UP supports mandatory disclosure of un/underinsured motorist coverage in New York
A8519A/S5644B requires automobile insurers to offer their consumers un/underinsured motorist coverage at the same level as their auto liability insurance coverage, but allows the consumer to make the informed choice of selecting less coverage. The written waiver proves that the consumer has been notified of the impact of declining coverage that would protect the consumer and the consumer’s loved ones. This commonsense bill will help fill a frequently-occurring gap in insurance policies while maintaining informed consumer choice. For a very low premium, SUM insurance covers drivers and their loved ones in the event of an accident with an underinsured, uninsured or hit-and-run driver. While many drivers act responsibly by purchasing more auto liability insurance than required by statute – thereby taking an extra step to protect others – they do not realize that to protect themselves they must also increase the SUM limits on their policy.
Reauthorizing and reforming the National Flood Insurance Program – Guiding Principles
The National Flood Insurance Program serves the essential function of making it feasible for property owners to buy economic protection so that in the event of a flood, the owner can repair/restore the asset. While there are alternative flood insurance options in the private market that are available to some property owners in some regions, the NFIP will remain the only option for a substantial number of U.S. households in flood risk zones for the foreseeable future. UP released a document that outlines priorities for increasing resiliency and controlling premium costs through greater participation, including reforms to the appeals process, claims handling standards, remedies for breach of contract, and the role of private insurers and engineers in adjusting losses. The NFIP expires on September 30, 2017.
UP supports greater connectivity for Californians in the wake of disasters
SB 649 would enable a streamlined process for placement of small cell towers which are needed to ensure that in the wake of a disaster, Californians are connected to their loved ones and emergency personnel.
UP supports renewed efforts to strengthen New York law in favor of policyholders
S242 will give New Yorkers who buy property insurance the ability to hold insurers to their protection promises, using the legal system if need be. This legislative proposal will bring New York in line with the vast majority of states. New York is one of the few states that does not allow a policyholder to bring an action to enforce their right to collect benefits owed under an insurance contract or recover attorney fees even where they legally prove an insurer has wrongfully withheld benefits owed under that contract.
UP supports legislation that would give California policyholders or their legal representatives the ability to locate insurance policies for wildfire losses
After a wildfire, important documents such as the insurance policy on the home are lost. In the worst cases, the policyholder perishes as a result of the fire or shortly thereafter. In those cases, it is important that policyholders or their legal representatives be able to secure a copy of the insurance policy on the damaged or destroyed home. California law provides that a policyholder may request and receive a copy of the policy following a total loss caused by a disaster. When the identity of the insurance company is unknown, however, policyholders or their legal representatives need a mechanism for determining who has provided the coverage. This legislation would proscribe a procedure whereby a policyholder or their legal representative would be able to utilize the Department of Insurance to assist with the process, in cooperation with insurers.
UP opposes legislation that would disincentivize Texas insurers from promptly and fairly paying claims
In response to a misperception that property insurance claims and lawsuits are on the rise in Texas, the insurance industry and their allies in the Texas legislature have revived a bill that would make it harder to hold an insurer accountable if they fail to adequately investigate and pay claims to homeowners and businesses. The bill is ostensibly designed to curb “abusive hail lawsuits” but in effect it would eviscerate Texas’s prompt payment law by allowing for a cure period and removing pre-judgment interest. A similar bill was defeated two years ago due to opposition from consumer advocates and Texas businesses See also: Texas Businesses Line Up Against Lt. Governor’s High-Priority Insurance Bill; Texas Senate Bill 10 Would Adversely Affect All Insureds; and Legislature Restricts Rights of Insurance Policyholders
UP supports efforts in Montana to curb contractor fraud following a disaster
Storm chasing contractors often entice disaster victims into signing contracts for repairs immediately following a loss, when the homeowner is at their most vulnerable. In some cases, unlicensed contractors show up in a disaster area and take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners. UP supports legislation that requires contractors who solicit business from disaster victims to disclose whether they are licensed, their license number, and prohibit them from using another contractor’s license. Contractors should also be prohibited from acting as an unlicensed public adjuster and would be required to prepare a detailed estimate of the work to be performed, must inform the consumer that they are responsible by any repairs not covered by insurance, and that they have the right to cancel the contract within 5 days, all important consumer protections.
UP opposes limitations on contingency fees and available recoveries for insurance disputes in Arkansas
An individual or business consumer’s ability to hold an insurance company accountable for failing to meet their indemnification or defense obligations is an essential function of the civil justice system. By leveling the playing field between powerful insurance companies and their customers, the civil justice system also helps maintain the critical balance between insurers’ conflicting obligations to profit-oriented shareholders versus to customers who file claims and drain profits. It is already hard for Arkansas property and business owners to find a good lawyer willing to risk working on a contingent fee basis to take on a well-funded insurer defendant. By placing arbitrary restrictions on the type of recovery available to victims of unfair insurance practices, it will become more uneconomic for qualified counsel to undertake to represent small businesses and individuals.
UP supports legislation in Montana that would prohibit insurers from penalizing policyholders for zero-dollar claims
When a policyholder inquires about coverage or a claim, they reasonably do not expect their insurance company to raise their premium or non-renew their policy, particularly where the inquiry or claim does not result in any payment. SB 58 is a sound approach to combating a form of “use it and lose it” – where a policyholder is penalized for simply using their insurance. UP supports efforts to curb this practice and recently released a “use it and lose it” special report as part of the Essential Protections for Policyholders project in cooperation with Jay Feinman at the Rutgers Law School Center for Risk and Responsibility. The lead author of the bill used UP/Rutgers research to support the bill.
SB 58 was signed into law by Governor Bullock on April 10, 2017.