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Watchdogs Raise Concerns About Insurance Bill

Insurance watchdogs are pressing Gov. Deval Patrick to reject a bill on his desk that would fundamentally change one of the state's most prominent life insurance companies.

The Savings Bank Life Insurance (SBLI) company was founded in 1907 by future Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis. It's since grown into the largest life insurer in the state and is expanding nationally.

Over the past couple years, the company has been lobbying hard to alter its state charter, to allow it to charge women and men different rates — a widespread industry practice.

But Brendan Bridgeland, of the Center for Insurance Research, says the bill recently passed by the Legislature goes much further.

"The current version of the bill just completely removes all of chapter 178a, which is really the governing instrument of SBLI and sets forth its powers, rights and privileges," Bridgeland says.

In a statement, SBLI says the bill will “enable a Massachusetts home-grown company to remain and grow in Massachusetts — which is without question our intention with the passage of this legislation.”

The deadline for the governor to sign the bill is Sunday. There's no word from his office on whether he'll do so.

This program aired on July 24, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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