Archive for the ‘Bureau of Insurance’ Category

Maine Insurance Superintendent Clarifies Issues Related to Open Enrollment Period of ACA Individual Market

Press Release

October 24, 2017
Contact: Judith Watters, Consumer Outreach Specialist
Phone: (207) 624-8455

AUGUSTA – “Most Maine residents who purchase insurance through the ACA Marketplace will have several plan options and, for those who qualify for federal subsidies, may find that they don’t have to pay much more for coverage in 2018,” Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa stated. He shared these key points:

Those who qualify for premium subsidies will still receive them in 2018, and those who qualify for cost savings reductions will still receive them.

• Even though premium rates are increasing, individuals and families with premium subsidies will likely see them off-set by increases in premium subsidies.
• Even though insurance companies will not receive reimbursements from the federal government for providing cost savings reductions (CSR), the insurance companies must still provide the cost savings reductions to low-income individuals and families who qualify, and who purchase a Silver plan through

Those without subsidies are advised to avoid inadvertently purchasing a higher priced Silver plan.

• To cover the loss of CSR payments, insurance companies priced Marketplace Silver plans higher than they otherwise would have. Because any plan offered on the Marketplace must also be offered off the Marketplace, these higher priced Silver plans could potentially be sold to individuals without subsidies.

• Some less expensive Silver plans will be offered off the Marketplace, only; these, along with Bronze and Gold plans, will be a better value to those without subsidies.

• Individuals without subsidies who currently have a Silver plan will want to guard against being automatically re-enrolled into a high priced Silver plan, by actively shopping.

Those with subsidies may find that Bronze and Gold plans are more affordable than in the past.

• Those who qualify for cost-savings reductions will still only qualify for them by purchasing a Marketplace Silver plan.

• However, because the cost of Silver plans on the Marketplace has increased disproportionately compared to Bronze and Silver plans, a premium subsidy applied to a Bronze plan will stretch further (though cost-sharing will be higher); and a subsidized Gold plan may not cost much more than a subsidized Silver (and cost-sharing will be lower).

Compare all costs, not just the premiums, as well as networks, providers and drug formularies.

• Look at deductibles, co-insurance, copays and maximum out of pocket amounts to determine the total cost of a plan, based on your health and anticipated use of services.

• The Bureau’s rate calculator at makes it easy to find out which plans are available and their estimated rates. The calculator does NOT apply premium subsidies. Individuals who purchase plans through the Marketplace will be able to calculate their estimated premium subsidy at

• Make sure your preferred providers and medications are covered by the specific plan you are considering. Bureau staff, ACA Navigators and Assistors, as well as Agents and Brokers can help with this.

Don’t wait until the last minute – start now. Open Enrollment is just six weeks – Nov 1 – Dec 15.

• New plans must be purchased by December 15 to have coverage for 2018 and to avoid a tax penalty. Look at your options, ask questions, choose a plan, complete an application and (if applicable) update financial and household information on soon, to avoid encountering a bottleneck as enrollment comes to a close.

Letters from Insurers to Current Members

Individuals who are either 1) currently enrolled in a plan with Community Health Options or Harvard Pilgrim on or off the Marketplace, or 2) are currently enrolled in an off-Marketplace Anthem plan, and who continue to pay their premium, will be auto-enrolled in their current plan for 2018 (or one like it, if their current plan is terminating), unless they shop and sign up for a different plan.

Anthem, Community Health Options and Harvard Pilgrim will send letters to their members informing them of their right to purchase a new plan, or to simply auto-re-enroll by continuing their payments. The letters will explain any changes to members’ current plans.

Anthem members who currently have a Marketplace plan can actively choose to stay with Anthem by selecting a new Anthem off-Marketplace plan without subsidies, or they can actively shop for a new Marketplace plan with another company. Otherwise, they will be assigned to another Marketplace plan with another company by, based on their geographical location (they will receive a letter from explaining the new plan they’ve been assigned).

Additional Information and Resources

Consumer Health Care Division: Bureau staff members are available to answer questions Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be reached by dialing 1-800-300-5000 or 207-624-8475 (TTY please use Maine Relay 711). Emailed questions can be sent to

Other sources of assistance: Find an insurance broker or agent, a Marketplace Navigator or Assister near you at Consumers can also contact the insurers directly to ask questions about covered services, providers, medications, and cost-sharing or to purchase unsubsidized plans.

