SCC News

MEDIA INQUIRIES

Information Resources Division: 804-371-9141 sccinfo@scc.virginia.gov

 

RECEIVE SCC NEWS

Get updates on the latest in Utility, Financial, and General news

Archive

RICHMOND – As early as January 1, mobile carriers may begin shutting down their 3G networks, making many older cell phones unable to receive calls and texts – including calls to 911 – or use data services. As such, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to begin preparing for 3G retirement now.

Mobile carriers are dropping 3G to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. In addition to 3G mobile phones and certain older 4G mobile phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE or HD Voice), this update will affect other products using 3G network services, including certain medical devices, tablets, smart watches, vehicle SOS services, and home security systems.

  • AT&T announced that it will finish shutting down its 3G network by February 2022.
  • Verizon announced that will finish shutting down its 3G network by December 31, 2022.
  • T-Mobile announced that it will finish shutting down Sprint's 3G CDMA network by March 31, 2022 and Sprint's 4G LTE network by June 30, 2022. It also announced it will shut down T-Mobile's 3G UMTS network by July 1, 2022 but has not yet announced a shutdown date for its 2G network.

Keep in mind that – even if your carrier is not listed above – you may still be affected. Many carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk and several Lifeline mobile service providers utilize AT&T's, Verizon's and T-Mobile's networks.

Some carrier websites provide lists of devices that will no longer be supported after 3G networks are shut down. You may need to upgrade to a newer device to ensure that you can stay connected, and carriers may be offering discounted or free upgrades to help consumers who need to upgrade their phones.

If unsure about the status of your device, contact your mobile provider or consult your provider's website for more information about their 3G retirement plan. If you purchased your phone independent of a mobile provider, you should be able to check whether your device is 4G LTE enabled (with VoLTE or HD Voice) by checking your phone's settings or user manual, or by searching your phone's model number on the internet, to determine whether you need to purchase a new device or install a software update.

In addition, although they do not cover the cost of new devices, other FCC programs may be able to assist eligible consumers with the cost of phone or internet services:

  • The FCC's Lifeline program may be able to assist eligible consumers in getting connected to phone and internet services. The program provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.
  • In addition, the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program provides a temporary discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households during the COVID-19 pandemic.
###
Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Many investors increasingly want to align their financial goals with their personal beliefs. ESG investing – also known as sustainable investing, socially responsible investing or impact investing – is an investment strategy in which an investor considers environmental, social and governance factors about a company or fund when making financial decisions.

“ESG” is an acronym that stands for environmental, social and governance factors.  Environmental factors generally concern a company’s impact on the environment, such as its energy or water use, pollution output, climate change policies, waste management, greenhouse gas emissions goals, and carbon footprints.

Social factors often relate to a company’s culture and policies impacting employees, customers, suppliers and others. Such factors may include company policies regarding diversity and inclusion, social justice issues, employee sexual harassment, fair labor practices, faith-based issues, and health and safety initiatives.

Governance factors typically consider how a company is run and the relationships its officers and directors have with employees, customers, shareholders and local communities. These factors may include executive compensation, board composition, conflict of interest policies, transparency, ethics, compliance, shareholder rights and lobbying.

Investors interested in ESG investing may consider some or all of these factors when deciding how to invest their money.

As with any investment strategy, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Division of Securities and Retail Franchising (Division) urges investors to do their homework before making any investment. “All investments are not created equal,” said Division Director Ron Thomas. “While ESG investing is popular, it may not be right for everyone. When investing, consider all of your goals and the potential benefits and risks of a particular investment. Don’t invest money you cannot afford to lose.”

Whether pursuing an ESG investing strategy or engaging in any investment activity, Thomas urges Virginians to consider the following:

  • Thoroughly evaluate each investment opportunity and make sure you understand the investment and any fees and expenses associated with it. Seek independent, professional advice, if needed.
  • Check a company’s track record, management and regulatory history using publicly available resources and filings.
  • Review an investment’s disclosure documents.
  • Consider whether an investment’s stated approach matches your investment goals, objectives, risk tolerance and preferences.
  • Do not allow anyone to pressure you into making an investment.
  • Check with your state securities regulator to find out if an investment and the person offering it are licensed or registered. In Virginia, consumers can contact the SCC Division of Securities and Retail Franchising in Richmond at 804-371-9051 or toll-free at 1-800-552-7945.

