Shields and Holvey Want Unlawful Trade Act to Cover Insurers

The powerful insurance industry is currently the only business in Oregon exempt from the act. Proposed legislation would remove that exemption and allow the Attorney General and injured parties to sue for fraud.

By: Christopher David Gray

March 18, 2013 — Sen. Chip Shields, D-Portland and Rep. Paul Holvey, D-Eugene, rolled out legislation last week that would open up the insurance industry to torts under the state’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act and allow the attorney general to sue insurers for fraud.

“Insurance is the only business that is exempt from this law,” Shields said. “It’s time for the Legislature to end the exemption that the insurance industry enjoys at the expense of all other businesses.”

Shields said the special exemption allows insurance companies to act with impunity and reduces their incentive to pay out claims as warranted. If they commit fraud, they cannot be sued by the attorney general under any tort or statute.

The Portland consumer advocacy group Economic Fairness Oregon is also behind the legislation, which executive director Angela Martin said is designed not to increase lawsuits but encourage insurers to settle honest claims more expeditiously and fairly so consumers can avoid the courts.

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