Last Updated: October 24, 2017 4:05 PM


In Highlighting Elder Abuse Awareness Day, State Officials Urge Mainers to Report Suspected Cases of Financial Exploitation

June 13, 2017
Contact:  Judith Shaw
Administrator Maine Office of Securities
TTY:  Maine Relay 711

June 15th Observance Draws Attention to under-reported ‘Crime of the 21st Century’, and the Need for People to Report Concerns about Abuse of Seniors

AUGUSTA Officials at Maine’s Department of Professional and Financial Regulation (DPFR) are focusing attention on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day–recognized each June 15th throughout the United States and in other countries, and often referred to as the ‘crime of the 21st century,’ because of its increasing prevalence and devastating impacts.

“The abuse of seniors is among the most under-reported crimes, and its impact can have devastating consequences for its victims,” DPFR Commissioner Anne Head said.  “Unfortunately, the perpetrator is often a relative or caregiver, making it more difficult for the senior to come forward.  Each of us has a responsibility to report concerns about potential abuse.”

Commissioner Head noted that financial abuse is among the most common forms of elder abuse, costing its U.S. victims an estimated $2.9 billion a year.

The Commissioner highlighted the Department’s five agencies, all of which are dedicated to educating the public and helping the victims of financial abuse.  She pointed out the Downeaster Guide to Elder Financial Protection available through the Department’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection by calling 1-800-332-8529 or at under “Publications”.  She also highlighted the many resources available through the Bureau of Financial Institution’s online Consumer Library (

Maine Securities Administrator Judith Shaw, who serves on the Maine Council on Elder Abuse Prevention, noted the frequency of investment fraud and the importance of reporting suspected cases.  “Of special concern, is investment fraud of seniors,” Administrator Shaw said.  “Victims can lose their entire life-savings, with little opportunity to recover financial stability.”  For investment-related questions or concerns, the Office of Securities within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation can be reached at 1-877-624-8551 and at

Signs that an older adult may be vulnerable to possible abuse or exploitation may include:

  • Social isolation and/or recent loss of a spouse or partner
  • Recent decline in health or in the ability for self-care
  • Lack of familiarity with financial accounts
  • Dependence on another to provide everyday care or essential services
  • Willingness to listen to telemarketing calls or respond to solicitations from unverified charities or businesses

Red flags of possible victimization include:

  • Senior has injuries that are not adequately explained
  • Change in appearance or poor hygiene
  • Senior is missing checks, account statements or documentation regarding finances
  • Running out of money at the end of the month
  • Senior appears fearful or depressed
  • Senior is accompanied by a caregiver who is overly protective or dominating

Partial List of State Agencies and Organizations in Maine providing information, services and education on elder abuse, including financial exploitation: 

Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services:

1-800-262-2232 or 207-287-9200

Adult Protective Services:

Hotline: 1-800-624-8404

Legal Services for the Elderly:


Maine Area Agencies on Aging:

List of regional agencies with full contact information:

Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation:

(Five Agencies Offering a Wide Range of Assistance to Seniors and Caregivers)

Office of Securities:  1-877-624-8551

(Investment Questions or Concerns)

Bureau of Financial Institutions:  1-800-965-5235

(Banking Questions or Concerns)

Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection:  1-800-332-8529

(Credit, Foreclosure, General Financial Scam Concerns)

Bureau of Insurance:  1-800-300-5000

(Insurance-related Questions or Concerns)

Office of Professional and Occupational Licensing: 207-624-8603

(Questions or Concerns Related to Licensed Professionals)

State Officials Caution Maine Residents about Threats Posed by Severe Weather as Hurricane Season Approaches


GARDINER – With the Atlantic Hurricane Season approaching, Governor Paul R. LePage and Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa are reminding Maine residents about steps that can be taken to protect people, minimize property loss and speed recovery after weather-related damage.  The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and runs through November.

Governor LePage and Superintendent Cioppa encourage Mainers to review their homeowners or renters policy and to evaluate the benefits of flood insurance.  They also urge residents to complete a home inventory checklist and assemble an emergency supply kit.

“The start of the hurricane season is a good time to remember that severe weather can strike anytime and it’s important to be prepared,” Governor LePage said.  “There are simple steps we can all take to keep our families safe and property protected, and to recover quickly if damage occurs.”

Cioppa urged residents to understand what’s covered by their homeowners or renters policy and make sure coverage is adequate.  “Standard homeowner policies do not cover flooding, which is surprising to many people.  We should all take time to become familiar with our policy, purchase additional coverage if needed, consider whether flood insurance makes sense, and complete an inventory of possessions.”

