Maine Bureau of Insurance Obtains Almost $3.4 Million in Recoveries for Consumers and Businesses in 2014: Bureau Handled More Than 8,000 Inquiries and Nearly 900 Complaint Cases

January 16, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced today that the Bureau of Insurance recovered nearly $3.4 million on behalf of Maine consumers and businesses in 2014. More than $2.4 million was recovered for consumers by the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division, and nearly $1 million was recovered by the Property and Casualty Division.

“The Bureau exists to regulate and support the insurance industry, as well as to assist individuals and businesses with insurance concerns,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These recoveries usually represent claims submitted by Mainers that for a variety of reasons were denied or delayed. Insured individuals are able to contact the Bureau of Insurance with questions and to seek assistance to resolve their insurance-related issues.”

In 2014, the Bureau fielded more than 8,000 inquiries and nearly 900 complaints. The Property and Casualty Division, which includes auto and homeowners insurance, handled 3,800 inquiries and 296 written complaints, and the Consumer Health Care Division received 4,287 inquiries and 586 written complaints.

“Insurance can be complex and consumers understandably don’t always know what is covered by their plan, or what their cost-sharing responsibilities are,” said Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. “The Bureau works with Mainers each day to help them understand their rights and responsibilities under their insurance contracts. Sometimes we simply provide clarification. However, when insurance companies have not processed claims properly, or when an agent or broker has acted unlawfully or unethically, the Bureau seeks to make the situation right, recover disputed funds, and apply disciplinary action, if needed.”

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov. The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: January 16, 2015 3:45 PM

Maine Ranks Among the Most Affordable in the Nation for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

January 23, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Governor Paul R. LePage joined Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa on Friday in announcing that Maine ranks among the top ten states in the nation for most affordable homeowners and personal auto insurance rates. Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa explained that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently released two reports showing Maine’s average premium for both personal auto and homeowners as the most affordable in New England and among the lowest in the country.

“Maine continues to be a national leader in affordable auto and homeowners insurance,” Governor LePage said. “Maine families consistently pay less for auto and homeowners insurance, on average, than those in any other New England state.”

The NAIC’s 2011/2012 Auto Insurance Database Report placed Maine 3rd in its national ranking of lowest personal auto insurance premiums. The report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data designed to provide necessary information and analysis to insurance regulators, consumers and policymakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

“Maine has some of the lowest average auto premiums in the nation, even with coverage requirements that exceed those in most states,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “The auto insurance market in Maine is healthy and competitive.”

Additionally, Maine continues to rank among the states with the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists.

In the newly released NAIC 2012 Homeowners Insurance Report, Maine ranked 10th nationally, improving from 11th place in 2011. Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England. The report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes countrywide and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: January 23, 2015 12:21 PM

Governor and State Consumer Protection Officials Say Consumer Laws Protect Against Risks Posed by Anthem Data Breach

February 5, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Governor Paul LePage joined officials at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation to reassure consumers that state and federal laws will help protect them from losses due to file breaches containing personal identifying information, such as the one disclosed this week by Anthem.

The Anthem breach exposed the personal identifying information of an estimated 80 million current and former members nationally. According to the company, information accessed included names, dates of birth, medical IDs, Social Security numbers, employment information including income data, street addresses and e-mail addresses.

“Although it’s unknown whether Maine consumers will be impacted by the Anthem data breach, I encourage people to closely monitor medical and financial records for evidence of identity theft,” Governor LePage said. “State and federal laws protect consumers from the effects of identity theft. The staff at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation is available to provide specific information.”

The Department’s Bureau of Insurance has been in communication with Anthem’s South Portland office. Anthem will directly contact affected individuals by mail and offer free credit monitoring and identity theft protection. The services are expected to be available in two weeks, for a period of one year, and will be retroactive to January 27, 2015.

Anthem established a dedicated website (www.anthemfacts.com) and toll-free number (877-263-7995) to answer current and former members’ questions about the breach.

The Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and Bureau of Financial Institutions provided the following information and suggestions:

-- State law requires notification to affected consumers. Those consumers should receive a letter from Anthem within two weeks.

-- The letter will offer free credit monitoring services for a year, with instructions on how to activate those services.

-- Consumers can also check their own credit reports without charge once each year at the website www.AnnualCreditReport.com. If consumers notice any evidence that their identity has been stolen, they can obtain additional reports at no charge.

-- Consumers can place a fraud alert on their credit reports, or for a small fee they can “freeze” access to their reports, blocking the opening of any new accounts. If a consumer experiences identity theft, the credit reporting agencies must freeze and unfreeze their accounts at no charge.

-- Consumers are not responsible for paying charges incurred by an identity thief. Likewise, consumers are not responsible for charges or debits made by someone else on their credit or debit card. Upon first noticing evidence of unauthorized charges or withdrawals, consumers should immediately call, then write, the financial institution that issued their card.

-- State officials recommend that if a consumer discovers evidence of identity theft, the consumer should file a police report with their local law enforcement agency, and retain a copy of the report. Maine law (10 MRS sec. 1350-B) requires that a law enforcement agency near a consumer’s home or work place must accept information about a crime of identity theft, and produce a report. The report is helpful if a consumer must later demonstrate that proper steps have been taken to establish the crime.

-- Consumers should be vigilant in order to notice any evidence of identity theft or unauthorized charges. This includes careful reviews of online or paper credit card and bank statements, unexplained statements of accounts not opened by the consumer, and collection calls or letters on debts not owed by the consumer.

Individuals with questions or concerns regarding consumer financial protection issues can call the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection at 1-800-332-8529 or the Bureau of Financial Institutions at 1-800-965-5235. Those with questions or concerns about health insurance matters can call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000.

Last Updated: February 5, 2015 5:51 PM

Maine's Bureau of Insurance Joins International Information Exchange Agreement

April 6, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Basel – Felix Hufeld, Chair of the Executive Committee of the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS), today announced that the insurance supervisors of the U.S. states of Iowa, Maine and Missouri have joined an international supervisory cooperation and information exchange agreement. There are now 48 jurisdictions, including 10 U.S. states, admitted as signatories to the IAIS Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU), representing more than 63% of worldwide premium volume.

“Joining this international memorandum of understanding is an important step to the industry the Iowa Insurance Division regulates,” said Iowa Insurance Commissioner Nick Gerhart. “We look forward to working with our international peers at the International Association of Insurance Supervisors.”

“Maine will be well served by this Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding with IAIS,” stated Maine Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. “The global insurance market is expanding daily; and just as our cooperation with other US states has been critical to our regulation of companies across state lines, our mutual monitoring with jurisdictions around the world is necessary to ensure the financial soundness and fair market conduct of companies across international borders.”

“The MMOU is a significant, collaborative regulatory tool that eliminates the need to establish individual, bilateral agreements in the regulation of insurance," said Missouri Department of Insurance Director John M. Huff. “Missouri insurers are expanding into established and emerging global markets and, just as we have used information-sharing agreements with other states for decades, Missouri is now positioned to do so internationally."

The MMoU is a global framework for cooperation and information exchange among insurance supervisors. It sets minimum standards to which signatories must adhere, and all applicants are subject to review and approval by an independent team of IAIS Members. Through membership in the MMoU, supervisors are able to exchange relevant information with and provide assistance to other signatories, thereby promoting the financial stability and sound supervision of cross-border insurance operations for the benefit and protection of consumers.

“We are glad to welcome Iowa, Maine and Missouri as signatories to the MMoU and to see the number of U.S. signatories continue to increase,” said Mr Hufeld. “In order to achieve our ultimate goal of policyholder protection within the global insurance marketplace, an insurance supervisor needs the ability to cooperate quickly and effectively. The MMoU is an essential regulatory tool – not only in crisis situations, but on a day-to-day basis – for supervisors to foster safer and more stable insurance markets, and the IAIS encourages each of its Members to become a MMoU signatory.”

Current MMoU signatories include, among others, Australia, Austria, Bermuda, Canada, Chile, California (USA), Connecticut (USA), Chinese Taipei, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Michigan (USA), Nebraska (USA), the Netherlands, Pennsylvania (USA), Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Virginia (USA) and Washington (USA). A complete list of signatories and a copy of the MMoU can be found on the IAIS website (www.iaisweb.org).

More information

The Iowa Insurance Division (IID) has general control, supervision and direction over all insurance and securities business transacted in the state, and enforces Iowa’s laws and regulations. The IID investigates consumer complaints and prosecutes companies, agents and brokers engaging in unfair trade practices. Consumers with insurance or securities-related questions or complaints may contact the IID at www.iid.iowa.gov.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the state’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. The Bureau provides consumer protection and education and regulates the insurance industry by examining and licensing insurance companies, licensing producers, reviewing rates and coverage forms, and sponsoring programs that enhance awareness of and compliance with State laws. The Bureau has authority to enforce the State's insurance laws and rules. For more information, please visit www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance.

The Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP) is responsible for consumer protection through the regulation of financial industries and professionals. The department's seven divisions work to enforce state regulations both efficiently and effectively while encouraging a competitive environment for industries and professions to ensure consumers have access to quality products. Please visit www.insurance.mo.gov for more information.

The IAIS is a global standard-setting body whose objectives are to promote effective and globally consistent supervision of the insurance industry in order to develop and maintain fair, safe and stable insurance markets for the benefit and protection of policyholders; and to contribute to global financial stability. Its membership includes insurance regulators and supervisors from more than 200 jurisdictions in nearly 140 countries. For more information, please visit www.iaisweb.org.

Last Updated: April 6, 2015 12:14 PM

Insurance Superintendent Highlights New Law to Protect Transportation Network Company Drivers, Passengers and Others Using Roadways in Maine

August 11, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

TNC Drivers Encouraged to Learn about and Comply with Law to Protect Themselves Legally and Financially

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is highlighting a new Maine law, the Transportation Network Company Insurance Act, and emphasizing that it will help to protect passengers, pedestrians and other motorists from losses in accidents involving Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers. The legislation (LD 1379) became law June 30th, as part of Public Law 2015 Chapter 279. One TNC, Uber, began operating in southern Maine last year.

“Carrying passengers for a fee is commercial activity, and most personal automobile insurance policies do not cover commercial activities,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “The new law addresses this gap and specifies the coverage requirements from the time a TNC driver logs into the company’s digital network and while a passenger is in the vehicle.”

The new law requires:

• $1,000,000 minimum in bodily injury, death, and property damage coverage while “engaged in a prearranged ride.”

• a minimum of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per incident for bodily injury and death, and $25,000 for property damage while a driver is logged into the TNC’s digital network but there is no passenger in the car.

• at least $2,000 medical payments coverage at all times.

TNC drivers should keep in mind that these coverages are liability coverages. They do not cover damage to a driver’s vehicle or the driver’s personal injury or death.

TNC drivers and those thinking of becoming TNC drivers should also consider these points:

• These mandatory coverages can be provided by the TNC, the driver, or a combination. Drivers need to read their TNC contract carefully to determine who is providing the required coverage.

• Insurance companies providing personal auto insurance in Maine may exclude coverage for losses incurred when a driver uses his or her vehicle for income-related purposes. The new law reiterates this right. TNC drivers will have to know if this coverage is available through the TNC or their own personal automobile policy. If not, drivers should ask their personal auto insurer if TNC coverage is available by endorsement. Otherwise, drivers need to purchase their own commercial auto insurance in order to comply with the law.

• Most vehicle loan agreements do not allow borrowers to transport passengers or goods for hire. Violations may lead to default under a vehicle loan even if the loan payments are up-to-date.

“A driver for a TNC who does not have the proper coverage is at considerable personal risk,” Cioppa stated. “Anyone driving for Uber or a similar company in Maine, or considering doing so, should contact his or her insurance agent or company to understand what is required to comply with Maine's financial responsibility law.”

Individuals are welcome to call the Property and Casualty Division of the Maine Bureau of Insurance at 800-300-5000 with questions about the new law and their existing policies. Individuals with questions about obtaining a permit to drive for a TNC should contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 207-626-8400.

Last Updated: August 11, 2015 3:28 PM

Officials Say Recent Storms and Developing Hurricane Joaquin Serve as Reminder about Actions Residents Should Take to Stay Safe and Protect Property During Severe Weather

October 2, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa urged Maine residents on Friday to recognize that severe weather poses a threat to life and property, and they called this week’s strong storm and Hurricane Joaquin reminders that steps can be taken to save lives, minimize property losses and speed recovery.

Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa noted that the Atlantic Hurricane Season runs through November. The Governor and Superintendent encourage Mainers to review their homeowner or renter policy and to evaluate the benefits of flood insurance. They also encourage residents to complete a home inventory checklist, and to assemble an emergency supply kit.

“The best time to prepare for severe weather is when the skies are clear and threats aren’t imminent,” Governor LePage said. “As we’ve seen, strong storms can arrive quickly and cause significant problems. We should all take simple steps to keep our families and property safe, and to be in a position to recover quickly should damage occur.”

Cioppa emphasized the importance of knowing what’s covered by a homeowners policy and making sure coverage is adequate. “Many people are unaware that standard homeowner policies do not cover flooding. They should review their policy, purchase additional coverage if needed, consider whether flood insurance makes sense for them, and complete an inventory of possessions.”

Flood Insurance: Flooding is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Due to a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, quick action is needed for a policy to be in place for later in this year’s hurricane season. Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-427-2419 or online at www.floodsmart.gov. The website includes tools to help homeowners assess their flood risk.

Inventory Checklist: Cioppa emphasized that the checklist can be enormously helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Although a copy of the inventory can be kept at home, a second should always be maintained with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents in a safety deposit box or other secure location. The inventory should include photos and video of property. A free checklist can be obtained on the Bureau’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance).

Additionally, the Governor and Superintendent encouraged residents to establish an emergency supply kit. It should include several days of drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), non-perishable packaged or canned foods, a non-electrical can opener and cooking utensil. The kit should also contain first aid materials, necessary medications, basic tools, a battery or crank-operated radio and flashlights, extra batteries and any supplies needed for pets, as well as a list of important names and phone numbers, including insurance company contact information. They also urged Mainers to familiarize themselves with resources provided by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) -- available at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

A listing of Disaster Preparedness Tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners accompanies this news release.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

#

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from the NAIC

• Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.

• To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.

• As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.

• Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).

• Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.

• Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.

• Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.

• Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.

• Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.

• Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.

Last Updated: October 2, 2015 3:40 PM

Bureau of Insurance Provides Guidance to Mainers Enrolling in or Renewing Health Insurance Plans as Open Enrollment Period Nears

October 14, 2015

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is encouraging Maine residents and businesses to take time to consider their health insurance options as the national Open Enrollment period to purchase, renew, or change plans for 2016 approaches. Open Enrollment on the Individual Market runs from November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016.

“Individuals and families who purchase their own health insurance should review their options each year,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “Changes in household income or size can impact whether an individual or family qualifies for tax credits. Also, Mainers should not assume that the plan they currently have is the best option for 2016. It’s important to review premium rates and cost-sharing amounts like deductibles and copays, as well as prescription formularies, and to consider whether provider networks include their doctors and other healthcare providers.”

The Individual Market in Maine for 2016 includes the companies that sold plans for 2015 -- Aetna, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care/HPHC and Community Health Options (formerly known as Maine Community Health Options). All plans will be available on the Healthcare.gov Marketplace at (www.healthcare.gov), but can also be purchased ‘off’ the Marketplace. Those individuals who qualify will have a tax credit applied only if they purchase a plan through the Marketplace.

Individuals who purchased a plan for 2015 through Healthcare.gov will receive a notice from the Marketplace urging them to update their income and household information, to ensure accurate calculation of tax credits.

Individuals will also receive a notice from their insurance company about any changes to their current plan or the premium amount. Policyholders will be re-enrolled in their current plan if they take no action and continue to make payments. If their current plan is no longer available, they will be enrolled in a plan with slight modifications from their old plan.

Individuals with grandfathered and transitional Anthem plans (non-ACA compliant plans that were allowed to renew) may also want to consider their options during Open Enrollment.

Information about plans offered both on and off the Marketplace can be found at the Bureau of Insurance website (www.maine.gov/insurance), by calling the Bureau at 1-800-300-5000 (for TTY use Maine Relay 711), or by e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

-- Additional Guidance for New Enrollees, Renewing Policyholders and Small Businesses

-- New Enrollees: Individuals and families who want to purchase health insurance during the Open Enrollment period.

• The earliest coverage will start is January 1, 2016.

• To have coverage on January 1, individuals must purchase a plan by December 15.

• Plans and rates offered to Mainers on the Marketplace can be found at www.healthcare.gov.

• Individuals who qualify will only have a tax credit applied if they purchase a plan through the federally facilitated Marketplace.

• Individuals and families who need coverage before January may be able to purchase a 2015 plan if they qualify for a Special Enrollment. Qualifying events include loss of eligibility for other coverage due to job loss, divorce, aging off a parent’s plan, moving outside of the health plan service area, or change in immigration status. For a full list of qualifying events go to www.healthcare.gov. Those Renewing Their Plans: Policyholders should carefully review the information from their insurance company to make sure the plan still meets their needs.

• Individuals who purchased a plan through the Marketplace may see an adjustment to their tax credit, due to a change in the second lowest silver plan, on which all subsidy calculations are based. This could result in a rate increase.

• Some individuals and families may be re-enrolled in slightly different plans due to their existing plan being discontinued. These policyholders have the same option as all renewing individuals to purchase a different plan.

• For those who purchased plans on the Marketplace and have had changes to income and/or household size, it is very important to report those changes at www.healthcare.gov to have the correct premium tax credit applied.

• According to the IRS, individuals who receive advance credit payments in any amount, or who plan to claim the premium tax credit, must file a federal income tax return, even if they are not usually required to file (see www.irs.gov/Affordable-Care-Act/Individuals-and-Families).

• To compare plans, individuals should talk with their broker, agent or Marketplace navigator; visit www.healthcare.gov; visit the Bureau of Insurance website www.maine.gov/insurance, or call or email the Bureau at 1-800-300-5000 ( TTY use Maine Relay 711), Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

-- Important Points for Those Newly Enrolling or Renewing: Whether purchasing a new plan or re-enrolling in existing coverage, it is a very good idea to:

• Review the provider network to ensure that the health care providers and hospital one intends to use are part of the network. Individuals who want to purchase certain brand name prescriptions versus generic versions should also check the insurance company’s formulary to see if those particular medications are covered. Individuals having questions about these issues should contact the insurance company.

• Use the rate calculator on the Bureau of Insurance website to find out the premium estimate for all plans in an individual’s geographic area, based on age and smoking status. NOTE: the rate calculator does not factor in tax credits that individuals may receive when purchasing a plan through the Marketplace.

• Seek assistance when needed – from an insurance company, an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator (see www.enroll207.com), or the Bureau of Insurance.

-- Important Points for Small Businesses:

While small businesses can purchase insurance any time throughout the year, the Open Enrollment period from November 15 to December 15 allows them to do so without meeting minimum participation requirements. The rest of the year, small businesses are required to include at least 70% of eligible employees when purchasing a Small Business Health Options (SHOP) marketplace plan and 75% of eligible employees when purchasing a non-SHOP plan.

Aetna, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care/HPHC, Community Health Options (previously known as Maine Community Health Options), and United Health Care Insurance are offering small group plans off the SHOP marketplace. Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Community Health Options are also offering plans through SHOP.

For more information about these plans, employers can call the Bureau to request the Guide to Small Business Insurance in Maine, or find it on the brochure page of the Bureau’s website. Start of coverage for small businesses which are just beginning to offer employee plans will depend on when the plans on purchased.

Cioppa encouraged small businesses to consult a broker and consider their options each year, and noted that those with 25 or fewer employees may benefit from a tax credit if they purchase employee coverage through the SHOP marketplace. The federal government has defined small businesses as those with 50 or fewer full time equivalent (FTE) employees

Small Businesses are invited to contact the Bureau with questions, using the same contact information provided above.

Last Updated: October 14, 2015 4:59 PM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Obtains Almost $1.5 Million in Recoveries for Consumers and Businesses in 2015--Handling More Than 6,400 Inquiries and 800 Complaint Cases

January 15, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Cases filed with the Maine Bureau of Insurance in 2015 resulted in nearly $1.5 million in recovered funds for Maine residents, according to Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. More than $1.2 million was recovered by the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division, and more than $260,000 was recovered by the Property and Casualty Division.

“The Bureau of Insurance takes its responsibility to address cases from consumers and businesses very seriously,” said Governor Paul R. LePage. “These recoveries in 2015 generally represent claims that were initially denied or delayed, although some were recovered on behalf of individuals who were sold inappropriate policies or who were otherwise victims of illegal sales practices.”

“The Bureau’s role is to regulate the insurance industry in Maine,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “One of its responsibilities is making sure claims are appropriately processed and paid in a timely way. The Bureau’s consumer divisions encourage Mainers to call with insurance-related questions or concerns.”

In 2015, the Bureau fielded more than 6,400 inquiries and investigated more than 800 complaints. The Property and Casualty Division, which assists consumers with questions involving auto and homeowners insurance, handled 3,209 inquiries and 274 written complaints. The Consumer Health Care Division, which assists with questions involving health-related insurance products that include individual and small group health, life, long-term care, Medicare supplement and annuities, received 3,205 inquiries and 534 written complaints.

Consumers or business owners with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting www.maine.gov/insurance, calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: January 15, 2016 2:33 PM

Bureau of Insurance Reminds Mainers about End of Open Enrollment and Urges Consumers to Check Doctors, Hospitals and Other Health Providers in Plans Before Making a Selection

January 22, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is reminding Mainers who purchase health insurance through the individual market that Open Enrollment ends January 31st. The next open enrollment period will be in the fall.

Superintendent Cioppa is also reminding people enrolling in a new health insurance plan to clarify whether or not their providers of choice are part of the plan’s network, before finalizing their purchase.

“People should call both the insurance company and their health care provider to verify that the provider will be covered under the specific plan being considered,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “It’s possible that a provider may be contracted by an insurance company under one plan, but not under another.”

Cioppa noted that charges for medical services from a provider that is not in the plan network do not apply to the annual out of pocket maximum of $6,850 for individuals (or $13,700 for families). He emphasized that this may add expenses for enrollees who use out of network providers.

Individuals in Maine may call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 with questions or concerns about their insurance options and the networks offered under the various plans sold in Maine. Information is also available on the Bureau’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance).

Last Updated: January 22, 2016 2:16 PM

Maine Ranks Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

March 1, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced Tuesday that Maine continues to be among the top states in the nation for most affordable homeowners and personal auto insurance rates.

According to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Maine ranks 3rd (for the third year in a row) for lowest average auto insurance premiums nationally, and 10th for lowest average homeowners premiums nationally.

The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report, which placed Maine 3rd in its national ranking of lowest average personal auto insurance premiums, provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

“The auto insurance market in Maine is healthy and competitive, which contributes to Maine’s consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “Maine’s ranking is especially noteworthy given Maine’s coverage requirements, which exceed those in most other states.”

Additionally, the report indicates that Maine is tied with Massachusetts for the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists, at 4.5%

In the newly released NAIC Homeowners Insurance Report, Maine ranked 10th nationally for the lowest average premiums, as it did in the previous year’s report. Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England. The report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: March 1, 2016 1:15 PM

 

Contact: Mila Kofman, Superintendent
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Ranks Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

The State is also tied for lowest percentage of uninsured drivers at 4.5%, and has lowest average homeowners premiums in New England

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced Tuesday that Maine continues to be among the top states in the nation for most affordable homeowners and personal auto insurance rates.

According to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), Maine ranks 3rd (for the third year in a row) for lowest average auto insurance premiums nationally, and 10th for lowest average homeowners premiums nationally.

The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report, which placed Maine 3rd in its national ranking of lowest average personal auto insurance premiums, provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

“The auto insurance market in Maine is healthy and competitive, which contributes to Maine’s consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “Maine’s ranking is especially noteworthy given Maine’s coverage requirements, which exceed those in most other states.”

Additionally, the report indicates that Maine is tied with Massachusetts for the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists, at 4.5%

In the newly released NAIC Homeowners Insurance Report, Maine ranked 10th nationally for the lowest average premiums, as it did in the previous year’s report. Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England. The report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: March 1, 2016 1:16 PM

Insurance Superintendent to Hold Long-Term Care Insurance Forum

March 29, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine’s Insurance Superintendent, Eric Cioppa, will hold a forum on long-term care insurance May 9th in Augusta. He is inviting Maine residents to attend or join via webcast, and to provide written or oral statements about their experiences as long-term care insurance policyholders. Consumers interested in making a statement at the forum are asked to contact the Bureau by April 25th.

