Massachusetts Agents Drop Ballot Effort on Credit Ban

By | October 27, 2011

The Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) has agreed to a request from state lawmakers to withdraw the ballot initiative it filed in August to prohibit the use of credit scoring, education, and occupational data in auto insurance. From now on, the group will focus on its ongoing legislative effort.

Until recently, MAIA and its 1,400 member agencies were working on gathering 69,000 signatures from voters to put the question on the 2012 state ballot. In September, Attorney General Martha Coakley certified the initiative petition.

The head of the MAIA said continuing on the ballot initiative campaign would have been long and costly. The group’s effort and resources could be better utilized following only the legislative track, said MAIA President Frank Mancini. In addition to the ballot effort, MAIA has also been pursuing the legislative path.

It is supporting a redrafted version of its legislation, Senate Bill No. 461, which would codify into law the ban on credit scoring. The ban against the use of educational and occupational information would continue as administrative prohibitions under the proposed bill.

In announcing the decision to withdraw the ballot question, Mancini explained that MAIA is committed to pursuing a legislative solution to the credit scoring issue.

“From the outset of this process, we have maintained that the ballot petition was an option of last resort,” said Mancini. “At this time, we believe the efforts of our association are better focused on enacting the redrafted bill rather than pursuing a long and costly ballot initiative campaign.”

“Based upon our on-going dialog with members of the House and Senate, the executive branch, and other interested parties we are confident that a consensus exists to adopt the financial service committee’s redraft of this important legislation,” he added.

“We are truly encouraged by the support we have received on this issue and we look forward to working with all parties to guide this bill through the legislative process in the very near future.”

Massachusetts is already one of a few states with strict policies on the use of credit scores and other socioeconomic factors. Massachusetts regulators do not approve rate filings for auto or homeowners insurance that include the use of these factors. But supporters of the ban have been saying it needs to be signed into law so that the regulation will stay in place even when a different administration comes in.

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