The two sessions have already been held, with four more scheduled during November and December
The Division of Insurance announced this month that it has launched a series of informational hearings on the marketing and sale of homeowners’ insurance policies in Massachusetts. The first, on Wednesday October 21st, was held at Lowell City Hall in the City Council Chambers. The DOI says it plans to hold five additional hearings in Amherst, Barnstable, Boston, New Bedford and Worcester over the course of the next two months.
The DOI is inviting both the public and the Massachusetts insurance industry to comment on affordability, availability, sales, marketing and other topics
The purpose of the hearings, which are open to the public as well as the insurance industry, is to assist the Division investigating the state of the home insurance market in the Commonwealth.
Topics covered will include, but are not limited to, the availability and affordability of homeowner’s insurance, consumer experience with decisions to deny applications for coverage, and how consumers are notified of potential rate and coverage changes or coverage options.
In September of this year, the Division of Insurance approved homeowners’ insurance rate increases for 13 carriers resulting in a backlash from Mass. homeowner’s and lawmakers. This is the first time that the Division has held public hearings with respect to homeowners’ insurance rates.
As the Division noted in its letter outlining the hearings,
… it is anticipated that the informational hearings will address questions concerning the materials that insurers and producers provide to consumers when informing them of potential rate and coverage changes, for example changes in deductibles, changes in amount of insurance and general changes in premium, or providing coverage through a different member of an insurer group. The Division will seek comments concerning the information that insurers and producers provide to consumers to assist them in reducing the cost of their homeowners’ insurance, such as notifying the insurer of recent home improvements or maintenance, preparedness of the home in the event of a major windstorm or rain event, and actual cash value versus replacement cost coverage options.
The Commissioner is asking Mass. agents to participate at any one of the remaining sessions
On Friday, October 30, 2015, the Commissioner of Insurance Daniel Judson met and spoke to the Independent Insurance Agents Association of Hampden County. During his speech, Commissioner Judson urged agents to attend any of the remaining listening sessions on behalf of their insureds. If you are not able to attend a session, then he asked that agents submit comments via the drop mailbox that has been established at the DOI for this issue.
In explaining why he would like agent input, the commissioner said that he would “love to have” agents attend the remaining informational hearings because “you’re the ones that can explain how the policies work, how these products work…” As “the face of the industry” agents can provide him with direct information as to what issues there are in the homeowners insurance market and in the homeowners insurance policy forms. Ultimately, as the Commissioner explained to Hampden County Agents Association is its agents customers who become the consumers that he has been charged to serve as the Commissioner of Insurance.
How to make your voice heard
For those agents interested in participating in one of the remaining four listening sessions, a schedule of those sessions is available at the end of this article. Anyone else who interested in making an oral comment to the Division during the hearings or to provide a written comment directly to the agency can do so by emailing the DOI at HOI.firstname.lastname@example.org. [This is the corrected address per the Division of Insurance from any they previously gave] . Any questions or concerns about the listening sessions and public comments relating to these sessions may be sent to the above email address as well.
At the end of these sessions, the Division will review the comments submitted during these listening sessions and may issue a decision or create additional guidelines and procedures for both Mass. homeowner’s and insurers with respect to the rates and homeowner’s products in general.
Schedule of the DOI’s Remaining Informational Hearings
November 5, 2015
11:00 a.m. – Worcester Public Library, Saxe Room, First Floor, 3 Salem Square, Worcester, Massachusetts 01608
November 17, 2015.
6:00 p.m. – Offices of the Division of Insurance, Hearing Room 1-E, First Floor 1000 Washington St., Boston Massachusetts 02118
December 2, 2015
11:00 a.m. – New Bedford City Hall, Room 314, 51 Elm St., New Bedford, Massachusetts 02740
December 8, 2015
11:00 a.m. – Barnstable Town Hall, 367 Main St., Second Floor Hearing Room, Hyannis, Massachusetts 02601