The forum will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Kennebec Room of the Augusta Civic Center at 76 Community Drive, with a break from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. The live webcast of the event will be available on the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance. A video recording of the proceedings will be available for a period of time following the event.

“The national problem of underpriced long-term care insurance policies and steep premium rate increase requests is one that I and other state insurance regulators are working to address within our abilities, as defined by law,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “As the regulator of insurance companies selling long-term care policies in Maine, I want to hear first-hand from those who purchased and are relying on these policies, and those who sold the policies and are continuing to request substantial rate hikes.”

Long-term care insurance policies have been marketed in Maine since the 1980s and were intended to help individuals cover the cost of potential long-term care as they aged and became disabled.

Early “rich” policies were sold with life-long benefits and inflation protection. In the past decade, as owners of those early policies have started to make use of their coverage, insurance companies have struggled with higher than anticipated expenses as a result of longer life expectancies, lengthy claims, and lower than projected lapse rates. Recent years of sustained low interest rates on companies’ investments have compounded the problem. As a result, companies are seeking to stabilize their lines of long-term care policies.

“Policyholders across the country who have not yet needed to use their policy are faced with the decision to either pay significantly more each month to maintain their benefits, or reduce their level of benefits, or drop their policies,” Cioppa said. “As regulators, we are charged with protecting consumers’ interests. That includes making sure insurance companies remain solvent and able to pay their claims.”

The forum will begin with an overview of the LTC insurance market in Maine, the rate review process as dictated by Maine law, and recently enacted rules that protect consumers by clarifying and strengthening the claims payment process that companies are required to follow. Consumers will then have an opportunity to present statements about their experience as policyholders of long-term care insurance and for companies to present reasons for their rate increase requests and ideas to make the market viable.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments for consideration by the Superintendent or who are interested in presenting a statement in person at the forum are asked to contact Judi Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist, at judith.k.watters@maine.gov or at 207-624-8445 by April 25th. A notice about the forum can be found on the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance.

Consumers with questions about any insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting www.maine.gov/insurance, calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: March 29, 2016 1:30 PM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Issues Reminder About Long-Term Care Insurance Forum

May 5, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is reminding the public about a forum on long-term care insurance taking place May 9th in Augusta. He is inviting Maine residents to attend or join via webcast, and to provide written or oral statements about their experiences as long-term care insurance policyholders. Consumers interested in making a statement at the forum are asked to contact the Bureau in advance, if possible, or to check with staff at the forum.

The forum will take place from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Kennebec Room of the Augusta Civic Center at 76 Community Drive, with a break from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. The live webcast of the event will be available on the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance. A video recording of the proceedings will be available for a period of time following the event.

“The national problem of underpriced long-term care insurance policies and steep premium rate increase requests is one that I and other state insurance regulators are working to address within our abilities, as defined by law,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “As the regulator of insurance companies selling long-term care policies in Maine, I want to hear first-hand from those who purchased and are relying on these policies, and those who sold the policies and are continuing to request substantial rate hikes.”

Long-term care insurance policies have been marketed in Maine since the 1980s and were intended to help individuals cover the cost of potential long-term care as they aged and became disabled.

Early “rich” policies were sold with life-long benefits and inflation protection. In the past decade, as owners of those early policies have started to make use of their coverage, insurance companies have struggled with higher than anticipated expenses as a result of longer life expectancies, lengthy claims, and lower than projected lapse rates. Recent years of sustained low interest rates on companies’ investments have compounded the problem. As a result, companies are seeking to stabilize their lines of long-term care policies.

“Policyholders across the country who have not yet needed to use their policy are faced with the decision to either pay significantly more each month to maintain their benefits, or reduce their level of benefits, or drop their policies,” Cioppa said. “As regulators, we are charged with protecting consumers’ interests. That includes making sure insurance companies remain solvent and able to pay their claims.”

The forum will begin with an overview of the LTC insurance market in Maine, the rate review process as dictated by Maine law, and recently enacted rules that protect consumers by clarifying and strengthening the claims payment process that companies are required to follow. Consumers will then have an opportunity to present statements about their experience as policyholders of long-term care insurance and for companies to present reasons for their rate increase requests and ideas to make the market viable.

Consumers who wish to submit written comments for consideration by the Superintendent or who are interested in presenting a statement in person at the forum are asked to contact Judi Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist, at judith.k.watters@maine.gov or at 207-624-8445 or to check with staff at the forum.

A notice about the forum can be found on the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance.

Consumers with questions about any insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting www.maine.gov/insurance, calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: May 5, 2016 2:49 PM

Governor and Insurance Superintendent Highlight Approaching Hurricane Season and Remind Residents about Actions to Take to Stay Safe and Protect Property

May 19, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa are urging Maine residents to recognize that the approaching Atlantic Hurricane Season presents an increased risk for severe weather and greater threats to life and property. They also issued reminders about steps that can be taken to protect people, minimize property loss and speed recovery after weather-related damage.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends in November. Many forecasters are predicting the most active season in recent years.

Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa encourage Mainers to review their homeowner or renter policy and to evaluate the benefits of flood insurance. They also urge residents to complete a home inventory checklist and assemble an emergency supply kit.

“The best time to prepare for severe weather is when the skies are clear and threats aren’t imminent,” Governor LePage said. “We should all take simple steps to keep our families and property safe, and to be in a position to recover quickly should damage occur.”

Cioppa emphasized the importance of knowing what’s covered by a homeowners policy and making sure coverage is adequate. “Many people are unaware that standard homeowner policies do not cover flooding. They should review their policy, purchase additional coverage if needed, consider whether flood insurance makes sense for them, and complete an inventory of possessions.”

Flood Insurance: Flooding is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Due to a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, quick action is needed for a policy to be in place for later in this year’s hurricane season. Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-427-2419 or online at www.floodsmart.gov. The website includes tools to help homeowners assess their flood risk.

Inventory Checklist: Cioppa emphasized that the checklist can be enormously helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Although a copy of the inventory can be kept at home, a second should always be maintained with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents in a safety deposit box or other secure location. The inventory should include photos and video of property. A free checklist can be obtained on the Bureau’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance).

Additionally, the Governor and Superintendent encouraged residents to establish an emergency supply kit. It should include several days of drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), non-perishable packaged or canned foods, a non-electrical can opener and cooking utensil. The kit should also contain first aid materials, necessary medications, basic tools, a battery or crank-operated radio and flashlights, extra batteries and any supplies needed for pets, as well as a list of important names and phone numbers, including insurance company contact information. They also urged Mainers to familiarize themselves with resources provided by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) -- available at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare.

A listing of Disaster Preparedness Tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners accompanies this news release.

• Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.

• To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.

• As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.

• Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).

• Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.

• Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.

• Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.

• Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.

• Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.

• Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.

Last Updated: May 19, 2016 1:49 PM

Governor and Insurance Superintendent Announce Important New Service to Help People Locate Lost Life Insurance Policies

August 2, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Governor Paul R. LePage joined Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa in announcing the new Lost Life Insurance Policy Service to help individuals who may be a beneficiary of a life insurance policy or annuity contract purchased in Maine.

“The new Lost Life Insurance Policy Service launched by the Maine Bureau of Insurance will be a great help to consumers looking for lost annuity contracts or life insurance policies following the death of someone who may have named them as a beneficiary,” Governor LePage said.

Superintendent Cioppa noted that 277 companies have already agreed to participate in the program. These companies represent 82% of life and annuities business in Maine, as measured by the amount of premium written in 2015. All 10 top-selling companies of life and annuity products in Maine are participating, as are 44 of the top 50. (A list of those companies electing to participate and those that have been unresponsive or have declined to participate will be posted to the Bureau’s website.)

“The Bureau of Insurance is pleased to make this important new service available to people in Maine and elsewhere,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “We will continue to encourage all companies to do the right thing by cooperating with the Bureau, joining this effort, and assisting Maine consumers who have a lawful claim.”

Potential beneficiaries, executors or legal representatives of a deceased individual, who may have lived in Maine when the policy was issued or the annuity was purchased, are encouraged to use the service.

Individuals using the service will need to provide the Bureau with specific information about the deceased policyholder or contract holder, and the Bureau will then submit this information to the participating insurers. The insurers will check this information against their records to determine if there is a policy or contract that was held by the deceased.

More information about the service can be found through the Bureau’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance) or directly at www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance/LostPolicyLocator/LifeInsuranceSearchInstructions.html. Individuals or companies with questions about the service can contact Violet Hyatt, Consumer Health Care Division Deputy Director, at 207-624-8453 or 1-800-300-5000.

The Bureau of Insurance has staff available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer consumer questions about all types of insurance. Individuals may call 207-624-8475 or 800-300-5000 (toll free in Maine) or TDD Relay 711, or email insurance.pfr@maine.gov. The Bureau also has numerous consumer guides and brochures are available at www.maine.gov/insurance.

Last Updated: August 3, 2016 12:36 PM

Maine Insurance Superintendent Approves Maine Community Health Options' Withdrawal from New Hampshire Market in 2017--Company will focus on primary market in Maine, while rebuilding reserves

September 1, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced today that he has approved a plan by Maine Community Health Options (Health Options) to withdraw from the New Hampshire market in 2017. Health Options, which is domiciled in Maine, has been closely monitored by the Bureau since the final quarter of 2015 when it began to report significant losses. Year to date in 2016, Health Options has been operating very close to its projections and plan.

“Withdrawal from New Hampshire will allow Health Options to focus on its primary market in Maine, and on rebuilding its reserves,” stated Cioppa. “In the past year, the company has worked to reduce expenses, improve operations, and better align premium rates with claims experience. Consolidating their business is expected to further improve the company’s stability.” Cioppa added that the Bureau will continue to monitor and guide the company, to ensure that Maine consumers and the company’s creditors are protected.

As of July 31st of this year, Health Options’ New Hampshire membership numbered 11,438 individuals (including group members), compared to Maine’s 65,188. The company is Maine’s only Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP), created under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA), and it covers approximately 72% of the individual market in Maine.

The New Hampshire Insurance Department (NHID) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which oversees the ACA Marketplace, also support the withdrawal. NHID Commissioner Roger Sevigny said the state is open to the possibility of Health Options returning to the market in 2018.

New Hampshire residents who are Health Options members will need to select a new plan in the upcoming Open Enrollment, starting November 1st. Consumers should enroll in a new plan as soon as possible during Open Enrollment, to prevent a gap in coverage and facilitate a smooth transition. New Hampshire members will receive a letter from Health Options providing more details.

Both Cioppa and Sevigny urge consumers to actively consider their options during Open Enrollment by comparing cost-sharing (deductibles, co-insurance, and copays) and networks (doctors, hospitals, and other providers covered by a plan).

Those with Health Options group plans in New Hampshire will be covered until their next renewal date. No new group plans will be sold for 2017 and no renewals will take place after October of this year. Group administrators will also receive letters from Health Options, with more details.

The Bureau of Insurance has staff available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to answer consumer questions about all lines of insurance regulated by the Bureau. Individuals may call 207-624-8475 or 800-300-5000 (toll free in Maine) or TDD Relay 711, or email insurance.pfr@maine.gov. The Bureau also has numerous consumer guides and brochures that are available for viewing online at www.maine.gov/insurance.

Last Updated: September 1, 2016 2:38 PM

Bureau of Insurance Encourages Mainers to Compare Health Insurance Plans as Open Enrollment Period Nears--Agency’s Guidance Applies to the Individual Market

October 25, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

With the national Open Enrollment period to purchase, renew, or change individual health insurance plans for 2017 approaching, Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is encouraging Maine residents to compare their options. Open Enrollment on the Individual Market runs November 1, 2016 through January 31, 2017.

“Individuals who purchase their insurance directly would be wise to comparison shop,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “Mainers should not assume that the plan they currently have is the best option for them next year. It’s important to compare the price of premiums and also of cost-sharing amounts; that includes deductibles, copays and co-insurance. Also, consumers should determine whether a plan covers their medical providers and prescriptions. If individuals and families need help doing their homework, calling the Bureau is a good place to start.”

