insurance

State outpacing last year in mediating insurance refunds to consumers

The state has processed nearly 1,500 complaints about insurance coverage through the first half of the year, resulting in $5.4 million being returned to consumers through mediation and restitution. That compares with $8.2 million in the entire calendar year of 2021.

Here’s the full release from the Department of Commerce and Insurance:

NASHVILLE – At the midpoint of 2022, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (“TDCI”) is highlighting the robust health of Tennessee’s insurance industry as well as the work of the Department’s team to assist consumers and insurance professionals.

“During the past two years, Tennessee’s insurance industry has risen to face numerous challenges, and I am proud to say that our team has equally risen and remained steadfastly focused on serving, assisting, and regulating insurance companies and professionals while serving Tennessee policyholders,” said TDCI Commissioner Carter Lawrence. “As we enter the second half of 2022, Tennessee residents can trust that our team is hard at work serving consumers while fairly regulating insurance companies.”

Recent figures show Tennessee’s insurance industry is thriving.

— Tennessee has approximately 294,000 licensed insurance professionals. This is the largest number of licensed insurance professionals in Tennessee in nearly 40 years. Additionally, the current number of licensed professionals is a nearly 10% increase compared to the 259,320 licensed insurance professionals in 2021.

— The Department licensed 45 new insurance companies in 2021, bringing the total number of licensed insurance companies to 1,959.

— $51.5 billion in premium volume was written in Tennessee in 2021.

— $1.12 billion in premium taxes were collected in Fiscal Year 2021, a 7.5% increase from 2020.

— Tennessee’s climb as a domicile in the captive insurance industry continues as the state is ranked as the 8th largest domestic captive domicile and the 13th largest captive domicile worldwide with over 495 active risk-bearing entities.

TDCI regulates all types of insurance and encourages consumers to contact TDCI’s Consumer Insurance Services team with any insurance-related question or concern. So far in 2022, consumers have filed 1,467 complaints that have resulted in over $5.43 million being returned to consumers through the Department’s mediation and restitution efforts this year. The top three reasons for consumer complaints are denials, delays, and low settlement offers.

For the sake of comparison, over $8.2 million was returned to consumers in 2021.

“Our dedicated Consumer Insurance Services team is eager to assist Tennesseans who feel they have a claim that has been unjustly denied or who have a question about their insurance policies,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner Bill Huddleston. “I want to thank our entire team for their hard work and diligence through the first six months of 2022. I know our team will continue to exceed expectations through the rest of this year.”

Print your own: New Department of Commerce & Insurance licensing system going more paperless

The Tennessee Commerce and Insurance Department is going more paperless. Here are the details from the agency:

NASHVILLE — As part of ongoing efforts to modernize insurance licensing, save money and remove barriers that hinder the Volunteer State’s economy, the Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance (TDCI) announces a system upgrade that will create a more paperless insurance licensing process.

Starting Tuesday, Oct. 13 by 9 a.m. CDT, TDCI will go live on the newest version of State Based Systems (SBS), a web-based application through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) that supports states’ insurance regulation. When launched, the new system will mean:

_ No more paper licenses will be printed and mailed by TDCI. Instead, licensees can print a license any time by using the SBS License Manager tool.

_ No more renewal notifications will be mailed to Tennessee insurance producers. To be contacted by TDCI, licensees must keep a current business email updated in TDCI’s system. A current and updated email address is imperative to receive notifications. Licensees can update their email online at www.nipr.com by clicking on the ‘Change Contact Information’ link.

_ Licenses will now be eligible for renewal up to 90 days prior to their expiration date.

_ Email notifications will automatically be sent once a license is approved.

_ Licensees will continue to be able to print their license and view their CE transcripts online.

“With over 200,000 licensed insurance agents in Tennessee and $44.4 billion in premium volume written in 2019, it is incumbent on TDCI to continually improve our processes in order to create efficiencies and help Tennessee’s insurance professionals succeed while providing responsible regulation to help protect consumers,” said TDCI Commissioner Hodgen Mainda.

During the transition period that began Oct. 7, NIPR and SBS services, including licensing operations and online consumer complaint filing, will be suspended. Consumers should contact TDCI Consumer Insurance Services at 615-741-2218 or 1-800-342-4029 with questions or to file a complaint.

