May 8, 2018

Long-term care bill gets 'strike-all' treatment

HBJ file photo
HBJ file photo
The State Capitol in Hartford.

One group of Connecticut insurance policyholders may be disappointed, while another may be elated.

With mere days remaining in the regularly scheduled legislative session, House lawmakers over the weekend used a bill meant to slow premium hikes on long-term care policies as a vehicle to instead provide relief to homeowners with crumbling foundations.

An Act Concerning Long-Term Care Insurance Premium Rate Increases would have spread out larger premium hikes over a five-year period to help those who have seen frequent and steep increases in their policies, some of which were bought back in the 1990s.

But that bill's language is now gone, swapped out through the use of a "strike-all" amendment introduced Saturday.

Now, if passed by the Senate, the legislation will levy a $12 charge on all homeowner insurance policies, which will generate roughly $8.6 million to provide assistance to homeowners affected by the state's growing crumbling foundations crisis, which has affected hundreds of homes whose foundations contain the mineral pyrrhotite.

The surcharge will not apply to commercial building policies or to renter's insurance.

Insurance policies have not covered crumbling foundations in Connecticut, and there are pending lawsuits.

There was concern about adding costs to homeowner policies, which would affect some who are not in pyrrhotite-affected regions, but lawmakers ultimately passed the measure by a relatively safe margin.

"Their life savings is gone," Rep. Tim Ackert (R-Coventry) said of affected homeowners. "Their college fund they probably had is gone. Their 401k is junk because it's going in their foundation."

The bill, which needed 70 House votes to pass, cleared the House by a vote of 97-42, with 11 absent or not voting.

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