So I have been traveling recently—mostly for business—but I am certainly thinking about the lazy, crazy, days of summer and where I should spend my way too limited vacation time. I have not decided where I will go. I might go to a pilgrimage tour of Ireland, a road trip across the country or to visit my brother in Colorado. Each has it pleasures and pains, but I am looking for a three sided coin to help me decide where to go. As I was considering what should be the vacation roads not taken, I considered two travel issues as related to insurance.
The first issue that I considered was the issue of travel insurance. On December 19, 2018, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) adopted a Travel Insurance Model Law (“Travel Ins. Model Law”) after three years of development in the Travel Insurance Working Group. Largely based off the National Council of Insurance Legislators’ (“NCOIL”) March 2017 version, the NAIC Travel Insurance Model Law intends to create a foundation for states to enact regulations to help travel insurance align with to the needs of consumers. The Model Law classifies travel insurance as an inland marine line of insurance for the purposes of form and rate filings. Travel Ins. Model Law § 9(A). If the travel insurance policy covers sickness, accident, disability or death occurring during travel, either exclusively or in conjunction with related coverages of emergency evacuation or repatriation of remains, the policy may be filed as either an accident and health product or as an inland marine product. Id. Additionally, the NAIC Travel Insurance Model Law sets forth standards for a Limited Lines Travel Insurance Producer License with which insurance producers can sell, solicit, and negotiate travel insurance. Id. § 4.
The NAIC’s approval of the Model Law has already impacted the regulation of travel insurance in Maryland as the legislature in 2018 made changes to the insurance article bringing Maryland largely into line with the NAIC’s Model Law. Md. 90 Day Report, 2018 Sess., Part H, Travel Insurance (“In an effort to modernize the regulation of travel insurance as recommended by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Senate Bill 652/ House Bill 979 (both passed) establish an updated regulatory framework for the sale of travel insurance in the State.”); see also Md. Code, Ins. §§ 10-101(j), 10-122, 19-1001—1005. As a result of these changes, Maryland regulates limited line travel insurance in virtually the same fashion as NAIC’s Model Travel Insurance Law. Like the Model Law, Maryland requires that this training contain “at a minimum, instruction on the types of insurance offered, ethical sales practices, and required disclosures to prospective customers.” A Limited Lines Travel Insurance Producer, in both Maryland and under the Model Law, is responsible for the acts of the Travel Retailer and is tasked with using reasonable means to ensure compliance by the Travel Retailer with the law. Although slightly different from the Model Act, those selling travel insurance in Maryland cannot engage in any conduct express or implied that would lead a customer to believe travel insurance is required.
It has almost become my custom now to buy travel insurance whenever I book a vacation that is more than my usual business travel stay at a Hampton Inn. It gives me peace of mind to have travel insurance—which is what I strive for in vacation. Of course there are those who will suggest I take a differing route to stress relief—namely, the Colorado cure!
I was surprised on recent visit to Colorado as to how many cannabis products are being sold. (In case anyone is tracking my habits, I base my cannabis observation on articles and news programs, not personal experience). And every new product brings with it new insurance concerns. Insurance adjusters are now reporting claims of indirect injury and loss from edibles containing cannabis. Apparently, some people consume an edible and it does not immediately produce results. So they eat another—and then another. Overdoses have been reported. And, of course, there are the issue of impaired drivers who consume edibles. Claims adjusters are more frequently requesting that defense lawyers consider the issue of edibles in their questioning of their client and the injured parties.
So that leads me to this important question—is there a travel insurance product that would provide coverage for those consuming cannabis edibles? If not, I suspect that someone will issue such a policy within a year.
To all my readers who are approaching this vacation season: Plan, be safe and most importantly relax. And remember to try to turn off your cell phone. Your work will be waiting for you when you return.
Ms. Lambert has over 25 years of experience in handling complex commercial litigation and insurance matters. Ms. Lambert has worked on national class actions, significant litigation and regulatory matters for Fortune 500 companies. She has also assisted small and mid-sized companies and business executives with contract, real estate and commercial disputes that needed to be resolved quickly and efficiently. Ms. Lambert is best known as an attorney who knows the field of insurance. She has represented insurers, policyholders, and insurance producers in disputes both in court and before the Maryland Insurance Administration. She can be contacted by phone at 410-339-6759 or email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.