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AUGUSTA - A bill to protect property owners from arbitrary cancellations of their insurance policies is expected to go before the Legislature the week of April 5.
The Insurance and Financial Services committee has finalized its work on a bill that would update property and casualty insurance laws and create an assistance program for consumers unable to retain property and casualty insurance.
The bill, co-sponsored by Representatives Anne Perry (D-Calais), Marilyn Canavan (D-Waterville) and Hannah Pingree (D-North Haven) is the result of a study by the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in response to concerns that consumers have brought to the Bureau of Insurance and the Legislature. These included the non-renewal of property insurance and the lack of communication between insurers and property owners.
"Provisions in the bill prohibit an insurer from canceling or refusing to issue or renew a property insurance policy based on the of the age of the dwelling or because a previous owner submitted claims for losses," said Rep. Canavan. "It also requires insurers to provide at least 90 days notice before a notice of cancellation or non-renewal."
"This bill provides a safeguard for consumers," said Rep. Perry. "The insurer must provide proof and evidence of why a policy will no longer be renewed. A property owner is entitled to more than a statement from the insurer that a risk does not meet their underwriting guidelines."
An amendment to the bill authorizes the Superintendent of Insurance to establish a program to assist consumers who have consistent difficulties in retaining insurance because of the high-risk nature of the property or high incidence of casualty claims. Similar programs are mandatory for all licensed property insurers in 33 states.
"I have heard from many island and coastal constituents about nightmare situations with homeowners' insurance," said Rep. Pingree. "This bill would give the superintendent of insurance some ability to regulate this industry in favor of consumers."
The bill will be heard by the full House of Representatives within the week.
Rep. Hannah Pingree, 867-2336
Casey Johnson, Legislative Aide, 287-1430
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