California Department of Insurance to Insurers: Stop Enforcing Policy or Statutory Deadlines Until the COVID-19 State of Emergency has Ended

Obviously, the coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone to some degree, and that includes the insurance industry and the people who rely on insurance to protect themselves from disaster.

Fortunately, the California Department of Insurance has been active in an effort to protect policyholders who are affected by the pandemic. As we already reported, on March 30 the DOI directed health insurance companies to increase access to services delivered via telehealth during the current state of emergency.

On April 3, the DOI took even more significant action. It issued another notice, this time directed at all insurers doing business in California, regarding claim deadlines. The DOI instructed all insurance companies to stop enforcing policy or statutory deadlines on policyholders for claims or coverage until 90 days after the COVID-19 state of emergency has ended.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara explained the basis for this notice: “We have a social responsibility to follow the directives of health care experts as well as federal, state, and local public health leaders as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19. As our nation faces the greatest public health emergency of our time, policyholders should not be forced to lose their coverage or benefits because they cannot meet a deadline while complying with federal or state directives.”

The DOI noted that it had received reports that some insurers were requiring insureds who had suffered losses from the 2018 wildfires to continue repairing their homes during this state of emergency in order to maintain their full benefits. The DOI emphasized that the coronavirus pandemic constituted “good cause” to extend any deadlines related to those benefits.

The full text of the notice is available at the DOI’s web site.

If an insurance company is attempting to enforce unfair deadlines on you or someone you know, please call Kantor & Kantor for a free consultation at 800-446-7529 or use our online contact form.

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