New York insurance regulators say insurers should check to see whether insureds listed as “smokers” actually use tobacco.
The New York State Insurance Department Life Bureau “has been monitoring instances in which the rate classification of insured persons have changed to smoker status from non-smoker or unismoker status to determine whether smoker designations have been appropriate,” department officials write in their latest annual report to the New York State Legislature.
Life Bureau officials “became aware of instances where juveniles insured under a life insurance policy were, upon reaching a certain age, automatically designated as smokers for purposes of determining the juveniles’ premium rates, regardless of whether the juveniles were actually smokers.”
The bureau has received a complaint from a consumer who converted from a group life policy to an individual policy and was charged smoker rates under the individual policy, even though the consumer was a non-smoker, officials write.
The Life Bureau also is talking to 2 unlicensed insurers about sales of unapproved equity-indexed annuities and modified guaranteed annuities in New York, officials report.
In a section about product innovations, New York officials write that the Life Bureau is talking to insurers that want to use life and annuity products to guarantee lifetime benefits on assets held outside the insurer in mutual funds or brokerage accounts.
The department is “carefully reviewing the exposure to market risk for these products because the assets upon which the guarantees are based are not held by the insurer,” officials write.