Monday, July 6, 2009


The Oregon Legislature adjourned the 2009 legislative session last week, ending a busy session that included an aggressive trial lawyer agenda, according to the American Insurance Association (AIA).

"The Oregon Legislature produced a mixed bag of results this year on insurance issues," said Steve Suchil, AIA assistant vice president. A number of costly and unnecessary bills were stopped, but unfortunately others made it to the governor's desk."

"Given the current difficult economic climate, legislators wisely said "no" to measures that would have increased costs for consumers and the business community, said Suchil. "Notably, legislators did not approve bills that would have increased litigation, raised auto insurance costs and restricted insurer ability to fairly price products and react to the marketplace."

Among the bills that were not granted legislative approval were HB 2325 which would have restricted insurer ability to subrogate in PIP claims and HB 2802 which would have increased wrongful death action non-economic damages to $1.5 million, from the current $500,000.

Other measures would have permitted first and third party bad faith actions against insurers (HB 2791) and established a prior approval process for insurance rates (HB 3046).

“We are gratified that legislators saw fit not to pass these expensive or anti-consumer measures, however we fully expect these issues to reemerge in future sessions,” said Suchil. “We will continue advocating for public policies that keep costs down for consumers and for a competitive and fair insurance marketplace.”

“Unfortunately, Oregon legislators did approve several bills that will increase liability and attorney fees,” said Suchil.

Measures of concern to insurers approved in this session included: SB 284 which will increase the statute of ultimate repose for product liability actions to 10 years and SB 306 that will increase the number of small tort action cases where attorney fees can be awarded.

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