Insurance News

Credit Scoring Ban Dies In Washington Legislature

Posted on: February 19, 2010

A Senate bill in the Washington State Legislature to ban credit-based insurance scoring failed to come to a vote on the Senate floor before a deadline for moving legislation expired.

The demise of the Senate measure came weeks after a similar bill in the House died in committee.

Both bills were introduced at the request of State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

Kenton Brine, assistant vice president, Northwest region for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said the House bill, HB 2513, failed Feb. 2 to win release from the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance on a 6-4 vote.

In the Senate, the body did not have enough votes to pass the bill, SB 6252, before a February 16 cutoff date to get bills out of their house of origin, and so it never came to a vote of the full Senate, Mr. Brine said.

Stephanie Marquis, spokesperson for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, said the industry fought hard to defeat the measure, resulting in a lack of votes to move the bill out of rules.

The Senate bill did make it out of committee, although Christian Rataj, Western state affairs manager for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), noted that it was brought before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce & Consumer Protection, rather than the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee where insurance-related bills usually originate.

According to Mr. Brine, that panel was purposely chosen to get around the Insurance Committee, where he said it was known the committee chair did not favor a credit scoring ban.

Added Mr. Rataj, ?Clearly politics is what politics is.?

But he also praised the committees that took up the bills for their respective houses, stating, ?I think both committees thoroughly evaluated the issue.?

Ultimately, Mr. Rataj said the legislature looked past the ?rhetoric and unfounded claims that credit-based insurance scoring is unfair.?

Ms. Marquis said there is currently no plan for any action on credit scoring from the regulatory end, stating that there needed to be a change in the state?s law to prohibit the practice.

For Mr. Brine, the issue should be dead in the region. ?I don?t know how much more repudiation is necessary in the Northwest,? he said, noting that the bills in Washington failed to pass with Democratic supermajorities in the House and Senate, a Democratic governor, and a Democratic insurance commissioner. He also pointed to a 2006 ballot measure in Oregon in which a credit scoring ban was voted down by voters.

NU Online News Service, Feb. 17, 3:16 p.m. EST

A Senate bill in the Washington State Legislature to ban credit-based insurance scoring failed to come to a vote on the Senate floor before a deadline for moving legislation expired.

The demise of the Senate measure came weeks after a similar bill in the House died in committee.

Both bills were introduced at the request of State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler.

Kenton Brine, assistant vice president, Northwest region for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), said the House bill, HB 2513, failed Feb. 2 to win release from the House Committee on Financial Institutions and Insurance on a 6-4 vote.

In the Senate, the body did not have enough votes to pass the bill, SB 6252, before a February 16 cutoff date to get bills out of their house of origin, and so it never came to a vote of the full Senate, Mr. Brine said.

Stephanie Marquis, spokesperson for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, said the industry fought hard to defeat the measure, resulting in a lack of votes to move the bill out of rules.

The Senate bill did make it out of committee, although Christian Rataj, Western state affairs manager for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), noted that it was brought before the Senate Committee on Labor and Commerce & Consumer Protection, rather than the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee where insurance-related bills usually originate.

According to Mr. Brine, that panel was purposely chosen to get around the Insurance Committee, where he said it was known the committee chair did not favor a credit scoring ban.

Added Mr. Rataj, ?Clearly politics is what politics is.?

But he also praised the committees that took up the bills for their respective houses, stating, ?I think both committees thoroughly evaluated the issue.?

Ultimately, Mr. Rataj said the legislature looked past the ?rhetoric and unfounded claims that credit-based insurance scoring is unfair.?

Ms. Marquis said there is currently no plan for any action on credit scoring from the regulatory end, stating that there needed to be a change in the state?s law to prohibit the practice.

For Mr. Brine, the issue should be dead in the region. ?I don?t know how much more repudiation is necessary in the Northwest,? he said, noting that the bills in Washington failed to pass with Democratic supermajorities in the House and Senate, a Democratic governor, and a Democratic insurance commissioner. He also pointed to a 2006 ballot measure in Oregon in which a credit scoring ban was voted down by voters.

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