NU Online News Service, April 19, 5:39 p.m. – The Texas Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin reminding long-term care insurers about new consumer-protection regulations that take effect July 1.

The bulletin, Commissioner’s Bulletin No. B-0020-02, discusses the nuts and bolts of complying with the Lone Star state’s new long-term care insurance rate increase and rate increase disclosure rules.

Texas based the rules on a model regulation recently approved by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.

The Texas bulletin also discusses specific changes in long-term care insurance policy forms and certificates resulting from the new rules.

One change requires long-term care insurance forms and certificates to contain a provision describing “contingent nonforfeiture benefits.”

Texas requires long-term care insurers to offer all coverage purchasers the option to buy a “nonforfeiture benefit,” or a minimum benefit that policyholders get even if they let policies lapse.

When consumers fail to buy the nonforfeiture option, the long-term care insurers must still provide minimum “contingent nonforfeiture” benefits. The contingent benefits take effect when a long-term care insurer demands what Texas defines as a “substantial premium increase.”

The regulation describing the contingent nonforfeiture benefits requirements is posted on the Web at http://info.sos.state.tx.us:80/pub/plsql/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=R&app=9&p_dir=&p_rloc=&p_tloc=&p_ploc=&pg=1&p_tac=&ti=28&pt=1&ch=3&rl=3844

The Texas department is also ordering long-term care insurers to change the way they describe their policies.

Policies and forms may “only use the terms ?level premium’ or ?noncancellable’ when the insurer has no right to make any change in any provision of the insurance or in the premium rate,” according to Ana Smith-Daley, the Texas deputy commissioner who wrote the bulletin.

Approved forms that meet the new standards need not be filed with the Texas department, but insurers that change forms must submit them to the department and get new form numbers, Smith-Daley writes.

The full text of the bulletin is available on the Web at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/commish/b-0020-2.html