First, a little background to establish my air of cynicism for anything coming out of our nation’s Capitol. Anything coming out of Washington, DC, usually costs you and me more money.
I’ve been there and done that. I lived in the DC area, from ’94 to ’99, shortly before coming to Claims. And I’ve seen it all. I’ll admit my tenure, overall, was a heady experience. Ah, yes, the Clinton years. Met him and the first-lady-now-senator-and-future-presidential-front-runner (You better believe it! That former first lady has an agenda!). Went to the White House on numerous occasions, often being welcomed on the south lawn for some special event or other. Finally got inside the White House again for a presidential reception, having been there before for a reception in the State Dining Room during the Ford Administration (in 1975).
This most delightful White House visit was during the Christmas season of 1995, when my association (the American Institute of Architects [AIA]) handled all the Christmas decorations for the White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room. We were invited to roam the public rooms and absorb Christmas spirit, cocktails, good cheer, Christmas carols, etc., and view our nation’s “public house” in all its Christmas splendor.
Ah! The memories of it all. But those memories weren’t always good. Too much BS coming from within the beltway! We eventually left DC and came to “Cinci-tucky”; our pet name for The National Underwriter headquarters. And now we watch the DC developments from afar, like the rest of the nation, and the world.
This week, though, finally some rare good, and relevant, news from the District that will positively impact the insurance industry, and consumers. At press time, both the House and the Senate have passed, and the president has signed into law, the Class Action Fairness Act. (See related article, “Senate Approves…, on pg.12) You don’t know what that is, what it means to the insurance industry, what it means to consumers? It’s the beginning of reforms to the class action system that would put an end to so-called “venue shopping” in which plaintiffs’ lawyers steer cases to particular state courts which are trial-lawyer friendly. Stay tuned to next month’s issue of Claims where we’ll give you a complete update of the implication of this bill and how it will affect you and your cohorts in your everyday activities. Will it minimize those obnoxious TV ads from scurrilous law firms fighting for class action suits to line their own pockets? Stay tuned. Just maybe, it will help protect consumers and insurance companies from these scams, which put no money in consumers’ pockets, but lots into the pockets of the slimy lawyers who prey on the vulnerable and uninformed, although that’s not the primary intent of the bill.
“It’s hard to say how far-reaching this bill will be in curbing class-action abuse,” commented one of my old District sources. “You know how often federal power brokers wind up shooting themselves in the foot!” he summarized, on condition of anonymity.
Bottom line: Is there hope? Maybe. As Roseanne Rosannadanna (Gilda Radner) used to say on SNL in the old days: “It’s always somethin’.”