Bills involving privacy, workers’ compensation, and unfair claims handling practices were the key insurance-related legislation that passed the 2003 Montana legislature, which adjourned last week.
“Probably the biggest news for property/casualty insurers was the fact that the 2003 Montana legislature failed to pass a bill on the use of credit-based insurance scores,” said Donald Cleasby, assistant vice president and assistant general counsel of the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII).
Several insurance-related bills did pass the session. These included:
·H.B. 130, which requires private passenger auto insurers to pay, or offer to pay, approved claims of $2,500 or less of auto physical damage within 30 days of receipt of proof of loss. The new law imposes an annual interest rate of 18 percent for violations;
· H.B. 205, which amends state insurance privacy laws to comply with the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and clarifies notice requirements for disclosure of personal insurance information;
· H.B. 588, which amends law and prohibits midterm increases in premiums that do not result from a change in insurance risk or from a change in the classification based on the policyholder’s filed classification system in effect at the time of the policy’s last renewal;
· S.B. 341, which allows insurers to issue policies for terms longer than a year or indefinitely if the policy includes a 45-day cancellation clause. The bill requires insurers to provide a “reasonable notice of nonrenewal” to policyholders, and prohibits insurers with health care provider policyholders from canceling or nonrenewing all such policies without 120 days’ advance notice.
The legislature also passed several workers’ compensation bills, including S.B. 304, which calls for a study of the feasibility of selling or restructuring the Montana State Fund.
It also passed Senate Joint Resolution 17, which calls for an interim committee to examine the state’s workers’ comp laws and provide suggested changes to clarify language and intent.