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RICHMOND – Although the Atlantic Hurricane season ends November 30, the State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance (Bureau) reminds Virginians that floods can happen anywhere and anytime – not just during hurricane season. Heavy rains, saturated soil, melting snow and ice, broken dams and a lack of vegetation due to wildfires or other causes are just a few factors that can contribute to flooding.

Floods are the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States, causing damages in the billions of dollars each year. Just one inch of water can cause as much as $25,000 damage to your home, according to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“It only takes a few inches of water to cause major damage to your home and other property. Assess your flood risk and take steps now to protect yourself physically and financially from floods,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “Having flood insurance can help you recover faster once the floodwaters recede.”

Standard homeowners, renters and commercial insurance policies issued in Virginia typically do not provide coverage for damage caused by floods, surface water or storm surge. However, coverage may be available to homeowners, renters and businesses in eligible communities through the NFIP. The federally-backed flood insurance offered through the NFIP provides separate coverage for structures and contents in the event of flood damage. In addition to the NFIP, flood insurance coverage may be available through some private insurers.

Advance planning is crucial since policyholders typically must wait 30 days for a flood insurance policy to take effect. To learn more about flood insurance, contact your insurance agent or the NFIP at 1-800-427-4661, or visit floodsmart.gov. Be sure to ask whether your flood insurance policy covers your personal property.

Virginia residents should assess the risk of potential flood damage and determine if they live in a community eligible to participate in the NFIP.  If you live in a floodplain near a river, or if you live near the coast, it is especially important to consider the need for flood insurance coverage.

Unlike homeowners insurance, auto insurance usually does include damage caused by flooding provided you have “other-than-collision” (often referred to as “comprehensive”) coverage on your vehicle. In addition to water damage caused by flooding, comprehensive coverage typically helps pay to repair or replace vehicles if they are stolen or otherwise damaged by such things as fire, water, wind, hail, vandalism, glass breakage, falling objects or contact with an animal. Check your auto insurance policy or contact your insurance agent if unsure whether your vehicle is protected in the event of flood damage.

For questions or information about a variety of insurance-related topics, contact the Virginia Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/insurance.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission's (SCC) Bureau of Insurance wishes Virginians a happy and safe holiday. Good food, gifts, spirited greetings and gatherings with friends and loved ones – these are just a few of the things that create happy holiday memories. Unfortunately, seasonal hazards can dampen the holiday spirit. Protecting yourself financially with insurance is an important step to combat holiday mishaps.

The Bureau of Insurance reminds Virginians that their holiday to-do list should include checking with their insurance agent or company to ensure they have the insurance coverage they need should an injury, illness, theft or mishap occur.

“Whether you are at home or on the road, don’t let a lack of insurance coverage dampen your holidays financially,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “Review your insurance coverage now and update it, if needed. Know what is – and is not – covered and understand deductibles and coverage limits.”

In addition to reviewing your insurance coverage, take steps now to keep your home, vehicle and belongings safe during the holidays. Know how much your auto and homeowners insurance will cover if someone steals gifts, decorations or other items from your vehicle, home or yard. Know, too, what type of insurance you need if a special holiday meal or decorations go up in flames, an undercooked turkey sends guests to the hospital, or frozen pipes burst causing water damage to your home.

Before you travel, keep in mind that holiday driving can be a challenge with distracted drivers and severe winter weather. Keep your auto insurance company’s contact information and a copy of your insurance card with you when you drive. Review your liability limits to ensure you have adequate protection against injury or damage if you are involved in an accident during the hectic holiday rush.

Become familiar with what your health insurance will cover if you need treatment at an urgent-care facility or hospital while you are out-of-state or traveling abroad. Take health insurance information with you when traveling, such as identification cards and contact details for all family members.

Make an early New Year’s resolution to create – or update – your home inventory.  An inventory can help you determine if your homeowners or renters policy provides enough coverage for your belongings – as well as facilitate the claims process if you must file an insurance claim. An inventory also will help you identify high-cost items that may need separate insurance coverage, such as jewelry, art or electronics. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners' free smartphone app — NAIC Home Inventory — makes creating a home inventory easy.

Also check that you have insurance coverage for seasonal activities that you may enjoy, such as skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

For information about a variety of insurance-related topics, contact the SCC’s Bureau of Insurance in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance. Additional information also may be found on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

 

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved bringing a new area code – 686 - to Virginia regions now served by the 804 area code. It is expected that the 804 area code could run out of available numbers during the third quarter of 2024.

