Ore. Homeowners Can Voice Concerns at Forum

March 24, 2004

The Oregon Department of Consumer & Business Services (DCBS) is inviting the public to share concerns about the availability and affordability of homeowner insurance at a March 29 forum in Portland.

“We’ve received a growing number of complaints from homeowners whose policies have not been renewed or whose premiums have gone up dramatically,” said DCBS Director Cory Streisinger. “The Portland forum will help us determine how widespread the problems are and whether administrative or legislative remedies may be needed to protect Oregon consumers.”

The public forum will run from 6-9 p.m. at the State Office Building, 800 NE Oregon Street. Representatives from several insurance industry and consumer groups are scheduled to testify during the first hour of the forum, with the remaining time set aside for public comments.

The DCBS Insurance Division regulates the sale of insurance products and services in Oregon. The division monitors the insurance market and works to ensure the financial soundness of insurers, the availability and affordability of insurance, and fair treatment of policyholders and claimants.

Complaints to the Insurance Division about canceled or non-renewed homeowner policies have reportedly increased fourfold since 2000, while complaints about premiums more than tripled during the same period.

Another reported indicator of market problems is the 78 percent increase in homeowners purchasing insurance from the Oregon FAIR Plan Association (OFPA) since 2000. OFPA, known as an insurer of last resort, makes property insurance available to individuals who are unable to buy coverage in the regular insurance marketplace.

Scheduled to testify at the forum are representatives from the Oregon Realtors Association, the insurance industry, OFPA, the Oregon State Public Interest Research Group (OSPIRG), and ChoicePoint, which sells data services to insurers.

More information about the forum is available from Michael Morter of the Insurance Division at (503) 947-7038.

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