Flood InsuranceFlooding is typically not covered by a standard homeowners policy.  Due to a 30-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, quick action is needed for a policy to be in place for much of this year’s hurricane season.  Details are available from the National Flood Insurance Program by calling 1-800-427-2419 or online at  The website includes tools to help homeowners assess their flood risk.

Inventory Checklist:  A checklist can be enormously helpful in establishing an insurance claim.  Although a copy of the inventory can be kept at home, a second should always be maintained with insurance policies, medical records, and other important documents in a safety deposit box or other secure location.  The inventory should include photos and video of property.  A free checklist can be obtained on the Bureau’s website (directly at

Additionally, the Governor and Superintendent encouraged residents to establish an emergency supply kit.  It should include several days of drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), non-perishable packaged or canned foods, a non-electrical can opener and cooking utensil.  The kit should also contain first aid materials, necessary medications, basic tools, a battery or crank-operated radio and flashlights, extra batteries and any supplies needed for pets, as well as a list of important names and phone numbers, including insurance company contact information.

They also urged Mainers to familiarize themselves with resources provided by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) — available at

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation. Consumers can reach the Bureau at; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME  04333.


Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from the NAIC

  • Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
  • To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
  • As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.
  • Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).
  • Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.
  • Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
  • Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
  • Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
  • Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
  • Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy

Maine Ranks Among Most Affordable States for Personal Auto and Homeowners Insurance

PRESS RELEASE – Bureau of Insurance, 2/10/2017

The State also has the nation’s second lowest percentage of uninsured drivers at 4.7%, and continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England

GARDINER –Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced that Maine continues to be among the top states in the nation for most affordable homeowners and personal auto insurance rates.

For the fourth year in a row, Maine ranks 3rd for lowest average auto insurance premiums, nationally, and for the third year in a row the state ranks 10th for lowest average homeowners premiums nationally, according to recently released reports by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Maine continues to have the lowest average homeowners premiums in New England.

  • The NAIC’s Auto Insurance Database Report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance and includes state-by-state auto insurance data and analysis for insurance regulators, consumers and lawmakers.  The types of auto insurance coverage included in the report are bodily injury and property damage liability, uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.
  • The NAIC’s Homeowners Insurance Report provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance.  Data is collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes national and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies.

“Despite having coverage requirements that exceed those in most other states, Maine continues to have consistently low average auto premiums,” Superintendent Cioppa said.  “And our State also remains among the most affordable for homeowner’s insurance.”

According to the Insurance Research Council, Maine also continues to have one of the lowest percentages of uninsured motorists, at 4.7%.

More information is available from the NAIC (  Maine consumers and business owners with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to

How having adult kids or aging parents move in affects insurance coverage


Posted Oct. 03, 2016, at 9:43 a.m.

A growing number of households in the U.S. are home to more than one generation of a family.

There are several reasons for this trend, which accounts for roughly 4.3 million families, or roughly 5.6 percent of all households.

Leading the list is likely the financial crash of 2008-2009, which prompted many young adults to head for the home where they grew up. Also, more grandparents are assuming the role of primary caregivers for children.

Ethnic factors prompt some families to welcome multiple generations under one roof. A couple may find it easier to care for an aging parent in their home rather than at the parent’s residence.

Insurance experts say it’s worth a look at your policies if family members move in or return home. Look first at personal property coverage. Relatives bring things with them. Because there’s often a cap on contents coverage, your policy may not insure everything.

The solution might be to buy a rider to cover the additional items. However, if the returning grandparents bring an art collection or other valuables, the insurer may want an appraisal. Also, there could be a lower policy cap on such items even if you increase your total coverage. recently advised consumers who will be welcoming aging family members into their homes to ask several questions:

— Are your payments current on health, auto and life insurance?

— Are you covered by Medicare?

— Should we look into long-term care insurance?

Dealing with insurance questions up front can help families avoid a financial crunch later on. That’s true when adult children move back home. They should be asked questions as well:

— How will health insurance be covered?

— If we combine auto policies, will driving records affect premiums?

— Will expensive electronics or other items increase homeowners insurance premiums?

Maine law, 24-A MRSA § 2742-B, requires individual and group health insurance policies to continue coverage for a dependent child up to age 25 if the child is dependent upon the policyholder and the child has no dependents of his or her own. If other “extended” family members move in, determine who is covered by what means.

