Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner has signed a number of bills of interest to the property/casualty industry since the 2003-2004 legislative session ended July 1, most recently the personal injury protection legislation and a workers’ compensation subclassification bill.
“Many bills of interest to the business community were passed during the legislative session and signed into law, but we were disconcerted that a full discussion on reigning in workers’ compensation costs did not take place,” said Richard Stokes, regional manager and counsel for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).
PCI was also reportedly disappointed that in the waning hours of the session, House Bill 550, the general obligation bonds bill, passed with a new provision that increases fees for certain driving records. Specifically, the legislation increases the fee for national driving records from $4 to $15 and increases from $8 to $20 the cost of handling special requests to certify records or notarize affidavits. The bill was signed July 1.
The remainder of this year will be busy for lawmakers with election activities. The governorship and both legislative chambers have contested races. With Insurance Commissioner Donna Lee Williams deciding to step down after three terms in office, the race for this post is reportedly critical for the industry.
Rep. Ennis (District 6), vice chairman of the House Economic Development, Banking and Insurance Committee, has been endorsed by the Republican State Party. Other Republican candidates include former House candidate and party official Jeffrey Craig, whose family owns an insurance agency.
The Republican winner in the September primary will face off with either Matt Denn or Karen Weldin Stewart. Denn is a Wilmington trial lawyer who served as Gov. Minner’s chief counsel for three years. In his first bid for statewide office, Denn had reportedly pledged not to accept donations from the insurance industry, and claims he is running to give Delawareans a stronger voice in helping to challenge rising costs for auto and health coverage.
Denn was recently endorsed by the Delaware Democratic Party Executive Committee. Stewart narrowly lost to retiring Commissioner Williams, a Republican, in 2000 and has worked in the insurance field for 15 years. Stewart is president of the Weldin Group, an insurance consultant business to regulators. Williams, who was first elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1996 and 2000, decided not to seek re-election for a fourth, consecutive term, for family reasons.
Some of the bills signed into law include:
* SB 166, which began as a bill that would have limited the maximum amount of the PIP deductible to $1,000 and require certain notification requirements about the impact of the deductible to policyholders, was eventually amended in the final days of the session. It was amended as a “notice” bill that spells out all deductible options available and ensures the policyholder acknowledges the cover and costs associated with the policy he or she selects. The bill was signed into law on July 22 and takes effect Oct. 1.
* HB 430, which would permit employers to develop subclassifications within the uniform classification system that better recognize their particular risk.
* HB 43, which makes a failure to wear a seat belt a primary traffic violation.
* HB 272, which amends Delaware code to implement codification of insurance regulation accounting standards as adopted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
* HB 280, which creates professional public adjuster licenses.
* HCR 40, which urges all insurance companies to review accident reports and the driver education curriculum in public and private high schools to potentially offer a premium reduction.
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