The SCC approved a proposal by the North American Numbering Plan Administrator for an all-services distributed overlay of the new 686 area code for the 804 area code region. The new area code will be superimposed over the same geographic region covered by the current 804 area code. That region encompasses portions of Central Virginia and the Northern Neck including Richmond, Petersburg, Ashland, Charles City, Chesterfield, Columbia, Hague, Henrico, New Kent, Reedville and Water View.

Existing customers will keep their 804 area code and seven-digit telephone number. Phone numbers in the new 686 area code will not be assigned until all available phone numbers in the 804 area code are exhausted.

Implementation of the new area code overlay will be completed by early 2024, which is six months prior to the anticipated 804 area code exhaust. The relief provided by the new 686 area code is expected to last approximately 32 years.

The 804 area code already transitioned to mandatory 10-digit dialing (three-digit area code plus seven-digit phone number) in July 2022 due to the national implementation of 988, the new three-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

To learn more about 804 area code relief, visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Public-Utility.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141
Case number PUR-2022-00083

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) directed investor-owned electric utilities and electric cooperatives to address federal grant opportunities in Virginia’s utility infrastructure under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for the benefit of customers. The Commission also invited other interested parties to file comments. The IIJA creates a program of federal financial assistance to promote electric utility investments in advanced generation, transmission, and distribution technologies.

The IIJA provides grants for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, hydrogen fueling infrastructure, and other fueling infrastructures, as well as grid hardening activities to reduce the occurrence of – or consequences of – events that disrupt operations of the electric grid due to extreme weather, wildfire, or natural disasters.

The IIJA also establishes loans under a transmission facilitation program; additional funding for the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program; incentive payments to qualifying hydroelectric facilities; financial assistance for a demonstration project for pumped storage hydropower for intermittent renewable energy; additional funding for various demonstration and pilot projects; and programs to develop carbon capture technology to improve environmental performance of coal and natural gas use.

The public must submit written comments by February 2, 2023. Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply go to the SCC website, select "Cases" and then "Submit Public Comments," and scroll down to case number PUR-2022-00180. Then click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

Case Number: PUR-2022-00180

RICHMOND – The arrival of autumn means changing leaves and shorter daylight hours. It also means an increased risk of vehicle collisions with deer.

Mating season and migration contribute to an uptick in vehicle-deer crashes during the fall. In fact, November is the peak month for insurance claims related to vehicle collisions with deer. The State Corporation Commission’s (SCC) Bureau of Insurance reminds drivers to remain alert for deer when driving on Virginia roadways.

“A deer in the roadway poses a threat to even the most careful driver,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott White. “As fall arrives, contact your insurance agent or company to find out if your automobile policy provides coverage for claims involving a crash with deer or other wildlife.”

If you have liability insurance coverage only, your policy may not cover damage to your auto from a deer crash. Damage to your vehicle caused by colliding with a deer usually falls under an optional coverage called “other-than-collision” or “comprehensive.” In addition to deer strikes, comprehensive coverage often reimburses for damage to your vehicle caused by theft, wind, hail, flood, fire or vandalism.

To help avoid a crash with a deer, lower your speed and stay alert. If a deer runs out in the road, stay in your lane and brake as carefully as possible. Crashes with deer, while startling, are often safer for the driver and vehicle occupants than swerving sharply and putting surrounding vehicles and their occupants at risk.

If you do hit a deer while driving, notify law enforcement and your insurance company as soon as possible. When safe to do so, take photos of the scene of the crash, as well as damage to the vehicle if you plan to file an insurance claim. If you see leaking fluid, tire damage, broken lights or other damage, call a tow truck.

The Bureau of Insurance stands ready to assist Virginians with their questions regarding auto and many other types of insurance. For more information, call the Bureau toll-free at 1-877-310-6560 or in Richmond at 804-371-9741 or visit its website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/Insurance.

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Contact: Jordan Bondurant, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Virginia consumers now have an opportunity to shop for affordable health care coverage or make changes to an existing plan for the 2023 plan year through HealthCare.gov. The 2023 Open Enrollment period will take place from November 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023. Open Enrollment is the only time during the year consumers can enroll in coverage, without a qualifying life event that can make you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period.

For 2023, enhanced premium credits have been continued and more Virginians will now be eligible for financial assistance. The federal government recently finalized a new rule which makes financial assistance available to family members of certain workers whose employer provided insurance may not be affordable for spouses and dependents.

