Ryu bill to protect traveler-rescue services passes the House

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Rep. Cindy Ryu D-32
Rep. Cindy Ryu D-32, is the prime sponsor of a bill to protect the traveler-rescue services in Washington state.

Traveler-rescue contracts have traditionally been regarded in Washington as subscription services rather than insurance policies. But a review of these contracts led the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to conclude that, technically, state law requires them to be regulated as insurance products.

This could mean a sudden imposition of new regulations that would mandate millions of dollars of additional costs and potentially wipe out the availability of these rescue services to Washington customers.

Ryu led unanimous House passage of a measure that aims to protect traveler-rescue services in Washington from being buried beneath costly new insurance regulations by specifically exempting them.

“We worked with consumers, the Insurance Commissioner’s office and the traveler-rescue industry to protect consumers without requiring expensive new insurance mandates,” said Ryu. “I think today’s unanimous House vote shows we struck the right balance.”

Testifying on behalf of Global Rescue and Medical Air Services Association, Mel Sorenson told the House Business and Financial Services Committee on Jan. 12 that having access to effective rescue services can make the difference between life and death. He cited examples that included rescuing survivors of the Haiti earthquake and evacuating hundreds of students and employees from dangerous situations during the Arab Spring last year.

The companion bill in the Senate has had its first reading and has been referred to the Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance committee.

Bills must pass both chambers in order to be sent to the governor for signature into law.


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