link on the Alerts main page where they can subscribe to receive FORC Alerts automatically.

Regards,
C. Ignacio Matos, Esq., FORC Alert Co-Editor
Ryan Smart, Esq., FORC Alert Co-Editor
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Category(s): Florida - 03/29/2021

Amendments to Insurers' Standardized Requirements After Hurricanes or Natural Disasters Become Effective Feb. 22nd

On February 22, 2021, the amended Rule 69O-142.015, F.A.C., Standardized Requirements Applicable to Insurers After Hurricanes or Natural Disasters,  will go into effect in Florida. Approved by Florida Cabinet on February 2, 2021, the rule is amended to change the manner in which insurers report certain information to the Office of Insurance Regulation as a consequence of a hurricane or other natural disaster, as well as create separate subsections covering contracts of insurance entered into by property and casualty insurers and health and life insurers. The Notice of Final Rule can be found here.  Information on the rule development can be found here. 

Fred E. Karlinsky, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG, P.A., (954) 768-8278 , karlinskyf@gtlaw.com

Category(s): Florida - 03/22/2021

Florida Cabinet Approves Florida Office of Insurance Regulation’s (“OIR”) Proposed Rules

On February 2, 2021, Florida’s Governor and Cabinet approved requests  from the OIR to publish several notices of proposed rules. Once published, the rules are open for public comment. If no rule hearing is requested, or if a rule hearing is requested and no change is needed, the rules will be filed with the Department of State and become effective 20 days from the date of filing.
•	OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-196, Premium Finance Companies OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-198, Service Warranty Associations OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-198, Service Warranty Associations OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Rule 69O-198.013, Change in Corporate or Business Name OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-201, Legal Expense Insurance Corporations OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-201, Legal Expense Insurance Corporations OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-199, Home Warranty Associations OIR: Notice of Proposed Rule – Chapter 69O-199, Home Warranty Associations 

Richard J. Fidei, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, (954) 592-5530 , rifiman@bellsouth.net

Category(s): Florida - 03/29/2021

Florida Governor Extends Emergency Declarations

On December 29, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-316  to extend the state of emergency declared for the entire state due to COVID-19. The order extends the state of emergency declared in Executive Order 20-52,  as extended by Executive Orders 20-114, 20-166, 20-192, 20-213, and 20-276 for another 60 days, until February 27, 2021. Additionally, the Governor issued Executive Order 21-10  on January 11, 2021 to extend the emergency declared within Executive Order 20-224  and emergency management for Hurricane Sally. The declared state of emergency, as amended by Executive Orders 20-248 and 20-279, is extended for 60 days until March 12, 2021.

Richard J. Fidei, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, (954) 592-5530 , rifiman@bellsouth.net

Category(s): Florida - 03/29/2021

Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (“Citizens”) Lifts Cancellations and Nonrenewals Moratorium

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Citizens established a temporary moratorium on cancellations and nonrenewals in March 2020 to ease the burden on policyholders. Citizens published several updates throughout the year on April 3, 2020,  May 22, 2020,  and August 10, 2020,  respectively. On January 6, 2021, Citizens advised it will resume processing cancellations and nonrenewals beginning February 1, 2021. Further details can be found here. 

Richard J. Fidei, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG LLP, (954) 592-5530 , rifiman@bellsouth.net

Category(s): Florida - 03/29/2021

Florida’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (“DWC”) Releases Updated Report on Effects of COVID-19 on Florida’s Workers’ Compensation System

In January 2021, the DWC released an updated data summary report outlining the effects of COVID-19 on Florida’s workers’ compensation system. The DWC intends to continually update this report as new data is reported and analyzed. The 2020 report, as of December 31, 2020, can be found here. 

Fred E. Karlinsky, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG, P.A., (954) 768-8278 , karlinskyf@gtlaw.com

Category(s): Florida - 03/24/2021

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) Final Rules Become Effective Jan. 3rd

On September 22, 2020, the Florida Cabinet approved requests  from the OIR for publication and final adoption of multiple insurance rules. Following Cabinet approval, the final rules were filed with the Department of State on December 14, 2020. As such, the following rules became effective 20 days after the date of filing, on January 3, 2021:
•	Rule 69O-137.008, F.A.C, Filing of Statistical and Quarterly Reports for Individually Rated Risks and Excess Rates Rule 69O-143.0465, F.A.C., Group-wide Supervision of Internationally Active Insurance Groups Rule 69O-143.0466, F.A.C., Contents of Corporate Governance Annual Disclosure Rule 69O-149.006, F.A.C., Actuarial Memorandum Rule 69O-171.010, F.A.C., Insurer Assignment Agreement Reporting – Calendar Year Experience Rule 69O-191.055, F.A.C., Actuarial Memorandum and Definitions 

Fred E. Karlinsky, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG, P.A., (954) 768-8278 , karlinskyf@gtlaw.com

Category(s): Florida - 03/29/2021

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (“OIR”) Highlights Significant Efforts to Protect Floridians

In late 2020, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) distributed a bulletin  highlighting the various, significant efforts made throughout the year to protect consumers within the state. The bulletin outlines aspects of the COVID-19 response, including: (1) cost-sharing for testing and treatment; (2) early prescription refills; (3) continuity of operations for insurers; (4) leniency on premium payments; and (5) telehealth. It also recaps the preparation and response to an active hurricane season, the workers’ compensation rate decrease, the private flood insurance market expansion, and the promotion of stability in Florida’s property insurance market.

