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RICHMOND - The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that health insurance options are available if they have recently been laid off or lost health insurance benefits through their employer.

“Loss of a job doesn’t have to mean loss of health insurance coverage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “In light of the rapidly evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, it’s especially important to have health insurance now because most comprehensive health insurance plans, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, are providing increased benefits and coverages related to coronavirus testing and treatments that may be cost-prohibitive for individuals without health insurance.”

Health insurance coverage options are as follows:

  • Virginians can apply for an individual plan through the health insurance marketplace under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Although open enrollment runs from November 1 – December 15 each year, special enrollment periods (SEP) are available for people who may have recently lost their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage or certain other qualifying life events. You can apply for the SEP within 60 days before you know your coverage will end and within 60 days from the date you lost coverage. To learn more, visit HealthCare.gov. Keep in mind that your coverage may not begin immediately. Marketplace plans go into effect the first day of the month after your job ends.
  • If you have already lost your job, you may be able to extend your health insurance coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) for up to 18 months after you lose your job. Typically, employers with at least 20 full-time employees are required to offer COBRA coverage. If you opt in to coverage through COBRA, your health plan and health benefits remain the same, but you would be responsible for the entire cost of your coverage, plus an administrative fee. In most cases, you have 60 days to enroll upon receiving notice of eligibility for COBRA coverage. Once you opt in to COBRA coverage, you cannot switch to a plan through a health insurance marketplace until ACA open enrollment begins in November or until COBRA coverage ends in 18 months.
  • Since losing your job is a qualifying event, you may also be able to get health insurance coverage through a spouse or other family member’s employer-sponsored insurance plan. Individuals younger than 26 may be able to join a parent’s employer-sponsored plan. Keep in mind that you have 30 days from the time your previous employer stops paying for your insurance to enroll in your family member’s plan.
  • Other options include short-term, limited duration health insurance plans, discount health plans and health care sharing ministries. Commissioner White cautions that, while these plans may be less expensive than coverage through marketplace plans or COBRA, they may not offer the same consumer protections and coverage. They are not subject to ACA rules and often cover less than ACA-compliant marketplace plans. In addition, they may deny eligibility for coverage or exclude services because of pre-existing conditions and may apply dollar limits on the amount they will pay.
  • Depending on your circumstances or income level, you may qualify for other assistance, such as Medicaid or Family Access to Medical Insurance Security. In Virginia, the Medicaid program is administered by the Department of Medical Assistance Services. When applying for health insurance coverage through the ACA marketplace (www.healthcare.gov), it will provide you with information on this program if you qualify. For more information concerning Virginia Medicaid programs, visit coverva.org or call 1-855-242-8282.

Before signing up for any health insurance plan, the Bureau of Insurance encourages Virginians to carefully consider what health care services you and your family need. According to Commissioner White, "not all health plans are the same, and some are not insurance." He encourages Virginians to protect themselves when shopping for health insurance by fully understanding the coverage, costs and protections before they sign up for any health plan. When comparing options, Commissioner White encourages Virginians to consider healthcare provider networks, premiums, deductibles, annual coverage limits, co-pays, coinsurance, out-of-pocket limits and any exclusions (for example, exclusions based on pre-existing conditions). If you have questions, the Bureau of Insurance can help.

For more information, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or online at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi or see www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/pubs/HthAlts19.pdf. You also can compare plans using the tool at www.scc.virginia.gov/boi/pubs/hlthplan_compare.pdf.

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved certain provisions of the most recent electric grid transformation plan proposed by Dominion Energy Virginia. The approved elements include strengthening cyber security protections, improving service reliability through grid hardening, and a new computer platform to support customer service.

The SCC denied other plan elements due to the projected heavy costs to customers without adequate benefits. The rejected elements include Advanced Metering Infrastructure, commonly referred to as “smart meter technology.” And, grid upgrades and related features for which the company failed to justify what would be gained by the projected level of investment.

Dominion’s proposal, if approved in full, would have cost customers nearly $7 billion at full roll-out over 10 years. The elements of the initial phase approved by the SCC will, at a minimum, cost an estimated $212 million. The SCC rejected initial phase elements costing nearly $626 million. All cost figures include financing costs.

The SCC said, “We recognize the importance of the plan’s overall objectives. We have approved those elements in which the heavy costs to customers have been adequately justified by the overall benefits to customers, and we have denied approval to those elements whose heavy costs were not justified by the overall benefits to customers.”

Smart meter technology was one of the most expensive elements of the plan at $752 million in total costs. The Commission agreed again with a witness for environmental organizations in the first Dominion grid transformation proceeding (Case PUR-2018-00100), who said that smart meters “are beneficial and cost-effective only to the extent the Company utilizes them to maximize the potential gains of rate optionality, energy efficiency, demand response and distributed energy resources.”

In this case, the SCC found that Dominion had again failed to justify its smart meter proposal with a plan, including a well-crafted rate design, that could maximize the potential for benefits to customers through energy efficiency and demand response pricing (time of use rates). For the components approved by the Commission, any costs that exceed the current estimates must be proven by the company in a future proceeding before recovery of those costs from ratepayers will be permitted.

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Case Number PUR-2019-00154
View Final Order

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has certified providers in the electric, gas, water, and sewer industries in Virginia as critical infrastructure industry workers during the coronavirus national health emergency. The designation ensures continued operations of critical services to all customers – residential, business and government.

The Commission’s order means that utility service providers and their workers receive priority status to obtain resources necessary to continue uninterrupted delivery of vital services to Virginians. It also means these utilities should take all necessary steps to identify and protect essential workers needed to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

The designation is effective until further orders of the Commission.

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View Order Certifying Critical Infrastructure Workers

SCC Orders (to date) related to COVID-19 emergency:

  • PUR-2020-00052 – Critical Infrastructure Designation for Utilities (3/23/2020)
  • PUR-2020-00048 – Suspending Disconnection of Utility Service (3/16/2020)
  • SEC-2020-00018 – Extension of Trademark & Service Mark Renewal Deadlines (3/17/2020)
  • SEC-2020-00017 – Extension of Franchise Renewal Deadlines (3/17/2020)
  • CLK-2020-00004 – Electronic Service of Commission Orders (03/19/2020)
  • CLK-2020-00005 – Revised Operating Procedures During COVID-19 Emergency (3/19/2020)
Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is directing that all business with the Commission be handled through electronic filing systems, email, or by telephone during the current national coronavirus health emergency. The SCC is making temporary changes to normal business operations regarding on-site office activity to protect members of the public and SCC employees until the COVID-19 epidemic subsides.

The Clerk’s Office will not be open to the public for in-person visits. It will continue to receive and process documents, pleadings, and filings as required by law and the Commission’s rules.

In-person visits to other regulatory sections of the Commission are suspended except by advance appointment. Currently scheduled hearings are subject to further order of the Commission.

If filings or other deliveries must be made, drop offs are permitted. The evolving health emergency has reduced on-site SCC staffing. Many employees are teleworking. The processing of drop off deliveries may be delayed.

These temporary measures are designed to limit personal interaction and give the Commission the capability of continuing to serve the public as best as circumstances allow.

The following revised operating procedures have been taken by order of the Commission:

  • Until further notice, the Clerk’s Office is not open to the public for in-person visits as of Friday, March 20.
  • Hand delivery of documents, pleadings, filings, etc., including those intended for filing with the Clerk’s Office, may be dropped off at the security desk of the Tyler Building at 1300 East Main Street in downtown Richmond.
  • Business entity filings should be made electronically. Existing Businesses. U.S. mail and private delivery service remains as an alternative to the online Clerk’s Information System (CIS).
  • The 100-page limit for electronic filing of case documents has been modified. Enlarged case documents may be submitted electronically in logically separated parts of 100 pages or less. See SCC case document filing procedures. Electronic Filing
  • Routine monitoring of the daily filings and document log feature of SCC Docket Search is strongly advised since service on case participants may be delayed. Docket Search 
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Case Numbers CLK-2020-00004 and CLK-2020-00005

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has directed regulated electric, natural gas and water companies in Virginia to suspend service disconnections until the coronavirus outbreak subsides.

The 60-day temporary moratorium on disconnects provides immediate relief for any customer, residential and business, who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. In taking this action, the Commission order takes judicial notice of the ongoing public health emergency related to the spread of the coronavirus.

The Commission recognizes the current situation continues to evolve and may take further action, if necessary.

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Case Number PUR-2020-00048 - Order Suspending Disconnection of Service and Suspending Tariff Provisions Regarding Utility Disconnections of Service

Contact: Ken Schrad (804) 371-9858​

RICHMOND — As daily news reports track the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), including recent cases in Virginia, the State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) is actively monitoring developments and communicating with health insurers providing coverage in the Commonwealth.

“Most, if not all carriers in Virginia have put a plan in place to waive member costs for coronavirus testing at an in-network lab for fully-insured enrollees with comprehensive coverage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. Some carriers offer additional protections such as waiving any prior authorization requirements, covering telemedicine with no cost to members, waiving certain prescription refill requirements and opening special telephone help lines.

The Bureau reminds Virginians that, even with insurance coverage, you may have out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatments, office visits and other medical care related to this virus. Those costs will depend on the insurance carrier, the type of plan and its coverage. “Make sure you understand what is and is not covered and, just as important, what your costs will be,” White said. “Read your policy carefully and contact your health insurance company if you have questions.”

