Washington Judge Freezes Rated Insurance Pricing Ban | Washington
(THE Center Square) — On March 4, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler predicted the coming into force of a rule prohibiting the use of credit scores in the pricing of property insurance for at least less than three years.
His office missed that deadline thanks to a ruling by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Indu Thomas. She consolidated two different cases challenging the rule into one and suspended the rule until she could decide the merits of the case.
The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA), one of the co-plaintiffs, said in a press release on Thursday that it “does not expect an order setting the schedule for information sessions and arguments on the merits be seized until the Office of the Commissioner produces the agency file compiled in support of the permanent rule which is the subject of the stay.
The four associations challenging the rule are APCIA, Professional Insurance Agents of Washington, Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Washington, and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.
“Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s permanent rule increases rates for more than one million Washington consumers,” the four groups said in a joint statement. “We are pleased that the court has consolidated the legal challenges, transferred the separately filed motions to a single court and approved an immediate stay of the permanent rule. We look forward to explaining our legal arguments against this onerous and unnecessary rule that ignores risk-based pricing and increases premiums for low-risk consumers in Washington.
The suspended credit rating ban was just one substantial setback Kreidler faced this week. He also faced an internal HR complaint about creating a hostile work environment.
The internal complaint was bolstered by external criticism from former employees of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner, speaking publicly and on condition of anonymity to news outlets. The allegations centered on belittled and intimidated workers at the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.
The news led at least one critic to call for his resignation.
“Kreidler lacks the restraint we expect of elected officials and responsible adults, and the best thing he can do for his office and the people of the state is to tender his resignation before he further disgraces the office,” said the state senator. Jeff Wilson, R-Longview, in a statement.
The public controversy prompted Kreidler to issue multiple apologies.
“I deeply regret that some of my behaviors and actions have distracted from the good work we do on behalf of insurance consumers,” he said in a statement Thursday.
Although the insurance commissioner declined to address any allegations “here individually, I want people to know that I take these matters very seriously and recognize that I have to do better,” Kreidler said.
Kreidler also rejected calls for his resignation.
“I appreciate the confidence of those who voted for me and I intend to fulfill my commitment to the people of Washington State,” the insurance commissioner said.