Actual cash value- An amount equal to the replacement cost of lost or damaged property at the time of the loss less depreciation (ACV = replacement cost - depreciation).
Affordable Care Act - A federal statute signed into law in March 2010 as a part of the healthcare reform agenda of the Obama administration. Signed under the title of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law included multiple provisions that would take effect over a matter of years, including the expansion of Medicaid eligibility, the establishment of health insurance exchanges and prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
COBRA – An acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
Coinsurance -A clause in an insurance policy that requires the insured to carry a certain percentage of insurance in relation to the actual value or replacement cost of the property insured.
Deductible- The portion of an insured loss to be borne by the insured before he is entitled to recovery from the insurer.
Depreciation- A decrease in the value of any type of tangible property over a period resulting from use, wear and tear, or obsolescence.
HIPAA – An acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Insurance- A contract whereby one party undertake to indemnify another for loss, damage, or liability, or pay or provide a specified or ascertainable benefit, upon the happening of an event.
Investment Adviser – A person that engages in the business of advising persons in the investing, purchasing and selling of securities as a regular part of their business, and who is in a fiduciary relationship with their clients.
Market value- The price for which something would sell under current market conditions.
Replacement cost- The actual cost to replace an item or structure at its pre-loss condition.
Salvage Vehicle- Any vehicle (1) having a salvage certificate, salvage bill of sale, or other documentation showing evidence that the vehicle has been declared salvage, or (2) which has been damaged to the extent that the owner or an insurer or other person acting on behalf of the owner, determines that the cost of parts and labor minus the salvage value makes it uneconomical to repair or rebuild, or (3) for which an insurance company has paid money or made other settlement as compensation for a total-loss vehicle. Insurance companies must issue a salvage certificate for all vehicles deemed salvage or a total-loss.
Salvage certificate of title- A certificate issued to a vehicle determined to be a salvage by a motor vehicle department authorized to issue titles.Security- Any note, stock, treasury stock, bond, debenture, certificate of interest or participation in any profit-sharing agreement or in any oil, gas, or other mineral royalty or lease, any collateral trust certificate, preorganization certificate or subscription, transferable share, investment contract, voting-trust certificate, certificate of deposit, for a security, any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege on any security, certificate of deposit, or group or index of securities (including any interest therein or based on the value thereof), or any put, call, straddle, option, or privilege entered into on a national securities exchange relating to foreign currency, or in general, any instrument commonly known as a 'security'; or any certificate of interest or participation in, temporary or interim certificate for, receipt for, or warrant or right to subscribe to or purchase, any of the foregoing; but shall not include currency or any note, draft, bill of exchange, or banker's acceptance which has a maturity at the time of issuance of not exceeding nine months, exclusive of days of grace, or any renewal thereof the maturity of which is likewise limited.
Surcharge – An additional premium charge for a limited number of years, as a result of a violations, suspensions, or accidents on the driving record of any driver covered under a policy.
Total loss- A situation in which the cost to repair a damaged vehicle and salvage would exceed the vehicle's market value.
Virgin Islands Banking Board – The local regulatory board that licenses, regulates and monitors the conduct of banks and other financial institutions under its jurisdiction.
GENERAL LICENSING FAQS
Q. Who do I contact to register for or reschedule an insurance examination?
A. Contact a Licensing Examiner on the island where you will sit the exam.
Q. Can I apply for a license online?
A. No, not at this time. However, some license applications are available online at www.ltg.gov.vi
Q. Where do I submit my application for licensure?
A. Submit your application to the Division of Banking and Insurance offices at:
Nisky Center, Suite 200
Kongens Gade, St. Thomas VI00802
7&8 King Street, Suite 101
Q. Can I request a renewal application by phone?
A. Yes. We can fax or mail an application to you.
Q. What should I do if I submitted a licensing application and have not heard anything?
A. If at least ten (10) business days have passed and you have not received a response, contact our Licensing section to confirm receipt of your application. If we have not received it, and your check has not been cashed, you will need to submit a new application with the appropriate fees. If the check has been cleared you will need to submit a copy of the check for verification, along with a copy of the application for processing.
