There is a bill making its way through Alabama Senate, HB 160, which will eliminate a vital financial tool for consumers of Alabama. The bill deals with Consumer Legal Funding.
Consumer Legal Funding is where a company provides financial assistance to consumers who have a pending legal claim and only is repaid when and if the consumer receives a settlement.
HB 160 is being promoted by the multi-trillion dollar insurance industry to eliminate this option from the residents of Alabama. By wiping out the industry, now consumers will be forced to settle for less than a fair and just settlement just because they are in financial need. There are provisions in the bill that would place unrealistic restrictions on the industry that no other financial product in the state has, thereby abolishing it as an option for those who need it.
What is interesting is that there has not been a single consumer complaint or issue in the state. In fact, consumers like Mary from Birmingham used the funds to stop her car from being repossessed while she was waiting for the insurance company to settle her claim.
So why is the Alabama Legislature rushing to put an industry out of business that provides a vital service to the citizens of the state?
The answer could not be more transparent, all roads lead back to Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and their crony capitalism. They want to ensure the multi-billion dollar profits of their members by eliminating a vital tool consumers have to stay afloat while their case drags on and on.
In fact in a recent study by the Corporation for Enterprise Development, it stated that the citizens of Alabama are among those with the highest percentage of financial insecurity in the country. So why are lawmakers willing to ensure their constituents are even more at a financial risk by eliminating this option for them?
We stand, as always, ready to work with the legislators to come to a compromise to ensure that this product is available to those who need it by proper regulation. But by placing restrictions on the industry that are outlined in HB 160, you are telling the citizens of Alabama that the bottom line is more important than having a roof over their head, like Renee from Huntsville who used the funds to stop an eviction.
No one plans to be in an accident, but when they are they should not be victimized over and over again by an insurance company that drags their feet ensuring you will take the first offer that comes along. If David from Hoover did not receive Consumer Legal Funding, then he would not have had the funds to pay for the surgery he needed while his case was being strung along.
We just ask the members of the Alabama Senate to keep the citizens of Alabama in mind when you cast your vote.
Eric Schuller is president of Alliance for Responsible Consumer Legal Funding (ARC). Contact him at www.arclegalfunding.org.