Bad Insurance Bills Pass Committee
How Will Insurance Producers be Impacted?
Since HB 3242-A passed committee, how will agents be impacted?
First, due to PIA’s action in the House, HB 3242-A no longer contains an increased standard of care for insurance producers.
But in Section 1 of HB 3242, the original bill says: “An insurer or other person may not commit or perform any of the following unfair claim settlement practices…”
The words “or other person” seems to include agents. PIA and others argued that sometimes agents get involved in the claims process to help their clients, the policyholder. Kelsey Wood wrote some compelling testimony about that. 91489 (oregonlegislature.gov).
PIA said that to involve agents in lawsuits because of this bill would hurt consumers. Policyholders would no longer have agents go to bat for them, as most agents wouldn’t get involved due to the threat of lawsuits. We offered several suggestions for replacement language.
What we got in a further amendment was this language:
“…an insurer or another person that is acting on behalf of the insurer in settling or adjusting claims,”.
This language is found in the dash-5 amendment to HB 3242-A: HB3242 (oregonlegislature.gov)
When you look at the statutes governing adjusters, it says that adjusters must be licensed “to investigate, negotiate or settle first party or third party losses.” Agent licenses do not contain that language.
On May 17 the question on how the HB 3242-A dash-5 amendment would affect insurance agents was raised in the Senate Judiciary work session. Chair Prozanski on the record said insurance agents who are trying to help their clients in the claims process would not be impacted by the bill because of the dash-5 amendment.
There is some disagreement from the insurance company trades who say that while the amendment does not include agents, it also does not specifically exclude them.
I am not a lawyer but if I were an insurance producer (which I am not) I might consider pausing any activities involving claims until the courts have spoken on the issue, should the bills pass.
The dash-5 amendment was adopted and the bill was passed by the committee.
HB 3243-A was also passed. The underlying statute for this bill, ORS 746.230, would be changed by the amendment to HB 3242-B, so it would no longer specifically include agents if both bills pass and the same arguments apply to both bills in the court.
Both bills now move to the Senate floor. The Republicans are still not attending floor sessions and therefore no bills are able to be passed. It is unclear what may happen in the future.
Here are the bill links. You will have to incorporate HB 3242-A and the dash-5 amendment yourselves because it has not yet been engrossed into the -B version.