Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones Announces Passage of Long-Term Care Insurance Legislation In Senate
News: 2012 Press Release
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones today announced that the Senate Committee on Insurance passed AB 999, authored by Assembly Aging and Long Term Care Committee Chair Mariko Yamada (D-Davis), by a vote of five to three. The bill, sponsored by Commissioner Jones and the California Department of Insurance, protects consumers from excessive premium rate volatility by modifying the long-term care insurance premium rate development process. The measure also allows consumers to make more informed decisions about buying a policy by giving them the chance to review language before purchasing one.
"Perhaps the most urgent issue currently facing senior consumers today is the rising cost of long-term care insurance," said Commissioner Jones. "This bill will curb a troubling trend in the number and size of long-term care rate increases. Without this legislation, consumers, many on fixed incomes, will continue to face uncertainty, never knowing what rates to expect from year to year."
"We're living longer and coming to terms with the need and costs of long-term care," said Assembly Member Mariko Yamada. "I am honored to work with Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in setting a high-bar for the long-term care industry in California. AB 999 brings necessary transparency and additional protections for consumers of this important insurance product."
Long-term care (LTC) insurance was first sold in California in the early 1980's. Since it was a new product, insurers had no historical experience upon which to rely when setting initial premium rates. As a result, pricing of LTC policies was often based upon what were later found to be inaccurate assumptions. As insurers gained more experience in the market, premium rates increased to compensate for those initial inaccuracies. In 2000, the Legislature passed SB 898 to stabilize what became escalating rates. However, the rate stabilization features passed years before aren't completely restoring predictability as intended to the long-term care insurance market today.
AB 999 would:
- Prevent insurers from passing poor investment returns through to taxpayers;
- Eliminate the practice of insurers "cherry-picking" a small group of policies to justify large rate increases;
- Prohibit insurers from using a loss ratio that is a "moving target" to justify raising rates merely to make a profit, and;
- Require insurers to allow consumers to view policy language prior to purchasing the policy.
The bill now moves to the Senate Committee on Appropriations for consideration.
The California Department of Insurance, established in 1868, is the largest consumer protection agency in California. Insurers collect $288 billion in premiums annually in California. Since 2011 the California Department of Insurance received more than 1,000,000 calls from consumers and helped recover over $394 million in claims and premiums. Please visit the Department of Insurance web site at www.insurance.ca.gov. Non-media inquiries should be directed to the Consumer Hotline at 800.927.HELP or 213.897.8921. Telecommunications Devices for the Deaf (TDD), please dial 800.482.4833.