OLYMPIA, Wash. (July 23, 2007) - The American Insurance Association (AIA), The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) have joined together along with a broad-based coalition of consumers, community leaders and business organizations in supporting the efforts of the 'Reject Referendum 67, Consumers Against Higher Insurance Rates' campaign.
Gov. Chris Gregoire on May 15, 2007, signed the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which lowers the threshold for allowing lawsuits against insurers, and according to the three major trades, makes Washington among the worst states in the nation for settling insurance claims. To explore a possible legislative solution to the problems posed for insurance consumers by enactment of SB 5726, the governor convened a working group to establish a dialogue between insurers and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association.
“We appreciate the governor's attempt to find a potential legislative solution that would have made the referendum unnecessary. We worked closely with her in good faith, and we regret that we were not successful," said Ken Gibson, western region vice president for AIA. "The referendum process in Washington provides the opportunity for the people to be heard very directly. As they learn about this issue, they will find it hard to understand why they and the businesses they work for should pay more for insurance only to enrich a hundred or so attorneys."
“This law creates an environment in which every insurance claim holds the potential to become a ‘bad faith’ lawsuit. Insurers are already required by law to act in good faith in the interest of their policyholders, and severe penalties exist for those who do not,” stated Kenton Brine, regional manager for PCI. “Consumers benefit from the reasonable resolution of disputes - not from windfall recoveries, higher insurance costs and higher fees for attorneys.”
"Any contention that insurance carriers are failing to honor their contractual relationship with their insureds is totally unfounded and down right ludicrous. Insurance carriers need to attract and maintain insurance consumers in order to stay in business. Thus, it is not in their economic interest to mistreat their insureds and risk losing that individual as an insurance client. Further, the state’s Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OIC) continuously and vigorously monitors the claims settlement practices of insurers in the state and engages in regulatory oversight designed to protect insurance consumers," said Christian John Rataj, NAMIC state affairs manager for the Western U.S.
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Christian John Rataj
Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 9:30:33 AM.
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