Nevada panel OK's ban on insurers using credit reports

An Assembly panel voted along party lines Monday for a bill to bar insurance companies from using information from credit reports when setting rates in Nevada.

The Commerce and Labor Committee approved AB194, sponsored by Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, and pushed by Democratic leadership for Assembly passage during the first 45 days of the session.

Assemblywoman Dawn Gibbons of Reno was the lone Republican on the Democrat-dominated committee to vote for the bill. All the other Republicans, including Minority Leader Lynn Hettrick of Gardnerville, voted "no."

Those who voted against the bill said they did so because Goldwater wouldn't give them time to review documents provided by people who testified about the bill during a hearing last week.

However, they said they might change their votes when AB194 comes up for an Assembly floor vote, depending on what the documents show.

Goldwater said public support on the bill has been overwhelming, and he wanted to move the bill along.

"The public's calling for action here, and I'd like to respond," he said.

Sam Sorich, vice president of the National Association of Independent Insurers, told the committee last week that the industry uses specific details within credit reports to evaluate a person's risk level.

"It's an insurance score," Sorich said. "It's not a credit score. There is a difference."

Birny Birnbaum, executive director of the Center for Economic Justice and a specialist on the credit issue, said there may be a technical difference between insurance and credit scores -- but in the end credit information is used to determine a rate.

Birnbaum said that use is "inherently unfair." He added that insurers could determine risk statistics on any information, such as hair or eye color, but that doesn't mean it's proper.

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