Neither the original bill nor the proposed revision contained the element sought most of all by the insurance industry -- restrictions on collection of so-called one-way insurance fees. Those fees, collected by attorneys of repair contractors working under assignment of benefits, are incentives driving sharp increases in litigation, costly settlements and rising premiums, insurers say.
Meanwhile, a bill filed last month in the state
Flores said in January that she would evaluate any proposal based on its prospect to reduce insurance costs for consumers. On Tuesday, she said, "We are going to monitor what happens in the House and it is still early in the process to determine the full impacts of any changes and how that would affect rates."
Hukill's bill was crafted with input from state-run
Altmaier and a Citizens spokeswoman told the House subcommittee that by not removing the attorneys fee incentive, Grant's bill didn't go far enough to rein in abuses by contractors and attorneys.
But water damage contractors who spoke at the hearing said they would lose work under Grant's proposal to limit assignments only to general contractors. That proposal was part of the rejected revisions.
Nearly all of the subcommittee members, as well as speakers on both sides of the issue, praised Grant's efforts in trying to forge a compromise and urged him to keep working.
Grant argued that lawmakers shouldn't paint either side as the villain and instead should focus on lowering costs by encouraging settlement of claims before they have to go to court.
Neither side is going to be happy with whatever results in the effort, Grant said. "If you tackle something significant and you haven't made everyone a little uncomfortable, you haven't done anything," he said.
The bill has a long way to go before reaching a vote by the full Legislature and, if passed, the governor's desk. It next faces a hearing in the
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