N.Y. Agents Group Enlists Members in Opposition Against Spousal Liability Legislation

August 19, 2002

The Independent Insurance Agents Association of New York Inc. is urging more than 18,000 workers employed by the 1,900 agencies the Syracuse-based trade association represents to join a grass-roots efforts against legislation that would allow spousal liability coverage in New York.

Agency owners and their employees are being asked to write Gov. George Pataki and request he veto a bill that would require insurers to make available spousal liability coverage enabling one spouse to sue the other under their common automobile policy.

“Assembly bill 10456 was passed by both houses of the state Legislature just before they recessed for the summer and after a last-minute push by the state’s trial lawyers. Not surprisingly, they would benefit the most if this ill-conceived measure becomes law,” IIAANY Chair of the Board John Costello said. “Meanwhile, most New Yorkers would be stuck with the bill left behind by the increase in fraud that would surely follow.

“The Governor ought to take his veto pen and immediately sign the papers divorcing New York from this legislative blunder,” added Costello, who is also a principal owner in Costello, Dreher, Kaiser & Associates in Rochester.

In prior meetings with Gov. Pataki’s staff and through written letters, IIAANY contends the focus should be on reducing the estimated $1 billion “fraud tax” New Yorkers are paying because of existing loopholes in the state’s no-fault auto insurance market. Assembly bill 10456 will bring more costs and confusion to New York’s auto insurance market and should be vetoed.

The association supports a package of anti-fraud reforms introduced by the Pataki Administration in 2001 and passed by the Senate. However, inaction by the Assembly leadership has caused the legislation to languish in the Legislature.

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