AIA Reports Iowa’s 2004 Legislative Session a Success for Both Consumers, Insurers

May 4, 2004

The American Insurance Association (AIA) on Monday declared Iowa’s 2004 legislative session a success for consumers and insurers on key issues affecting the property/casualty market.

“From passage of a medical liability reform measure to clear guidelines on insurer use of credit, the 2004 Iowa legislature worked hard to craft meaningful legislation that will benefit consumers and carriers alike,” said Sean McManamy, AIA assistant vice president, Midwest Region. “The Hawkeye state continues to be an attractive market for insurers and as such, consumers benefit from increased competition and choice.”

The 80th Iowa General Assembly, which adjourned April 20, passed numerous bills this session relating to the insurance industry, three of which hold particular significance:

• S.F. 2257 – a bill to govern insurer use of credit information largely based on the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ (NCOIL) model law on credit information, which is effective in some form in 22 states. The new law details how credit information can be used in insurance underwriting and rating. For example, it cannot be used as the sole factor in denying or non-renewing a policy. “The bill is a victory for responsible Iowa consumers, who will continue to reap the benefits of their low risk behavior,” McManamy said. Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) signed the bill on April 7 and the new law becomes effective October 1, 2004.

• H.F. 2440 – a bill to cap non-economic damage awards in medical malpractice cases at $250,000. This type of reform is at the heart of creating a more stable medical liability market in Iowa and positions the state to join neighbors such as Missouri and Wisconsin in enacting such a reform. Iowa was labeled by the American Medical Association in July 2003 as a state showing “problem signs” that could lead to a full medical liability crisis. AIA is hopeful that enactment of this measure will avoid that situation.

• S.F. 2253 – a bill limiting application of Iowa’s unique auto collision damage disclosure law to damages exceeding 50 percent of value, was passed to address an Insurance Division rule on the issue. The new law is tied to the salvage title requirement. The pending rule was rescinded by the Division after passage of the bill. This action will eliminate confusion concerning insurer responsibilities for diminished value claims on autos by third parties. Gov. Vilsack signed this bill into law on March 18.

“These three bills all help move Iowa forward on critical consumer-focused insurance issues and AIA was proud to support all three measures. We hope that in addition to the credit bill and the auto damage disclosure bill, Gov. Vilsack will also sign the important medical liability damage cap measure and execute the ‘will of the people’ as expressed by the legislature,” added McManamy.

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