Q. When is my insurance renewal application considered late?
A. It is considered late if it is renewed after the 15th of January. There is a $50.00 penalty for late applications.
Q. How can I get a Certificate of Licensure?
A. Contact the Licensing section on St. Croix or St. Thomas to request a certificate. There is a $50.00 fee.
Q. How can I get a copy of my license?
A. You can request a copy of the license from the Division of Banking and Insurance’s St. Croix or St. Thomas offices. A fee of $50.00 is charged for certified copies.
Q. How can I obtain a listing of all insurance companies licensed in the United States Virgin Islands?
A. The Division of Banking and Insurance, St. Thomas and St. Croix offices can provide a listing for a nominal fee. The list is also available online at http://ltg.gov.vi
Q. How do I verify an insurance agent’s license? A. You may contact the Division of Banking and Insurance on St. Thomas or St. Croix for the agent’s licensure status. A listing of licensees is also available on-line.
Q. Do you register Risk Retention and Purchasing Groups?
A. Yes, we register those entities. Click here for the registration procedures and application packet. You may also e-mail Assistant Director of Banking and Insurance Glendina Matthew, Esq. for more assistance.
Q. Does the Virgin Islands register Third Party Administrators?
A. Yes. Contact the Insurance Division for licensing procedures. Click here for the application.
Q. How can I obtain a copy of the Virgin Islands’ insurance laws?
A. There are free online sources that you may visit to view the Virgin Islands insurance laws online. However, if you are requesting a copy of the Virgin Islands Code, the Division provides a limited number of copies for sale.
Q. Are insurance companies rated?
A. A large majority of insurance companies are rated. There are several organizations, including A.M. Best, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s Corporation, that rate insurance companies. Contact the Division of Banking and Insurance for the company’s status.
Q. How much is the statutory deposit?
A. The amount of the statutory deposit is $500,000 and can be in the form of a bond, a CD or a letter of credit.
Q. What are the general (i.e. multiple lines) capital and surplus requirements for P&C and L&H carriers?
A. The general capital and surplus requirements for P&C and L&H are 4.5 million and 2.5 million, respectively.
Q. Who is allowed to offer or sell security in the Virgin Islands?
A. Broker/dealers and investment advisers, as well as federally covered investment advisers that are registered in accordance with Chapter 23 of Title 9 VIC may offer securities for sale in the Virgin Islands.
Q. How long does it take to get approved?
A. Registration is done electronically on FINRA’s website. The Division’s approval may generally occur within a week of application, depending upon the findings of the review for regulatory violations and other considerations.
Q. Is any documentation for BD licensing renewal required to be submitted via mail?
A. Yes. The Division may require the annual submission of financial statements from certain broker/dealers and investment advisers to be done by mail. However, registration is affected electronically via FINRA’s WebCRD and WebIARD systems.
Q. What is the difference between a mortgage broker and a mortgage lender?
A. A mortgage broker is any person who for compensation directly or indirectly accepts application for a mortgage loan on behalf of the mortgage lender. A mortgage lender is any person or entity that makes mortgage loans to any person or engages in the business of servicing mortgage loans.
Q. How do I license my mortgage broker company?
A. In order to become licensed as a mortgage broker in the Virgin Islands, the applicant must submit an application and supporting documents. Click here to download application.
Q. What are the necessary steps to establish a mortgage lending company in the territory?
A. In order to become licensed to operate as a mortgage lender in the Virgin Islands, the applicant must submit the application and supporting documents.
