AIA: Mo. Legislative Session Successful for Insurers

May 17, 2005

Missouri’s 93rd General Assembly ended late Friday with a rush of activity to close out what was a successful 2005 session for insurers, according to the American Insurance Association (AIA).

“From tort reform to workers’ compensation reform, the new administration and legislative leadership passed meaningful legislation that is likely to improve the insurance and business climates in Missouri,” said Steve Schneider, AIA vice president, midwest region. “We are pleased with the outcome of this session and think that overall, it was a success for insurers.”

More than 120 insurance related bills were introduced in the General Assembly this session. Notable measures that were passed include tort reform, workers’ comp reform, a self-audit privilege bill and a “right-to-repair” bill.

Specifically, HB 393 is a comprehensive tort reform measure championed by Gov. Matt Blunt (R), which among other things, provides for limits on punitive damages and eliminates joint and several liability. The governor has signed the bill into law and it takes effect Aug. 28, 2005.

Legislation (SB 1) addressing more than 20 aspects of the state’s workers’ comp system was signed into law on March 30, and has various effective dates depending on the provision. The bill raises criminal penalties for fraud, provides review standards for administrative law judges and places limits on attorneys’ fees.

A self-audit privilege bill (HB 388) was passed on the last day of the session, which helps protect certain insurer documents from public disclosure, and Gov. Blunt is expected to sign it into law.

Finally, another highlight of this session was the overwhelming passage of SB 168, known as the “right-to-repair” bill. This measure addresses disputes between homeowners and contractors and encourages discussion in lieu of litigation. It is also expected to be signed by Gov. Blunt, and will become effective Aug. 28, 2005.

“Passing these meaningful bills will help make Missouri more attractive to insurers and businesses, and that means improved competition and greater consumer choice,” added Schneider.

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