A rate calculator at www.maine.gov/insurance/ACA/Pricecompare/IndividualHealth_Index.html created by the Bureau makes it easy for users to find out which companies and which plans they can purchase (based on where they live) and an estimate of their rates (based on their age and whether or not they smoke). The calculator does NOT apply potential tax credits (also known as subsidies). Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated tax credit at www.healthcare.gov.

The companies selling 2017 Individual plans in Maine are Aetna, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Community Health Options (CHO). All plans will be sold on and off the Healthcare.gov Marketplace, except Aetna’s, which will only be available off the Marketplace. Those individuals who qualify for a tax credit need to purchase their plan through the Marketplace to have the credit applied.

Individuals who purchased a 2016 Individual (or Family) plan will receive a letter from their insurance company about any changes to benefits or premium. If an individual does not select a new plan and continues to make payments, insurance companies will automatically re-enroll them into their existing plan. If the plan has been discontinued by the company, the policyholder will be automatically re-enrolled into the plan that is most similar to their current one.

Those who purchased a 2016 plan through the Marketplace will receive a notice urging them to update their income and household information, to ensure accurate calculation of tax credits for 2017.

Anthem policyholders with grandfathered and transitional plans will receive a notice from the company informing them that their plan has been discontinued. The letter from Anthem will also provide information about other options with the company. These individuals may also purchase any plan offered by any of the other companies.

Community Health Options has made changes to its out-of-state coverage. Members should check with CHO about the status of its out-of-state providers.

Out-of-pocket expenses for out-of-network services through both CHO plans and Anthem’s POS plans are applied to a separate deductible from in-network services, which can significantly increase costs for individuals.

Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov. Information about many insurance topics can be found on the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr), which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations.

#

Facts and Tips About Open Enrollment on the Individual Market

Enrolling for the First Time?

• The earliest your new coverage will start is January 1, 2017.

• Purchase a plan by December 15 to have coverage in place on January 1.

• To have a tax credit applied to your premium, be sure to purchase your plan through the federally facilitated Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.

• You may be able to get coverage sooner if you have lost insurance because you lost your job, got a divorce, aged-off your parent’s plan, moved outside of your health plan service area, or had a change in immigration status. For a full list of qualifying events go to www.healthcare.gov.

Renewing Your Coverage?

• Did you have a Marketplace plan in 2016? If so, you may see an adjustment to your tax credit due to a change in the second lowest silver plan (which is the basis for all subsidy calculations).

• Was your plan discontinued? If so, you may be re-enrolled into a slightly different plan by your insurance company. You can accept the new plan or purchase a different plan of your choice from any of the companies that are selling.

• Have you had changes to your income and/or to your household size since you bought a Marketplace plan for 2016? If so, it is very important to report those changes at www.healthcare.gov as soon as possible, to have the correct premium tax credit applied for 2017 and avoid owing money at tax time.

Important Points for All Consumers, Whether Newly Enrolling or Renewing:

• Make sure your health care providers, hospital, and prescriptions are covered by your plan. Contact the insurance company if you have questions about what is covered.

• Estimate your rates; use the rate calculator on the Bureau’s website to see estimated premiums for all plans in your geographic area. Estimates are based on your age and smoking status.

o NOTE: the rate calculator does not factor in tax credits that you may receive when purchasing a plan through the Marketplace. Visit www.healthcare.gov when Open Enrollment starts on November 1 to get premium estimates that include tax credits.

• Seek assistance when needed – from an insurance company, an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator (see www.enroll207.com), or the Bureau of Insurance.   Facts and Tips About Open Enrollment on the Small Group Market • For the purposes of purchasing health insurance in Maine, Small Businesses are those with 50 or fewer full time equivalent (FTE) employees.

• Businesses with 25 or fewer employees may benefit from a federal tax credit if they purchase employee coverage through the federally facilitated Small Business Health Options (SHOP).

• Small businesses can purchase insurance any time throughout the year if they meet minimum participation requirements.

• Minimum participation requirements require business to include at least 70% of eligible employees when purchasing a SHOP plan and 75% of eligible employees when buying a non-SHOP plan.

• If you are a small business owner, you have a special opportunity each year from November 15 to December 15 to buy a plan without meeting minimum participation requirements.

• Small businesses in Maine should consult a broker and consider their options each year.

• SHOP plans are offered by Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Community Health Options.

• Off-SHOP plans are offered by Aetna, Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, HPHC, Community Health Options, and United Health Care Insurance.

For more information about these plans, call the Bureau at 1-800-300-5000 to request the Guide to Small Business Insurance in Maine, or find it on the brochure page of the Bureau’s website at www.maine.gov/insurance. A comparison of small group plan rates is also posted on the Bureau’s website. Small Businesses are invited to contact the Bureau with questions.

Last Updated: October 25, 2016 9:45 PM

Bureau of Insurance Reminds Mainers of December 15 Deadline to Enroll in Individual Health Care Plans for Coverage That Will Be Effective January 1

December 9, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is reminding Maine residents who want to have new health insurance coverage in place on January 1 of the upcoming December 15 deadline.

Open Enrollment for individuals to purchase, renew, or change plans for 2017 on the Individual Health Insurance Market will continue through January 31, 2017, but for a plan to be in place and provide coverage by January 1, 2017, it needs to be purchased by December 15, 2016.

Anthem, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and Maine Community Health Options again have plans for sale for individuals and families both on and off the Healthcare Marketplace (at www.heatlhcare.gov) and Aetna is offering plans off the Marketplace.

For those currently without coverage, the annual Open Enrollment period is the only time to purchase health insurance without a special circumstance such as job loss, marriage or divorce, birth or adoption, etc.

Federal tax credits are available to qualified individuals and families who purchase plans through the Healthcare Marketplace. These credits are used to offset the cost of health insurance premiums to make coverage more affordable. Additional assistance with cost-sharing (deductibles, copays, and co-insurance) is available to those who qualify and purchase a silver plan.

Federal tax penalties will be applied at tax time for individuals and families who do not have a plan with “Minimal Essential Health Coverage” and do not qualify for a “hardship exemption.”

For those who currently have an individual or family plan, taking the time to look at what is being offered for 2017 could save money, provide a more satisfactory provider network, or better benefits.

“Those individuals and families who purchased a plan for 2016 will have their plan automatically renewed for 2017, if they are making payments as agreed,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “However, we encourage everyone, even those with existing coverage, to review their options.”

Small employers with fewer than 50 employees can purchase small group insurance once a year during the open enrollment period that runs November 15 to December 15 without meeting the participation levels required during the rest of the year. For more information about small group options in Maine, visit www.maine.gov/insurance, contact a broker or agent, or call the Bureau. For information about purchasing coverage through the SHOP Marketplace visit www.healthcare.gov/smallbusiness.

Individual tax credits are not available through SHOP, but tax credits are available to qualifying employers with fewer than 25 full-time equivalent employees making less than $50,000 on average.

The Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division is available to answer questions 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Contact the division at 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY use Maine Relay 711), or at Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

TIPS FOR INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

New Enrollees:

• The earliest that coverage will start is January 1, 2017.

• To have coverage on January 1, individuals must purchase a plan by December 15.

• Individuals who qualify for a tax credit will only have the credit applied if they purchase the insurance through the Marketplace.

• Tax credits do not apply to plans available for purchase outside the Marketplace.

• A tax penalty of $695 per adult up to $2,085 per family, or 2.5% of household income will be assessed at tax time for those without “Minimal Essential Health Coverage,” unless the individual or family qualifies for a “hardship exemption.” (Penalties for uncovered children under age 18 are half of the penalty amount for an uncovered adult.) Those Renewing Their Plans:

• Policyholders should carefully review the information from their insurance company to make sure the plan still meets their needs.

• Individuals who purchased a plan through the Marketplace may see an adjustment to their tax credit, due to a change in the second lowest silver plan, on which all subsidy, or tax credit calculations are based. This could result in a rate increase for some policyholders.

• Some individuals and families may be re-enrolled in slightly different plans due to their existing plan being discontinued. These policyholders also have the same option to purchase a different plan of their choice.

• For those who purchased plans on the Marketplace and have had changes to income and/or household size, it is very important to report those changes at www.healthcare.gov to have the correct premium tax credit applied and avoid owing money at tax time.
Important Points for Those Newly Enrolling or Renewing: Whether purchasing a new plan or re-enrolling in existing coverage, it is a very good idea to:

• Review the provider network to ensure that the health care providers and hospital one intends to use are part of the network, and confirm that the prescriptions one uses are covered. Individuals having questions about these issues should contact the insurance company.

• Use the rate calculator on the Bureau of Insurance website – www.maine.gov/insurance. It will provide the premium estimate for all plans in an individual’s geographic area in Maine, based on age and smoking status. The rate calculator does not factor in tax credits that may apply when purchasing a plan through the Marketplace (www.healthcare.com will calculate both).

• Seek assistance when needed – from an insurance company, an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator (find one at www.enroll207.com), or the Bureau of Insurance.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr), which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations.

Last Updated: December 10, 2016 11:09 PM

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa Elected Vice President of National Association of Insurance Commissioners

December 21, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine’s Insurance Superintendent, Eric Cioppa, has been elected Vice President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) for 2017. Superintendent Cioppa has served as the NAIC’s Secretary-Treasurer during 2016.

The other elected officers for 2017 are President: Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel; President-Elect: Tennessee Insurance Commissioner Julie Mix McPeak; and Secretary-Treasurer: Texas Insurance Commissioner David Mattax.

“I’m honored to continue to serve on the NAIC’s Executive Committee, as well as on various other working committees,” Cioppa said. “It’s gratifying to be part of a group of people who share a common mission and duty to the consumers in each state and each member US-territory, while at the same time supporting and regulating the insurance businesses and products we all rely on.”

Cioppa has served as Maine’s Insurance Superintendent since 2011. He joined the Bureau in 1988 as a statistician then served as supervisor of the Workers’ Compensation section prior to becoming Deputy Superintendent in 1998. The Bureau is one of five agencies within Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr).

Maine is part of a highly coordinated state-based national system designed to protect policyholders and effectively regulate the U.S. insurance marketplace. Through the NAIC, member regulators (comprised of all 50 states and five US territories) establish national standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC accreditation of states enables cross border solvency regulation and allows for a robust insurance market composed of regional and national insurers.

Along with the NAIC, U.S. insurance regulators, including Superintendent Cioppa, also participate in the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS) on major standard setting initiatives, supervision of cross-border insurers, identification of systemic risk in the insurance sector, and the creation of international best practices.

Last Updated: December 22, 2016 12:00 PM

Maine Insurance Bureau, NAIC Launch Nationwide Life Insurance Policy Locator Tool

December 22, 2016

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

The Maine Bureau of Insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) have launched a service that allows consumers to search nationally to find a deceased person’s lost life insurance policies and annuities.

The Bureau had launched a locator service earlier this year, but will now merge its efforts with the NAIC’s new national Life Insurance Policy Locator, which can be accessed on the NAIC’s website (www.naic.org) or from the Bureau’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance).

The coordinated effort will better assist individuals with finding life insurance policies and annuities, estimated by Consumer Reports to equal $1 billion in unclaimed benefits.

“This service will be of great assistance to many Mainers and others who have benefits due to them,” Bureau Superintendent Eric Cioppa said. “The tool streamlines and simplifies the process for consumers and insurance companies. Anyone with questions about the systems should contact the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division.”

The online system encrypts information to maintain confidentiality. Insurance companies participating in the system will compare submitted requests with policyholder information and report all matches to state insurance departments. Companies will then contact beneficiaries or their authorized representatives.

The Bureau of Insurance is available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Consumers may also email questions to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Last Updated: December 22, 2016 3:31 PM

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa Announces Anthem Health Plans of Maine to pay $225,000 Civil Penalty for Untimely Complaint Handling

January 9, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced that Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc. (“Anthem”) has agreed to pay a $225,000 civil penalty as part of a consent agreement following an investigation by the Maine Bureau of Insurance into the company’s complaint handling procedures. In addition to the civil penalty, Anthem is required to submit a corrective action plan to the Bureau within thirty days of the agreement.

The Bureau’s Market Conduct Unit performed a comprehensive review of Anthem’s complaint handling after Bureau investigators reported several late and missing responses to complaints forwarded to Anthem by the Bureau.

The exam found that the company repeatedly failed to comply with Maine law, requiring insurance companies to respond to the Bureau’s consumer complaint inquiries within 14 days. The examination also found that the company failed to accurately report some annually required data and failed to facilitate a timely completion of the examination.

