The American Insurance Association (AIA) says the P/C industry made some positive legislative steps in Maine and Maryland this year, although the trade group says it was disappointed with a Maryland law that will raise the minimum auto liability coverage.
Legislative bodies in both states concluded their formal sessions this week.
The auto liability change in Maryland will raise the minimum coverage for bodily harm from $20,000 to $30,000 for an individual, and from $40,000 to $60,000 for two or more persons. “We were disappointed to see lawmakers support this onerous legislation which will lead to increased insurance costs and greater numbers of uninsured drivers in Maryland,” said Tammy Velasquez, AIA vice president and director, state affairs in Maryland.
Of course, there were a few positive steps made on the legislative front as well in the state, the group said. Among them:
- The legislature dropped provisions in a budget bill that would have taken $20 million in surplus from the Injured Workers’ Insurance Fund’s
- The Assembly approved a bill banning the use of texting devices while driving
- The AIA praised the General Assembly’s decision not to approve HB 55, the Homeowner’s Insurance – Coverage for Water Damage Act.
In Maine, there was no legislation with a major impact on the P/C industry, although the group did praise a few changes that should benefit the insurance industry. “From a property-casualty insurance standpoint, Maine was relatively quiet this year,” said John Murphy, AIA Northeast regional vice president. “That said, we were pleased with the legislative decisions that impact our industry.
In particular, AIA praised the Legislature for enacting changes to the motor vehicle laws in the state to clarify the proof of responsibility requirements for non-residents. Previously, automobile insurance policies of non-residents would not be recognized by Maine unless the insurer was authorized to underwrite policies in the state. Now a policy issued by a carrier that is authorized to write auto insurance in the driver’s home state will satisfy Maine’s financial responsibility law.
Another bill specifically exempted insurance from consumer arbitration agreements. “We were pleased that Maine legislators correctly recognized that property-casualty insurance should be exempt from contracts that are subject to this legislation, as our policies are already subject to regulation by the Bureau of Insurance and contain ample consumer protections,” said Murphy.
There were several notable workers’ compensation bills dealing with properly classifying workers, as well. One bill, LD 1815, clarifies the process for predetermination of “independent contractor” status for subcontractors on construction sites. Another, LD 1565, allows the Workers’ Compensation Board to issue a stop work order if an employer knowingly misclassifies a construction worker.
“Properly classifying a worker’s status is an important measure to ensure that workers are appropriately covered when they need to file a workers’ compensation claim, and that insurers are collecting the right premium for the risks they are assuming,” said Murphy.
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