In accordance with federal law, Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) must provide coverage for 10 essential health benefits which include:

  • Ambulatory care
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health, behavioral health and substance use disorder services
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management
  • Pediatric services, including oral and vision care

Qualified Health Plans also prohibit denials for pre-existing conditions, require zero co-pays on preventative care, and have no lifetime maximums on covered benefits.

Through HealthCare.gov, Virginia residents can access financial assistance to lower costs for health insurance for plan year 2023.

For coverage that begins January 1, 2023, there are now at least two health carriers participating in the marketplace in every county and region across the Commonwealth.

To begin an application or renew existing coverage, consumers can visit HealthCare.gov or call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, TTY: 1-855-889-4325.

For free in-person or on-line help, or help over the phone, Virginia residents have several options.

To learn more about the Virginia Exchange or obtain additional contact information, visit the Exchange Website at scc.virginia.gov/pages/pages/HBE-Consumer-Contact

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Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) has approved two programs that allow customers of Dominion Energy Virginia the opportunity to participate in shared solar initiatives. Under a shared solar program, a customer purchases a subscription for a certain amount of the kilowatt-hour (kWh) electricity produced by a solar facility.

During the 2020 session of the Virginia General Assembly, legislation was enacted directing the SCC to establish a multi-family shared program (Code § 56-585.1:12) and a separate shared solar program (Code § 56-594.3).

In Case Number PUR-2020-00124, the SCC approved the multi-family shared solar program for Dominion customers. Under this program, the solar facility is located on or adjacent to a multi-family dwelling (such as an apartment complex). Customers in that multi-family dwelling can subscribe to a portion of the kWh output of the solar facility located next to the dwelling. Customers receive a credit on their utility bill, based on Dominion's full retail rate, for the kWh amount of the customer's shared solar subscription.

In Case Number PUR-2020-00125, the Commission issued an order confirming its prior approval of a separate shared solar program. Under this program, the solar facility can be located anywhere in Dominion's territory, and customers of Dominion can subscribe to a portion of the kWh output of this solar facility regardless of the customer's location.

These customers also receive a credit on their utility bill, based on Dominion's full retail rate, for the kWh amount of the customer's shared solar subscription. In addition, because Dominion still delivers the solar facility's kWh to these customers, the statute creating this Shared Solar Program directs the Commission "to ensure [these] customers pay a fair share of the costs of providing electric services." (Code § 56-594.3 D)

Thus, customers in this program also pay for costs to deliver the solar facility's kWh to the customer. Finally, as also required by statute, low-income customers that participate in this Shared Solar Program are exempted from paying these kWh delivery charges.


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Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2020-00124 – In the matter of establishing regulations for a multi-family shared solar program pursuant to § 56-585.1:12 of the Code of Virginia
Case Number PUR-2020-00125 – In the matter of establishing regulations for a shared program pursuant to § 56-594.3 of the Code of Virginia 

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) is offering time for members of the public to give oral comments by telephone on an application by Appalachian Power Company to increase its fuel factor for usage on and after November 1, 2022.

Appalachian Power’s application requests approval to recover the company's estimated Virginia jurisdictional fuel expenses of approximately $416,140,161 for the November 1, 2022, through October 31, 2023, fuel year, and its projected October 31, 2022, fuel deferral balance of $361,411,867, subject to its mitigation proposal.

The company’s mitigation proposal would spread recovery of the projected fuel deferral balance over two years.

For a residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month, the average weighted monthly bill would increase by $20.17, from $127.81 to $147.98 under the Company’s proposal. The Commission has permitted the Company to place the proposal into effect on an interim basis, subject to further modification, effective November 1, 2022.

The SCC has scheduled a public witness session to begin at 10 a.m. on December 13, 2022. Public witnesses intending to provide oral testimony must pre-register with the SCC by 5 p.m. on December 7, 2022. The hearing will be webcast at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting.

Public witnesses wishing to provide oral testimony may pre-register in one of three ways:

  • Completing a public witness form for case number PUR-2022-00139 on the SCC’s website at: scc.virginia.gov/pages/Webcasting
  • E-mailing the same form (PDF version on the same website as above) to SCCInfo@scc.virginia.gov
  • Calling the SCC at 804-371-9141 during normal business hours (8:15 a.m. – 5 p.m.) and providing your name and the phone number you wish the Commission to call to reach you during the hearing.