For additional information, contact the Consumer Services Section of the Bureau of Insurance Life and Health Division toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at (804) 371-9691 or visit www.scc.virginia.gov/boi. If you are insured through a self-funded plan, ask your employer or plan administrator about available benefits or the extent of your coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141

RICHMOND — When it comes to floods, coastal areas are not the only places at risk. During Virginia Flood Awareness Week – March 8-14, 2020 – the State Corporation Commission (SCC) joins other local and state agencies in reminding Virginians to Know Your Risk. Protect Your Property. Get Flood Insurance.

Hurricanes and heavy rains are not the only culprits when it comes to flooding. Areas that experience other natural disasters, such as severe winter storms and wildfires, are equally vulnerable. Ice dams and snowmelt can cause flash floods. Lack of vegetation caused by wildfires can cause mudflows and floods.

“Floods can happen anywhere and anytime,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “All it takes is a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and its contents.”

Homeowners insurance policies issued in Virginia typically do not provide coverage for damage to your home and property due to floods. However, the federal government does sell insurance for direct flood and flood-related damage through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This federally-backed flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners, and offers separate coverage for structures and contents. Potential buyers should think about their flood insurance needs in advance as there is generally a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy takes effect.

No matter where you live, White encourages Virginians to assess their flood risk and protect themselves financially before the waters start to rise. “Without understanding your risk and knowing your insurance options, you might find yourself inadequately covered when you need coverage the most. Flood insurance is one of the best ways you can protect yourself financially against a flood, but the time to plan is now,” he said.

For more information about flood insurance, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661, or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Since some private insurers also offer their own flood policies, you can check with your insurance agent about the availability of a private flood insurance policy. In either case, ask whether your flood policy provides coverage for your personal property.

Unlike homeowners insurance, auto insurance generally covers damage to a vehicle caused by flooding. However, the policyholder must have other-than-collision (also known as comprehensive) coverage on their vehicle. This coverage pays for damage to a vehicle from such things as fire, water, hail, vandalism, glass breakage, wind and falling objects.

The Bureau encourages Virginians to take steps now to protect their homes and property against floods and other disasters. Evaluate your risk; review your insurance coverage; create a home inventory of your belongings and store it with your insurance policies and other important documents in a safe place. To prepare for floods, elevate electrical and HVAC systems; seal foundation cracks; install drain plugs, sump pumps or backflow water valves; dry-proof your property with coatings and sealants, and grade your lawn away from your home.

Among the many publications offered by the SCC’s Bureau of Insurance are consumer guides regarding homeowners and auto insurance and disaster-related property insurance claims. For copies of the guides or answers to your insurance questions, contact the Bureau of Insurance Property and Casualty Consumer Services Section by calling (804) 371-9185 in Richmond or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560. Copies of the consumer insurance guides are also available on the Bureau’s website.

For more information about floods and flood-related disasters, visit the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation website at https://www.dcr.virginia.gov/dam-safety-and-floodplains/floodawareness or the Virginia Department of Emergency Management website at https://www.vaemergency.gov/.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141

RICHMOND — Scammers often rely on headlines to lure unsuspecting investors into bogus investment offers. As daily news reports continue to track the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the State Corporation Commission (SCC) reminds Virginians to beware of unscrupulous individuals seeking to capitalize on fear and uncertainty surrounding these reports.

“Think twice before considering ‘research reports’ or promotions claiming that the products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result,” said Ron Thomas, director of the SCC’s Division of Securities and Retail Franchising. These promotions can come in the form of emails, texts, cold calls, social media posts or other online promotions.

“Fraudsters are opportunistic and exploit news events for their own financial gain. They peddle misinformation to give their promotions an air of legitimacy and immediacy,” Thomas said. “Before investing, understand the investment, the person or company offering it, where your money is going, how it will be used, and how you can get it back. Always verify that the salesperson and the security are registered by the appropriate securities regulator.”

Thomas also cautions Virginians to be on the lookout for scam artists trying to use recent market volatility and the coronavirus outbreak to scare investors into so-called “safer, guaranteed investments.” “Don’t make investment decisions based on panic or fear. If you have questions, contact a financial professional or your state securities regulator,” he said.

“When it comes to investing, rely on research rather than personal feelings,” Thomas said. He urges potential investors to ask the following questions:

  • Does the investment promise guaranteed high returns with little or no risk? Remember: all investments carry risk that you may potentially lose some or all your money. No one can guarantee an investment return.
  • Is there a sense of urgency or limited availability surrounding the investment? If someone offers you a “can’t miss” investment opportunity and puts you on the spot to complete the transaction, don’t be afraid to walk away.
  • Are the person or the company offering the investment and the investment itself properly licensed or registered? In Virginia, you can find out by contacting the SCC Division of Securities and Retail Franchising at 804-371-9051 in Richmond or toll-free (in Virginia) at 1-800-552-7945 or by visiting its website.

