Mo. Senate Votes to Bar Insurers from Canceling Policies Due to Storm Claims

April 13, 2006

The Missouri Senate voted Tuesday to bar insurance companies from canceling policies, refusing to renew policies or raising rates as a result of weather-related claims.

Sen. Charlie Shields, (R-St. Joseph), offered the idea as an amendment to a broader bill changing how the insurance department enforces its rules.

Shields said if the insurance industry doesn’t do this now, the change shouldn’t matter, and if it does, it needs to be fixed.

“There’s a lot of things you can control in terms of risk. This isn’t one of them,” he said.

Sen. John Loudon, (R-Chesterfield), raised concerns about putting limits on an insurance company’s ability to decide which clients to take.

“The implication is we in the Legislature can come in and fix your problem,” he said. “In our free, competitive marketplace, we’re saying when you enter into a contract, you’re going to be locked into it a long, long time.”

Loudon said people whose policies are not renewed generally have had many claims and the insurer decides they are not a good risk.

“What if the weather-related damage was the last in a succession of other claims?” he said.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kevin Engler, (R-Farmington), said the proposal was a good idea, but he worried it would doom the bill. Still, the amendment passed 31-0, including votes from Engler and Loudon.

The Senate laid the overall bill (SB 895) aside without taking a vote.

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