INDIANAPOLIS (March 16, 2006)—The session wasn’t easy or pretty for insurers, but the 2006 Indiana General Assembly concluded at midnight Tuesday with significant successes for NAMIC and the insurance industry as a whole, reports Tami Stanton, NAMIC’s central region state affairs manager. Legislation deregulating commercial rates, fixing an error in the state’s farm mutual insurance tax code, streamlining the salvage title process, and correcting an onerous workers compensation court case all passed.
“Indiana’s insurance community has a long history of working together to protect and improve the state’s positive environment which benefits insurers and consumers alike. Again this session, NAMIC assisted its state trade partners the Insurance Institute of Indiana and the Mutual Insurance Companies Association of Indiana (MICAI), by working together to pass, amend or stop legislation. The 2006 session was particularly challenging and it required great diligence right up to the end,” explained Stanton.
Steve Williams, president of the Insurance Institute of Indiana, agreed with Stanton’s assessment stating, “the 2006 session of the Indiana General Assembly was a mean spirited, contentious, knock down, drag-out fight for property and casualty interests. In the end, however, our legislative and regulatory allies such as NAMIC rallied and the industry emerged with a number of legislative victories.”
The industry’s 2006 legislative efforts were echoed in MICAI Executive Vice President Susan Andrews’ remarks acknowledging this session illustrated “by working together, it is possible to make our voices heard and generate change when it's needed. Without a great deal of cooperation from MICAI members, NAMIC and several legislators it just wouldn't have been possible to fix the farm mutual tax code.”
In the end, the farm mutual tax language addressing a previous legislative oversight, passed this session in two bills, HB 1001 and HB 1380. The language corrects an error in Indiana’s 2002 tax code revision that raised taxes paid by farm mutual insurers from 1.2 percent to 8.5 percent. The language addressing the error was amended into HB 1001 in the Senate and, again, into the conference committee report for HB 1380 because it was feared HB 1001’s conference committee report might not pass due to contentious property tax provisions. Hence, identical language that will save farm mutuals an estimated $115,000 annually is on its way to the governor in two different bills.
The commercial rate modernization language that passed was incorporated into the conference committee report for HB 1392, which originally dealt only with life insurance issues. The commercial deregulation measure is the preliminary step to modernizing Indiana’s commercial insurance market laying the groundwork for future form deregulation.
Salvage title measures passed in SB 339, introduced by the Insurance Institute of Indiana and supported by NAMIC, simplify the title process by requiring insurance companies, once an agreed settlement is completed, to obtain the title of the motor vehicle and submit that title along with a request for a salvage title to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). The BMV will then brand the title as salvaged and send it directly to the owner. This bill requires the person who possesses the certificate of title to surrender the title to the insurance company.
Key insurance provisions in the workers compensation bill, HB 1308, actively supported by NAMIC and Insurance Institute of Indiana, include reasonable benefit increases scheduled over the next four years and language clarifying the burden of proving workplace injuries lies with the employee. The clarification was necessary to address the ambiguity created by Milledge v. The Oaks, where the Indiana Supreme Court cited the “positional risk doctrine” to assume a workplace injury, despite the employee’s failure to prove the injury occurred as a result of the workplace duties.
“Insurance pooling by non-regulated entities, specifically public schools (HB 1006) and independent colleges (SB 229), was a momentous challenge this session,” added Stanton. “Due to the strong leadership of the Insurance Institute of Indiana, the insurance industry used its collective strength to enact appropriate regulation under the Indiana Department of Insurance for these new pooling arrangements.”
For further information, contact
Rick Nelson, APR, CAE
(317) 875-5250 Tel
(317) 879-8408 Fax
Posted: Thursday, March 16, 2006 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Friday, March 17, 2006 11:12:06 AM.
317.875.5250 - Indianapolis | 202.628.1558 - Washington, D.C.