Fred E. Karlinsky, Esq. - GREENBERG TRAURIG, P.A., (954) 768-8278 , karlinskyf@gtlaw.com

Category(s): Georgia - 03/30/2021

Directive 20-EX-11: Reissuing Temporary Suspension of Certain Concurrent and Utilization Review Requirements

Georgia hospitals are experiencing extreme demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Making the situation more dire, hospitals are also experiencing staff shortages. It has become apparent a quick way to free clinical staff to support patient care in facilities is by suspending requirements around concurrent and utilization review so that staff who may handle review functions could be re-deployed to assist with the increased demand for services. Given the current situation in Georgia’s hospitals, any clinical staff who can be doing clinical work should be doing so. 
Suspension of Preauthorization Requirements for Scheduled Surgeries or Admissions at Hospitals. The Department of Insurance (“Department”) is advising issuers that they should suspend preauthorization review for scheduled surgeries or admissions at hospitals for 30 days from the date of this letter, subject to further evaluation as the COVID-19 situation develops. However, hospitals should use their best efforts to provide 48 hours’ notice to the issuer after admission to a hospital, including information necessary for an issuer to assist in coordinating care and discharge planning. 
Suspension of Concurrent Review for Inpatient Hospital Services. Hospitals may lack the resources for staff to respond to utilization review requests for concurrent review while responding to the surge in patients due to COVID-19. Therefore, the Department is advising issuers that they should suspend concurrent review for inpatient hospital services provided for 30 days from the date of this Directive, subject to further evaluation as the COVID-19 situation develops.
Applicability to Third-Party Administrators of Self-Funded Plans. Adherence to this Directive is essential to ensure that hospitals are able to direct resources to patient care to handle increases in patient volume due to the COVID-19 state of emergency. Third-party administrators, which are licensed by the Department as independent adjusters, are strongly encouraged to apply the provisions of this circular letter to their administrative services arrangements with self-funded plans.

Tony Roehl, Esq. - MORRIS, MANNING & MARTIN, LLP, (404) 495-8477 , troehl@mmmlaw.com

Category(s): Georgia - 03/22/2021

Georgia’s Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) Medicare Waivers in Jeopardy

Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) approved Georgia’s state innovation waivers under the ACA during the Trump Administration last year, the Biden Administration recently paused the continued implementation of these waivers. Also, in January 2021, Planned Parenthood sued the Department of Health and Human Services and CMS challenging Georgia’s waivers and seeking to declare them invalid.

Brian T. Casey, Esq. - LOCKE LORD LLP, (404) 870-4638 , bcasey@lockelord.com

Category(s): Georgia - 03/29/2021

Georgia’s Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner’s (OCI) issues DIRECTIVE 20-EX-10: Reimbursement for COVID-19 Testing

COVID-19 testing is critical with the recent uptick in cases in Georgia. Delays in obtaining test results can make it more difficult for hospitals and providers to contain this winter’s outbreak. Insurers could see excessive charges from the commercial labs doing the testing, and, as many commercial labs are not in-network with health plans in Georgia, the labs could have a difficult time being reimbursed by insurers. 
Commissioner King is requesting that all Georgia health plans reimburse labs who are testing for COVID-19 at an in-network rate. Commissioner King also asks that all labs involved in testing for COVID-19 accept reimbursement at an in-network rate and refrain from increasing their charges.
Georgia's Office of Commissioner of Insurance and Safety Fire Directives can be found here. 

Tony Roehl, Esq. - MORRIS, MANNING & MARTIN, LLP, (404) 495-8477 , troehl@mmmlaw.com

Category(s): Georgia - 03/30/2021

Insurer Not Liable to Original Beneficiary Based on Forged Change of Beneficiary Form

In Emery v. Guarantee Trust Life Ins. Co., Ga. Ct. App. (Jan. 22, 2021, Case Number A20A2082),                                    the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court’s grant of summary judgment to Guarantee Trust holding that, because Sarah Emery, the original beneficiary of a life insurance policy insuring her grandfather, had not provided notice to Guarantee Trust of her competing claim to the death benefit, it did not have a legal duty to investigate a fraudulent change of beneficiary form and did not wrongfully pay the policy’s death benefit to her grandmother who became the new beneficiary on its records. Emery then sued Guarantee Trust arguing that she was the proper beneficiary of the policy based on the surviving spouse’s forgery of change of beneficiary form and Guarantee Trust owed her the death benefit under O.C.G.A. § 33-24-41, which discharges an insurer from liability if it pays a death benefit in accordance with the terms of the policy before the insurer receives notice that some other person claims to be entitled to the payment.

