New Hampshire Supreme Court Strikes Down Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Rate Increase Caps

The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently ruled that New Hampshire’s regulation that places certain caps on long-term care insurance premium rate increases exceeds the Insurance Commissioner’s rulemaking authority and, therefore, is invalid. See Genworth Life Ins. Co. v. New Hampshire Dep’t of Ins., No. 2019-0727, 2021 WL 621005 (N.H. Feb. 17, 2021).

Some states, either by regulation or administrative practice, place caps on long-term care insurance premium rate increases. In 2015, New Hampshire promulgated amended long-term care insurance regulations that capped premium rate increases based on an insured’s attained age and applied the new caps retroactively to all long-term care insurance policies issued in the state (Amended Regulations). See generally N.H. Code Admin. R. § 19. As drafted, the regulation did not afford the Commissioner discretion to approve increases that exceed the caps. The rate caps were implemented on a sliding scale from 50 percent for all policyholders with attained ages 70 and below down to 10% for policyholders with attained ages over 90. As with caps implemented by other states, the caps adopted by New Hampshire had no actuarial basis.

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Alaska Orders Long-Term Care Insurers to Temporarily Suspend Enforcement of Family Member Exclusions

The Alaska Division of Insurance recently ordered long-term care insurers to suspend enforcement of family member exclusions until December 15, 2020, or until such time that Governor Mike Dunleavy determines that the declared public health disaster emergency resulting from COVID-19 no longer exists. See Order R20-10 (November 16, 2020). In the Order, the Division expresses its determination that insureds be able to access their benefits notwithstanding family member policy exclusions due to the increased risk of exposure attendant to home health care providers traveling between households. The Division has extended similar orders during the pandemic, so this Order may be extended beyond December 15. Although the industry has become accustomed to COVID-19-related accommodations pursuant to orders from state regulators, the Division’s decision to suspend family member exclusions is a first during the COVID-19 pandemic and may present administrative and compliance challenges.

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Recent Developments in LTC Rate Increase Litigation

A relatively consistent flow of premium rate increase litiga­tion has been filed against long-term care (LTC) carriers over the past several years. Following the plaintiffs’ bar having early success in a limited number of LTC rate increase class actions in the early 2000s, the tide turned definitively in favor of carriers in what we think of as the first generation of such litigation, where the plaintiffs’ bar focused primarily on an alleged duty to disclose possible rate increases and challenging the language of the contract itself. Despite the industry’s over­all success, premium rate increase litigation has attracted an increased level of sophistication from the plaintiffs’ bar, which shifted to more creative theories based on extra-contractual rep­resentations (e.g., marketing materials) in what we view as the second generation of premium rate increase litigation. While the industry remains mostly successful in warding off rate in­crease litigation, a new trend may be developing as recent cases focus on more nuanced contractual limitations and rate increase implementation issues.

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Responding and Managing the Impact of COVID-19

Assured Allies and Faegre Drinker have partnered to develop a playbook for the long-term care insurance industry. Responding and Managing the Impact of COVID-19 offers insights, guidance and ideas to manage the short- and medium-term impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic and provides potential avenues for long-term care insurers to explore in the post-COVID-19 world that could change long-term care insurance forever.

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