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Wash. Bill Clarifies Confidentiality Rules

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NU Online News Service, Jan. 28, 5:55 p.m. – The Washington state Senate Financial Services, Insurance and Housing Committee is considering a bill that would amend the law protecting the confidentiality of insurance company documents used by the state insurance commissioner.

The bill, S.B. 5148, declares that “working papers, documents, materials or information produced by, obtained by, or disclosed” to the commissioner in the course of a financial or market conduct examination would not be required to be disclosed “unless cited by the commissioner in connection with an agency action.”

The bill was introduced at the request of state insurance regulators by Sen. Shirley Winsley, R-Pierce County, Wash., vice chair of the Financial Services Committee, and Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-King County, Wash., a member of the committee.

Washington insurance regulators requested the bill because they sometimes have to ask for working papers and other sensitive insurance company documents from other states, according to a digest by Elizabeth Mitchell, a Senate staff aide.

“Some other states are reluctant to give information to the office because current law does not explicitly exempt this information from public disclosure,” Mitchell reports.

The text of the bill is on the Web at