U.S. House Committee on Financial Services holds Auto Insurance Hearing

The U.S. House Committee on Financial Services held a hearing entitled, “Drivers of Discrimination: An Examination of Unfair Premiums, Practices, and Policies in the Auto Insurance Industry.” The purpose of the hearing was to consider two pieces of legislation that would remove non-driving related factors to be considered by insurance companies when calculating risk for auto insurance costs. The Preventing Credit Score Discrimination in Auto Insurance Act (H.R. 1756) prohibits the use of a credit report, a credit score, or other consumer information in determining auto insurance coverage or rates. The second bill, the FAIR Study Act directs the Federal Insurance Office within the U.S. Department of the Treasury to conduct a study and report annually on the “accessibility to consumers of affordable private passenger automobile insurance coverage and identify disparities between communities in auto insurance costs and payout based on the predominant racial makeup for such communities.”

U.S. Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH) stated that the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services has introduced a number of bills aimed at restricting factors that insurers consider when calculating insurance policies but have seen roadblocks on both sides of the aisle. Additionally, in his opening statement, Congressman Stivers acknowledges discrepancy in insurance costs between Ohio and Michigan despite having demographically similar constituencies. Witness testimonies from Elizabeth Dwyer, Superintendent of Insurance, the State of Rhode Island, and Erin Collins, Vice President of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, both opposed the legislation viewing it as unnecessary to the current system and negatively effecting the competitiveness and innovation of the insurance market to create new practices. Sonja Larkin-Thorne, who has spent her career in the insurance industry, testified that “California, one of the largest personal automobile insurance markets in the country does not allow the use of insurance credit scores, yet the state remains one of the most competitive personal automobile insurance markets in the country.” In their opening statements, Dwyer and Collins both opposed the legislation under consideration by the committee. Witnesses Douglas Heller and Larkin-Thorne agreed that Congress does have a role here but to also work with regulatory standards in place. Mr. Eric Poe also urged committee members that fundamental changes in the industry are needed. Despite conflicting views, representatives and panelists all agreed maintaining a healthy, competitive market is essential and that discrimination in auto insurance policies is opposed by all.

Witnesses:

  • Douglas Heller, Insurance Expert, Consumer Federation of America

 

  • Elizabeth Kelleher Dwyer, Superintendent of Insurance, the State of Rhode Island, on behalf of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners

 

  • Eric Poe, CPA and Chief Operating Officer, CURE Auto Insurance

 

  • Sonja Larkin-Thorne, Consumer Advocate (retired)

 

  • Erin Collins, Vice President – State Affairs, National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

 

To view the hearing in its entirety, click here.

Written by Alexandra Moyer

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