Opinion: My Turn: Robert A. DiMuccio: Hurting R.I. consumers and economy

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Posted Date 06/19/2018
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Publish Date 06/19/2018
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Founded more than a century ago in Providence, Amica Mutual Insurance Company has become one of the state’s largest employers. We’re deeply invested in supporting a healthy economy in Rhode Island and employ more than 1,500 local workers. We’re also a trusted insurance provider to more than 53,000 Rhode Island families who count on us in their times of need.

At Amica, our policyholders are our top priority. That’s why we’re concerned about pending legislation that would impact consumers and the insurance companies that protect them.

The first bill (H-8013, S-2679), supported by body shop owners, is designed to restrict the use of high-quality aftermarket parts for collision repairs, in favor of parts from the vehicle’s original manufacturer. However, this bill unnecessarily drives up repair costs and could raise premiums for all Rhode Island customers. No other state influences the auto repair claims process to the extent Rhode Island does — and we should be working to limit, rather than add to this overregulation.

Another piece of legislation (H-7676, S-2870) would hinder the insurance industry’s ability to use objective and accurate tools to underwrite risks. These data-driven tools allow insurers to underwrite policies they may not have accepted in the past and offer lower rates to many customers. Once again, if this legislation were to pass, Rhode Island would be a national outlier in overregulating a core function of the insurance industry.

Finally, another piece of legislation (H-7124, S-2048) would open the door to Rhode Island life insurance policyholders being targeted by the life settlement industry. A life settlement involves selling an existing life insurance policy to a third party in exchange for an upfront payment that is less than its value. Rhode Island should not force reputable life insurance providers to apprise their policyholders about these questionable products. This exposes them to the many risks posed by life settlement brokers who unfortunately have a record of fraud, abuse and exploiting vulnerable senior citizens.

We’re enormously pleased to see the Ocean State’s economic resurgence in recent years. There’s a tangible vitality in our state, as evidenced by the significant decline in the unemployment rate. We’re seeing new businesses move here and existing businesses grow, and the cranes in the sky are a visual representation of investment and progress.

Our business climate is improving and much of that progress is the result of greater collaboration between the governor’s office, the General Assembly and the business community to invest in programs and initiatives that benefit all Rhode Islanders.

Our progress hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recently, Chief Executive Magazine’s “Best States for Business” survey had Rhode Island’s rank jumping from No. 42 to No. 32, the biggest improvement of any state.

With much to celebrate, let’s not place unnecessary regulations on Rhode Island that could undermine the benefits of a prospering economy and create hurdles for consumers. We urge the General Assembly and the governor’s office to carefully weigh legislation that could harm both a major local industry and the citizens of Rhode Island.

Robert A. DiMuccio is chairman, president and CEO of Amica Mutual Insurance Company.

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