NU Online News Service, Nov. 30, 3:58 p.m. – A letter from Montana Commissioner John Morrison to the insurance segment of the American Trial Lawyers Association, Washington, soliciting funds to expunge campaign debt has insurers protesting what they say is a conflict of interest.
While leaders in the insurance industry declined to speak for attribution at press time, they did express their concern, a concern they intend to raise to the leadership of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Kansas City, Mo.
The Oct. 2 letter from Morrison asks for help in erasing debt so that “I can get on with my fight to protect consumers–all across the country.”
Morrison notes in the letter that “historically, many insurance commissioners and the NAIC have had close ties with the industry.” He also notes that “Today, I am the only consumer trial lawyer among the 50 plus commissioners.”
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Morrison outlines regulatory consumer initiatives that he is working on at the NAIC. Those initiatives include the creation of a consumer protection working group that Morrison chairs.
Additionally, Morrison notes an NAIC complaint data base system that is scheduled to become operational on December 1. The data base shows the number of complaints against each insurer, classified by type, and information about the insurer. In a later phase of the initiative, Morrison writes that an attempt will be made to make individual complaints available.
In an interview with National Underwriter, Morrison says that the letter does not present a conflict of interest because “I do not regulate trial lawyers.”
To date, he says that the amount of money raised by the letter to the several hundred national members of the insurance segment of the ATLA has been under $2,000. Morrison says his campaign debt stands at about $35,000.
The reason, according to Morrison, that he approached lawyers nationally, is that there is a $400 limit per person in Montana and given the small amount it was necessary to raise money outside the state.