Brian T. Casey, Esq. - LOCKE LORD LLP, (404) 870-4638 , bcasey@lockelord.com

Category(s): Indiana - 03/22/2021

Indiana Provides Civil Tort Immunity from COVID-19 Claims

The Indiana General Assembly passed, and Governor Eric Holcomb signed, a bill  that provides civil tort immunity from claims arising from COVID-19. This immunity includes claims related to premises liability and product liability, except for acts or omissions constituting gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct. The bill’s provisions are effective immediately. A companion bill  that would provide more expansive immunity from other claims arising from COVID-19 is working its way through the Indiana General Assembly.

Caryn M. Glawe, Esq. - Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, (317) 237-1488 , caryn.glawe@faegredrinker.com

Category(s): Nebraska - 03/30/2021

Nebraska’s Department of Insurance Director Announces Retirement

Bruce Ramge has announced his retirement as Director of Nebraska’s Department of Insurance effective April 1. His successor will be appointed by Governor Ricketts. Click here  to read more.

Lawrence F. Harr, Esq. - LAMSON, DUGAN & MURRAY, LLP, (402) 397-7300 , lharr@ldmlaw.com

Category(s): New York - 03/22/2021

Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) Modernization: Docket No. R-1723; RIN Number 7100-AF94

The Superintendent of the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) responds to the Federal Reserve Board’s (“FRB”) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“ANPR”) concerning the federal CRA of 1977 given the importance of the CRA to communities across the country and in New York State. Click here  to read Docket No. R-1723; RIN Number 7100-AF94.

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): New York - 03/22/2021

Governor Cuomo Reminds New Yorkers they are not Responsible for Paying PPE Charges from In-Network Health Care Providers

Governor Cuomo reminds medical and other health service providers that it is illegal to add to patient service costs any portion of the provider's Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) costs. Click here  to learn more.

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): New York - 03/29/2021

New York’s Department of Financial Services’ (“DFS”) Techsprint

In partnership with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, DFS sponsored a techsprint  to design a Digital Regulatory Reporting mechanism for virtual currency companies. The objective of the effort was to identify emerging risks related to cryptocurrency and to move toward a next generation approach that utilizes technology to more effectively supervise regulated entities.
The techsprint convened virtual currency professionals, regulators and technologists working on regulatory compliance solutions and took place March 1 - March 12, 2021. Click here  to learn more.

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): New York - 03/29/2021

Press Release: Governor Cuomo Accepts Report From New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) On Facebook Investigation

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today accepted a DFS report detailing the findings of an investigation into the transmission of sensitive user data by application and website designers to Facebook. Following a report by the Wall Street Journal,  the Governor directed DFS to perform an investigation  which found that app developers regularly sent Facebook sensitive data, including medical and personal data, derived from consumers' usage of third-party websites and applications. The data was then shared with Facebook by app developers as part of Facebook's free online data analytics services. Though such data-sharing violated Facebook policy, Facebook took few steps to enforce the policy or to block the flow of sensitive data prior to the state's investigation. Click here  to learn more.

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): New York - 03/29/2021

The COVID-19 Vaccine Is Here

The first COVID-19 vaccines are here. Supply from the Federal Government is extremely limited. Additional New Yorkers will become eligible as the vaccine supply increases. While the vaccination process is underway, every New Yorker should wear a mask, social distance and avoid small and large gatherings.
Over seven million New Yorkers are now eligible  for the vaccine. Eligible groups include doctors, nurses and health care workers, people age 65 and over, first responders, teachers, public transit workers, grocery store workers and public safety workers. 
Beginning February 15, New Yorkers with certain comorbidities and underlying conditions  will be eligible to receive the vaccine.
For more information, click here. 

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): New York - 03/22/2021

The New York Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) announces Cybersecurity Fraud Alert

The DFS urges all regulated entities with Instant Quote Websites to immediately review those websites for evidence of hacking. Even if that Nonpublic Information (“NPI”) is redacted, hackers have shown that they are adept at stealing the full unredacted NPI. The DFS has already received several reports from regulated entities that have detected both successful and unsuccessful versions of these cyber-attacks. An overview of hacking techniques seen to date is described below, as well as certain indicators of compromise (“IOCs”) that can signal that an attack has occurred. Click here  to learn more.

Frederick J. Pomerantz, Esq. - INSURANCE LEGAL & REGULATORY CONSULTING, PLLC, (516) 297-3101 , PomerantzF35@gmail.com

Category(s): South Dakota - 03/22/2021

Health Plans Not Subject to State Regulation

The South Dakota Legislature following a similar pattern in Iowa and Kansas has passed legislation to permit the South Dakota Farm Bureau to establish a health benefit plan that will not be the subject of regulation by the South Dakota Division of Insurance. The bill now goes to the Governor for signature.

Dennis Duncan, Esq. - The Duncan Law Firm, L.L.P., 605-361-9840 , dlduncan@ddlawsd.com

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