OLYMPIA — A bill to enhance consumer protection was heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee Tuesday.

SB 6081, sponsored by Sen. Patty Kuderer (D-Bellevue), emphasizes that clarity empowers consumers, making it mandatory for every consumer and insurance contract to be written in plain language. The bill also mandates that contracts be appropriately divided and labeled according to their various sections.

“Our goal is to ensure that all consumers regardless of their educational background, primary language or disability status are protected across the board in all consumer contracts,” Kuderer said.

Exceptions to the plain language requirement include readability standards mandated by federal or state law, as well as specific legal terms required, recommended, or endorsed by either federal or state law. Customary technical terms for service or property descriptions would also be allowed in consumer and insurance contracts.

Violations of this law would be considered unfair or deceptive under the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) for all non-insurance consumer contracts. The insurance commissioner would be authorized to take action for violations in insurance contracts. Additionally, the courts could intervene to fix or limit a provision causing consumer confusion and financial detriment.

The legislation includes a provision to grandfather existing contracts, ensuring they are not affected unless renewed after the effective date of January 1, 2027. Kuderer’s bill aligns Washington with five other states, such as New Jersey and Minnesota, implementing plain language consumer contract laws.

Follow the bill’s progress here.