June 11, 2014

New Missouri laws expand on electronic delivery of insurance documents

Law protects Missouri small businesses from unscrupulous contractors

Jefferson City, Mo. - Under new laws signed by Gov. Jay Nixon, Missourians now have more paperless options when receiving policy information from their insurance companies, and commercial property owners will see expanded insurance protections.

House Bill 1079 and Senate Bill 609 allow consumers the option of receiving notices and documents issued by mutual and life insurance companies electronically. Policyholders will have the option of viewing their policy information on the company's website or can elect to continue to receive a hard copy by mail at no additional cost.

"These new laws continue to leverage technology to maximize efficiency of insurance product delivery in Missouri," said John M. Huff, director of the Missouri Department of Insurance. "Using computers or tablets for accessing important information is a tremendous resource, and the insurance industry continues to remain at the forefront of this modernization."

The bills are part of an ever growing trend toward electronic communication by regulators and insurance companies in Missouri. Last year's House Bill 322 gave consumers the option of electronically displaying proof of auto insurance and receiving insurance notices.

The other bill signed by Gov. Nixon, Senate Bill 610, extends consumer protections against unscrupulous contractors to commercial property policyholders.

In 2011, Missouri passed laws protecting consumers against what are known as "storm chasers", high pressure contractors who follow natural disasters to lure consumers to sign repair contracts before filing an insurance claim.

The law only applied to residential property and allowed consumers to cancel a repair contract if their insurance company determined there was no coverage for the loss, It also prohibited contractors from representing policyholders in terms of settlement negotiations, and prohibited contractors from rebating or offering fees or gifts as an inducement to enter into a repair contract.

The new law extends the same protections to commercial policyholders including Missouri small businesses.

The new laws go into effect August 28.

Consumers with complaints or questions about their insurance can call the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit us at insurance.mo.gov.