Individuals in West Virginia have long been able to bring private causes of action against insurers for violations of the West Virginia Unfair Trade Practices Act ("UTPA"). In 2003, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that insurance claims adjusters, in addition to insurers, may be held personally liable for UTPA violations. Accordingly, individual claims adjusters found themselves exposed to liability for violations that occurred within the scope of their employment. House Bill 4286, if enacted, would reverse this case law and protect claims adjusters from liability under the UTPA.
Introduced on January 26, 2016, the bill would amend W.Va. Code §33-11-3, "Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices prohibited," and would prohibit a cause of action or claim against a claims adjuster if that adjuster is employed by an insurance company, and was acting within the scope of his or her employment.
If enacted in its current form HB 4286 would be an unambiguous policy statement by the Legislature, and would provide adjusters with a strong defense against individual UTPA liability.