Oxendine to Kiwanis: SB 276 was secretly pushed through
By Ann Cantrell
It’s the consumer’s worst nightmare: insurance companies negotiating with the government to increase insurance rates. John Oxendine, Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner, believes that is what happened with a recent bill concerning car insurance.
Last Monday a bill was introduced into the House Non-Civil Judiciary Committee with an amendment which John Oxendine said completely transforms the law on car insurance. The bill introduced, Senate Bill 276, would no longer require car insurance companies to get approval from the Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner for changes in insurance rates. Under this new law, only the minimum coverage which is mandatory for drivers will have to be approved by the commissioner.
The amendment tacked on to the bill, Oxendine claimed, was secretly added and pushed through the House. “I think legislation should be done in the light of day,” remarked the commissioner.
According to Oxendine, this piece of legislation was not passed in the light of day. After two hours in committee, the bill went to the floor of the house and without any questioning or debate, it was passed and then moved to the Senate where it also passed.
After the Kiwanis meeting last Thursday at Town 220 in Madison, Oxendine addressed Bill 276. Oxendine, who has held the position of Insurance Commissioner since 1994, admitted that the bill took power away from this position but argued that this was not the reason he opposed the bill. In fact, he argued that the bill would actually benefit him. If there is a rate increase, he could point to the state and blame it on them. “It’s a gift to me, I can blame it [rate increases] on someone else,” said Oxendine. He went on to say that he was angered by the bill for two reasons. One that Bill 276 was passed so rapidly and secondly that it would certainly increase car insurance rates.
“Today the trial lawyers and big insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of Georgia consumers,” Oxendine said.
“If allowed to become law, this legislation can only result in higher auto insurance premiums for Georgia drivers.”
At the Madison Kiwanis meeting, Oxendine addressed other ways that he believed the government was no longer working for the public. He said that government no longer realizes that the public is their boss. “You and about nine million of your friends and family, y’all are my bosses…The problem with the government is they have forgot who their bosses are,” said Oxendine. Oxendine said at the luncheon that he advocates a new type of government. One that stays open past 4 p.m. and has a real person answer the phone.