N.Y. Governor Signs Spousal Auto Liability into Law

October 1, 2002

New York Gov. George Pataki signed a bill into law Sept. 26 that enables the state’s drivers to sue their spouses and collect damages under joint auto liability coverage.

The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) was quick to denounce the new law. “By not taking veto action against A-10456, Gov. Pataki has allowed this impractical bill to become law,” said Gerald L. Zimmerman, NAII senior counsel. “This means a wife can sue her husband for negligence and recover under their auto policy, even in a one-car accident.”

NAII objects to the new law, both because of its substance, and its offer requirements, which require insurers to notify policyholders of their new ability to sue by January 1, 2003. “If insurers started mailing out offers today, they wouldn’t be able to comply with the law,” Zimmerman said.

NAII is seeking a chapter amendment to the new law, which would give insurers more time in which to meet notification standards.

“At a time when the New York insurance market is awash in fraud and pricing problems, an irresponsible law like this is the last thing we need,” Zimmerman added. “We are very disappointed that Gov. Pataki did not recognize the serious harm this law could have on an already struggling insurance market.”

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