A new Oregon statute may provide the State of Oregon additional power to seek restitution from insurance companies that violate the law.
Every State regulates the insurance industry, and Oregon is no exception. Traditionally, Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services Insurance Division regulates insurance companies, and has been able to assess fines if an insurance company violated rules or statutes, including the Unfair Settlement Practices Act.
The new statute allows the State of Oregon agency to seek restitution and other equitable relief for consumers for their actual damages caused by an insurer’s violation of the Insurance Code. Consumer advocates pushed for a statute that would allow consumers to file direct lawsuits against insurance companies, and this legislation may be the result of a compromise.
Under the new provisions, the Insurance Division, under its own discretion, may choose to file litigation against the insurance company to recover the damages suffered by the consumer. The statute is explicit in stating that it does not create any kind of individual cause of action for the consumer.
Washington, unlike Oregon, allows consumers to hold an insurance company accountable for violating state laws and rules under it's consumer protection statute. There are limited cases where an Oregonian may have a claim against its insurance company, but only when there is a “special relationship” recognized under Oregon law. The Oregon Legislature apparently wants to protect insurance companies from being held accountable for violations of its own laws.
Even though options in Oregon are limited, a complaint with the Department of Consumer and Business Services may help with your claim. This agency is selective about what complaints it will pursue, but it does make an inquiry to the insurance company in many cases, and that alone may be enough to get things moving in the right direction.
Although Oregon law limits your ability to hold an insurance carrier accountable, there are some options. If you have an auto injury or other personal injury claim in Oregon, and your having trouble with your insurance company, call us at 503-325-8600. We can answer your questions, and if we cannot help, we will give you some options.