A public evidentiary hearing will follow the public witness hearing at 10 a.m. on December 14, 2022, in the SCC’s second floor courtroom at 1300 East Main Street in Richmond to receive testimony and evidence from the company, any respondents and the SCC staff.

For those who prefer, there is also an opportunity to provide comments in writing on the Appalachian Power application. Written comments may be submitted through the SCC’s website by December 6, 2022, at scc.virginia.gov/casecomments/Submit-Public-Comments. Simply go to the SCC website, select "Cases" and then "Submit Public Comments," and scroll down to case number PUR-2022-00139. Then click SUBMIT COMMENTS.

Comments can also be submitted by U.S. mail to the Clerk of the State Corporation Commission, c/o Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond, Virginia 23218-2118. All comments must refer to case number PUR-2022-00139.

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Contact: Ford Carson, 804-371-9141

Case Number PUR-2022-00139 – Appalachian Power Company application to revise its fuel factor

RICHMOND – The State Corporation Commission (SCC) awarded a contract to GetInsured of Mountain View, California, which also has an office in Richmond, for the technology platform and consumer assistance center that will support Virginia’s health insurance exchange (Exchange), an online consumer marketplace for private health insurance coverage.

Following a competitive procurement process that included evaluation committee members and subject matter experts from three state agencies, the SCC selected GetInsured for an eight-year contract. GetInsured has successfully transitioned three states to operate their own health insurance exchanges, and currently operates the technology for seven state-based exchanges.

"The SCC is looking forward to working with GetInsured, a proven company with unmatched experience helping states transition from the federal exchange," said Keven Patchett, director of the Exchange. "With this contract award, we are taking the final steps to execute on providing a Virginia-based exchange focused on high-quality consumer service and connecting more Virginians to affordable health insurance."

The new contract does not impact the upcoming Open Enrollment that starts November 1, 2022. Until the transition to a state-based exchange is completed in fall 2023, Virginians should visit Healthcare.gov  to sign up for coverage.

In 2020 the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation creating the Health Benefit Exchange Division within the SCC. This division is responsible for overseeing Virginia's transition to a Virginia Exchange.

The Exchange will work closely with partners and stakeholders throughout this transition, including Virginia’s insurance carriers, agents, brokers, and navigators to promote an efficient, consumer-friendly shopping experience.

“We are delighted to bring all the benefits of a state-based exchange to Virginia,” said GetInsured CEO Chini Krishnan. “We commend the state for taking this important step. A state-based exchange will allow Virginia to better address and respond to the unique needs of its market and will make health insurance even more accessible to communities across the state."

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Contact: Andy Farmer, 804-371-9141

RICHMOND – Every three hours in the United States, a person or vehicle is hit by a train, according to Operation Lifesaver, Inc. (OLI), a nonprofit organization dedicated to rail safety education. During Rail Safety Week – September 19-25, 2022 – the State Corporation Commission (SCC) is pleased to join forces with OLI, state Operation Lifesaver programs and other rail safety partners throughout North America to raise awareness about the need for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists and others to stay safe around railroad tracks and crossings.

Lauren Govoni, director of the SCC’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety (Division), and Virginia Operation Lifesaver Coordinator Tracey Lamb encourage Virginians to stay alert, use caution and obey signals around railroad tracks, and to always expect a train. “Rail safety is much more than just a single tip or slogan,” Govoni said. “It’s a set of guidelines for different groups of people, including children, first responders, media professionals, photographers, personal and professional drivers, and more.”

As part of this annual nationwide campaign, the SCC will partner with law enforcement and organizations throughout the state to promote daily Rail Safety Week themes that include commuter and transit safety, crossing safety and professional drivers, trespass prevention, and photographer safety. It will also share potentially life-saving information on its website and social media pages.

While the 76 percent decrease in collisions nationwide at highway-rail grade crossings during the past 50 years is encouraging, “there is still more rail safety awareness work to do,” Lamb said. “Trains can take a mile or more to come to a complete stop. If your vehicle ever stalls on the track, exit your vehicle immediately and call the phone number on the blue Emergency Notification System sign located at the crossing or call 911,” she said.

Virginia Operation Lifesaver is administered by the SCC’s Division of Utility and Railroad Safety, which offers education sessions, and can be reached at 804-371-1588. To learn more about railroad safety and railroad regulation in Virginia, visit scc.virginia.gov/pages/Railroad-Regulation or oli.org.

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Contact: Katha Treanor, 804-371-9141

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