MN| Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley sent a letter on Wednesday to property and casualty carriers – the companies that hold or issue auto and homeowners insurance policies – urging all carriers to provide relief during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner Kelley sent a similar letter to health insurance carriers in March, resulting in additional coverage and clarity for COVID-19 testing and treatment. The Minnesota Department of Commerce regulates the insurance industry to protect consumers and ensure a fair, competitive marketplace.
Many Minnesotans have already received notifications from their auto insurance company that they will see some relief, like receiving premium rebates or credits due to the decrease in driving during the Stay Home Order, working to set up payment plans and extending grace periods to pay premiums.
“The voluntary relief provided by many insurance companies has been welcome news to Minnesota consumers. The Commerce Department urges all insurance companies to continue to review their contractual obligations to Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses to find ongoing ways to provide relief,” said Commissioner Kelley.
The daily life of Minnesotans has changed under the Stay Home Order and the Department encourages insurers to take these lifestyle changes into account. For example:
- Premiums. Waiving or discounting premiums for coverages that can be used to a limited extent, if at all, while work from home is necessary or required.
- Discount eligibility. Reviewing all eligibility criteria for discounts such as good driver or student discounts. As an example, where a required course or refresher courses are temporarily unavailable, or there may be a temporary interruption of school attendance. The Department expects that insured individuals should not lose such discounts due to events which are outside the control of policyholders.
- Flexibility. Providing flexibility for insured persons who may be temporarily modifying their business operations or personal lives to accommodate social distancing in order to limit disease spread. For example, the Department encourages carriers to either expand coverage or waive exclusions on personal and commercial coverages to provide additional coverage for individuals and businesses that may now be delivering food, medicine or other essential services.
In addition to urging companies to look at opportunities to provide relief today, Commissioner Kelley encourages insurers to ensure that additional flexibilities offered at this time, do not harm the consumer when they renew coverage. For example, consumers that need extra time now to pay premiums, should not receive rate increases because of the need for additional time to make premium payments.
The Department also encourages carriers to carefully consider social distancing guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC). Adjusting homeowner claims, in particular, may present situations where social distancing concerns are raised.
When engaged in claims adjusting, sales practices or other in-person interactions carriers and agents alike must work in a manner that is safe for both the company representative and for the client.
In making these recommendations, the Minnesota Department of Commerce remains committed to working with insurers as the pandemic continues to ensure that carriers are able to fulfill their contractual obligations.
With You Every Day
Wherever you are in Minnesota, the Department of Commerce is with you every day. Whether you’re filling up on gas, purchasing a home, working to reduce energy consumption or rebuilding after a disaster—we are with you, no matter what.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce oversees more than 20 regulated industries, ensuring that Minnesota businesses are strong and Minnesota consumers are protected. Our mission is to protect the public interest, advocate for Minnesota consumers, ensure a strong, competitive and fair marketplace, strengthen the state’s economic future and serve as a trusted public resource for consumers and businesses. Learn more at mn.gov/commerce
Minnesota Department of Commerce
Brian Strub, Assistant Director of Communications