[r63] Insurance changes coming July 1

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, June 20, 2014

Unless you work in the insurance industry, or know it very well, chances are the word insurance is enough to make your eyes glaze over. There is no denying that it can be a dry, tedious topic. However, you may be surprised to know that there are a couple insurance changes going into effect soon that may directly impact you, and in fact, are pretty interesting!

The first change is found in House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1058. As you may know, insurance companies are currently required to deliver certain documents via first class or certified mail. However starting July 1, this legislation will allow Hoosiers to have the option to receive notices or documents via email. With 85 percent of Americans now using the Internet, this provides Hoosier consumers with another option to receive notices or documents, with the consumer’s consent, and allows them to withdraw their consent at any time. Additionally, Hoosiers will still be able to receive additional hard copies of notices and documents if they wish. 

As a father, husband, legislator and small business owner, I understand the importance of convenience. Like many Hoosier families, I know it can be difficult to balance a hectic schedule. As someone who values convenience, I supported this effort to make it easier for consumers to quickly obtain the important documents they need. It is also my hope that providing documents electronically will result in savings for insurers which will allow for savings for consumers as well.

The second change comes in the form of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 220 which seeks to prevent insurance providers from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices. Essentially, this bill requires insurers to take proactive steps in finding the beneficiary of a life insurance policy, annuity contract or retained asset. 

In order to put more property in the hands of the entitled beneficiaries, this new law requires insurance companies to match the Social Security Administration's death master file to a list of their policy holders twice a year. To encourage insurers to thoroughly search for beneficiaries, the Department of Insurance can now enforce civil penalties on the insurers if their actions are found to be unfair or deceptive. If a policy holder has died, the insurers must take steps to pay the designated beneficiary. If the beneficiary cannot be found, the benefits would then roll over to the state under the unclaimed property law. 

Since many beneficiaries are often unaware that they have been named as such and as a result don’t think to look at the Indiana Unclaimed website to see if they have inherited property, policies are left to go unclaimed and unpaid by insurers. This new law aims to put more unclaimed property in the hands of the rightful owners and ensures that the wishes of deceased Hoosiers are carried out. 

Both of these new laws not only bring greater efficiency to the insurance industry but also directly benefit Hoosiers. Whether we are driving our car, taking our little ones to the doctor or making repairs to our home after a hail storm, insurance plays a large role in each of our lives. If you have questions about these laws, or any others going into effect July 1, and are curious how they will impact you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 317-232-9620.