December 11, 2013
Notice: Illinois Disaster Areas & Actions Required of Companies by the Illinois Department of Insurance
As of November 19, 2013, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has declared thirteen Illinois counties disaster areas due to significant storm damage. As a result of this current disaster in the State of Illinois, insurance consumers may experience disruption of mail delivery and displacement from their residences, businesses, and other properties.
To help provide safeguard for consumers and to ensure that Illinois consumers affected by this disaster do not suffer unnecessary hardship, all entitites licensed or authorized to transact insurance business in the state of Illinois have been requested to implemented safeguards for all lines of business. These safeguards are designed to address problems consumers might face due to circumstances that make it difficult for consumers to take normal action required by policy language or otherwise required by insurers.
Effective immediately, all insurers (including Western National) have been asked to implement the guidelines below to govern treatment of all policyholders affected by this disaster, who reside in or own any property located in or around the counties that have been declared disaster areas by Governor Pat Quinn:
Implement a moratorium on cancellations and nonrenewals. For any cancellation or nonrenewal notice issued on or after November 10, 2013 on any in-force policy issued to an affected policyholder or respecting affected property, insurers should withdraw the cancellation or nonrenewal and reinstate the policy with no lapse in coverage. In addition, insurers should not issue any new cancellation or nonrenewal notices to affected policyholders or for affected property until January 11, 2014, or a later time if deemed reasonable given an individual consumer's circumstance.
Other insurance-related time-period extensions. Insurers should grant to affected policyholders an extension of any and all policy provisions or other requirements that impose a time limit for an insured or claimant to perform any act, including the submission of a claim or proof of loss, reporting of information, submission of bills, or payment of funds. Such extension should be for a minimum of 60 days from the last date allowed or required under the terms of the contract or allowed or required by the insurer, or longer if deemed reasonable given an individual consumer's circumstance.
Time-period extension for repairs. In the event repairs on affected property cannot be completed within the time period required under any policy, or within the 90-day time period for repairs prior to termination due to condition of the property [215 ILCS 5/143.27], insurers should provide consumers with an extension of not less than 60 days to make such repairs.
Cancellation or nonrenewal respecting affected property. Although otherwise allowed under Illinois law, insurers should refrain from canceling or nonrenewing insurance policies respecting afected property due to "increase in the risk originally accepted" [215 ILCS 5/143.21 and 143.21.1] or due to the geographic location of the risk [215 ILCS 5/155.22].
Other exceptions to policy or contract requirements or rating or underwriting rules. Insurers should consider exceptions to policy or contract requirements, or to other rating or underwriting rules not otherwise listed herein, when such contractual requirements or rating or underwriting rules are not met as a result of this disaster. Exceptions to policy or contract requirements or rating or underwriting rules should include instances where an insured is displaced from his or her home and is unable to obtain non-emergency medical services from a network provider.
Insurer Websites. Insurers should post on their websites all actions taken to implement the requirements of this bulletin.
Availability of the Illinois Department of Insurance. Insurers should advise Illinois consumers of the availability of the Department for filing a complaint regarding any disaster-related dispute or issue. Consumers shall be advised that they may call the Department's toll-free complaint hotline at 1-866-445-5364, or file a complaint online at: http://insurance.illinois.gov/Home/ComplaintLinks.asp.
As in all such situations, Western National is taking the appropriate measures to ensure that our underwriting, claims, and other services meet the potentially altered needs of our policyholders in these disaster areas. In accordance with the Department of Illinois' request, we would like to provide the following navigation for Illinois disaster-related questions and concerns: