Welcome to our online chat with State Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.
The chat took place on Thursday, September 29, at 2:00 PM and is now closed, but you can read the full transcript on this page.
Moderator: Welcome to our chat today with Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger.
I'm Dave Toplikar, World Online editor, and I'll be moderating today's chat.
Sandy is in our News Center office this afternoon to take your questions about insurance issues.
We have several questions already, so we'll go ahead and get started.
Sandy Praeger: Hello. I look forward to your questions.
Kathy, Tonganoxie: If you have an insurance company that has denied coverage for a certain procedure, what is the best avenue for the average person to use in order to find out if the procedure truly is not covered? It's difficult to have much faith in the people the companies have answering their phones and whether or not they are truly knowledgeable about coverage.
Sandy Praeger: You can call the Kansas Insurance Dept. with that question and one of our consumer reps. can contact the company on your behalf to explore whether the benefit you desire is covered by your plan. The number is 1-800-423-2484.
Chris, Lawrence: AAA Insurance now has a distinct advantage over other insurance offices in Lawrence due to the fact that they get a lot of people in their office for Driver's License renewals. Does this seem fair to the other companies in town? It would seem that AAA has been given the upper hand in an industry that is regulated for equality. Thanks!
Sandy Praeger: This is a decision that has been made by the Department of Revenue and the Governor's office. Our department has raised the same concerns about the advantage and the reply has been that other companies can apply to also become a drivers' license renewal office as well. To date that has not happened, however. We will continue to raise the same concerns that you are raising with your question. But the decision is ultimately with the Governor and the Secretary of Revenue.
Dan, Baldwin City: How can cities and counties partner with providers to offer health care to the under insured and the uninsured?
Sandy Praeger: I would need more information about your proposal. In most cases if you are talking about some form of a pre-paid medical plan it would most likely have to comply with our insurance laws regarding networks, financial solvency etc. If you have a specific proposal send it to us and we would be happy to evaluate it.
Lonnie, Ottawa: if you rent a car and you have full coverage insurance on your car, are you covered on the rental car through your full coverage car insurance, or is it best to pay the rental car insurance through the rental car agency? why do i hear conflicting advice regarding this matter? nobody seems to be able to give me a straight answer.
Sandy Praeger: You should first contact your agent to confirm your coverage. Most rental car insurance is for collision only and your own auto policy would cover the liability risk.
Ryan, Lenexa: Sandy, I appreciate all that you do for us in Topeka. Keep up the good work. Your office has been very proactive and I've heard that you have brought a number of new insurance companies to Kansas. Is that true and why is it important?
Sandy Praeger: Thank you for the question. We do have over 70 new companies doing business in Kansas, companies that have acquired certificates of authority to sell in Kansas in the last 3 years. It is very important that we have a vibrant marketplace with good choices for Kansas consumers. When companies compete for your business consumers pay lower premiums. And thank you for the vote of confidence. We have some great employees at the Kansas Insurance Department that work hard on behalf of the citizens of Kansas.
Allison, Topeka: You have been very active, since your days in the Legislature, in advocating for health insurance for uninsured Kansans. Are there any programs which have been put in place since you became Insurance Commissioner that have made health insurance more accessible?
Sandy Praeger: We are currently working on a project to improve the small group market. That includes companies with fewer than 50 employees. We have several options for expanded coverage that are on the drawing board that still need the fine tuning before they are ready to market. The small group market is the one area that is having the most difficulty with the availability and affordability of health insurance so we have been focusing on that group.
John Q. Public; Lawrence: Why does the State force insurance on the people of this State for vehicles? Why after requiring insurance, does the State not also mandate that this insurance remain at a cost that everyone can afford since it is mandatory?
Sandy Praeger: The cost of your auto insurance is based on a number of factors, including the driving record of the person applying for the coverage. It is also based on claims filed and on any moving violations such as running a red light or speeding. A driver can reduce their premium if they have a good driving record and don't have frequent claims experience. Kansas does mandate that all drivers have auto insurance, but in spite of the mandate we probably have 10% of drivers without coverage.
Louise, Lawrence: Do you plan to run for Governor? Would you run against Kathleen Sebelius?
Sandy Praeger: At this time I plan to run for the office of insurance commissioner next year. I have no plans to run for governor. I enjoy my current office and feel that there is more that can be done especially in the area of health insurance. I want to continue to reduce the number of uninsureds in Kansas and work to find more affordable options for employers and their employees. There are no easy answers but we are an innovative group of people in Kansas and I know we can work together to find solutions.
Morgan, Lawrence: Commissioner, thanks for doing the chat, a great opportunity to speak with a state-wide election official - rare indeed!
I appreciate your leadership in the state, and it seems that you work well with the Governor, who is, of course, from a different political party.
How do you work so well with her and what policies and programs do you support regarding health insurance and in general?
Sandy Praeger: Our governor was insurance commissioner before me as I'm sure you know. She has a good understanding of the needs of Kansans and of the insurance industry in Kansas. She and I share the goal of improving access to health care by increasing the options for affordable health insurance. Health insurance is a market-driven industry. We need to work to attract companies to Kansas and work with those that are here to expand choices for Kansans. We have several options that we are exploring with the assistance of a federal grant and through the efforts of several advisory committees made up of concerned Kansans. The solutions aren't easy to arrive at, but we have some very dedicated people working together to improve options for Kansans.
Moderator: That will have to be our last question for today's chat.
I'd like to thank Sandy for joining us today and I'd also like to thank our readers for all of their question.
If your question was not one of those answered today, or if you have questions concerning any insurance problems in Kansas, call the Kansas Insurance Department's Consumer Assistance Hotline at 1-800-432-2484.
Sandy Praeger: Thank you for your questions. If you have additional questions call our Consumer Hotline and we will try and answer them.