It is a beautiful South Carolina fall afternoon, and the Director of Insurance, Ray Farmer, settles into his office to reflect on the remaining months of his term as President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”), which he had assumed on January 1, 2020. I asked Director Farmer how the year has been, and after a long sigh and roll of his eyes, he said he started the year off optimistically, hoping to address issues relating to risk resiliency, private flood insurance and long-term care. Then came March and COVID-19.
The focus of the NAIC instantly pivoted to address a variety of practical issues that arose because of the pandemic. The immediate direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on the economy and American life forced state insurance departments to adopt new industry-wide national standards for addressing pandemic-related issues. For example, one issue related to refunding of auto insurance premiums since travel was essentially brought to a halt and motor vehicle traffic was minimal, resulting in fewer claims and fewer miles driven. State insurance agencies issued over 1,000 advisory bulletins, orders and directives to address problems ranging from company compliance and filing issues to temporary licensing of agents and adjusters, continuing education requirements and other concerns that arose as the result of the inability of both the insurance industry and state regulators to conduct business as usual. The NAIC developed a coronavirus website as a resource for services and issues the NAIC was addressing.