Are you a business person or resident of the District, unable to secure insurance or bonding?
If so, the D.C. Department of Insurance has inaugurated an unusual program designed to help such individuals and businesses secure coverage.
According to Insurance Superintendent Maximilian Wallach, his office routinely receives telephone calls from persons who have been unsuccessful in getting insurance and bonding.
Programs such as the D.C. Automobile Insurance Plan, the so-called Fair plan for fire coverage and the D.C. Workmen's Compensation assigned risk plan are already established and they provide coverage for specified lines of insurance.
However, Wallach noted, there are other lines for which no such plan exists.
To deal with such situations, Wallach's office has established a voluntary insurance placement register which consists of forms to be completed by individuals seeking coverage.
The register is being maintained at the insurance department office, 614 H St. NW, Room 512, and is open for review by any insurance agent or broker licensed by the D.C. government.
When first proposed by Wallach earlier this year, the voluntary register plan was opposed by agents doing business in the city. But they have since changed their position and Wallach said a number of them now are regularly calling or stopping by to look at the register, in search of potential business.
The new service has received no general publicity, however, and only one citizen to date has taken advantage of the registry - seeking personal fire insurance and bonding.
Wallach said yesterday that most previous complaints have focused on the inability of car dealers and security guards to secure bonding. Once the existence of the program is known to the public, there is expected to be a steady stream of entries in the new register.
"We are trying to be a middleman on a very fair basis," Wallach said. "We are not presuring people . . . it is a voluntary program."
"It is the department's belief that there are agents and/or brokers who, in many cases, would be willing and able to fulfill these persons' insurance needs if they were only aware of the problem," the insurance superintendent stated.
At the same time, Wallach's office is advising brokers that they must not convey the impression that the D.C. agency has sent or designated any special agent or broker to contact them or that the agency has endorsed any particular insurance coverage.
Interested individuals may secure required forms for the register by stopping by the agency's office or telephoning 727-1273. The voluntary forms will be kept on file for 30 days unless there is a specific request for an additional 30 days.
Wallach noted that an important by-product of the new service may be guidance for his office on any discrimination in insurance coverage. If there are a number of entries from a specific ZIP code, for example, it might indicate that insurers are not providing coverage in such neighborhoods on an equitable basis.
But that is "strictly" a seconday consideration, added Wallach, who gained national attention during the successful state regulatory and insurance industry struggle two years ago to keep solvent the Washington-based Government Employees Insurance Co.
Marion Barry, the Democratic candidate for D.C. mayor, has vowed to dismiss Wallach and several other D.C. government officials from their posts if elected in November. In a recent Washington Post interview, Barry said Wallach is "a nice fellow" but that the city needed a more "aggressive government" - including insurance regulation.
"We need a broader view . . . a new look at the question of mandatory automobile insurance, the question of premiums for medical malpractice . . . fire and theft coverage in high-crime areas," Barry stated.
When asked what would happen if he was presented a letter of resignation by a new Barry administration, Wallach said yesterday that he "would read the letter." Would he sign it? "I never sign anything before I read it," was Wallach's reply.