“The SBS improvement will save thousands of dollars in taxpayer monies as well as countless man hours since paper licenses will no longer need to be printed or mailed by our staff,” said TDCI Assistant Commissioner of Insurance Rachel Jrade-Rice. “I encourage consumers or insurance producers who may have questions about the upgrade to contact our team at the appropriate contact numbers in order to receive additional information.”

Entities with questions pertaining to licensing should contact TDCI Agent Licensing at 1-888-416-0868 or 615-741-2693. Questions about the SBS transition should be directed to the SBS Service Desk sbshelp@naic.org or 816-783-8990.

Federal insurance marketplace carriers now competing in 81 of 95 Tennessee counties

Six insurance carriers are now competing for business through the Affordable Care Act’s federal marketplace in 81 of 95 Tennessee counties.

Among the five companies that have previously operated in the state, three (BlueCross, Bright Health, and Oscar Health) have proposed rate increases for upcoming fiscal year, while two (Celtic/Ambetter Insurance and Cigna) are planning decreases. UnitedHelathcare is a new entrant.

“Increased competition and lower prices perfectly align with Governor Lee’s vision to help support Tennessee consumers.”,” Commerce and Insurance Commissioner Hogden Mainda said in a statement.

The full release follows.

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Former GOP executive committee member indicted

Kelsey Ketron, a former member of the executive committee of the Tennessee Republican Party and daughter of Rutherford County Mayor Bill Ketron, has been indicted.

The Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro reports Kelsey Ketron was arrested on three sealed indictments (UPDATE: the indictments were later unsealed. See below). She was being held a $100,000 bond at the Rutherford County jail on Tuesday.

Ketron has been the subject of an investigation into allegations of insurance fraud. State and federal agents raided her home and her father’s insurance company in July. The mayor told the newspaper at the time he was shocked by the warrants. Bill Ketron is facing an audit into his campaign finance filings. His daughter was his PACs’ treasurer.

Ketron was the state Senate Republican Caucus chairman before he was elected mayor. Kelsey Ketron resigned from the GOP’s executive committee in late July.

UPDATE: 

Kelsey Ketron faces dozens of charges, according to the Daily News Journal. They are:

  • 30 counts of impersonating a licensed professional.
  • 14 counts of money laundering.
  • 12 counts of aggravated perjury.
  • 5 counts of fraudulent insurance acts of $250,000 or more.
  • 5 counts of forgery of $250,000 or more.
  • two counts of fraudulent insurance acts between $60,000-$250,000.
  • one count of a fraudulent insurance act between $10,000-$59,999.
  • one count of theft of property between $10,000-$60,000.
  • one count of theft of property $60,000-$250,000.

Roe balks at backing Trump administration move to eliminate mandated health insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions

Many Republican congressmen – including at least one member of the Tennessee delegation — are unhappy that the Trump administration has moved to eliminate a provision in the Obamacare law that assures health insurance coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, reports Politico.

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Insurance claims paid to those injured by state negligence totaled $8M over last four years

From 2014 through 2017, Tennessee state government has paid more than 2,000 insurance claims totaling almost $8 million to people suffering damages, injuries and even death due to the state’s negligence, reports WJHL TV.

State records show almost $3 million of the nearly $8 million worth of claims paid out by the state’s insurance fund stem from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

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Legislature mandates that state health insurance cover experimental cancer treatment

An experimental cancer treatment has won a rare endorsement from the Tennessee legislature despite some criticism, reports WPLN. The measure requires insurance coverage of proton therapy, which benefits a Knoxville-based company that is building a treatment center in Franklin.

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Alexander angry, exasperated over collapse of latest attempted Obamacare fix

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s latest attempt to stabilize the nation’s health care insurance markets under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, collapsed last week in partisan squabbling over abortion, reports Michael Collins. There was an accompanying “flurry of finger-pointing and bitter charges by each side that the other was playing politics.”

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Alexander, other Republicans float new Obamacare fix

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2018 — Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Representative Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) today proposed legislation that would lower individual health insurance premiums in the individual market up to 40% and said that it should be included in the Omnibus spending bill Congress will consider this week.

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Trump encourages Alexander to keep trying on Obamacare deal

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander says President Donald Trump called him in late December to urge that the Tennessee Republican continue efforts to shore up health insurance markets, reports Politico in an article updating the Obamacare situation in Washington.

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