The Texas Department of Insurance has published a set of questions and answers aimed at insurance company executives who are trying to grapple with the effects of Hurricane Rita on policy administration.[@@]

For life and health coverage, Texas department Rita bulletins include any ZIP code where mail service was suspended as a result of Rita as well as 9 counties officially declared to be disaster areas.

Life and health insurers who had customers in those areas on Sept. 20 can continue to charge those customers normal premiums, but they cannot charge any late fees or interest for late payments, and they cannot drop a customer’s coverage because the customer’s payments are late, according to the Texas department.

The bulletins apply to disaster-area residents who had coverage through government programs, such as Medicaid, as well as to residents who had commercial coverage, the department says.

The Texas department’s discussion of its Rita rules is on the Web at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/consumer/ritafaq.html