Pa. insurance commissioner to chair NAIC senior issue task force

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller will chair a task force as part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) that will examine issues that impact senior insurance consumers.

The following is a Pennsylvania government statement announcing the appointment:

Insurance Commissioner Appointed Chair of National Task Force on Senior Issues

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller will chair a task force as part of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) that will examine issues that impact senior insurance consumers.  Commissioner Miller’s appointment was announced by Wisconsin Commissioner of Insurance Theodore K. Nickel, who serves as President of the NAIC.

“This is an excellent opportunity to continue and expand the work I have been doing under Governor Wolf’s leadership in Pennsylvania, to look closely at how insurance issues impact our senior citizens, and work with my colleagues across the country to develop and strengthen consumer protections for our seniors,” Commissioner Miller said.

Teresa Miller

Teresa Miller

Commissioner Miller has already taken on a leadership role at the NAIC on issues critical to seniors and aging Americans, having been named chair last year of a new group that is examining how in the future the private sector can better contribute to funding the long term care needs of our society. This group, called the Long Term Care Innovation Subgroup, has brought together thought leaders, consumer representatives, and industry officials to explore ways to improve the long term care financing options available to those looking to plan for their retirement and their potential long term care needs.

“I look forward to continuing the work I have done on long term care innovation and to tackling more issues important to our seniors as chair of the Senior Issues Task Force,” Commissioner Miller said.  “There are no easy answers to many of these problems, but as I have done here in Pennsylvania, I will use this position to bring together insurers, consumers, and other stakeholders to look for innovative solutions to keep this as an option for consumers.”

Commissioner Miller has also focused on issues relevant to seniors here in Pennsylvania. The department held a public hearing in March, 2016, on large rate hike increase requests from four long term insurance companies doing business in Pennsylvania.  This hearing gave the insurers an opportunity to explain their need for these premium increases, and consumers a chance to discuss the financial hardship large premium increases create for them.  Following the hearing, Commissioner Miller was able to work with insurers to reduce or even eliminate proposed premium increases for many policyholders, in exchange for somewhat lowered benefits.

“Modestly lowering benefits, such as reducing annual inflation increases or adding a waiting period before benefits kick in, in exchange for reducing or eliminating premium increases, helped many consumers be able to afford to keep their policies, while still providing important benefits should long term care be needed,” Commissioner Miller said.

The Senior Issues Task Force, Commissioner Miller hopes, will be a place where consumers, regulators, insurers, consumer advocates, and others can bring innovative ideas for improving the insurance options available to seniors and those planning for their retirement.

Commissioner Miller is also partnering with AARP to help consumers learn more about annuities, often part of retirement financial packages, through a new brochure called “The Do’s and Don’ts of Annuities.”  She has also issued a notice to insurers that a so-called “widow’s penalty” for auto insurance is not allowed in Pennsylvania.  National reports said some insurers were raising rates for the survivor when a spouse passed away.  Commissioner Miller’s notice said this violates Pennsylvania law and if an insurer is going to raise the rate for a surviving spouse, the company must show the widow or widower presents an increased risk for the insurer which justifies the new, higher rate.

“Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s populations continue to age, and making sure our seniors have the best possible consumer protections for their insurance purchases will only become more important over time,” Commissioner Miller said.

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