By CHINO S. LEYCO
The Insurance Commission is urging all insurers and medical insurance providers to extend their coverage to customers infected with coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) and any related conditions.
In a statement, Insurance Commissioner Dennis B. Funa said that insurance firms, mutual benefit associations and health maintenance organizations (HMO) are encouraged to cover their clients with COVID-19 and other related illnesses.
Funa said he already issued a circular letter urging companies to waive provisions in their contracts and agreements such as waiting periods, healthcare access to non-affiliated networks, and exclusion of pandemic or epidemic, among others.
Funa said his request was made considering that these provisions may become barriers to health care access and treatment.
He clarified, however, that implementation of the IC request addressed to the insurance and HMO industries is on a voluntary basis to be decided upon by each company on the basis of their respective financial standing.
Earlier, IC allowed life insurance companies to launch initiatives aimed at providing additional benefits or free insurance coverage to customers affected by COVID-19 without the need of prior approval from the agency.
Under the Insurance Code, all insurance contracts/policies or any clause, warranty or endorsement attached to a contract/policy shall be issued unless the same has been approved by the commissioner.
“Considering however the gravity of the COVID-19 situation, IC found the need to expedite the approval of initiatives designed to provide additional layer of protection to the insuring public to address the immediate need of those affected by COVID-19,” Funa said.
While there is no need for prior approval from the IC, Funa said that insurance firms are required to ensure that the initiative shall not be used to induce prospective clients or existing policyholders into purchasing a new product from the company.