“We expect insurers to respond in a timely and substantive manner to issues raised by consumers,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “Failure to respond to the Bureau’s inquiries is a serious issue, as it directly impacts our ability to assist consumers and protect their contractual and legal rights.”

Cioppa also stated that the Bureau will be reviewing Anthem’s corrective action plan and will continue to monitor the company’s handling of complaints, to ensure that the corrective action has resolved the issue.

Anthem is a Maine domiciled insurance company based in South Portland. The Bureau was assisted in the investigation and settlement of the consent agreement by the Maine Attorney General’s Office.

The Bureau’s staff is available to answer consumer’s questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Consumers may also email questions to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Last Updated: January 12, 2017 2:13 PM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Issues Consumer Guidance Regarding Insurance for Drone Use

January 20, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

MAINE BUREAU OF INSURANCE CONSUMER ALERT – DRONE INSURANCE

Did you get a drone this holiday season? Federal regulators now require recreational drone operators to register their aircraft for a small fee (visit https://registermyuas.faa.gov/ for more information). This allows authorities to trace a drone back to an owner, which means it's vital to be in compliance with laws and regulations and have the appropriate insurance coverage.

Insurance for Private Use

Insuring your drone isn't difficult. Using a drone as a hobby is generally covered under a homeowner’s insurance policy (subject to a deductible), which typically covers radio-controlled model aircraft. This also applies to a renter's insurance policy.

Confirm whether your homeowner’s or renter’s policy will cover your drone if it is lost, stolen or damaged, by reviewing the content section of your policy or by speaking to your agent. If you have an auto policy with comprehensive coverage, it may cover damage to your car if your drone collides with it.

A larger concern is liability for an accident caused by your drone. If your drone crashes into someone else's vehicle or a person, the accident is your responsibility.

If you have a homeowners or renter's policy, generally the policy will cover liability for an accident caused by your drone. Check with your agent or insurer to verify your policy contains this important coverage.

Privacy is a concern when it comes to drone use. Drones are often equipped with on-board cameras and other data-collection capabilities. Drone owners will want to remain mindful of privacy concerns.

Insurers are developing policies to cover these liability exposures, so keep in touch with your insurer to make sure your use remains covered.

Drone Safety

Hobbyists have been flying model aircraft for decades. However, advances in technology allow drones to hover quietly and fly far from their pilot. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, by 2020 there will be 30,000 small unmanned drones used for business purposes. This does not include ones used by hobbyists.

With some drones weighing up to 55 pounds, a fall from the sky can cause significant damage to property or bystanders. The FAA has issued these guidelines for drone hobbyists:

-- Don't fly higher than 400 feet and stay clear of surrounding obstacles.

-- Keep the aircraft in sight at all times.

-- Stay away from manned aircraft operations.

-- Don't fly within five miles of an airport unless you contact the airport and control tower before flying.

-- Avoid flying near people or stadiums.

-- Don't fly an aircraft that weighs more than 55 pounds.

-- Use caution when flying your unmanned aircraft. For questions about homeowners’, renters’ or other property and liability insurance, call the Maine Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty division at 800-300-5000 or at 207-624-8475 or email insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. More information about the department and its consumer resources can be found online at www.maine.gov/pfr. Bureau of Insurance media inquiries should be directed to Doug Dunbar, Department Communications Director, at 207-624-8525, or Judi Watters, Bureau Consumer Outreach Specialist, at 207-624-8475.

Last Updated: January 20, 2017 1:08 PM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Obtains Nearly $970,000 in Recoveries for Consumers and Businesses in 2016

January 30, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine residents made 6,007 calls to the Maine Bureau of Insurance in 2016 and filed 790 complaints related to a wide range of insurance-related issues. Investigations into some of those complaints resulted in $969,769 in recovered funds, according to Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa.

“The Bureau’s job is to regulate the insurance industry in Maine, a job that has many facets,” Cioppa stated. “One of those is making sure consumers’ claims are appropriately processed and paid in a timely way. The Bureau’s consumer divisions welcome Mainers to call with insurance related questions or concerns.”

The Property and Casualty Division, which includes auto, homeowners and other types of property and liability insurance, handled 2,794 inquiries and 254 written complaints. The Consumer Health Care Division, which includes health, life, long-term care, Medicare supplement, annuities and disability insurance, received 3,213 inquiries and 636 written complaints.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: January 30, 2017 3:46 PM

Maine Ranks Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

February 10, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced that Maine continues to be among the top states in the nation for most affordable homeowners and personal auto insurance rates.

For the fourth year in a row, Maine ranks 3rd for lowest average auto insurance premiums, nationally, and for the third year in a row the state ranks 10th for lowest average homeowners premiums nationally, according to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England.

-- The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

-- The NAIC’s Homeowners Insurance Report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

“Despite having coverage requirements that exceed those in most other states, Maine continues to have consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “And our State also remains among the most affordable for homeowner’s insurance.”

According to the Insurance Research Council, Maine also continues to have one of the lowest percentages of uninsured motorists, at 4.7%.

More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: February 23, 2017 10:23 AM

Bureau of Insurance Launches New Consumer and Industry Friendly Website, and Encourages Public Feedback

March 17, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

The Maine Bureau of Insurance has launched a new, improved and expanded website and is encouraging public input. The site, www.maine.gov/insurance, features a brighter, more visually accessible look, increased consumer information on a wide range of insurance topics, and reorganization of insurance industry information for improved ease of use.

“We hope users will have an easier time finding the information they’re seeking, and that the website will be the first stop for Maine consumers seeking answers to questions about insurance,” Superintendent Eric Cioppa said. “The Bureau looks forward to feedback on ways to continually improve the site.”

The work was done in house, with assistance from the State’s Office of Information Technology. Tips from staff for all users include:

-- Review the new “Site Map,” to get a quick understanding of how the site is organized;

-- Bookmark pages that are often used; and

-- E-mail the Webmaster (listed on the Contact Us page) with any error messages or broken links.

The Bureau of Insurance can be reached by calling (207) 624-8475 or (800) 300-5000 (toll free in Maine), or by using Maine Relay 711 (TTY), or by email at Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

Last Updated: March 17, 2017 1:46 PM

Maine’s Bureau of Insurance Approves 4.3% Decrease in Workers’ Compensation Loss Costs, with approximately $9.5 Million in Expected Savings to Help Businesses

March 31, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced that the Bureau of Insurance has approved the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.’s (NCCI) 2017 loss cost for Maine, filed earlier this year, which proposed a premium decrease of 4.3%. The new NCCI rates go into effect for new and renewing policies as of April 1, 2017.

“This decrease is expected to save Maine businesses more than $9.5 million, and result in a cumulative decrease of 53.6% since the 1992 workers’ compensation reform,” Superintendent Cioppa said. “These savings are the result of successful efforts by Maine employers and employees to improve safety in the workplace, return injured workers to employment as soon as possible, and control medical costs.”

Loss costs are based on previous and projected losses and benefit payments. “This most recent decrease in loss cost will result in lower Workers’ Compensation premiums across all industries,” Cioppa stated.

NCCI is the advisory rating organization for insurance companies that offer workers’ compensation coverage in Maine. NCCI-approved loss costs are available to insurers to reference when filing their workers’ compensation rates with the Bureau of Insurance.

Maine currently has a competitive market for workers’ compensation insurance and each insurer sets its own rate level. Insurers may modify the NCCI loss costs and must select their own expense and profit factor in setting rates.

Last Updated: May 2, 2017 2:56 PM

State Officials Caution Maine Residents about Threats Posed by Severe Weather as Hurricane Season Approaches

May 30, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

With the Atlantic Hurricane Season approaching, Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa are reminding Maine residents about steps that can be taken to protect people, minimize property loss and speed recovery after weather-related damage. The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and runs through November.

Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa encourage Mainers to review their homeowners or renters policy and to evaluate the benefits of flood insurance. They also urge residents to complete a home inventory checklist and assemble an emergency supply kit.

“The start of the hurricane season is a good time to remember that severe weather can strike anytime and it’s important to be prepared,” Governor LePage said. “There are simple steps we can all take to keep our families safe and property protected, and to recover quickly if damage occurs.”

Cioppa urged residents to understand what’s covered by their homeowners or renters policy and make sure coverage is adequate. “Standard homeowner policies do not cover flooding, which is surprising to many people. We should all take time to become familiar with our policy, purchase additional coverage if needed, consider whether flood insurance makes sense, and complete an inventory of possessions.”

Flood Insurance: Flooding is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy. Due to a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, quick action is needed for a policy to be in place for much of this year’s hurricane season. Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-427-2419 or online at www.floodsmart.gov. The website includes tools to help homeowners assess their flood risk.

Inventory Checklist: A checklist can be enormously helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Although a copy of the inventory can be kept at home, a second should always be maintained with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents in a safety deposit box or other secure location. The inventory should include photos and video of property. A free checklist can be obtained on the Bureau’s website www.maine.gov/insurance (directly at www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance/consumer/individualsfamilies/homeownersrenters/homeinventorychecklist.html).

Additionally, the Governor and Superintendent encouraged residents to establish an emergency supply kit. It should include several days of drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), non-perishable packaged or canned foods, a non-electrical can opener and cooking utensil. The kit should also contain first aid materials, necessary medications, basic tools, a battery or crank-operated radio and flashlights, extra batteries and any supplies needed for pets, as well as a list of important names and phone numbers, including insurance company contact information.

They also urged Mainers to familiarize themselves with resources provided by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) -- available at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

A listing of Disaster Preparedness Tips from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners accompanies this news release.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from the NAIC:

• Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.

• To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.

• As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.

• Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).

• Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.

• Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.

• Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.

• Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.

• Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.

• Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy

Last Updated: May 30, 2017 11:21 AM

Maine's Insurance Superintendent Urges Mainers to Talk with Their Agent About Purchasing Flood Insurance

August 31, 2017

 

Contact: Doug Dunbar
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Exact percentages vary, but news from Texas consistently paints a bleak picture regarding the number of homes protected by flood insurance – with the vast number of homes impacted by Hurricane Harvey reportedly uninsured.

“Many people assume incorrectly that their basic homeowners insurance policy will cover damage from flooding,” Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated. “Flood coverage must be purchased separately. Talk with your agent about whether you need flood insurance.”

While mortgage lenders usually require homes in flood zones to have flood coverage, it’s usually an optional purchase for all others.

The Atlantic hurricane season generally runs from June to November and another above average season of hurricanes and named storms is predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maine residents are urged to take steps to protect their homes, investments and families. The following resources provide initial guidance.

Flood Insurance: Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by calling 1-800-427-4661 or online at www.floodsmart.gov.

Inventory Checklist: A checklist can be helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Start one at www.maine.gov/insurance/consumer/individualsfamilies/homeownersrenters/homeinventorychecklist.html and keep a hard copy in a secure location away from your home, with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents.

Emergency Preparedness: For information about preparing yourself and family for emergency situations, such as floods, storms, power outages and home fires, visit https://www.ready.gov/ The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provides Maine specific information at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

Last Updated: August 31, 2017 11:57 AM

"More Important Than Ever" to Compare Health Insurance Plans

September 28, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa has an urgent message for Maine residents who purchase their health insurance coverage on the Individual Market: “Take the time to compare your options, and do it before Open Enrollment ends on December 15.”

“As most people are well aware, there has been quite a bit of turmoil in the insurance market this year. This has resulted in higher rates, and also in fewer choices,” Cioppa stated.

Just Two Insurers Selling Marketplace Plans

Anthem, one of the three insurers that sold individual and family plans on the ACA Marketplace in 2017, has chosen not to renew that business in 2018. Anthem will continue to sell plans off the Marketplace, but these plans cannot be purchased with premium subsidies (otherwise known as Advance Premium Tax Credits, or APTCs) and do not provide Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) to eligible low-income consumers. Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will continue to offer plans both on and off the Marketplace.

The Impact of the CSR Issue on Silver Plans

It remains uncertain whether the federal government will continue to fund the CSR subsidies, which automatically lower the deductibles and other cost sharing for Silver Plans purchased on the Marketplace by individuals with incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. If federal funding is discontinued, these extra benefits will have to be funded by increasing the premiums for those Silver Plans that are sold through the Marketplace.