For more information, visit the Division’s website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Consumer-Investments or the North American Securities Administrators Association website at https://www.nasaa.org/57335/informed-investor-advisory-esg-investing/.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved a settlement in a triennial financial review of Dominion Energy Virginia’s base rates, terms and conditions for the provision of generation, distribution and transmission services. No case parties opposed the settlement.

Through its order, the Commission approved customer refunds totaling $330 million and the statutory maximum annual rate reduction of $50 million. For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month, this rate reduction will result in a decrease of approximately 90 cents per month beginning within 60 days of the SCC final order.

In addition, a residential customer using 1,000 kWh per month will receive refunds totaling approximately $67 over the 2022-2023 period.

As part of the settlement, the Commission approved the term of the stipulation authorizing a rate of return on common equity (ROE) for Dominion of 9.35 percent. This ROE will be used for rate adjustment clauses and for Dominion’s next triennial review.

###

Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2021-00058 – Dominion Energy Virginia for a 2021 triennial review of the rates, terms and conditions for provision of generation, distribution and transmission services

RICHMOND – Dry pine needles, icy streets and sidewalks, busy kitchens and overworked outlets are just a few of the seasonal hazards that can result in injuries or damage to your home or property. Those events in turn can lead to expenses or losses that impact your financial well-being if you don’t have adequate insurance coverage.

In order to keep spirits bright, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians to check with their insurance agent or company to ensure they have the appropriate amount of insurance coverage in the event of an illness, theft or mishap.

“Make sure your insurance coverage is up-to-date so you can minimize any financial damage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Take a close look at each of your insurance policies to ensure you know exactly what is – and is not – covered.”

Also check that your coverage includes seasonal activities that you may enjoy, such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic creates several recent considerations for policyholders. Among other things, policyholders should consider the following:

  • Compliance requirements with local, state or national restrictions regarding the number of people who may gather at one time;
  • Minimizing the risk of transmission by taking appropriate steps, such as wearing masks, using hand soap and hand sanitizer frequently, and encouraging the sick to stay home, and
  • Understanding how your homeowner’s, renter’s, health and life insurance policies may specifically address COVID-19.

In addition to reviewing your policies, you may take other proactive steps before an accident. Among other things, you may want to keep your auto insurance company’s contact information and a copy of your insurance card with you when you drive, stay alert of local weather forecasts, and bring health insurance information – like identification cards and contact details for family members – with you while traveling.

Finally, the end of the year is a good time to update your home inventory for insurance purposes. Keeping an updated inventory will help ensure your homeowners or renters policy provides enough coverage for your belongings. It also can facilitate the recovery process if you experience loss or damage and must file an insurance claim.

Separate coverage may be needed for high-cost items such as jewelry, art or electronics. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' free smartphone app — NAIC Home Inventory — makes creating a home inventory quick and easy. This app is available through the App Store and Google Play.

For information about a variety of insurance-related topics specifically for consumers, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Additional information also may be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

###

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Virginia consumers will soon have an opportunity to shop for health care coverage for the 2022 plan year through HealthCare.gov. Virginians can shop for insurance on the website during open enrollment, which runs November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022.  Special enrollment periods are also available for people who experience certain qualifying life events. Visit healthcare.gov/glossary/special-enrollment-period/ to learn more.

“For 2022 and 2023, Virginia consumers will continue to shop for health care coverage on HealthCare.gov, the federal health insurance platform,” said Victoria Savoy, director of the Virginia Health Benefit Exchange (Virginia Exchange). In the meantime, the Virginia Exchange continues its transition toward becoming operational as a state-based exchange after plan year 2023.

Whether changing health insurance plans or purchasing a new plan, the SCC encourages Virginians to review their coverage needs and thoroughly explore all their options.  Consumers should understand their health coverage options – whether choosing a plan on the federal health insurance platform during open enrollment or another option elsewhere.

