Trio of Insurer-Supported Bills Introduced in Georgia Legislature

March 9, 2006

The Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia suggested three bills that have been introduced to the Georgia Legislature to address Certificates of Insurance for subcontractors and workers’ compensation issues.

According to an IIAG spokesperson, Rep. Mike Coan, Lawrenceville agreed to introduce the bills at the association’s request. IIAG also gave Insurance Journal a detailed description of all insurance related bills.

H.B. 1538 would give the general contractor a certain amount of time to notify the subcontractor that insurance does not meet specifications.

Status: Assigned to Judiciary Committee.

H.B. 1539 would specify that a person commits insurance fraud if he issues a certificate which purports to alter the terms of the insurance policy.

Status: Assigned to Judiciary Committee Non Civil.

H.B. 1541 would prohibit insurance contracts which provide for indemnification against liability for damages arising out of bodily injury to persons or damage to property caused by the sole negligence of a promisee or indemnitee in connection with a contract or agreement relative to construction. (It means is this: the sub’s insurance policy cannot protect the general if the damage is caused by the general’s sole negligence.)

Status: Assigned to Judiciary Committee.

H.B. 1467 (Rep. Ron Stephens, Savannah) would revise the workers’ compensation law by eliminating concurrent jurisdiction with claims filed under the Longshore and Harbor Workers Act.

Status: Assigned to Industrial Relations Committee.

Other new legislation

H.B. 1461 (Rep. Edward Lindsey, Atlanta) would revise the offer of judgment provision of last year’s tort reform act.

Status: Assigned to Judiciary Committee.

H.B. 239 (Rep. Barry Fleming, Harlem), introduced last year, was passed by substitute March 2 by the Committee on Civil Justice Reform to revise the offer of judgment provision of last year’s tort reform act.

Previously reported bills

H.B. 425 (Rep. Harbin, Evans) would amend the anti-rebate law to clarify that insurers, agents and their employees can pay for business meals and entertainment without running afoul of the law.

Status: Favorably reported by the Senate Insurance & Labor Committee and awaiting action by Senate Rules.

H. B. 827 (Rep. Debbie Buckner, Columbus) would authorize the Department of Administrative Services to procure group professional liability insurance for hospitals providing emergency room services.

Status: The bill has been favorably reported by Committee and awaits action by House Rules. IIAG has met with the author to discuss market conditions. IIAG believes it has demonstrated to the author that the bill is unnecessary and that insurance is available through traditional channels.

H.B. 1240 (Rep. Coan, Lawrenceville) is the routine annual revision to the workers’ compensation law, the so called “Board bill” developed by the Board of Workers’ Compensation’s advisory committee and introduced at the board’s request. The changes this year include raising the death benefit to $150,000 and amending the provisions related to return to work.

Status: Passed by House and assigned to Senate Insurance & Labor Committee.

H.B. 1242 (Rep. Bordeaux, Savannah) would change the definition of “insured” for automobile insurance to include a foster child or ward living in the household.

Status: Assigned to House Insurance Committee.

H.B. 1257 (Rep. Knox, Cumming) would make a few changes in administrative procedures. Agents would not have to pay a filing fee for a change of address if the change is made on-line. The bill would also amend the requirements for a counselor’s license. A substitute includes changes requested by IIAG to ensure appropriate standards for counselors.

Status: Passed House March 2.

H.B. 1311 (Rep. Gardner, Atlanta) would require that health insurance plans covering treatment for mental illness contain the same out-of-pocket caps for mental illness as for physical illness.

Status: Assigned to House Insurance Committee.

H.B. 1359 (Rep. Forster, Ringgold), a bill to create the “Georgia Assignment Pool Underwriting Authority,” was favorably reported by the House Insurance Committee on Feb. 23. The bill would create an assigned risk plan for individual health insurance which all payors (insurers and self-insurers) would support.

H.B. 1387, a proposal by Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine to reduce the state’s premium tax has been introduced by Rep. Earl Ehrhart (Powder Springs). The bill would reduce the state’s 2.25 percent by .5 percent per year to an eventual level of .5 percent. Cities’ and counties’ tax of 2.5 percent (applicable to P&C) would be reduced gradually to 1 percent. The local 1 percent tax on life premiums would remain.

Status: Ways & Means Committee.

S.B. 384 (Sen. Hudgens, Comer) would enact the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact under which states would establish an interstate compact to regulate designated insurance products. Passed by Senate and assigned to House Insurance Committee.

S.B. 444 (Sen. Shafer, Duluth) is identical to H.B. 1257.

Status: No action has been taken yet. The bill remains in the Senate Insurance & Labor Committee.

S.B. 509 (Sen. Shafer, Duluth) remains in the Insurance & Labor Committee. The bill would create a scheme of rate regulation for individual health insurance when certain conditions are met and when the Commissioner finds that the market is “not functioning in an efficient, competitive manner.”

S.B. 306 (Sen. Hamrick, Carrollton) would impose a time limit on doctors and hospitals filing liens against a patient’s insurance settlement.

Status: Favorably reported by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

S.B. 531 (Sen. Rogers, Woodstock) would change certain provisions relating to damages recoverable by an insured under uninsured motorist coverage.

Status: Passed the Senate March 6.

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