Going through the process of a nationwide rate filing, or even filing in just a handful of states, can be a complex and lengthy process. Addressing the specific requirements of all 50 states plus DC, and provinces can get overwhelming, especially with new product filings. Each state has different filings requirements, and sometimes the differences between states are dramatic. No matter what, your end goal is profoundly important: to avoid objections, disapprovals, or the need to withdraw your filing. Ensuring that things are done properly from the get-go will make the process more streamlined in the long run.
In our decades of providing insurance state filings service for companies in all jurisdictions that write all lines of business, we’ve seen many of the common mistakes that result in lost time and wasted resources. These pitfalls can be avoided–if you know what to look for and how to take action.
Pitfall: Not knowing all state regulations and statutes
This is the single most common trap we see in state filings. Understanding the specific requirements for each state is a complicated and cumbersome process. But there’s more to it. In order to make sure your filings proceed smoothly, you also need to be aware of what we call “drawer regulations”–the unwritten rules reviewers may follow but aren’t written into the state statute. Knowing the written as well as unwritten requirements can reduce the chance of your filing being kicked back. Working with a knowledgeable actuary or state filings unit can help significantly when it comes to knowing these regulations.
Pitfall: Not knowing each state’s minimum permissible loss ratio requirements
Each state has different minimum permissible loss ratio requirements, which in turn affect rates. First and foremost, these loss ratios vary by group versus individual coverage. Individual minimum permissible loss ratio requirements are often based on NAIC individual loss ratio guidelines, however, not all states follow this guideline. Furthermore, some states extend the NAIC guideline to group coverage, while other states have their own requirements. Loss ratios can also vary by type of coverage and renewability clause, as well as invoking low or high average premium adjustments. Your rates will be different in those states based on those specific regulations. Be sure to equip yourself with these important pieces of information prior to filing to make sure you provide for the correct loss ratio for the type of policy you’re writing in a particular state.
Pitfall: Not knowing which supporting documents should accompany your filing
As we have stated before, it’s smart to file exactly the supporting documents that your state requires–and nothing more. Some states require that you submit transmittals, checklists, rating examples, underwriting guidelines and/or experience rating guidelines. Some states also have specific requirements for components that need to be included in the Actuarial Memorandum. It is also recommended to restrict the information you provide to only what is necessary to reduce the number of objections and questions; otherwise, you risk opening Pandora’s box.
Pitfall: Not taking into account time it takes to address objections
While all state filings may receive objections, limiting your number of objections not only preserves your company’s reputation with the reviewer, it reduces the amount of time required to respond, thus keeping you on schedule. In certain states like Florida, the department of insurance tries to turn around a review in 30 to 45 days. If that time period is close to expiring and you can’t respond quickly enough to the objections you receive, you risk disapproval or needing to withdraw your filing altogether.
Pitfall: Prioritizing speed-to-market over due process
Most of our clients want to offer products with the goal of launching them in as many states as possible, as quickly as possible. Due to our experience as an insurance state filing service partner, we know which states are file and use versus prior approval. Certain states allow you to begin marketing your product the moment you hit “submit” on your filing. Others require that you receive full approval before you can market your plan. Knowing the correct state standards can save you from serious infractions.
Pitfall: Lacking an end-goal for the product
It’s always a good idea to make all stakeholders sign off on your entire product, from forms to rates, in the planning phase before you get to your actual state filings. If you want a particular product to have variability, your rates need to coincide to reflect those variations. If you don’t outline these details going into the initial filing, inserting those components after the filing process has begun may require re-filing. This can be costly, time-consuming and frustrating for your entire team.
Pitfall: Inconsistency between rate manuals and forms
Inconsistency is a surefire way to elicit questions and objections from the reviewer. When we provide insurance state filings service to our clients, we always work closely with the product design unit and forms department to make sure that rate manuals are consistent with forms. This is especially important when a product’s allowed benefits vary from state to state and impact rates. Double check all relevant documents to make sure everything matches.
State filings are a complicated process that requires close attention to detail. A seemingly minor oversight can have a huge impact down the line. It’s always a good idea to partner with state filings experts who can help you manage your filings and make sure all your ducks are in a row before you begin.