NCOIL Officials Say Decision to Delay Model Steering Act Was Based on "Wide-Ranging Opposition"
November 29, 2010

The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL), which recently decided to table its work on a model anti-steering act indefinitely, has issued a statement pointing out that its property-casualty committee's decision to set aside work on a proposed "Model Act Regarding Insurer Auto Body Steering" was based on the opposition it has received to the language in the act.

"We certainly want to promote a system that lets consumers choose the repair shops they want, rather than respond to insurer demands or pressure," says outgoing NCOIL property-casualty committee chair Sen. Ruth Teichman (Kan.). "But considering the wide-ranging opposition to our proposed model, moving forward with this draft language seemed unwise. Is there a better way to safeguard consumer choice? Possibly, and that's what the committee may choose to discuss next year."

The committee voted 16-7 in favor of delaying work on the act, but will revisit the "freedom of choice" issue in 2011, according to NCOIL's statement.

The proposed model act was designed to prevent an insurer from requiring someone to use a specific facility and to ban insurer coercion, intimidation or interference with consumer choice, according to NCOIL. It also would have allowed insurers to recommend repair locations, regulated insurer payment of non-preferred body shops and promoted disclosure and accountability.

"The substitute draft-which grew from under two pages in length to 11 with the addition of interested-party comments-was opposed by insurers, who alleged that the bill was unconstitutional and that its limits on insurer information-sharing were anti-consumer," writes NCOIL. "It was opposed by auto-repair representatives, who said the language was more lenient than some existing laws, that it failed to address the nuances of the claims settlement process, and that it lacked strong enforcement. It was supported, however, by the Independent Glass Association, which cited a need for such legislation."

NCOIL is an organization of state legislators whose main area of public policy interest is insurance legislation and regulation. Most legislators active in NCOIL either chair or are members of the committees responsible for insurance legislation in their respective state houses across the country.

Need more info and analysis about the issues?
CLICK HERE to subscribe to AGRR magazine.