Monday, February 11, 2008

Policy limits bill clears committee

Plaintiffs’ attorneys would be able to get the policy limits of a potential defendant without filing suit under House Bill 172, which cleared the House Courts of Justice Committee Friday on a 19-3 vote.

Steven W. Pearson, a lobbyist for the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association, told the panel that the measure “will reduce unnecessary lawsuits” because plaintiffs’ attorneys will be able to make demands appropriate to the level of coverage before filing suit.

The bill had been amended to the satisfaction of insurers, the bill’s sponsor, Del. Terry G. Kilgore, R-Scott, told the committee. However, Robert N. Bradshaw Jr., a lobbyist for the Independent Insurance Agents of Virginia, opposed the bill. He said agents and insurers have told policyholders that they consider the information private and proprietary. Now, they will have to tell those policyholders, “We keep it private unless a lawyer wants to sue you,” Bradshaw said.

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