How to Get Commercial Lines Rates Approved in Highly Regulated States (CA, FL, NY, TX, WA)

For insurance companies with nationwide products, getting your commercial lines rates approved in heavily regulated states can lead to frustration, confusion and wasted resources. There’s a reason certain states have earned their reputation for being difficult: their requirements are complex and thorough.
This article outlines the most important steps you should take when tackling submissions in highly regulated states to obtain speedy approvals–so you can get on with your business.

Know Your Filing Requirements

Each state has specific requirements that must accompany your filing. Understanding what is and is not required for each state and line of business is key to a timely approval. Carefully examine state filing requirements like return on equity exhibits (which support expenses and profit load), actuarial memorandums, making sure any forms with rate impact have corresponding rates in your manual, understanding the allowable rating flexibilities if any, and how they differ by state, etc. For example, in Florida, many commercial lines rate filings are considered “informational” and don’t require support to be filed, just maintained internally.

Actuarial Transmittals

California, Florida, New York, and Texas require specific transmittals. Every state Department of Insurance expects the filer to fully understand all requirements before submission. Some common transmittals for these states are the California Prior Approval Rate Applications, New York’s Rate Filing Sequence Checklist, the Texas Exhibit L and related actuarial transmittals, and the Florida Rate Level Indications Workbook, Actuarial Memorandum and Actuarial Opinion requirements (only for lines of business where Florida filings are not informational).
Filling out these exhibits is generally very difficult for someone without extensive filing experience.  Completing these documents incorrectly can lead to numerous Department questions or disapproval. In worst case scenarios, poor or incomplete submissions can upset Department staff, possibly making it more difficult to receive approval in the future. 

Actuarial Support Required

The actuarial support required for your filing depends on whether your proposed program is new or a revision. If support is not supplied in the way the specific Department requires, your filing will likely be disapproved and have to be resubmitted. This can add to cost, slow down your timeline and make it more difficult to get approval after resubmission.
Detailed actuarial support/data is generally required for filing revisions with rate level impact. For new programs, detailed competitor support using approved filings in the specific state is often required. Using filings from other states as competitive support will usually not be acceptable.

Responding to Department Objections

When it comes to state filings, it’s best to know your state requirements inside and out, since it is likely you will receive multiple filing questions before approval. Each Department asks different types of questions and each Department is looking for specific responses based on the type of submission. Don’t back yourself into a corner by responding incorrectly or supplying too little (or too much) information during the interrogatory process.
Departments of Insurance are savvy. Reviewing state filings is what they do, day in and day out. The challenge you face is that Departments have very specific requirements and it is difficult to determine the specific details necessary to satisfy their unique stipulations. This is where working with professional insurance support service providers can be a huge help.
When managing filings in highly regulated states, insurance industry experience is invaluable. Many of the clients we help involve situations where the company has submitted a filing incorrectly in one of the above states and requires assistance sorting out the resulting obstacles. Usually, the company’s support data was insufficient or their actuarial transmittals were filled out incorrectly. Completing your filing incorrectly without realizing it ultimately complicates things as you may not know which aspect of your filing needs to be adjusted. It then becomes a difficult puzzle to solve which variables require correction. Each of these steps impedes the process, burning through time and resources.
Outsourcing to insurance experts who have deep experience in the most difficult states, as well as relationships with regulators at the Department of Insurance, streamlines the process and saves you from a costly and lengthy correction and resubmission process. Experts make sure you go through the process methodically, checking and double checking the necessary support before you submit. This will save time and money on the back end, helping to achieve speed to market.