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Monday, April 29, 2013
Surprisingly, despite being the world renowned information technology leader, California is the only state in the nation with a law that prevents insurance consumers from receiving insurance policy renewal information by email.
Hopefully, this will soon change. Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Ron Calderon (D-Montebello) is carrying a bill, sponsored by the Association of California Insurance Companies, that would allow policyholders to renew their insurance online or "e-renew."
SB 251 allows consumers to “opt in” and receive their home, automobile, commercial and earthquake policy renewal information electronically. This bill also provides important consumer safeguards, and establishes a reasonable regulatory oversight process as suggested by the California Department of Insurance.
When the current statute was passed, the bill prohibited several insurance transactions from being conducted through the internet or e-mail. Since the original bill was passed (1999), consumers have grown more and more comfortable conducting business on the internet and through e-mail. I personally pay all of my bills on the Internet but can’t get an electronic notice or renewal statement regarding my automobile insurance from Mercury Insurance telling me my bill is due. I check my mail about once a month so I actually run a higher chance of accidentally non-renewing on time by getting notice in the mail!
IIABCal is one of many insurance interests in support of this simple bill. For insurance agencies and brokerage firms, big and small, mail is a costly expense. Often times, with changes happening so quickly (i.e. sale of car, purchase of new car), multiple packets of information or copies of the policies must be sent by the agent. This adds up rapidly and drastically affects a small businesses bottom line. We believe both consumers and small business would benefit from the convenience provided in this legislation.
SB 251 passed the Senate Insurance Committee with a vote of 9-0. It will now go to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.
Erin K. Norwood
Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of California Legislative Advocate