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April 29, 2009

Maine ‘Bad Faith’ Unfair Claims Practices Bill Unnecessary and Costly

The Legislature’s Insurance and Financial Services Committee is considering "bad faith" legislation that would drastically transform existing law by creating a private right of action for anyone alleging a violation of Maine’s unfair claims practices statute.

The bill, LD-1305, benignly titled by its proponents as “An Act to Provide for Prompt Resolution of Insurance Claims by Providing for a Direct Remedy by Consumers,” would provide for recovery of damages exceeding policy limits including punitive damages, attorneys fees, and costs.

NAMIC and other industry representatives testified against the bill during a hearing on April 27, making the following points:

  • The legislation is unnecessary because consumers are well protected under existing laws and regulations enforced by the Bureau of Insurance and the courts.
  • The bill would produce a dramatic increase in costly and time-consuming litigation.
  • Insurers’ ability to process claims appropriately in order to validate claims and avoid paying fraudulent or inflated claims would be hindered.
  • Maine’s civil justice system currently works well and efficiently for the benefit of consumers, but would be thrown out of balance if this legislation were enacted.
  • The bill will lead to higher damage awards and settlement values.
  • Increased costs will ultimately be borne by individuals and organizations that purchase insurance.

The Insurance and Financial Services Committee will take up the bill during a work session on Friday, May 1. NAMIC is urging members doing business in Maine to contact Committee members to reinforce the message points above and to ask that they recommend the bill ought not to pass.

Contact information for members of the Insurance and Financial Services Committee can be found on the website of the Maine Legislature.

Direct questions and comments to NAMIC State Affairs Manager Paul Tetrault.

Posted: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Wednesday, April 29, 2009 2:19:47 PM.

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