We Did Great This Session in Difficult Fights
For the insurance industry, three hard-fought legislative bills involving insurance died, and other bills passed that deserve mention. PIA will publish a final bill list of all bills we were tracking as soon as the legislative website has been fully updated and effective dates are known.
First, HB 2920 (ban on certain risk factors including use of credit score in insurance rate setting) died. In fact, it never even got a work session partially due to PIA members’ fierce and determined opposition. Here is the list of submitted testimony: HB2920 2023 Regular Session – Oregon Legislative Information System (oregonlegislature.gov). As you can see, much of it is from PIA members. Thank you for your involvement.
Second, in a dramatic turn of events HB 3242 died on the Senate floor with one Democratic no vote (Sen. Steiner), who joined Senate Republicans after the House amended the bill to remove the medical malpractice exemption in a conference committee (Democrat Sen. Meek was absent for the floor vote). This was among the last batch of bills to be voted on this session. PIA worked very hard on this bill.
Conference committee report:
The summary to the B version reads: “Provides insured with cause of action for insurer’s unfair claim settlement practices, other than practices related to settling workers’ compensation or medical malpractice claim. Provides that insured may not bring action against attorney in attorney’s personal capacity for act or practice that attorney undertakes on behalf of insurer, insured, beneficiary or other person in advising, presenting or negotiating insurance claim.”
PIAO/I became neutral on the bill in the House after a section was removed that increased agents’ level of duty of care to insureds or other persons. PIA was responsible for getting that amendment. Then in the Senate we worked with the coalition of insurance agent groups to get the words “or other person” in the first section changed to “or another person that is acting on behalf of the insurer in settling or adjusting claims.”
While the change is not all we asked for, Chair Prozanski said on the record that 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 (subsequently B-engrossed version that passed the Senate floor).
There was some disagreement from the insurance company trades who say that while the amendment does not include agents, it also does not specifically exclude them, and that since they aren’t specifically excluded trial lawyers would probably sue insurance agents. PIA asked Commissioner Stolfi for his comments on the role of agents in this bill. At the end, PIA worked with other agent groups to protect agent interests during the conference committee process. We were elated when the bill finally died!
Testimony in opposition to the bill from insurance company trade organizations is found at https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Downloads/PublicTestimonyDocument/92350 and https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Downloads/PublicTestimonyDocument/58890.
Third, in a knock down drag out fight that was lengthy, intense, and energetically fought, the insurance industry defeated at the last moment HB 3243. This bill would have provided that violation of prohibitions against unfair claim settlement practices with respect to insurance is subject to enforcement action under Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Insurance agents would have been subject to this bill.
This bill, along with HB 3242, passed the House floor and Senate committee votes. Then it got stuck waiting for a vote on the Senate floor by the Senate Republican walkout. When they finally came back after the longest walk out in state history and the second-longest in the United States, the insurance lobby had only a short time to find several Democratic ‘no’ votes to kill it.
The Oregon PIA Government Relations Committee went to work with many pleas – through bulletins, individual emails, and personal calls – to urge our members to contact likely Democratic ‘no’ votes to kill the bill. PIAO/I agents responded and actively lobbied against this bill, and many of you wrote to Senators asking them to vote no.
The bill during it’s time on the Senate floor was unanimously referred to the Senate Committee on Rules, where it died.
Those of you who responded have PIA’s and the insurance industry’s heartfelt thanks for your efforts. We couldn’t have done it without you. Your voice really counts, and you delivered when it mattered. PIA is excited to see the demise of HB 3243. This is a great victory for the insurance industry!
Other Imortant Insurance-Related Legislation That Passed
Effective date, January 1, 2024.
Establishes certain requirements for insurer that cancels or decides not to renew homeowner insurance policy, or that increases premium, for reason materially related to wildfire risk. Requires insurer to make public, and reflect in insurer’s underwriting guidelines and rate plans, certain information related to wildfire risk mitigation actions. Requires insurer to allow insured at least 24 months to repair, rebuild or replace damaged or lost property if damage or loss was directly related to fire that was subject of order under Emergency Conflagration Act. Prohibits insurance company from using statewide] map of wildfire risk published by agency of this state as basis for canceling or declining to renew policy or increasing premium.
Effective date, January 1, 2024.
Provides that person who voluntarily fights wildfire on private forestland is not civilly liable for injury to person or property resulting from good faith performance of firefighting efforts.
Modifies provisions relating to use of contributions and reserves of self-insurance programs established by multiple public bodies to insure against tort liability or property damage.
On Governor’s desk for signature.
Wildfire Related Bills
Thanks to PIA Committee
PIA thanks our Oregon Government Relations Committee for its hard work this session:
Patrick O’Keefe, Chair, Bend
Kelsey Wood, Roseburg
Wendy Abel-Hatzel, Coos Bay
Doug Hartley, Silverton
Paul Haulbrook, Oregon City
Lana Butterfield, Oregon lobbyist
Please Contribute to PIA Oregon Political Action Committee
It is important that you send your donation to the PIA Oregon Political Action Committee. See the link in the red box on the top of this bulletin. This fund is voluntary and supports PIA’s contributions to state legislative candidate races. It is an important facet to your corporate voice as independent insurance agents. Please give today.