Pennsylvania House Panel Hears Insurance Consumer Advocate Bill

August 31, 2007

The Pennsylvania House Insurance Committee held a public hearing this week on his bill that would create an independent office to represent the state’s consumers in insurance matters.

State Rep. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne, sponsor of House Bill 1121, said it would establish an Office of Consumer Advocate for Insurance, which would be an independent office within the Office of the Attorney General and represent the interests of consumers before the department.

The Office of Consumer Advocate for Insurance would have the authority to represent consumers’ interests on any insurance matter before the state Department of Insurance or any other state agency or court. The advocate would also be responsible for identifying and tracking trends in the insurance industry, recommending consumer protections, responding to consumer complaints and educating state residents about insurance issues and practices.

“Insurance customers need someone to represent their interests,” Yudichak said.

Yudichak said the office would be similar to the one that exists within the Public Utility Commission for consumer matters involving public utilities.

“This office is needed to act as a consumer advocate on behalf of Pennsylvania citizens when rates are increased or other actions limit their access or ability to get insurance,” Yudichak said.

He said Pennsylvania has an Office of Consumer Advocate within the Insurance Department, but he maintained that “it doesn’t have the authority or the budget to challenge or litigate insurance company rate increases” on behalf of consumers.

“This bill would provide the independent voice needed to act in the best interest of consumers,” Yudichak said.

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