Significant Insurance Bills Being Considered by California Legislature

by Samuel J. Sorich

California legislators will consider a variety of insurance-related issues before the 2012 legislative session ends on August 31, 2012.

Hundreds of bills were introduced prior to last month’s deadline for bill introduction. Many of the newly introduced bills would affect insurers doing business in California. 

Most bills propose specific statutory changes. However, as is typical at this point in the legislative process, a number of  bills merely contain general language. These so-called “spot bills” will be amended to include specific statutory changes later during the legislative session. 

Here are seven newly introduced bills that merit insurers’ attention. These bills are not yet scheduled for hearings.

SB 1172 is a spot bill. It is expected that the bill will be amended to include provisions which would give the insurance commissioner the power to order an insurer or agent to pay restitution for Insurance Code violations and would grant the insurance commissioner authority to force the insurer or agent to pay the Department of Insurance’s attorney’s fees and costs related to the restitution order. These provisions were contained in SB 631, which failed to pass last year.

SB 1448 would make numerous changes to California’s insurance holding company statutes. Among other things, SB 1448 would require an insurer that is a member of a holding company to file with the insurance commissioner statements affirming the maintenance of corporate governance and internal control procedures. SB 1448 also would require an insurer’s ultimate controlling person to file an annual enterprise risk report that identifies material risks within the holding company that could pose risk for the insurer.

SB 1449 would enact the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact. Enactment of the Compact would result in California’s membership in the commission that establishes uniform standards for the review and approval of products relating to life insurance, annuities, disability insurance and long-term care insurance. 

SB 1460 would enact new statutes relating to the use of replacement crash parts that are not manufactured by the original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM crash parts). The bill would give statutory recognition to certified new non-OEM crash parts.

SB 1528 would allow a plaintiff in a liability lawsuit to recover the reasonable cost of the medical services provided to the plaintiff without regard to the amount that was actually paid for the services. The bill would nullify the California Supreme Court’s 2011 decision in Howell v. Hamilton Meats & Provisions, Inc., which held that a plaintiff’s recovery for medical damages is limited to the amount the medical care provider accepted for medical services. See Barger & Wolen’s recent discussion of the Howell decision here.

AB 1687 would authorize the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board to award attorney’s fees to a workers’ compensation applicant who is involved in a dispute over the appropriateness of medical treatment.

AB 2160 would require the insurance commissioner to treat a domestic insurer’s indirect investments in Iran as non-admitted assets on the financial statements the insurer files with the commissioner. See Barger & Wolen's recent update here.

Many bills introduced last year are still pending before the Legislature. Two measures are especially noteworthy for insurers. 

AB 52 would require health service plans and health insurers to obtain the insurance commissioner’s prior approval of rate changes. AB 52 was passed by the Assembly. The bill is now in the Senate Inactive File.

AB 53 would require each admitted insurer with premiums of $100,000,000 or more to file with the insurance commissioner a report on its minority, women and disabled veteran-owned business procurement efforts. AB 53 was passed by the Assembly. The bill is now pending before the Senate Rules Committee.

Originally posted in Barger & Wolen's Insurance Litigation & Regulatory Law blog.

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