For more information, visit the North American Securities Administrators Association’s website.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141

RICHMOND — The State Corporation Commission (SCC) will hold hearings in Loudoun County in May to receive public testimony on a request by the owners of the Dulles Greenway to increase the maximum level of tolls over a five-year period.

The current tolls for a two-axle vehicle are $5.80 during peak periods and $4.75 during off-peak periods on the 14-mile roadway between Washington Dulles International Airport and Leesburg. Toll Road Investors Partnership II is proposing a schedule of annual increases that would result in the maximum tolls beginning January 1, 2025, of $7.90 for peak traffic and $6.15 for off-peak and weekend traffic.

A public hearing is scheduled in Leesburg on May 11, 2020, beginning at 2 p.m. and reconvening at 7 p.m. in the Loudoun County Government Center, First Floor Board Room, 1 Harrison Street, S.E. The hearing will continue May 12, 2020, in Ashburn, beginning at 6 p.m. in Stone Bridge High School Auditorium, 43100 Hay Road.

The hearing will resume in Richmond June 9, 2020, at 10 a.m. in the SCC’s courtroom on the second floor of the Tyler Building, 1300 East Main Street. Persons wishing to comment at any of the hearings should arrive early and notify the SCC bailiff.

Written comments may be sent by June 2, 2020, to the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission, Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. Please refer to case number PUR-2019-00218.

Persons desiring to submit comments electronically may do so at the SCC’s website at www.scc.virginia.gov/case. Click on the PUBLIC COMMENTS/NOTICES link, find the comment box for case number PUR-2019-00218, and hit the SUBMIT COMMENTS button.

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Case Number PUR-2019-00218 – Application of Toll Road Investors Partnership II, L.P. for an increase in the maximum level of tolls

Contact: Andy Farmer (804) 371-9141

RICHMOND — In today’s complex marketplace, knowledge is the key to helping you stretch your dollar and avoid unsuitable or fraudulent products and services. The State Corporation Commission (SCC) encourages Virginians to protect themselves financially and know where to turn for help – whether they are shopping for a mortgage or other loan, comparing insurance policies, investing, planning for retirement or reviewing their bank statement or utility bill.

In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week – March 1-7, 2020 – the SCC reminds Virginians that it stands ready throughout the year to answer inquiries, handle complaints and provide information and assistance regarding industry sectors over which it has regulatory responsibility. Those sectors include insurance companies and agents, state-chartered financial institutions, investment firms and their representatives, retail franchises, and investor-owned utilities providing electric, natural gas, water, sewer and telecommunications services.

The SCC offers numerous consumer guides and other information on a variety of topics. Many of these are available on the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov. The SCC’s specially trained staff can assist Virginians in making informed choices and filing a complaint if they are not satisfied with the responses they receive from regulated businesses.

During 2019, in addition to fielding thousands of inquiries, the SCC’s regulatory divisions received more than 7,000 complaints involving regulated industries, resulting in more than $15 million in refunds, credits, and rescission or restitution payments to consumers.

Just a few of the many ways the SCC helps consumers include: facilitating payments by insurance companies for claims that were improperly denied; recovering monies improperly charged on loan transactions and securities offerings; ensuring that utilities provide reliable service and respond promptly to any customer billing issues, and reaching out to Virginians before and after disasters.

The SCC urges Virginians to thoroughly evaluate any offer; shop around and compare prices and terms; keep written records of all transactions; find products and services that suit your particular needs; and verify that an individual or company is licensed or registered with the SCC. If a problem arises, try to resolve it with the regulated individual or company first. If you are still not satisfied, you can contact the appropriate SCC division by phone, mail or email using the online complaint form.

The complaint process and forms are available by going to the SCC website at www.scc.virginia.gov and clicking on the appropriate division. To contact the SCC by phone, call toll-free (in Virginia) at 1-800-552-7945 or, in Richmond, call:

  • Bureau of Insurance – (804) 371-9741
  • Bureau of Financial Institutions – (804) 371-9657
  • Division of Securities and Retail Franchising – (804) 371-9051
  • Division of Public Utility Regulation – (804) 371-9611
  • Division of Information Resources – (804) 371-9141

In the event the SCC does not have regulatory authority over a particular firm, individual, product or transaction, its staff will assist consumers by referring them to the appropriate local, state or federal authority for assistance. These may include the Attorney General’s office, local consumer protection office, Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission’s toll-free helpline at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).

To learn more about National Consumer Protection Week, visit www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/national-consumer-protection-week.

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Contact: Katha Treanor (804) 371-9141

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