Washington State Insurance Commissioner Stands Up to Insurance Industry

Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is standing up to the insurance industry when it comes to defending his decision to vote "Yes" on Referendum 67. Insurance companies have pumped in nearly $10 Million to defeat the pro-consumer measure up for a vote this November. The major argument advanced by the insurance industry's opposition to Referendum 67 is that everyone's insurance rates will skyrocket. Not true says Kreidler: "If (insurance companies) act in good faith, there are no costs associated with Referendum 67," said Kreidler.

"[Passing Referendum 67] is a way of making sure that you have some way of being able to stand toe to toe with insurance companies that can well afford to delay and go to court and have strong legal recourse available to them that go well beyond the average person." The Office of Insurance Commissioner fielded more than 2,700 complaints last year. Kreidler states, "What I presume that I see are like the tip of the iceberg," he said. "A large share of the referrals to our office come from the insurance company's own agents . It's agents who are unhappy or telling their clients that 'I don't think what they are doing to you is fair. Why don't you call the Insurance Commissioner's Office?' " Kreidler also said it's common for opponents of consumer-protection laws to advance unfounded claims before an election.

"I remember the same arguments two years ago when medical malpractice came up as an issue. The people of the state of Washington rejected the ballot issue and, of course, the prediction at the time was that the rates would continue to go up. Well, they didn't pass it, and the rates have gone down," he said. Kreidler says that if rates do go up, it won't be because of the legislation. It'll be because insurance companies choose to increase the rates. "The assumption here is that (the companies) will be paying out more in claims, but the other assumption is that maybe they should have been paying out more to begin with, if these were reasonable claims that they were artificially denying," Kreidler said.

What should the public do this November? Well, if citizens want to create a level playing field with the powerful insurance industry, they should vote "Yes" on Referendum 67. There's no question that the industry has gotten fat off of denying and delaying the payment of legitimate claims for years. That's why more than a dozen insurance companies are spending more than $10 Million to defeat the measure. Are we so gullible to believe that the industry is spending millions out of the goodness of its heart merely to protect the public from having to paying a few hundred dollars more in insurance? Ha. If the state Insurance Commissioner calls the industry's position bogus, that's good enough for me.

Seattle personal injury attorney Christopher M. Davis is the managing partner of Davis Law Group. He brings over 15 years of practical yet innovative experience to personal injury cases. He practices law in Seattle, WA. You can learn more about Mr. Davis at http://www.InjuryTrialLawyer.com. Related Seattle PI Article: http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/334642_insurance08.html.

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