Colo. Lawmakers Want Insurance Industry to Account for Rising Rates

The insurance industry came out strongly against a measure that would require them to disclose claims, payouts and rates, telling lawmakers a plan to increase regulation of their industry would drive up costs and force some companies to stop selling insurance.

Steve Rubin, spokesman for COPIC Insurance, the state’s largest medical malpractice company that covers four of every five Colorado doctors, said Colorado regulators have done a good job keeping costs for customers down. He said his company would be unable to meet some of the proposed regulations because the information is not available, including the amount of money insurance companies spend on settling malpractice cases.

“We don’t know how much the attorneys get,” he told the House Business Affairs Committee, which delayed action on the measure (House Bill 1330) so it could gather more information.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said his constituents are paying more for insurance and he wants to know why. Supporters of the measure said the state has imposed significant limits on damage claims and consumers should be getting the benefit.

Romanoff said insurance companies have told him the reporting requirements are redundant because they already provide the information, burdensome because they don’t have the information and dangerous because the requirements would force them to disclose competitive secrets.

“I want to give the opponents time to settle on a single story here,” Romanoff said.

The bill would apply to all property and casualty insurance, excluding life and health insurance.

Romanoff said there is no way of knowing if insurance companies are raking in big profits because they are not required to report that information to the state insurance commissioner. Under Colorado law, information used to set rates is based on future projected claims, which lawmakers said have been inflated.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Colorado consumers paid an estimated $1.2 billion in premiums in 1980 and insurance companies paid out an estimated $793 million. In 2004, consumers paid an estimated $8.8 billion in premiums and companies paid out $5.2 billion in claims.