“Not all health plans are created alike, and some are not insurance,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. He encourages Virginians to fully understand the coverage, costs and protections before signing up for any health plan. “Understand enrollment periods, what plans must cover to comply with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and where to turn for legitimate information. If you have questions, the Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) can help.”

Consumer protection laws govern some types of health coverage such as plans purchased through an employer or through the health insurance marketplace. Other types of plans, like health care sharing ministries and discount plans are not insurance and do not offer the same protections as ACA-compliant plans.

Short-term, limited-duration health insurance plans are not available through the health insurance marketplace, but they are regulated health insurance plans. Short-term plans often cover less than ACA-compliant marketplace plans, may deny eligibility for coverage or exclude services because of pre-existing conditions; they also may apply dollar limits on the amount paid in coverage benefits.

Whether shopping for health insurance on or off the exchange, the Bureau and the Virginia Exchange encourage careful consideration of the health care services you and your family will need prior to signing up for any plan. Questions that you should consider include:

  • Does the plan cover the services my family needs or are there limits to the benefits available under the plan?
  • Are doctors and medications my family needs covered by the plan? 
  • What are the monthly premiums and other costs of using health services such as co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles?

During open enrollment, consumers should keep the following in mind:

  • In Virginia, HealthCare.gov is the official website to enroll in ACA plans. (Español: cuidadodesalud.gov/es/).
  • Although you don’t have to use HealthCare.gov to enroll in an ACA plan, you must enroll through HealthCare.gov to receive financial assistance.
  • The open enrollment period for buying a 2022 ACA plan (whether through HealthCare.gov or outside HealthCare.gov) begins November 1, 2021 and ends January 15, 2022.
  • Look for a disclosure indicating whether the health plan complies with the ACA.
  • Do not provide personal information or send money in response to unsolicited calls or emails purporting to offer health care plans or assistance.
  • Members of the health insurance marketplace will not call to sell you health insurance. Be wary of telemarketers cold calling you from the “marketplace,” “national enrollment center," "national healthcare center" or other official-sounding name to sell you health insurance, especially outside the open enrollment period.
  • To verify that an insurance agent, agency or company is licensed in Virginia, visit the Bureau’s website at scc.virginia.gov/boi/ConsumerInquiry/default.aspx.
  • For free help understanding your options, find an application assistant or a healthcare navigator at coverva.org/en/find-help-in-your-area (Español: coverva.org/es/find-help-in-your-area).

For more information, contact the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Use the online comparison tool to compare plans. To learn more about the Virginia Exchange or obtain additional contact information, visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Health-Benefit-Exchange-(6).

Free translation services are available. Call the Virginia Exchange hotline at 1-833-740-1364 or the Healthcare.gov hotline at 1-800-318-2596 for assistance.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141
 

RICHMOND – Starting November 13, 2021, permissive 10-digit dialing will begin for Virginians living in the 540 area code region. This is the first step in a June 2020 relief plan approved by the State Corporation Commission (SCC) to phase in the new 826 area code. During the next six months, local calls can be made with either 7 or 10 digits, and all calls that are local will continue to be local even though you dial 10 digits.

The 540 area code encompasses the northwestern and southwestern portions of Virginia; some of the larger cities include Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Radford, Roanoke, Salem, Staunton, Waynesboro and Winchester.

In the coming months, the inventory of available phone numbers with "540" as the area code is expected to run out. The SCC approved an overlay, which is the addition of another area code (826) to the same geographic region served by an existing area code (540). Beginning June 14, 2022, new telephone lines or services may be assigned numbers using the new 826 area code.

The good news: residents and businesses that already have phone numbers will get to keep them. No one’s 540 phone number will change.

And what do you need to do? Very little. Just start practicing dialing phone numbers using all 10 digits because, beginning May 14, 2022, local calls made in the 540 area code won't be connected if just 7 digits are dialed. You must use 10 digits (3-digit area code + the 7-digit telephone number) as of next May 14. One thing people can do to prepare for the switch is to update their cell phone contacts now, so that phone numbers they call regularly already will have the area code attached.

For more information on this topic, see: scc.virginia.gov/pages/540-Area-Code-Exhaust-Relief.