Q. How long will my license be valid?
A. Licenses are valid for a one year period.
Q. Where can I obtain a list of licensed mortgage brokers and lenders?
A. Contact the St. Thomas office of the Division of Banking and Insurance.
Q. Are surety bonds required when seeking a mortgage broker and lender license?
A. Yes. If an applicant has not conducted any business a surety bond in the amount of $25,000 is required. If business was conducted in any of the three calendar years preceding its application and there are loans in the amount of $1,000,000 or less, a bond in the amount of $25,000 is required. A bond in the amount of $30,000 is required for loans in the amount of more than $1,000,000 and up to $2,000,000. A bond in the amount of $40,000 is required for loans of more than $2,000,000 and up to $3,000,000. A bond in the amount of $50,000 is required for loans of more than $3,000,000.
Q. How do I obtain a surety bond?
A. A bond is a form of insurance. The bond shall be issued by a surety company qualified to do business as a surety in the Territory of the Virgin Islands. The Division will provide a surety bond form along with each application packet.
Q. Am I required to send my original surety bond form to the Division of Banking and Insurance?
A. Yes. The original bond shall be filed with the Division of Banking and Insurance. The bond must accompany the license application of all new licensees.
Q. Can mortgage loan business be conducted at an address that is different from the address that appears on the license?
Q. When does a mortgage lender or broker license expire?
A. These licenses expire on December 31st of each year.
Q. Can mortgage loan business be conducted at an address that is different from the address that appears on the license?
Q. Is a licensee required to notify the Banking Board if it changes its place of business for which the license has been issued?
A. Yes. You must notify the Division of Banking and Insurance in writing of the proposed change in address and receive written consent from the Board.
Q. Are mortgage brokers or lenders required to file annual reports?
A. Yes. Annual reports shall be filed annually on or before March 31st with the Division of Banking and Insurance.
Q. What is the relationship between the FDIC and the Banking Board?
A. FDIC, or Federal depository Insurance Corporation, is the federal regulatory body. The Virgin Islands Banking Board is the local regulatory body.
Q. What is the Virgin Islands Banking Board and what does it do?
A. The Banking Board is the regulatory body that licenses, regulates and monitors the conduct of banks and other financial institutions under its jurisdiction.
Q. Is a bank obligated to accept a power of attorney?
A. Banks may accept a power of attorney prepared by the customer or the customer’s attorney, or may require its customer to utilize its own power of attorney form.
Q. Is it possible for me to obtain information about banks in the Virgin Islands, including their fees and interest from the Division of Banking and Insurance?
A. Information regarding fees may be available. However, interest rates may vary considerably based on the bank and the product. All consumers should shop around to determine which bank has the better interest rates or fees.
Q. Does the Office of the Lieutenant Governor create the maximum rate a bank can charge on mortgage loans?
A. No. The maximum rate a bank can charge on first priority mortgage loans up to $100,000 is based on Chapter 15 of Title 11, which covers interest and usury rates. The Code provides that first priority mortgage rates can not be more than 1.5 percentage point above the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation posted yield on the last business day of the month.
Q. Does the Virgin Islands Banking Board regulate interest rates and fees?
A. The Virgin Islands Banking laws provide the usury rates a bank and other financial institutions may charge on certain transactions. Accordingly, the Banking Board has been charged with the responsibility to monitor compliance by these institutions with local and federal laws.
Q. What is the maximum length of time a bank can hold funds I deposit?
A. It varies based on the instrument and the location where the check is drawn. Most out of state checks should take about six business days to clear. See Regulation CC (12 Code of Federal Regulations 229).
Q. Does the bank have the right to remove funds from a personal account without authorization or notification in order to bring a loan current?
A. This is known as the right to setoff. If you have a personal account and a loan or other deposit account at the same financial institution, and you are delinquent in your loan payments or the account is overdrawn, the bank generally has the right to access your personal account without notification to you to bring the note current or the account positive. This is usually addressed in the loan agreement and/or depository contract.
Q. Is there a maximum fee a bank can charge its customers for non-sufficient funds?
A. There is no maximum fee that a bank can charge a customer for non-sufficient funds. However, the amount your bank can charge must be stated in your new account agreement or posted in the bank in a conspicuous location.
