Wash. Passes Commissioner-Backed Market Conduct Program

April 24, 2007

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has issued a statement lauding the 2007 Legislature for giving his office more efficient regulatory tools and for allowing more effective consumer protection.

“This has been a good session for Washington’s insurance-buying public,” he said, citing passage of several agency-request bills. One of the bills (SB5717) creates a market analysis program that that will enable the Insurance Commissioner’s Office to monitor insurance companies for real-time snapshots of how consumers are being treated.

“Instead of reacting to a company’s misconduct long after a consumer has been harmed,” Kreidler said, “this authority will allow us to focus our attention on current activities and problems to prevent abuses and consumer hardships. This is a significant shift, and it allows Washington to maintain a national footing on this emerging method of consumer protection.”

Kreidler said insurance companies will find market analysis to be less intrusive and less expensive than the current market examination program. Consumers will be better served, and his office will be better able to focus resources.

Another bill (SB5715) will make professional life easier and more efficient for the 93,000 insurance agents and brokers licensed to transact business in Washington, he indicated. The agency’s licensing reform bill is patterned after a national model to put Washington on par with 38 other states.

“This bill sends a strong message that state-based regulation can be sensitive to the insurance industry’s national concerns,” he said.

Kreidler also had words of praise for the Legislature’s work with health care reform measures that:

* Expanded coverage to 68,000 children currently without health care;
* Established requirements for “retainer medicine” or “direct practice” providers; and
* Addressed more than a dozen recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Costs and Access.

“I applaud the Legislature for getting serious about fixing a health care system that is badly in need of repairs,” he said. “I believe we can do much more and I look forward to bringing some of those ideas to the 2008 Legislature.”

Source: OIC

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