###

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2019-00148 - Ex Parte: In the matter of the Commission’s investigation into exhaust relief for the 540 area code

RICHMOND – Across the nation, November is the peak month for insurance claims related to vehicle collisions with deer. Virginia is among the states with the highest risk of these types of incidents. Mating season and migration contribute to a dramatic uptick in vehicle-deer collisions during the fall. To help avoid incidents, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds drivers to stay alert, particularly if traveling along tree-lined roadways when it’s dark.

“A deer in the roadway poses a threat to even the most careful driver,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “As fall arrives, contact your insurance agent or company to determine if your automobile policy provides coverage for claims involving a collision with deer or other wildlife.”

Damage caused to your vehicle as a result of a collision with a deer or other animal typically is covered under the optional “other-than-collision” (also known as “comprehensive”) portion of your automobile policy. In addition to claims involving animals, some of the coverages provided by “other-than-collision” are damage resulting from theft, wind, hail and flood, as well as fire and vandalism. Keep in mind that if you have a liability-only policy, your policy may not cover your vehicle for damage resulting from a crash involving a deer or any other object.

Drivers can help prevent a collision with a deer by lowering their speed and staying alert. Nevertheless, some collisions are inevitable. In these cases, you should stay in your lane and brake as carefully as possible. Though jarring, a collision with a deer is often safer for the driver and any occupants – and for surrounding vehicles and their occupants – than swerving sharply and potentially hitting something else. If a driver attempts to avoid a collision by swerving – into a tree or ditch, for example – any damage may trigger coverages different than “other-than-collision.” Additionally, insurers may consider the driver to be at fault, which could cause premiums to increase.

Should you collide with a deer, notify law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. When safe to do so, take pictures of the incident scene and any vehicle damage in the event you file an insurance claim. Don’t assume that your vehicle is safe to drive. Check for leaking fluid, tire damage, broken lights and other damage. When in doubt, call a tow truck.

The Bureau of Insurance stands ready to assist Virginians with their questions regarding auto and many other types of insurance. For more information, call the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

###

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Mandatory 10-digit dialing (area code + phone number) will begin October 24, 2021, in Virginia area codes 804 and 276. The dialing changes are needed to accommodate the new three-digit dialing number – 988 – for the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).

The NSPL is a critical emergency resource that connects Americans in crisis to suicide prevention and mental health counselors. It can currently be reached any time day or night at 1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK). Dialing the NSPL will get even easier starting July 16, 2022, when a three-digit number – 988 – begins operation.  The new number was approved by the Federal Communications Commission last year.

Virginia is among 35 states and one U.S. territory that must start using 10-digit dialing to clear the way for use of the 988 national number next year. In the Richmond region (area code 804) and the Southwest Virginia region (area code 276), where local calls can now be made by dialing just 7 digits, many phone numbers start with "988." Since "988" will now be dedicated to NSPL, people in the affected area codes will now have to dial "804" or "276" at the beginning of all local calls. This is known as 10-digit dialing.  (Note: Using a "1" before the area code will be needed only for long-distance calls.)

Optional 10-digit dialing began in area codes 804 and 276 in April for all local calls. On and after October 24, 2021, 10-digit dialing will be required for all calls. Local calls dialed with only seven digits may not be completed, and a recording will inform callers that their call cannot be completed as dialed.

Little else will change for telephone users inside the 804 and 276 area codes. During and after the transition to 988, the NSPL will continue to be available at the longer phone number as well:  1-800-273-8255. Other three-digit dialing services such as 211, 711, 811, and 911 will not be affected. Telephone numbers, area code numbers, coverage areas and local call boundaries will remain the same.

Suicidepreventionlifeline.org is another resource for people in crisis, and 911 is available for emergency situations.

For more information about phone service changes resulting from the NSPL’s upcoming 988 number, visit the FCC website at fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline or the SCC website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/988-Preparation.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 
 

RICHMOND – The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought remote work, education, and medical care to the forefront, underscoring the need for all Virginians to stay digitally connected. As such, the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is partnering with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA) to highlight “National Telephone Discount Lifeline Awareness Week,” September 20- 24, 2021.

