Bill would bar auto insurance companies from hiking rates based on age, income, credit

 

DOVER — Legislation filed Thursday would prevent insurance companies from raising car insurance rates for drivers based on age, income, marital status or credit rating.

“I heard time and time and time again from our older drivers, who indicated that insurance companies are simply raising the rates because they’ve gotten older, not because of claims history, not because of accidents, not because of tickets,” Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, who was elected in November, said in a news conference.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trey Paradee, D-Cheswold, is designed to control costs for many Delawareans and encourage more people to get insured. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Delaware had the seventh-highest rate in the country in 2014, with an average cost of $1,125.74.

Rates are generally highest for teenage and elderly drivers, categories that are more prone to accidents than most age groups.

“This bill is really an anti-discrimination bill,” Rep. Paradee said.

Although the bill would no longer allow companies to base rates off age, they would still be allowed to use driving experience as a factor.

Similar laws exist in about a half-dozen states, including California, whose law is the model for the bill, Mr. Navarro and Rep. Paradee said.

Drug laws

Two bills introduced Thursday would make changes to the state’s drug laws, reducing the number of aggravating factors and eliminating what supporters call inconsistencies.

The proposals, which have bipartisan support, would remove proximity to parks and religious centers as an aggravating factor.

“The drug laws, as currently written, effectively create a more serious offense of ‘committing a drug crime in the city of Wilmington,’” Senate Majority Leader Margaret Rose Henry, D-Wilmington, said in a statement.

“This has a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority residents of the city. The passage of this law will eliminate that racial and economic disparity.”

Another provision would create new mandatory minimums for repeat drug offenders.

“Prosecutors and law enforcement officers have been saying for some time that a more straightforward, coherent criminal drug code was needed in order to ensure fair and proportional sentences,”

Attorney General Matt Denn said in a statement. “We are grateful for the advice and participation of the law enforcement community in crafting these changes.”

Fantasy sports betting

On Wednesday, the House Gaming & Parimutuels Committee convened for an overview of the possibility of regulating daily fantasy sports.

Daily fantasy, a form of fantasy sports that allows individuals to bet on athletes’ performances on a day-to-day rather than seasonal basis, has come under fire in recent years.

The Department of Justice said last year daily fantasy is not allowed under Delaware law, and as a result, fantasy powerhouse DraftKings stopped operating in the state in July.

Legislation that would have legalized and regulated daily fantasy betting failed to pass last year, but advocates remain hopeful for change.

Rep. Charles Potter, D-Wilmington, who sponsored the 2016 bill, said he is drafting another measure.

“We’re really looking forward to coming back into the state,” DraftKings’ Assistant Director of Government Affairs Sarah Koch said. “We implement a high standard of consumer protection and we’d love to see that enacted into law.”

While opponents have alleged that fantasy sports are reliant on chance, which would make it illegal, Ms. Koch said Wednesday it is “very much a contest of skill.”

According to her, eight states have legalized daily fantasy within the past year.

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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