Two Bills Up for Hearing in N.H. House Commerce

March 4, 2003

Two significant insurance-related bills are up for hearing this week in the New Hampshire House Commerce Committee.

“These two bills couldn’t be more contradictory,” Gerald Zimmerman, senior counsel for the National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII), said. “One would vastly improve insurance market conditions in the state, while the other would disrupt the stable auto insurance market.”

H.B. 684, a regulatory modernization bill that will reportedly make it easier for insurers and consumers to transact business in the state and help improve and protect state regulation of insurance, is up for hearing on Monday. The bill, introduced by Rep. John Hunt, chairman of the House Committee, would “dramatically improve New Hampshire’s insurance rating system,” Zimmerman said. H.B. 684 would lower the exempt commercial policyholder (ECP) threshold from $500,000 to $100,000, make other commercial lines “use and file,” and make personal lines a 30-day “file and use” system with a prospective only cure. “Because New Hampshire currently has prior approval for auto, H.B. 684’s changes are truly significant,” Zimmerman added.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is H.B. 573, which is scheduled for hearing in the House Commerce committee on Tuesday. The bill, dealing with auto repair and insurance, would prohibit insurers from specifying the brand, type, kind, age, vendor or condition of parts to be used to repair a vehicle.

“This bill would simply give body shops a blank check to repair cars with whatever parts they want, no matter the price,” Zimmerman said. “Giving body shops carte blanche to ratchet up repair costs would be disastrous for consumers and New Hampshire’s stable auto insurance market. If this bill passes, New Hampshire will go from one of the country’s most affordable auto insurance markets to one of the most expensive, virtually overnight.”

NAII will testify in support of H.B. 684 and in opposition to H.B. 573 at this week’s hearings.

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