PCI Testifies in Support of Insurance Fraud Bureau Bills

January 19, 2006

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) testified in Olympia, Wash., in support of two bills that would create the Washington’s first insurance anti-fraud unit in the insurance commissioner’s office.

“Fraud costs insurance companies and our policyholders hundreds of millions of dollars, adding hundreds of dollars to the cost of insurance premiums annually,” said PCI Northwest Regional Manager Kenton Brine. “This legislation represents a real opportunity to provide the tools and funding that prosecutors, law enforcement and insurance investigators need to not only catch perpetrators of fraud, but prosecute them under the law.”

HB 2482 by Rep. Al O’Brien (D-Bothell) and SB 6234 by Darlene Fairley (D-Shoreline) are identical measures, introduced at the request of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Both measures were under consideration Tuesday by committees in their respective houses.

Brine said insurers have a record of support for protecting insurance consumers from fraud, but it has been a challenge to get overburdened state and local agencies to prosecute the cases.

“Insurance companies and policyholders are being asked to pay for this proposed fraud bureau through insurer fees paid to the OIC, so it is in consumers’ and insurers’ shared interests to make sure this program is effective in prosecuting crime and reducing fraud,” Brine said. “With funding proposed for fraud investigators in the Commissioner’s office as well as assistant attorneys general dedicated to anti-fraud investigations and prosecutions, the still-evolving proposal holds promise, and will have PCI’s support so long as it promotes effective prosecution of insurance fraud cases.”

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