“Homeowner Bill of Rights” legislation
The 2005 Legislature approved a "homeowner bill of rights" to protect Oregonians from unfair treatment by insurance companies. This law requires insurers to disclose to consumers whether the insurer uses loss-history databases (similar to credit histories) in homeowner insurance underwriting. If the insurer uses these databases, it must explain how the database is being used, how consumers can get a free copy of their loss history, and how to correct inaccurate data. The bill also gives consumers the following protections:
- Limits to five years the period in which insurance companies can "look back" on consumers' claims histories, thus putting a limit on the time for which a consumer can be "penalized" for past losses.
- Prohibits insurers from treating inquiries by policyholders as claims, thus protecting consumers' rights to seek information from their insurer and decide whether to file claims.
- Restricts mid-term policy cancellations by the insurer to policyholder fraud, misrepresentation, nonpayment, violation of terms or conditions, and substantial increases in risk of loss after insurance coverage has been issued.
- Prohibits insurers from canceling or not renewing policies for the first claim in a five year period, which protects consumers from losing their insurance for filing a claim.
- Requires insurers to provide at least 30 days' notice of policy renewal or nonrenewal.
- Prohibits insurers from using claims made under prior ownership to cancel or not renew policies or increase rates when the cause of the past claims is shown to be mitigated.
The Insurance Division drafted this law in response to complaints from homeowners about unfair treatment by insurance companies.
Oregon law requires the builder of a new residential structure or zero-lot-line dwelling to make a written offer of warranty to the first purchaser or owner of a new dwelling. There are no specific terms that must be included in the warranty and they will probably vary greatly from builder to builder. The warranty must be offered and as the buyer of a new home you may accept or decline the offer. If you are contracting with a builder to construct a custom home and you refuse the offered warranty, the contractor may withdraw the offer to construct the home.
Your right to be treated fairly
An insurance company cannot deny, refuse to renew, limit, or charge more for coverage because of your race, color, religion, or national origin. A company also cannot deny, refuse to renew, limit, or charge more for coverage because of your age, gender, marital status, domestic partnership status, disability, or partial disability unless the refusal, limitation, or higher rate is based on sound underwriting or actuarial principles.