Q. Is my bank obligated to notify me if my account is overdrawn?
A. There is no requirement that a bank notify a customer if their account is overdrawn.
Q. Can a bank pay checks or make withdrawals in any order it chooses?
A. Banks have the right to establish their own internal policies and procedures governing the order in which they process checks or make debits.
Q. I tried to deposit a substantial amount of cash (less than $10,000) in my bank account, but was asked to verify where I got the money from by the teller. Do banks have that right?
A. Yes. The USA Patriot Act, commonly known as the Patriot Act, is an Act of Congress that President George W. Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001. The Act requires banks to be proactive in deterring certain illegal acts. The Act is divided into three subtitles, with the first dealing primarily with strengthening banking rules specifically against money laundering, especially on the international stage. The second attempts to improve communication between law enforcement agencies and financial institutions. This subtitle also increases record keeping and reporting. The third subtitle deals with currency smuggling and counterfeiting, including quadrupling the maximum penalty for counterfeiting foreign currency. Violations of the bank’s due diligence will result in the bank facing fines and penalty.
Q. Is it legal for a bank to refuse to cash a check drawn on another local bank?
A. Yes. That is an internal policy decision of the bank.
Q. What should I do if someone drafted my account for a purchase I did not authorize?
A. Notify your bank immediately, so that it can conduct its investigation.
Q. What are my rights regarding unauthorized automated teller machine transactions and debit card transactions?
A. See Federal Reserve Regulations E (12 Code of Federal Regulations 205).
Q. When I use my debit card the bank immediately puts a hold on the account even though the actual charge does not hit the account until days later. Can the bank do this?
A. Debit cards are processed through the VISA network. At the time of use, the bank is notified electronically of the amount. Most banks will place a hold on these funds until the merchant receives the actual purchase transaction ticket.
Q. Does a debit card protect me from overdrawing my account?
Q. Are Premium Tax and Gross Receipt taxes the same?
A. Premium Taxes are paid to the Division of Banking and Insurance in lieu of Gross Receipt Taxes. Gross receipt taxes are paid to the Department of Licensing and Consumer Affairs.
Q. Who is responsible for paying the Premium Tax?
A. Each insurer on or before the 1st day of February, May, August and November of each year, pay a tax of five percent (5%) on the quarterly gross receipts premium on all types of insurance transacted in the Virgin Islands. In addition, all Ambulance Service associations are required to pay a tax of four percent (4%) on all premiums and assessments received annually on or before March 31.
Q. If no business was written, do I still have to file?
A. Yes. Even if no business was written, each insurer is required to file the Quarterly Premium Tax Statement and pay the filing fee of $50.00. It should be sent to the mailing address on the tax filing form.
Q. Our premiums were overstated. Can we get a refund?
A. Yes, a request can be made for a refund; however, the overpayment can also be applied to future tax filings. Please note that the credit is not applicable to the filing fee.
Q. Can I pay my company’s premium tax by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT)?
A. No. We are not set up to accept EFT payments at this time.
Q. What happens if the filing is made late or there is an underpayment?
A. An insurer failing to file and pay the appropriate taxes may be assessed a penalty the greater of $1,000 or 10% of taxes due plus any interest at the rate of 12% per annum. If an insurer fails to file the requisite statements and pay the tax or any underpayment due to negligence the penalty may be reduced to the greater of $250 or 5% due. In the case of intentional disregard of the law, the penalty is the greater of $5000 or 15% of the taxes due.
Q. Does the Division receive and investigate consumer complaints relative to the banking industry in the Virgin Islands?
A. Yes. The Division investigates complaints from banking and insurance consumers as well as consumers of all entities that we regulate.
Q. Who do you contact if I have a complaint or inquiry?
A. If I you have a complaint and have been unable to resolve the matter after contacting and discussing the issue with the institution, company or individual, you should contact the USVI Division of Banking and Insurance. The Division will require you to complete a complaint form. The Division’s staff also responds to inquiries regarding questions of licensure of entities operating in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as other general insurance and financial institution issues.
Q. Can you file your complaint online?
A. No, not at this time. However, you can download the complaint form online at ltg.gov.vi.
Q. If I have exhausted the administrative process and I am filing a complaint in court how do I serve the insurance company?
