On June 22, 2023 two bad insurance bills had different outcomes when they came up for votes on the Oregon Senate floor.
HB 3242-B passed by a vote of 17 yes to 7 no. The link to the bill is: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB3242/B-Engrossed.
The summary 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 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 we worked with the coalition of insurance agent groups to get the words “or other person” 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).
Please note the difference between agents’ and adjusters’ licenses:
– Agents must be licensed under ORS 744.053: “Requirements to be licensed as insurance producer for class of insurance.” A person may not sell, solicit or negotiate insurance in this state for any class or classes of insurance unless the person is licensed as an insurance producer for that class or those classes in accordance with ORS 744.052 to 744.089.
– Claims adjusters must be licensed under a different statute, ORS 744.505: “Adjuster license required.” The definition of an adjuster is: ORS 744.502 Definitions: “As used in ORS 744.502 to 744.584:
(1) “Adjuster” means a person that receives a fee, a commission or other compensation to investigate, negotiate or settle first party or third party losses that arise as claims under the terms of an insurance contract that insures a domestic risk.”
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, and that since they aren’t specifically excluded trial lawyers will probably sue insurance agents.
Since this bill will likely be litigated, you might want to check with your attorney before getting involved in helping insureds in the claims process. We have asked Commissioner Stolfi for his comments on the role of agents in this bill, and have also asked if he plans to write rules about that.
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.
The bill now moves back to the House for concurrence on the Senate-adopted amendments and then on to the Governor’s desk for signature.
HB 3243 had a much different fate. It didn’t have enough votes and so was re-referred to the Senate Rules Committee, where it will likely die for this session.
The link to HB 3243 is https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2023R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB3243/A-Engrossed.
The summary reads: “Provides that violation of prohibitions against unfair claim settlement practices with respect to insurance is subject to enforcement action under Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Permits person to obtain, and court to award, appropriate equitable relief in addition to monetary damages under Unlawful Trade Practices Act. Requires Director of Department of Consumer and Business Services to request action before prosecuting attorney may take action under Unlawful Trade Practices Act against act or practice related to insurance.”
PIAO/I opposed this bill, and we are excited to see its demise. This is a great victory for the insurance industry! PIAO/I agents actively lobbied against this bill, and many of you wrote to Senators asking them to vote no. You 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. Go Team!