As we wind down 2017, I have been compiling information on some consumer insurance-related issues that may have an impact in 2018. But first, a few housekeeping matters …
I extend my sincere thanks to the readers that have found this information helpful and provided important feedback. In particular, Peter Madrid of madrid-media.com has provided valued services and a platform for my work. This is a labor of love and I hope to continue to provide you helpful information in coming years.
Now for 2018 …
Insurance industry leaders, like other industries dealing with sensitive consumer information, continue to wrestle with the issues of cybersecurity. You may want to pencil in January 1 as the date to change all of your passwords used with insurance companies, financial institutions, and other businesses that handle your personal information.
As companies move to tighten defenses against security threats, remember your responsibility to read those alert notices and implement your own security protocols. Too many security breaches occur because of human error or not taking time to verify the email or text messages we receive.
You will be encouraged to learn that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a working group reviewing the public adjuster industry. Look out for important proposed changes that should help reduce the opportunity for fraud and other industry abuses.
The NAIC working group is looking at ways to improve the access to information for consumers, construction industry contractors, and insurance companies. You can see my prior comments on public adjusters and how to hire a public adjuster.
Life Insurance Policy Locator
The NAIC launched a life insurance policy locator process to assist consumers who may have difficulty identifying and applying for life insurance payouts for deceased family members. You may access more information and an application here. This handy tool has allowed consumers to locate more $17 million the first six months of the service.
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) closed December 15, 2017, to ensure coverage on January 1, 2018. However, there are a few conditions that will allow you to still enroll under the Special Enrollment Period provisions. For example, if you move to a new county, have new employment, have a new family member (married and/or children), or become eligible for Medicaid or CHIP, www.Healthcare.gov has the information you can use to help you determine if you are eligible to enroll in a healthcare insurance plan for 2018.
The tax cut legislation just adopted removes the mandatory sign-up provision of the ACA. This new legislation includes a provision to remove the current requirement that everyone who is eligible has health insurance. There is a tax penalty for failure to have enrolled in a healthcare plan.
The new law removes the tax penalty for not having healthcare insurance. By removing the health care insurance mandate, people can make their own decisions about whether to enroll in a health insurance program. However, for personal or family health purposes, many people find it necessary to continue to be enrolled in a healthcare plan.
Health insurance industry leaders believe that the long-term consequence of removing the mandatory provision is fewer people enrolled in health insurance plans, causing the costs of health care to rise. If true, these increased costs will affect many more people through higher premium costs and higher health care costs.
The NAIC has a new working group examining mandatory arbitration paragraphs in insurance policy contracts. Many consumers are not aware of the mandatory arbitration clauses until a dispute occurs regarding the insurance policy. Look for more information on this important topic in coming months.
Auto Rental Insurance
Businesses that offer auto rental services have been beefing up their contracts and offering a broader selection of auto insurance policies. Regardless of what your auto insurance policy states, you may want to review it and ask specific questions about your auto insurance company regarding how your auto insurance policy covers rental cars. This new information may make you a more informed consumer in deciding whether you want any or all of the automobile rental insurance offered at the counter.
Have a happy holiday season and a safe New Year.
By the way, I have launched a website. Let me know what you think of it and provide comments at www.yhstrategiesllc.com.
Yvonne R. Hunter is a licensed attorney and the Principal Consultant for YH Strategies, LLC, in Phoenix, Ariz. She serves as a panel member of the American Arbitration Association (AAA) handling consumer arbitration issues and as a mediator for similar matters. After a stint with the Arizona Department of Insurance, she learned that many consumers remain unaware of some of the issues associated with insurance products. This blog reflects her opinion and should not be regarded as legal advice. She encourages consumers interested in learning more about their own insurance experience to contact their state department of insurance or insurance commissioner or seek advice from an attorney. If you would like additional information on matters dealing with consumer insurance products, you can reach Yvonne at firstname.lastname@example.org.