House passes bill to probe insurance premium hikes in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – The House of Representatives passed Thursday, a resolution that seeks to conduct an investigation into the rise in the cost of insurance policies after hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico.
House Resolution 842, authored by majority New Progressive Party (NPP) Reps. Urayoán Hernández Alvarado and José González Mercado, orders the House Consumer Affairs, Banking and Insurance Committee to carry out the probe within 180 days.
As explained by the lawmakers in the bill’s statement of motives: “[T]he payment process for insurance claims has been a slow one and has been the subject of an investigation by this House of Representatives. Recently, in an article published in the press, it was reported that the increase in the cost of insurance policies is expected to be immediate and that these increases can be up to 340 percent, specifically for condos near the coast.
“This, in addition to the impact on the finances of consumers, will have the effect of reducing sales in the real estate sector of the Island. Another concern is that, due to the high cost of policies, many people opt to not renew their policies, leaving them exposed…without coverage in case of another atmospheric event,” they added.
The lower chamber’s release adds that, on Sept. 20, “we suffered the direct onslaught of Hurricane Maria, an atmospheric event that caused damage and devastation that has no comparison to previous events. The infrastructure in Puerto Rico suffered damages that are estimated at, at least, $90 billion. Projected payments by insurers are estimated to reach $15 billion.”
The representatives stressed that “the increases that insurance companies determine they must implement cannot be unreasonable.”