I am so sick of insurance companies getting away with screwing consumers! It’s happening again, right now. House Bill 3160 passed the Oregon House, but is being held up in the Oregon Senate by the forty-seven(!!!) lobbyists that are bending your Senators’ ears.
(ORS 646.605 – 646.656) makes it illegal for businesses to use “unconscionable tactics,” or “fail to deliver services as promised,” or “use deceptive representation,” and a whole bunch of other clearly awful and unfair business practices. The law is designed to protect Oregon consumers, and it works pretty well.
Right now, ORS 646.605 (6)(a) says that the law “does not include insurance.” Why not? Because insurance companies have amazing lobbyists. Is there any other reason that insurance companies should be specifically exempted from a law that would stop them from using “unconscionable tactics?”
House Bill 3160 will modify the Unlawful Practices Act to include insurance companies. This means that consumers will be able to sue insurance companies if they use unconscionable tactics exactly the way they can now sue other companies for horrible or unfair treatment.
Unfortunately, as a “dreaded trial lawyer,” I have seen the horrible and unfair tactics that insurance companies use to save themselves money. And I don’t believe that insurance companies should be exempt from this law – they are some of the worst offenders when it comes to unconscionable acts and deceptive practices.
The only argument the insurance companies seem to be making against House Bill 3160 is that this will make trial lawyers rich, by leading to more claims and more litgation. Well, if the insurance companies are routinely ripping off Oregonians, and this law finally makes that illegal, then yes, trial lawyers will have some new cases suing insurance companies. But if insurance companies will just stop using “unconscionable tactics” and “deceptive representation,” then they’ll have nothing to worry about.
This special treatment of insurance companies must stop. Every other business in Oregon is subject to this law. Your local neighborhood hardware store? Yes, it’s covered by this law. Your bank? Check. That little mom & pop restaurant with the friendly waiters? Yep. But Allstate? No, they can rip off consumers in Oregon all they like, and the consumer can never use the Unlawful Trade Practices Act to stop them.
It’s absurd. I’ve got to stop writing this now so I can call my State Senator and let him know how I feel about House Bill 3160. Locate your State Senator today, so you can call and encourage them to approve the Bill and protect consumers.