“The important thing for consumers to know is that because the CSR program has not been funded, Silver Plans might no longer be the best choice for many consumers, particularly those who are not eligible for CSRs,” Cioppa said. Cioppa said that the bottom line is that the complicated pricing structure makes it more important than ever for consumers to look carefully at all costs involved in the plan they choose:

• the premium payment (including any premium subsidy they may receive to help cover the cost);

• the deductible amount that will have to be paid before the insurance company begins to pay;

• the co-insurance amount that they will need to pay after the deductible is met; and

• any co-payments to see primary care providers or specialist, as well as for medications.

“Also, consumers should determine whether a particular plan covers their medical providers and prescriptions. If individuals and families need help doing their homework, calling the Bureau is a good place to start.”

Additional Information and Resources

Consumer Health Care Division: Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Other Sources of Assistance: Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you, along with other information, at www.enroll207.com. Consumers can also contact the insurers directly.

A rate calculator at www.maine.gov/insurance created by the Bureau will be posted in mid to late October, which will make it easy for users to find out which plans they can purchase and an estimate of their rates. The calculator does NOT apply potential premium subsidies. Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated tax credit at www.healthcare.gov.

Changing Companies/Plans: Individuals who purchased a 2017 Individual (or Family) plan will receive a letter from their insurance company about any and all changes.

• Individuals who had Marketplace plans with Anthem will need to select a new Marketplace plan with Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim, or purchase an off-Marketplace plan with Anthem, without premium subsidies.

• Individuals with an off-Marketplace plan through Anthem, Community Health Options, or Harvard Pilgrim, who do not select a new plan and continue to make payments, will automatically be re-enrolled into their existing plan. If the plan has been discontinued by the company, the policyholder will be automatically re-enrolled into the plan that is most similar to their current one.

• Updating Information for Subsidy and Tax Purposes: Those who purchased a 2017 plan through the Marketplace will receive a notice urging them to update their income and household information, to ensure accurate calculation of tax credits for 2017.

###

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr), which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations.

Last Updated: October 11, 2017 10:56 AM

UPDATED - “More Important Than Ever” to Compare Health Insurance Plans

October 10, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa has an urgent message for Maine residents who purchase their health insurance coverage on the Individual Market: “Take the time to compare your options, and do it before Open Enrollment ends on December 15.”

“As most people are well aware, there has been quite a bit of turmoil in the insurance market this year. This has resulted in higher rates, and also in fewer choices,” Cioppa stated.

Just Two Insurers Selling Marketplace Plans

Anthem, one of the three insurers that sold individual and family plans on the ACA Marketplace in 2017, has chosen not to offer plans on the Exchange in 2018. Anthem will continue to sell multiple plans off the Marketplace throughout Maine, but these plans cannot be purchased with premium subsidies (otherwise known as Advance Premium Tax Credits, or APTCs) and do not provide Cost Sharing Reductions (CSRs) to eligible low-income consumers.

Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will continue to offer plans both on and off the Marketplace.

The Impact of the CSR Issue on Silver Plans

It remains uncertain whether the federal government will continue to fund the CSR subsidies, which automatically lower the deductibles and other cost sharing for Silver Plans purchased on the Marketplace by individuals with incomes between 100 and 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. If federal funding is discontinued, these extra benefits will have to be funded by increasing the premiums for those Silver Plans that are sold through the Marketplace.

“The important thing for consumers to know is that because the CSR program has not been funded, Silver Plans might no longer be the best choice for many consumers, particularly those who are not eligible for CSRs,” Cioppa said.

Cioppa said that the bottom line is that the complicated pricing structure makes it more important than ever for consumers to look carefully at all costs involved in the plan they choose:

• the premium payment (including any premium subsidy they may receive to help cover the cost);

• the deductible amount that will have to be paid before the insurance company begins to pay;

• the co-insurance amount that they will need to pay after the deductible is met; and

• any co-payments to see primary care providers or specialist, as well as for medications.

“Also, consumers should determine whether a particular plan covers their medical providers and prescriptions. If individuals and families need help doing their homework, calling the Bureau is a good place to start.”

Additional Information and Resources

Consumer Health Care Division: Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Other Sources of Assistance: Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you, along with other information, at www.enroll207.com. Consumers can also contact the insurers directly.

A rate calculator at www.maine.gov/insurance, created by the Bureau, makes it easy for users to find out which plans they can purchase and an estimate of their rates. The calculator does NOT apply potential premium subsidies. Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated tax credit at www.healthcare.gov.

Changing Companies/Plans Individuals who purchased a 2017 Individual (or Family) plan will receive a letter from their insurance company about any and all changes.

• Individuals who had Marketplace plans with Anthem will need to select a new Marketplace plan with Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim if they wish to receive a premium subsidy in 2018, or renew their coverage off-Marketplace with Anthem, without premium subsidies.

• Individuals with an off-Marketplace plan through Anthem, Community Health Options, or Harvard Pilgrim, who do not select a new plan and continue to make payments, will automatically be re-enrolled into their existing plan. If the plan has been discontinued by the company, the policyholder will be automatically re-enrolled into the plan that is most similar to their current one.

Updating Information for Subsidy and Tax Purposes Those who purchased a 2017 plan through the Marketplace will receive a notice urging them to update their income and household information, to ensure accurate calculation of tax credits for 2017.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr), which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations.

Last Updated: October 11, 2017 10:28 AM

Maine Insurance Superintendent Clarifies Issues Related to Open Enrollment Period of ACA Individual Market

October 24, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

AUGUSTA – “Most Maine residents who purchase insurance through the ACA Marketplace will have several plan options and, for those who qualify for federal subsidies, may find that they don’t have to pay much more for coverage in 2018,” Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated. He shared these key points:

Those who qualify for premium subsidies will still receive them in 2018, and those who qualify for cost-sharing reductions will still receive them.

• Even though premium rates are increasing, individuals and families with premium subsidies will likely see them off-set by increases in premium subsidies.

• Even though insurance companies will not receive reimbursements from the federal government for providing cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), the insurance companies must still provide the cost-sharing reductions to low-income individuals and families who qualify, and who purchase a Silver plan through healthcare.gov.

Those without subsidies are advised to avoid inadvertently purchasing a higher priced Silver plan.

• To cover the loss of CSR payments, insurance companies priced Marketplace Silver plans higher than they otherwise would have. Because any plan offered on the Marketplace must also be offered off the Marketplace, these higher priced Silver plans could potentially be sold to individuals without subsidies.

• Some less expensive Silver plans will be offered off the Marketplace, only; these, along with Bronze and Gold plans, will be a better value to those without subsidies.

• Individuals without subsidies who currently have a Silver plan will want to guard against being automatically re-enrolled into a high priced Silver plan, by actively shopping.

Those with subsidies may find that Bronze and Gold plans are more affordable than in the past.

• Those who qualify for cost-sharing reductions will still only qualify for them by purchasing a Marketplace Silver plan.

• However, because the cost of Silver plans on the Marketplace has increased disproportionately compared to Bronze and Gold plans, a premium subsidy applied to a Bronze plan will stretch further (though cost-sharing will be higher); and a subsidized Gold plan may not cost much more than a subsidized Silver (and cost-sharing will be lower).

Compare all costs, not just the premiums, as well as networks, providers and drug formularies.

• Look at deductibles, co-insurance, copays and maximum out of pocket amounts to determine the total cost of a plan, based on your health and anticipated use of services.

• The Bureau’s rate calculator at maine.gov/insurance makes it easy to find out which plans are available and their estimated rates. The calculator does NOT apply subsidies. Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated subsidies at healthcare.gov.

• Make sure your preferred providers and medications are covered by the specific plan you are considering. Bureau staff, ACA Navigators and Assistors, as well as Agents and Brokers can help with this.

Don’t wait until the last minute – start now. Open Enrollment is just six weeks – Nov 1 – Dec 15.

• New plans must be purchased by December 15 to have coverage for 2018 and to avoid a tax penalty. Look at your options, ask questions, choose a plan, complete an application and (if applicable) update financial and household information on healthcare.gov soon, to avoid encountering a bottleneck as enrollment comes to a close.

Letters from Insurers to Current Members

Individuals who are either 1) currently enrolled in a plan with Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim on or off the Marketplace, or 2) are currently enrolled in an off-Marketplace Anthem plan, and who continue to pay their premium, will be auto-enrolled in their current plan for 2018 (or one like it, if their current plan is terminating), unless they shop and sign up for a different plan.

Anthem, Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will send letters to their members informing them of their right to purchase a new plan, or to simply auto-re-enroll by continuing their payments. The letters will explain any changes to members’ current plans.

Anthem members who currently have a Marketplace plan can actively choose to stay with Anthem by selecting a new Anthem off-Marketplace plan without subsidies, or they can actively shop for a new Marketplace plan with another company. Otherwise, they will be assigned to another Marketplace plan with another company by healthcare.gov, based on their geographical location (they will receive a letter from healthcare.gov explaining the new plan they’ve been assigned).

Additional Information and Resources

Consumer Health Care Division: Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Other sources of assistance: Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you at enroll207.com. Consumers can also contact the insurers directly to ask questions about covered services, providers, medications, and cost-sharing or to purchase unsubsidized plans.

Last Updated: October 25, 2017 12:34 PM

In Aftermath of Recent Storm Insurance Superintendent Reminds Mainers That the Bureau is Here to Help

November 7, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

In the aftermath of last week’s storm, Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa reminds Maine residents with weather-related property damage that the Bureau of Insurance is a resource for those with questions about homeowners, renters, auto, or commercial property policies. Cioppa also reminded those impacted of the following best practices when experiencing storm damage:

Move quickly to contact your insurance company. Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible to report your loss. You may also want to contact your insurance agent.

Take notes. When contacting the insurance company or agent, keep a record of the people you spoke to, when the conversation occurred, and summarize the discussion. Ask questions if you do not understand instructions. If possible, photograph the damaged property.

Expedite access to damaged areas. If possible, remove items or debris that will hinder the adjuster's access and ability to complete the examination of the property, and protect the property from further damage.

Wait for the adjuster to arrive. Do not permanently repair your damaged property without first getting instructions from your adjuster. Usually the adjuster will need to visually inspect the damage before repairs are made. Do not throw away damaged property until your adjuster says it’s okay to do so and make only temporary repairs until a claims adjuster looks at the damage. Making permanent repairs before the adjuster’s inspection could trigger a denial of your claim.

The Bureau recommends a number of proactive steps to prepare for future property damaging events:

Plan now for a possible future claim. Inventory your personal property and store the information virtually, or in another physical location, for safe keeping.

Review your policies to be sure you have adequate coverage. Wind damage is covered under a homeowner’s policy, but it is important to insure your home and belongings to their full replacement cost. Flooding is generally not covered under standard homeowner’s policies, so ask your agent about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you rent a house or apartment, talk to your agent about renters’ insurance.

Learn the facts about flood insurance. You can protect your home (up to $250,000 in coverage) or business (up to $500,000), including belongings, with flood insurance from NFIP, which can be purchased from private insurance companies and agents. Whether you rent or own your home or business, make sure to ask your agent about contents coverage. It is not automatically included with the NFIP building coverage. There is usually a 30-day waiting period before the flood coverage goes into effect. For more information, contact NFIP at 1-800-638-6620 or visit www.floodsmart.gov.

Contact the Property & Casualty Division of the Bureau of Insurance. with questions or concerns related to damage that has recently occurred, or for additional information to prepare for the future, by calling 207-624-8475, 1-800-300-5000, or TTY Maine Relay 711; or visit www.maine.gov/insurance.

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (www.maine.gov/pfr), which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations.

Last Updated: November 7, 2017 5:30 PM

Insurance Superintendent Reminds Mainers Who Need Health Insurance to Shop Before Open Enrollment Closes on December 15

December 6, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa has important reminders for Mainers who purchase health insurance for themselves and their families on the individual market:

Open Enrollment will end on Friday, December 15, earlier than in past years.

Anyone who does not have health insurance through an employer plan, Medicare, or other source will need to make their purchase by that date to have coverage for 2018 and avoid paying the tax penalty later.

The Bureau of Insurance approves all insurance plans sold in the individual market in Maine.

Approved plans (both on and off the Marketplace) which meet the minimum essential coverage requirement to avoid a tax penalty, can be found through a link to the Bureau’s Rate Calculator on its home page maine.gov/insurance. The Rate Calculator provides information on premium rates and cost-sharing amounts.