A. You have two options. You may serve the company through either its registered agent in the Virgin Islands or through the Commissioner of Insurance.
Q. Can the Division assist me with a complaint after I retain an attorney?
A. No. You cannot have double representation, and the Division will not be adjoined in any lawsuit you bring against a company. The Division represents the administrative process which serves as an impartial regulatory body. You can pursue a case in court if you are not satisfied with the results of the administrative process.
Q. I cannot find the name or the phone number of the agent who sold me a policy. Can the Division of Banking and Insurance help?
A. The Division does not have any individual policy information. However, the Division can provide you with a listing of the licensed agents and contact information.
Q. I am looking for a new insurance company. How can the Division of Banking and Insurance help?
A. The Division of Banking and Insurance cannot recommend an insurance company to you. However, we have prepared several brochures to assist you in understanding insurance concepts and obtaining coverage that best suits your needs. Additionally, we have a listing of the licensed carriers for the different lines of insurance.
Q. Can the Division of Banking and Insurance tell me if the rates that I am being offered for insurance coverage are competitive?
A. We can advise you which insurance rate is the most competitive. However, we can encourage you to shop around to the different agency whether by phone or in person to determine who has the better rates. We have a listing of the licensed agencies.
Q. Is a person still HIPAA eligible if he comes off a group plan and goes to a short-term major medical policy before going into another group plan?
A. Yes, as long as there is not a 63 day break-in coverage between the group coverage and the short-term coverage, or between the short-term coverage and the next group coverage.
Q. Are you still HIPAA eligible once you exhaust COBRA?
A. Yes, you can go to another group or a conversion (individual) policy.
Q. If the loss exceeds the value of my vehicle can I keep the car and be paid the Actual Cash Value?
A. No. However, if you wish to keep the vehicle the salvage must be deducted from the settlement.
Q. Can the Division assist me with a bodily injury claim?
A. No. Bodily injury claims require analysis beyond the scope of this office. Seek legal assistance from an attorney.
Q. If I sign the release and accept the check for payment of my claim can I resubmit a claim?
A. No. Your claim is considered closed once the release is signed.
Q. My automobile policy was cancelled because I did not pay the premium on time. Is this legal?
A. The V.I. Code does not require companies to extend a grace period for premium payments. If payment is not received by your due date, the company is permitted to non-renew for nonpayment of premium.
Q. How much is my insurance company required to pay me if my car is damaged?
A. The insurance company is required to pay based on the coverage of your policy and the amount of loss, less depreciation, less deductible and salvage, if applicable. The policy may be Actual Cash Value (ACY) and in a few cases replacement cost, which does not consider depreciation.
Q. What should I do if I receive a cancellation or non-renewal notice from my insurance company?
A. First, contact your agent or your insurance company for specific details regarding the action. While you are awaiting their response also shop around for the necessary coverage. If you are still not satisfied with your company’s explanation, submit the cancellation notice or nonrenewal notice and a complaint form to the Division of Banking and Insurance detailing the reasons you disagree with the action.
UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FAQs
Q. What is unclaimed property?
A. Unclaimed property consists of money or other financial assets that are considered lost or abandoned when an owner cannot be located after a specified period of time. This includes checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit accounts, customer deposits and overpayments, payroll (unpaid wages), stocks and bonds, insurance proceeds, death benefits, money orders, gift certificates and security deposits.
Q. How does property become unclaimed?
A. Title 28, Chapter 29 of the Virgin Islands Code, the Virgin Islands Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, states that accounts become unclaimed when, over a specified period of time, there has been no activity, and the holder of the funds cannot locate the owner. The time frame varies depending on the property but in most cases, it is three to five years. One exception is payroll checks, which are only held for one year. The funds are then turned over to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor/Division of Banking and Insurance, which acts as custodian of the funds until they can be returned to the rightful owner..
