In November, 2010, a new law took effect in New York which allows senior citizens 65 years of age or older, to designate a third-party to be notified by insurance carriers in advance of the cancellation or non-renewal of the senior’s health insurance or long term care insurance policy. Recognizing that many seniors can no longer fully appreciate the significance of notices received from their insurers, or the urgency of responding appropriately to said notices, the New York State legislature expanded the third-party notification provisions previously limited to utilities, and provided an important safety net for our seniors.
Under the new law, insurance carriers are required to give policy holders 65 or older the option of designating a spouse, adult child or grandchild, relative, friend, lawyer or advisor, among others, to receive notices from the senor’s insurance carrier that previously were only mailed to the policy holder himself. The third-party designee must be under the age of 65 to qualify. Unless and until the senior policy holder exercises his option to designate a third-party to receive notices, the insurance carrier is required to give the senior written notice of the option on an annual basis.
In order to take advantage to the new law, a senior must notify his insurance carrier in writing of the name and address of the third-party to whom notices should be sent. The senior must send the designation notice to the insurance carrier by certified mail, return receipt requested. The notice becomes effective ten (10) business days after receipt by the carrier of the third-party designation. Once the notice becomes effective, the carrier is required to send a copy of all notices dealing with the senior’s health insurance and long term care insurance to both the insured senior and the third-party designee. If the senior no longer wishes the designated third-party to receive notices, or if the designee no longer wishes to accept the notices, the insurer must be notified in writing of the change.
Although it is too early to say how many seniors have avoided termination of insurance coverage as a result of the new law, seniors and their families can take comfort in the fact that the third-party notification option that has proven so effective in preventing interruptions in utility services is now available to prevent the unintended termination of health and/or long term care insurance coverage.
Linda M. Toga of The Law Offices of Linda M. Toga, P.C. is an East Setauket, New York attorney with a general law practice focusing on estate planning, real estate, marital planning, small business services and litigation.