Over the course of the past two days, OIA Advocacy Committee members spent the day at the Statehouse advocating before legislators in the Ohio General Assembly, the Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, and the Bureau of Workers Compensation during our annual advocacy day. Agent leaders took the message of IAs professional advice being best for Ohio insurance consumers, the need for appropriate protection of our clients from storm scammers, and support for legal protections for businesses operating during COVID.
Our priority issues included the following:
Cracking Down on Storm Scammers
OIA supports Senate Bill 64 sponsored by Senators Jay Hottinger (R-Newark) and George Lang (R-West Chester) that aims to enact commonsense consumer protections to safeguard Ohioans from unscrupulous residential roofing contractors. S.B. 64 takes a balanced approach that establishes essential consumer protections without hindering legitimate businesses. The intent of the legislation is to protect consumers from “storm scammers” who often fail to complete work and deceive consumers about their need for unnecessary repairs when they are highly vulnerable to severe weather events.
OIA leader Brent Phelan, owner of Phelan Insurance, testified in support of S.B. 64 before the Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee. The legislation provides the following changes to the law:
Storm scammers make shoddy repairs with low accountability:
A typical storm scammer employs several crews to perform a large volume of repairs in a short period of time. When the storm scammers leave the area, customers are frequently left with shoddy repairs that will require further work, creating an additional financial hardship.
- Roofing contractors should be prohibited from acting as adjusters for insurance claims on behalf of consumers as this is a conflict of interest.
- Roofing contractors should be required to provide a written contract, including a cancellation provision. The contract shall provide the consumer the right to rescind the contract, providing 3 business days of signing, for any reason, including if the consumer receives written notification that all or any part of the claim is not covered under the insurance policy. This “cooling off” period helps protect consumers from unethical contractors.
- Numerous states have laws in place (including several of our neighbor states) to regulate roofing contractors so that consumers are protected from storm scammers.
Combatting Distracted Driving
Fatalities in Ohio have risen six of the past seven years, and overall crashes in Ohio remain persistently high at a time when vehicles themselves are getting safer. In 2020, travel in Ohio was down about 17% and traffic deaths rose 7% compared to 2019. Ohio ended 2020 with 1,237 traffic deaths—82 more than the 1,155 reported in 2019. This rise is directly correlated to more people now having smartphones, leading to an increase in active distraction while behind the wheel. Reducing this active distraction will help save lives. We believe now is the time for the Ohio General Assembly to take action to combat the dangers of distracted driving and support “Hands-Free Ohio” House Bill 283 which is currently pending in the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee. This legislation would make handling any electronic wireless device while driving a primary offense, with exceptions (e.g. GPS, voice-activated technology, emergencies).
COVID-19 Civil Immunity Extension
COVID-19 is an unpredictable virus that is hard to protect against and track its spread. We believe Ohio businesses should be provided qualified civil immunity from liability related to COVID-19 exposure if they are acting in a reasonably prudent manner. Extending this will help restart the Ohio economy in a safe way while providing qualified legal protections to those acting in a responsible manner. COVID-19 lawsuits and the threats of legal action are dampening our economic recovery. OIA believes the COVID-19 liability protections should be extended beyond the expiration date of September 30, 2021.
Special thanks to the following agency leaders for sharing the IA message with policymakers –
- Steve Brown, Payne & Brown Insurance, Sunbury
- Brent Phelan, Phelan Insurance, Versailles and West Chester
- Meghan Griffith Ragozzino, Griffith Insurance, Girard
- Andy Stephey, UIS, Tiffin
- Derek Sprouse, Sprouse Insurance, Fremont
- Perk Reichley, Reichley Insurance, Beavercreek
- Diane Keil-Hipp, Knight Insurance, Toledo
- Janie Geis, Wichert Insurance, Cuyahoga Falls
- Jeff Phillips, Oswald, Cleveland
- Mark Willis, W.E. Davis, Columbus
- Brad Hosket, Hosket Ulen, Dublin
- Greg Overmyer, Overmyer Hall, Upper Arlington
- Nick Bertke, Marsh & McLennan Agency, Dayton
If you have stories about how these issues have affected your clients or agency, please contact Carolyn Mangas, OIA’s Government Affairs Manager at Carolyn@ohioinsuranceagents.com so we can communicate them to the Legislature. In addition, 2022 is going to be an active year with our advocacy and political activities, please connect with Carolyn if you are interested in joining OIA’s Advocacy Committee.