In 2018, many plans will cost less for individuals who qualify for premium subsidies, and some who have not qualified for subsidies in the past may now qualify.

To obtain a subsidy, a plan must be purchased through healthcare.gov. The federal website will calculate users’ estimated subsidies, even if they’re not ready to purchase a plan yet.

Those who do not qualify for subsidies may benefit from consulting a tax advisor.

Individuals who currently have an Anthem plan that they purchased through healthcare.gov should have received notice in the mail that they have been reassigned to a plan with Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.

Those being reassigned should carefully review the new plan and compare it to other available options, to make sure that plan is best for them. If they choose to stay with the plan they’ve been assigned, they must get their first payment to Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim by January 1.

“People enrolling in a new health insurance plan or switching plans should always check whether their providers are part of the plan’s network before buying,” Superintendent Cioppa added. “People should call both the insurance company and their healthcare provider to verify that the provider will be covered under the specific plan being considered,” Cioppa said. “It’s possible that a provider may be contracted by an insurance company under one plan but not another, and using an out of network provider adds significant cost.”

People in Maine can call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 with questions or concerns about their insurance options and the networks offered by the plans sold in Maine. Information is also available on the Bureau’s website (maine.gov/insurance).

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound business practices through oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations.

Last Updated: December 6, 2017 4:06 PM

Insurance Superintendent Alerts Mainers Impacted by October’s Severe Storm that They May Have More Time to Enroll in Health Insurance

December 19, 2017

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine residents impacted by the severe storm of October 29 and 30 may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to purchase health insurance for themselves and their families, according to Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. The October storm knocked out power across the state, caused extensive damage to property, and resulted in the Governor declaring a State of Emergency.

“The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have informed us that Maine residents who were unable to complete their application before Open Enrollment ended on December 15, due to the October storm, could qualify for a Special Enrollment Period through December 31,” stated Cioppa.

Those affected by the storm who have not yet purchased coverage for 2018 should do the following:

• Complete an online application at healthcare.gov.

• Contact the Marketplace Call Center at 800-318-2596 (TTY: 855-889-4325). The application will initially be denied by the system, requiring a Call Center representative to manually forward it for review.

• When calling, applicants should inform the Call Center representative that they are applying for a SEP due to the October storm in Maine and be prepared to provide information about how they were impacted.

People in Maine can call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 with questions or concerns about their insurance options and the networks offered by health insurance plans sold in Maine. Information is also available on the Bureau’s website (maine.gov/insurance).

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound business practices through oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations.

Last Updated: December 19, 2017 7:19 PM

Insurance Superintendent Reminds Mainers Who Lost Anthem Marketplace Coverage at Year’s End That They Have Until March 1 to Enroll in a New 2018 Plan

January 23, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Mainers whose Anthem Marketplace plans were discontinued at the end of 2017 can still purchase a new plan or switch plans for 2018, even though the annual Open Enrollment period ended on December 15, 2017.

“Individuals who lost their coverage because Anthem discontinued their Marketplace plan qualify for a special enrollment period until March 1,” Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated.

For the 2018 plan year in Maine, Anthem chose to discontinue all plans it had sold through the federal healthcare Marketplace. Individuals and families affected by Anthem’s decision should have received a letter from the Marketplace in November or December, informing them that they had been auto-enrolled in a new plan with either Harvard Pilgrim or Community Health Options, the two insurance companies offering plans through the Marketplace.

Those affected still have time to purchase or switch plans. Due to the way Anthem Marketplace members lost their coverage, their new coverage will begin on the first day of the month following enrollment; for example, those who enroll and pay before the end of January will have their new coverage in place on February 1. (This timeline does not apply to all types of events that qualify for a special enrollment.)

Individuals and families should also understand that they may qualify for a special enrollment period for a number of other reasons, at any time throughout the year, including but not limited to:

• losing employer provided health coverage

• losing eligibility for a student health plan

• moving out of a plan’s service area

• getting married or divorced.

Those qualifying for a special enrollment period have 60 days following the qualifying event to complete enrollment in a plan.

For more information about special enrollment periods or to complete a Marketplace application, Mainers should visit healthcare.gov or call the Marketplace call center at 800-318-2596 (TTY: 855-889-4325).

People in Maine can call the Bureau of Insurance at 1-800-300-5000 with questions or concerns about their insurance options and the networks offered by health insurance plans sold in Maine. Information is also available on the Bureau’s website (maine.gov/insurance).

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound business practices through oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations.

Last Updated: January 24, 2018 3:53 PM

Maine Continues to Rank Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

February 8, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

“Thanks to a competitive market, Maine consumers are paying less for auto and home insurance than consumers in nearly every other state,” Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated.

For the fifth consecutive year Maine ranked 3rd nationally for lowest average auto insurance premiums, and for the third year in a row the state ranked 10th nationally for lowest average homeowners premiums, according to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England.

• The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

• The NAIC’s Homeowners Insurance Report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

“Maine has coverage requirements that exceed those in most other states, yet Maine continues to have consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said.

According to the Insurance Research Council, Maine also now has the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists, at 4.5% (followed by New York at 6.1% and Massachusetts at 6.2%). More information is available from the NAIC (www.naic.org). Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to visit the Bureau of Insurance website at maine.gov/insurance, or call 800-300-5000, or email Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound business practices through oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations.

Last Updated: February 8, 2018 4:50 PM

Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Approves 12% Average Decrease in Workers' Compensation Loss Costs

February 20, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced approval of the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc.’s (NCCI) 2018 loss costs for Maine, filed earlier this year, which proposed an average loss cost decrease of 12%. The new NCCI loss costs go into effect for new and renewing policies as of April 1, 2018.

“Maine employers’ efforts to improve workplace safety, return injured workers to their jobs in a timely manner, and control medical costs continues to pay off,” Cioppa stated. “This most recent decrease should result in lower workers’ compensation premiums on average across all industry groups.”

The Superintendent noted that recently filed NCCI loss costs represent a cumulative decrease of 59.5% since the 1992 workers’ compensation reform, and that if all insurers fully adopt the decrease, Maine businesses could save an estimated $27 million in the year following implementation.

Loss costs are based on previous and projected losses and benefit payments. NCCI is the advisory rating organization for insurance companies that offer workers’ compensation coverage in Maine. NCCI-approved loss costs are available to insurers to reference when filing their workers’ compensation rates with the Bureau of Insurance.

The 12% decrease is an average loss costs change, which ranges from -10.4% to -15.1% depending on the industry group. This is an average decrease so some individual businesses will experience increases while the majority will experience decreases. The loss cost decrease is also only a recommended decrease, and it is up to the individual insurers to decide whether to accept the proposed change in loss costs.

Maine has a competitive market for workers’ compensation insurance and each insurer sets its own rate level. Insurers may modify the NCCI loss costs and must select their own expense and profit factor in setting rates.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free (in Maine) 1-800-300-5000 or TTY Maine Relay 711, or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov

Last Updated: February 20, 2018 2:46 PM

Mainers Recover More Than $1.7 Million in 2017 from Insurance Companies, With Assistance from Bureau of Insurance

March 23, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine residents made 5,728 calls to the Maine Bureau of Insurance in 2017 and filed 776 complaints related to a wide range of insurance-related issues. Investigation into some of those complaints resulted in $1,777,096 in recovered funds, according to Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa.

“When Mainers have concerns that they have not been able to resolve with their insurance company, we encourage them to call the Bureau. Our Health Care and Property and Casualty consumer divisions can answer questions about individuals’ insurance policies and look into whether the insurance company has acted in accordance with the policy and the law.”

The cases investigated by the Bureau involve a wide range of circumstances, ranging from complaints of improper billing, improper or delayed claims processing, improper denial of medical treatment, steering of auto repairs to certain businesses, and illegal insurance sales practices.

“Each situation is different,” Cioppa stated. “The outcome depends on the policy contract language and state and federal law. Oftentimes individuals feel as though they’ve been wronged, when the company has actually acted appropriately. It’s important to read your policy, but we are always here to help when there are questions.”

In 2017, the Consumer Health Care Division, which deals with health, life, long-term care, Medicare supplement, annuities and disability insurance, received 2,974 inquiries and 514 written complaints. The Property and Casualty Division, which deals with auto, homeowners and other types of property and liability insurance, handled 2,754 inquiries and 262 written complaints.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: March 23, 2018 10:05 AM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Supports National Retirement Planning Week April 9–13

April 10, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

The Maine Bureau of Insurance is joining the National Retirement Planning Coalition in promoting National Retirement Planning Week, April 9–13.

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa urged Mainers to set aside time in the coming week to assess their preparedness for retirement and to take even small steps towards improving their financial futures.

“Planning for retirement can feel like a daunting task” Cioppa stated, “but taking some action now will help avoid more stress down the line.”

Cioppa urges individuals to take advantage of the education and planning tools available year-round at retireonyourterms.org, a website created and maintained by the National Retirement Planning Coalition. A link to the website can also be found on the Bureau’s home page maine.gov/insurance during the month of April.

The Coalition, spearheaded by the Insured Retirement Institute and comprised of financial education, consumer advocate, and financial services organizations, recognizes the need to educate Americans on retirement planning and is committed to making this a national priority.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: April 10, 2018 11:24 AM

Maine Bureau of Insurance Announces Public Information Sessions, April 12 & 13, Regarding Proposed Federal Section 1332 Waiver

April 9, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced that the Bureau of Insurance would hold two public meetings this week, to provide information on the State’s proposed Section 1332 application under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Section 1332 State Innovation Waivers permit states to pursue innovative strategies that support high-quality, affordable health insurance.

Public information meetings will include a presentation about the proposed waiver application, followed by a time for questions and comments. Comments at the meeting may be submitted orally or in writing.

The meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

Bangor: April 12, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Husson University Board Room, 1 College Circle

Portland: April 13, 2018, 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Room 213 Abromson Community Education Center, 88 Bedford St.

Persons in need of auxiliary aid for effective participation in the meetings are invited to contact Karma Lombard at (207) 624-8540 or by email at karma.y.lombard@maine.gov.

Public Comments:

Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on May 2, 2018 and may be submitted via:

email to karma.y.lombard@maine.gov

or by mail to

ATTN: 1332 Proposed Waiver Application Maine Bureau of Insurance 34 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0034

Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA):

MGARA had active operations in Maine in 2012-13. It provided reinsurance to the individual health insurance market which allowed premiums for that market to remain lower than they otherwise would have been. MGARA was funded by reinsurance premiums paid by health insurers as well as by a $4 per member per month assessment across all segments of the health insurance market. Active operations were suspended in 2014 with the launch of the federal transitional reinsurance program, which has since terminated.

In 2017, the Maine Legislature enacted a law that allows MGARA to resume operations, upon approval of the Superintendent of Insurance. However, reactivation requires the granting of a federal Section 1332 innovation waiver assuming relevant federal law remains unchanged.

Under the proposed waiver application, savings realized by the federal government through MGARA’s operation would be returned to Maine to help stabilize the individual health insurance market through reduced individual premiums. The waiver application is required to be revenue neutral to the federal government.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency’s website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: April 9, 2018 2:24 PM

The Official Start of Atlantic Hurricane Season is Here - Are You Prepared And Protected?

June 28, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Days before the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, the first named storm "Alberto" made landfall, bringing heavy rains, strong winds, downed trees and flooding from Florida to the Great Lakes.

"This is a good time for Maine residents to assess their vulnerability to strong storms," said Eric Cioppa, Maine's Superintendent of Insurance. "Whether you own a home or are renting, talk with your agent about whether you need flood insurance."

Many people assume that their basic homeowners insurance policy will cover damage from flooding, but that's not the case; flood coverage must be purchased separately.

Mortgage lenders usually require homes in flood zones to have flood coverage, but it's usually an optional purchase for all others. People outside of mapped flood zones should consider their risk as well. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 20 percent of flood claims are filed by property owners outside of flood zones.

Maine residents are urged to take steps to protect their homes, investments and families. The following resources provide initial guidance.

Flood Insurance: Details are available from FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by calling 1-800-427-4661 or online at www.floodsmart.gov.

Inventory Checklist: A checklist can be helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Start one at www.maine.gov/insurance/consumer/individualsfamilies/homeownersrenters/homeinventorychecklist.html and keep a hard copy in a secure location away from your home, with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents.