Lifeline is a federal program that helps low-income consumers afford 21st century broadband. The program provides a $9.25 monthly discount on broadband service and a $7.25 monthly discount on voice service, with a limit of one benefit per household. You could be eligible if your income falls below a certain level – at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines – or if you participate in one of these federal assistance programs:

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
  • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit

Participating companies can help with enrollment. You can also use a new option – the Lifeline National Verifier (www.checklifeline.org) – to check whether you are eligible and sign up for Lifeline. Since not all companies are required to offer Lifeline service, it’s a good idea to contact the companies you want to provide you with service to see if they participate.

To learn more about Lifeline and the Lifeline National Verifier, and to see if you are eligible, call 1-800-234-9473 or email lifelinesupport@usac.org or visit www.lifelinesupport.org or the FCC website at www.fcc.gov/lifeline-consumers. You may also contact Leah Sorini with Universal Service Administrative Co., the company that administers the Lifeline program, at 202-772-6274 or at LifelineProgram@usac.org.

Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Many Americans would face financial hardship if a wage earner died unexpectedly. Life Insurance Awareness Month – celebrated each September – is a reminder that life insurance can help protect your loved ones financially now and in the future.

The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) reminds Virginians that there are many factors to consider when determining if life insurance is right for you and your family.

“When considering your family’s financial future, review your existing financial resources, debts and other liabilities, as well as your family’s needs and goals,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “Understand the different types of life insurance and shop around to compare prices and coverage.”

White encourages Virginians who already have life insurance to review their policies regularly and update their policies and beneficiaries so their coverage keeps pace with their changing circumstances. Life events such as a birth, divorce, remarriage, or other changes affecting your finances (such as a new mortgage or a new job) may trigger a need to update your life insurance policy.

If you do not have life insurance, shop around and understand the different types of policies available and the costs.

“Think about your family situation if you died tomorrow,” White said. Review your existing resources and consider the following: Does your spouse work? Do you have any sources of income other than salary? Do you have life insurance through your job?

Also consider the financial obligations that may fall upon family members if you die, such as a mortgage, business expenses, medical expenses, car loans or student loans. Also consider short-term and long-term goals such as your spouse’s retirement, providing care for a loved one or your children’s education.

White encourages Virginians to understand the types of life insurance available – term life or permanent – and how benefits are paid when you die. Term life insurance offers death benefit protection for a specific period of time. Benefits are paid only if the policyholder dies within the policy term. Term policies typically have lower premiums, but premiums may increase as you age or at the end of a specific “term.” Term policies do not build cash value, but some permanent life insurance policies such as whole life, adjustable/universal life or variable life insurance do build cash value over time. Permanent policies cover the insured for their entire life as long as premiums are paid when due.

Life insurance can do more than protect your spouse and dependents after your death. Some policies contain benefits that are usable during your lifetime. For example, a policyholder might be able to use the cash value accumulated in a permanent life insurance policy to pay expenses for education, retirement or emergencies.

What you pay for life insurance (premiums) depends largely on the type of policy chosen, your health status, age, gender, occupation, family health history and lifestyle. The following factors may impact your ability to obtain life insurance coverage or the premium you must pay: pre-existing conditions and chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease or cancer; poor health habits such as smoking or drinking; your driving record, and whether you engage in activities considered risky by the insurer such as rock climbing, motorcycle riding, sky diving, horseback riding or skiing.

Compare premiums, coverage and claims service when considering life insurance options. Contact the Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 for questions or to make sure the company or individual offering the coverage is licensed and in good standing. The Bureau offers a free Virginia Life Insurance Consumer Guide with answers to many life insurance questions on its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Tips,-Guides-Publications.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free Life Insurance Policy Locator Service that can help consumers find lost life insurance policies and annuity contracts. From January 2017 through June 2021, the Locator Service matched 4,616 policies for Virginians with a total face value of $117,052,464. Nationwide, from November 2016 through June 2021, it matched 147,140 policies with a total face value of $3,775,837,551. To learn more about the Locator Service, visit https://eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator/#/welcome.

###

Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

previous page arrow
1 2 3 4 5

...

11 next page arrow

RECEIVE SCC NEWS

Get updates on the latest in Utility, Financial, and General news

Archive