In No. 368 (May 1, 2020), I wrote about the proposed plan of rehabilitation of Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania (SHIP). On July 10, 2020, SHIP (In Rehabilitation) sent policyholders and other interested parties a 19-page "Important Notice to Policyholders, Agents, Creditors, and Persons Interested in the Affairs of Senior Health Insurance Company of Pennsylvania (In Rehabilitation)" ("Notice"). The Notice did not appear on the SHIP website or on the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance (Department). I learned of the Notice from a SHIP policyholder. I asked the Department for a copy of the Notice, and the Department sent it to me.
The Notice includes a table of contents, a cover letter from Special Deputy Rehabilitator Patrick H. Cantillo, a "Notice of Application for Approval of Plan of Rehabilitation," "Frequently Asked Questions and Answers," and a "Summary Description of the Plan." The Notice is here.
The Liquidation Issue
Two of the frequently asked questions relate to the liquidation issue. Here are those questions and answers:
Question 11. Is there a possibility that the Company will be liquidated? Yes, liquidation is possible. The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania could decide at some time in the future to place SHIP into liquidation.
Question 12: What would happen if the Company was liquidated? In the event that SHIP would be ordered into liquidation, it is probable that state insurance guaranty associations would continue coverage for policyholders up to applicable statutory coverage limits. Generally, guaranty associations become responsible for an insurer's obligations only if the insurer is found by the court to be insolvent and placed in liquidation. SHIP has not been found by the court to be insolvent and has not been placed in liquidation. Therefore, no guaranty association is responsible for SHIP's policy obligations at this time. That will change if SHIP is placed in liquidation. All states other than New Jersey cap the amount of guaranty association coverage available for their residents. It is also likely, based on past experience, that the guaranty associations if triggered in a liquidation of SHIP would raise the insurance rates policyholders are required to pay and offer policy modification options in lieu of rate increases. For information about state guaranty associations, please visit www.nolhga.com.
The above discussion of liquidation, especially the answer to Question 12, is a disservice to policyholders because it is misleading. A company is solvent when its assets exceed its liabilities. A company is insolvent when its liabilities exceed its assets. While it is true that "SHIP has not been found by the court to be insolvent and has not been placed in liquidation," the reason is that the court was not asked to make such a finding.
On January 23, 2020, as discussed in No. 368, the Department applied to the court for an order placing SHIP in rehabilitation. The application showed that SHIP has been insolvent for some time. The application said SHIP's statutory financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2018 showed that SHIP's liabilities exceeded its assets by $447 million. The application also said SHIP's liabilities exceeded its assets at the end of 2019 by $916 million.
On January 29, 2020, President Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania approved the application because "rehabilitation has been requested by and consented to by SHIP's board of directors and the trustees of the Senior Health Care Oversight Trust." In short, it is misleading to imply or suggest that SHIP is not insolvent.