LANSING – State Representative Tom Cochran (D-Mason) applauded a series of bills rolled out by the House Democrats today, intended to improve insurance dealings between providers and policy holders in Michigan. The 14-bill package will help keep rates low while increasing punishments for companies that use unfair or deceptive practices.

“Cracking down on unfair and deceptive practices in the insurance industry will ensure that Michigan families can count on the benefits they paid for,” Cochran said. “The bills in this package are just common-sense measures to protect consumers and keep insurance companies accountable.”

The bills fall into one of three categories. The first is consumer protection. The bills in this section compel insurers to act in good faith when policyholders file a claim, impose a fine when insurers fail to act in good faith on multiple occasions and allow individuals to sue their insurers when the company takes unfair or deceptive action.

The second area is affordability. These bills prohibit insurers from raising rates or premiums when consumers are involved in an accident that is not their fault, make it harder for companies to charge excessive rates, force companies to justify rate increases and bar companies from using certain information when setting rates, such as education, occupation or place of residency.

The final category is transparency. One bill gives insurance company employees who expose unfair or deceptive practices all the rights afforded under the Whistleblower Protection Act. A second bill creates a Whistleblower Protection Fund, which would compensate company whistleblowers and also educate consumers about their rights as policyholders. Lastly, the legislation would increase transparency of the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA). The bill allows the director of the Department of Insurance and Financial Services to approve the MCCA fee all drivers pay and reject it if it is excessive. It also requires that a board member of the MCCA be a member of the general public and subjects the association to the Freedom of Information Act and Open Meetings Act.