Q. Does unclaimed property include real estate?
A. Unclaimed property does not include real estate.
Q. Who holds unclaimed property?
A. “Holder” means a person obligated to hold for the account of, or deliver or pay to, the owner property that is subject to this chapter. A holder can be a private business enterprise, public corporation, financial institution, non-profit organization and all other entities that maintain account balances, write checks, or hold funds in escrow for another person or persons.
Q. Who is the administrator?
A. The “Administrator” is the Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands.
Q. Why does the Virgin Islands have unclaimed property laws?
A. This law exists to:
• protect the property rights of the absentee owner and to locate the owner/heirs;
• provide a service to the citizens of the Virgin Islands by offering centralized repository for unclaimed property; and
• provide the holders relief from liability.
A. Can a dormancy charge be imposed on the owner of the abandoned account?
A. A holder may deduct from property presumed abandoned a charge only if there is a valid and enforceable written contract between holder and owner.
Q. Where does unclaimed property go?
A. Unclaimed property is deposited in the General Fund of the Treasury of the Virgin Islands. To expedite the claim process, $100,000 is held in a separate trust fund by the administrator to pay claims.
Q. When must a holder report abandoned property?
A. The report must be filed before November 1 of each year for all financial institutions except life insurance companies, which are required to be filed by May 1 of each year.
Q. If I have unclaimed property, how do I claim it?
A. Contact the Division of Banking and Insurance at (340)774-7166 or (340)773-6459 and provide your current name, current address and any prior addresses in the territory in which you lived along with any prior names you have used, such as maiden names. If you find accounts belonging to you, or someone you know, the account owner can print the claim form, complete it and return it to us with all required documentation at the above address. If you are unable to print the form, please contact our office so that we may mail a claim form to you.
You can request a claim form if you have a property interest in an unclaimed account. A property interest can include ownership or a right to the unclaimed funds. Claim forms can also be requested on behalf of a family member or friend.
Q. The website for the Lt. Governor’s office only lists unclaimed property from 2007 to 2010? How can I obtain information from earlier years?
A. To obtain unclaimed property information for earlier years, contact the Division of Banking and Insurance.
Q. What is the process for filing a claim?
A. Complete the appropriate forms and submit to the Division of Banking and Insurance with the required supporting documents.
Q. How will I know where my unclaimed funds came from?
A. The listing published in the newspaper and on our website, www.ltg.gov.vi, includes the name of the original holder.
Q. Is there a deadline for making a claim?
A. No, the funds are held until the rightful owner claims them.
Q. Are there any fees for filing a claim?
A. No. The Division does not charge a fee for claim filing or processing.
Q. How does the Division of Banking and Insurance locate the owners?
A. The Division is required to publish the names of unclaimed property owners reported in the previous year in the Virgin Islands in a newspaper of general circulation. This information is also published on the website of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor, www.ltg.gov.vi.
Q. How do I establish ownership?
A. The Division does not pay a claim on the basis of name alone. Proof may be as simple as a document that shows your name and Social Security number, or proves that you lived at the reported address on file with the Division. After a completed claim form, the Division will notify you if additional documentation is required. If you are not the original owner, you must prove that the account belonged to the original owner; then you must prove you are entitled to the original owner’s money.
Q. What are some examples of minimum proof of claim?
A. First, always provide a clear copy of your photo I.D. This may include a driver’s license, passport, voter registration or other state-issued ID. The ID must be valid (unexpired) and include a signature.
Q. If I am not the original owner, or if the owner is deceased, how do I prove the claim?
A. First, you must show that the account belonged to the original owner (minimum proof of claim). Second, you must prove that you are the rightful recipient of the funds, and you are legally entitled to claim these funds for the owner, for example if the owner is incapacitated or deceased. If the owner is incapacitated, the Division will require documentation such as a Durable Power of Attorney or court documents which shows guardianship or custodial relationship.
If the original owner is deceased, the Division will require that you contact the Probate Court in the State where the owner lived at the time of death. You must obtain documentation from the Probate Court that grants you the right to obtain these funds.