The website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners includes a model contract that families can use when their living situations change. You can find it at and search “welcome contract.”

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit or email

Most vehicle warranty extension offers are ripoffs


Posted Sept. 05, 2016, at 11:31 a.m.
When you buy a vehicle, you can almost set your watch by the time the offers for extended warranties start arriving in the mail.

Most of them convey a sense of urgency, especially if you’ve bought a used car or truck. The “Vehicle Document/Alert Notice” from the “Vehicle Services Department” cautions that an “immediate response” is needed, since “your factory warranty may have expired or will be expiring.”

Could they be a little less specific?

Probably not, because the mouse print notes that you probably got this letter through computer data generated by your purchase.

Is it a scam?

Likely as not, it is. Not all such offers are ripoffs, but the Edmunds website puts it bluntly: “Not every extended auto warranty company is out to rip you off, but over the course of our research, we found that the honest ones are few and far between.”

For an impartial explanation of extended warranties, visit the Edmunds website at

As the Edmunds people explain, companies don’t really offer “extended warranties” in the sense of making a manufacturer’s warranty last longer. Those companies — the legit ones, at least — are offering what are called third-party warranties. Some are good, and some are not. Many are not needed in the first place.

Consumer Reports did a survey a couple of years ago. The average cost of extended coverage was $1,200, and 55 percent of all buyers never used it during the life of the policy. Consumer Reports advised potential buyers to set aside money in a savings account earmarked for car repairs. If needed, it’s there; if not, it’s extra cash.

We’ve written about extended warranties in the past. The subject is worth revisiting simply because of the volume of mail a vehicle purchase generates — our “new-to-us” vehicle this summer prompted 10 solicitations, all of which we declined because the manufacturer’s warranty is in effect for two more years.

The offers don’t always come by mail. Some car dealers will try hard to sell you a service contract as part of the deal.

Do the research and make your own decision; don’t be pressured into an add-on that you feel you don’t need. If you do buy a contract through a dealer, make sure the dealer forwards the payment — to the plan administrator or a third party — and get confirmation in writing.

If the service contract is underwritten by an insurance company, talk with people at the Maine Bureau of Insurance (1-800-300-5000 toll-free in Maine, or 207-624-8475) to see if any complaints are on file against the company.

Since U.S. Fidelis collapsed under the weight of lawsuits from a number of states, solicitors of service contracts seem to have softened their language — there’s less blatant trickery than before.

However, many still use an official-looking American eagle symbol on letterhead and envelopes, even though they have no link to any U.S. government agency. And most will proclaim this mailing is a “final notice.” If only that were true.

You may want to revisit the Edmunds website for a look at third-party warranty scams at

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit or email

A new way to find out if you are owed life insurance benefits


By Russ Van Arsdale, executive director Northeast CONTACT
Posted Aug. 15, 2016, at 7:29 a.m.

Now, where did I put that insurance policy?

Unfortunately, answering that question isn’t always as simple as looking in your home safe or a shoe box. The answer may come via a new Lost Life Insurance Policy Service announced recently by Maine’s Bureau of Insurance.

When someone dies, a surviving family member may not know that he or she had been named as a beneficiary in the deceased’s life insurance policy or annuity contract.

People using the new service will need to provide specific information about the deceased to the bureau, which will then reach out to 277 companies that already have agreed to take part in the locator service. The companies will then check their records to determine if a policy or annuity was in effect and whether the person making the inquiry has a valid claim.

The bureau is hoping the service is used by potential beneficiaries, executors and legal representatives of deceased persons who may have lived in Maine when a policy was written or an annuity sold.

On its website, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners or NAIC lists 13 other states that offer locator services. If consumers believe a policy may have been written in some other state, the NAIC site offers guidance in tracking down the details.

Maine Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa says he would like to see all insurance companies, large and small, take part in the new program.

“We will continue to encourage all companies to do the right thing by cooperating with the bureau, joining this effort, and assisting Maine consumers who have a lawful claim,” Cioppa said in a statement.

More information about the service can be found through the Bureau’s website, at Maine Bureau of Insurance, or directly, at Lost policy locator.

Individuals or companies with questions about the service can contact Violet Hyatt, consumer health care division deputy director, at 207-624-8453 or 1-800-300-5000.

We wrote earlier this year about allegations that some insurance companies balked at paying benefits that were owed to consumers. You can find that article on our blog at

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer, ME 04412, visit or email

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