Emergency Preparedness: For information about preparing yourself and family for emergency situations, such as floods, storms, power outages and home fires, visit https://www.ready.gov/ The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provides Maine specific information at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

Last Updated: September 14, 2018 5:39 PM

Maine Bureau of Insurance to Hold Public Information and Comment Sessions Regarding 2019 Health Insurance Rate Requests

July 10, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Members of the public are invited to two public meetings hosted by the Maine Bureau of Insurance, to discuss rate requests submitted by health insurance companies offering individual and small group health plans in Maine in 2019.

The meetings, one in Bangor and one in Portland, will include information about the proposed rates, Maine's rate review process, and an opportunity for those in attendance to ask questions and offer comments. Comments may be provided orally at the meetings or submitted in writing (as provided below).

The meeting dates, times and locations are as follows:

Bangor: July 24, 2018, 5:00 p.m.
Cross Insurance Center, Ballroom 5 515 Main Street, Bangor

Portland: July 26, 2018, 5:00 p.m. USM, Wishcamper Center, Lee Auditorium 88 Bedford St., Portland

Persons in need of auxiliary aid for effective participation in the meetings are invited to contact Karma Lombard sufficiently in advance of the meetings at telephone (207) 624-8540 or by email at karma.y.lombard@maine.gov.

Written Comments:

Written comments will be accepted through August 10th and may be submitted via email to susan.p.tardiff@maine.gov

or by mail to: ATTN: Susan Tardiff Maine Bureau of Insurance 34 State House Station Augusta, ME 04333-0034

Rate Request Information Online:

Information about individual and small group rates requested by insurers for the 2019 plan year in Maine can be found by clicking "2019 Health Insurance Rate Filings" at the top of the Bureau's homepage, www.maine.gov/insurance.

The Bureau requested that the insurance carriers submit two sets of rates for the 2019 individual and small group markets; one set of rates assumes that the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA) will be operational, again, in 2019 and one set assumes that MGARA will not be operational.

A Section federal 1332 State Waiver application was submitted by the Bureau on May 9 of this year to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. If successful, the waiver application would make it possible for Maine to re-establish MGARA.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Bureau by visiting the agency's website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: July 10, 2018 3:08 PM

The Bureau of Insurance 2019 Individual Health Insurance Rate Calculator is now available.

September 14, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

The Bureau of Insurances 2019 Individual Health Insurance Rate Calculator is now available.

The rate calculator at maine.gov/insurance makes it easy to find out which plans are available and the estimated rates for each. (The calculator does NOT apply premium subsidies. Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated premium subsidy at healthcare.gov when that site has been updated for 2019.)

Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated "we wanted to make the online rate calculator for 2019 available to consumers as soon as the 2019 rates were finalized by the Bureau. The rate calculator will allow Mainers who purchase insurance in the individual market to start researching their options so they will be well-prepared for Open Enrollment on November first."

The approved rates have been submitted to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) and contracts between CMS and the insurance carriers will be finalized by early October.

Superintendent Cioppa said that on average, rate increases are modest, and some rates have decreased, thanks to the re-launching of the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA) program for 2019, which received federal approval via a Section 1332 Innovation Waiver. The program will reduce risk for insurers, helping to keep overall rate increases lower.

In 2019, consumers will have an additional carrier to choose from with Anthem again selling plans on the Marketplace. In 2018 Anthem only sold plans "off-exchange," which does not allow the use of premium subsidies. Maine Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will continue to sell plans both on and off the Marketplace in 2019.

Superintendent Cioppa urges individuals to take the following steps to prepare for Open Enrollment:

Compare all costs, not just the premiums, as well as networks, providers and drug formularies. - Look at deductibles, co-insurance, copays and maximum out of pocket amounts to determine the total cost of a plan, based on your health and anticipated use of services. - Make sure your preferred providers and medications are covered by the specific plan you are considering.

Don't wait until the last minute - start now. Open Enrollment is just six weeks - Nov 1 - Dec 15. - New plans must be purchased by December 15 to have coverage for 2019. Look at your options, ask questions, choose a plan, complete an application and (if applicable) update financial and household information at healthcare.gov soon, to avoid encountering a bottleneck as enrollment comes to a close. (Also, be sure you are on the government website, versus another one with a similar name.)

** Consumer Health Care Division ** Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

** Other sources of assistance: ** Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you at healthcare.gov. Consumers can also contact the insurers directly to ask questions about covered services, providers, medications, and cost-sharing or to purchase unsubsidized plans.

Last Updated: September 17, 2018 2:32 PM

Open Enrollment to Purchase Individual Health Insurance Begins Nov 1

October 29, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

The annual open enrollment period to purchase or change health insurance plans on the individual market starts this week, on November 1st, and ends December 15th.

Maine Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa said that on average, rate increases are modest, and some rates have decreased, thanks to the re-launching of the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA) program for 2019, which received federal approval via a Section 1332 Innovation Waiver. The program will reduce risk for insurers, helping to keep overall rate increases lower and is likely to particularly assist those who have borne large increases in recent years without the aid of subsidies.

In 2019, consumers who buy their plans using subsidies will have an additional carrier to choose from, as Anthem will again be selling plans on the Marketplace. In 2018 Anthem only sold plans "off-exchange," which does not allow the use of premium subsidies. Maine Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will continue to sell plans both on and off the Marketplace in 2019.

Superintendent Cioppa recommends that those buying insurance on the individual market start the process as soon as possible, to allow time to compare plans and choose the one that best suits their individual needs.

He shared these key points:

Compare all costs, not just the premiums, as well as networks, providers and drug formularies.

Don't wait until the last minute - start now. Open Enrollment is just six weeks - Nov 1 - Dec 15.

Additional Information and Resources

Consumer Health Care Division: Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to insurance.pfr@maine.gov .

Other sources of assistance: Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you at healthcare.gov. Consumers can also contact the insurers directly to ask questions about covered services, providers, medications, and cost-sharing or to purchase unsubsidized plans.

Last Updated: October 29, 2018 4:07 PM

Maine's Insurance Superintendent: "Fewer Than Two Weeks Left to Buy Major Medical Health Insurance"

December 3, 2018

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

"I am concerned that people in Maine who want to purchase major medical health insurance on the ACA's Individual Marketplace may not act in time to have coverage in 2019," Maine Insurance Commissioner Eric Cioppa said today.

Cioppa noted his concern is based on reports from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid indicating that enrollment in Maine is down significantly compared to this time last year.

"Several theories exist as to why that is," he stated. "For instance, more people may be enrolled in their employers' plans. Others may be choosing to go without coverage due to cost; I urge these individuals to at least consider the options available."

After December 15th, Mainers who need coverage will only be able to purchase major medical insurance for 2019 if they have a change in life circumstance that qualifies them for a Special Enrollment Period.

Cioppa mentioned that Maine's success in relaunching the Maine Guaranteed Access Reinsurance Association (MGARA) program for 2019, based on a federal Section 1332 Innovation Waiver, was good news for Mainers.

"This waiver and relaunch of the MGARA program kept rates from rising as much as they would have otherwise. In fact, some rates decreased for 2019. It also brought one insurer back onto the Marketplace. Mainers have more options for 2019 and I hope they take advantage of them," he stated.

Anyone who is eligible for a subsidy must go through healthcare.gov. when they purchase, to have the subsidy applied.

Those who don't qualify for subsidies are encouraged to use the Bureau's rate calculator at maine.gov/insurance, which includes both Marketplace and off-Marketplace plans.

Consumers can contact the insurers directly to ask questions about covered services, providers, medications, and cost-sharing or to purchase unsubsidized plans.

Mainers who need help getting started, or have health insurance related questions, are invited to call the Bureau's Consumer Health Care Division Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 800-300-5000 (in state) or 207-624-8475 (for TTY, call Maine Relay 711). Questions can also be emailed to insurance.pfr@maine.gov.

Last Updated: December 3, 2018 5:31 PM

Maine Insurance Superintendent Asks Insurers to Work With Furloughed Federal Workers

January 23, 2019

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa is requesting that insurers work with furloughed federal employees by providing flexibility on the timing of premium payments.

"Many federal workers, as well as contractors, have been affected by the federal shutdown that is now in its fifth week," Cioppa stated. "This is an event that is out of their control and I am asking that insurers in the Maine market work with those affected in whatever way they can."

"It's equally important that insurers continue to process claims for those same policyholders, despite their temporary inability to pay premiums."

"Policyholders affected by the shutdown, who are having trouble paying premiums on time, should initiate conversations with their insurers about the possibility of modified payment schedules, especially if they are in danger of having a policy cancelled," Cioppa said.

The Superintendent added that the flexibility he is requesting is only for those payments that would have come due since the shutdown began on December 22, 2018.

Cioppa urged carriers to work with policyholders in all lines of insurance who are facing challenges due to the shutdown, including homeowners, auto, health, life and disability.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance by visiting the Bureau website (www.maine.gov/insurance), calling toll-free 1-800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: January 23, 2019 4:16 PM

Insurance Bureau Helps Mainers Recover Nearly $1.6 Million From Insurance Companies in 2018

February 8, 2019

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

According to Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa, the investigation of 668 complaints in 2018 by the Maine Bureau of Insurance resulted in $1,576,724 recovered on behalf of Maine residents. Additionally, $780,662 in life insurance benefits were found and matched to 123 Mainers through the Life Insurance Policy Locator service operated by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

"A significant part of our mission and work involves assisting Mainers with their questions and concerns about insurance," Cioppa stated. "I hope that all Mainers will think to call the Bureau with their insurance questions and make use of the online tools and information provided by the Bureau and the NAIC."

The cases investigated by the Bureau involve a wide range of circumstances, ranging from complaints of improper billing, improper or delayed claims processing, improper denial of medical treatment, and illegal insurance sales practices.

"Not every complaint will result in the outcome a consumer is hoping for, but sometimes the insurance company, or a broker or agent has acted improperly, and we are here to make sure consumers in Maine are protected in these circumstances," Cioppa stated.

In 2018, the Consumer Health Care Division, which deals with health, life, long-term care, Medicare supplement, annuities and disability insurance, received 2,746 inquiries and 422 written complaints. The Property and Casualty Division, which deals with auto, homeowners and other types of property and liability insurance, handled 2,240 inquiries and 236 written complaints.

The NAIC's Life Policy Locator can be found under the "Consumer" tab at www.naic.org. Individuals who believe they are beneficiaries, executors or legal representatives of a deceased person may submit a search request form free of charge.

Consumers with questions about insurance matters can obtain information and assistance from the Maine Bureau of Insurance by visiting www.maine.gov/insurance, calling 800-300-5000 (TTY call Maine Relay 711), or e-mailing Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine.

Last Updated: February 8, 2019 1:55 PM

Mainers Should Consider Flood Insurance Ahead of Spring Floods

March 26, 2019

 

Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone:

 

Augusta -

A number of weather events in recent years have demonstrated that those living in mapped, high-risk flood zones are not the only ones at risk of experiencing costly property loss from floods. In fact, more than 20% of flood insurance claims come from outside of high-risk areas.

"As we once again welcome spring in Maine, along with snowmelt and saturated ground, it's a good time to consider flood insurance," said Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa. "It's important to realize that there is a 30-day waiting period after purchasing flood coverage before the policy takes effect, so people need to act well in advance of the threat."

While a homeowners or renters policy may pay for water damage inside a house, such as from an ice dam or a burst pipe, it will usually not pay for unusual or rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters, such as those caused by snowmelt or torrential, soaking rain.

Mortgage lenders generally require homes in flood zones to have flood coverage, but it's usually an optional purchase for all others. Many people assume incorrectly that their basic homeowners insurance policy will cover damage from flooding, but flood coverage must almost always be purchased separately.

The following resources provide further guidance for Mainers:

Flood Insurance: Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by calling 1-800-427-4661 or online at www.floodsmart.gov.

Inventory Checklist: A checklist can be helpful in establishing an insurance claim. Start one at http://www.maine.gov/pfr/insurance//consumer/individualsfamilies/homeownersrenters/homeinventorychecklist.html and keep a hard copy in a secure location away from your home, with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents.

Emergency Preparedness: For information about preparing yourself and family for emergency situations, such as floods, storms, power outages and home fires, visit www.ready.gov. The Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) provides Maine specific information at www.maine.gov/mema/prepare/.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at insurance.pfr@maine.gov; by calling 800-300-5000 (TTY use Maine Relay 711); or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

Last Updated: March 26, 2019 1:40 PM