Coalition, Alliance Hail Senate Passage of NJ Auto Reform Bill, Now Look to Assembly for Action

March 21, 2003

The Alliance of American Insurers and the Coalition for Auto Insurance Competition both hailed the passage by the full New Jersey Senate, by a vote of 30-4-7, of legislation aimed at reforming what the Alliance called “New Jersey’s long-suffering automobile insurance system.”

The legislation now moves to the State Assembly. “Considering New Jersey’s nationwide reputation to over regulate auto insurance, today’s Senate vote has tremendous significance,” stated John Friedman, Coalition Chairman. “Today’s bi-partisan vote is confirmation that lawmakers are serious about true reform. For drivers, today means there is hope that our auto insurance crisis may be near an end. But first, the Assembly needs to immediately follow the Senate’s lead and pass this bill now. Drivers can’t wait any longer.”

“The measure that passed the Senate is a good first step toward making auto coverage more available in New Jersey,” stated Richard Stokes, government affairs representative for the Alliance’s Northeast Region. “While the Alliance would prefer further changes, the bill should improve the stability of the state’s auto insurance market, making the state more attractive to insurers.

“The onus now is on the General Assembly to pass true auto insurance reform that will solve the state’s current availability crisis, ” he continued. He indicated, however, that the Assembly was unlikely to consider the measure before May.

Commenting on the bill, Stokes noted that it “institutes a long-needed framework on the rate review process that should ensure prompt and objective consideration of insurers requests, and phases out the take-all-comers provision.” In addition, it restores the personal injury protection default provision to $250,000, permits insurers to charge the Property/Liability Insurance Guaranty Association cost of the assessment to consumers and establishes withdrawal criteria.

The Alliance bulletin said that there should also be additional provisions in the bill that would make the following changes:
— give binding authority to the decisions of administrative law judges,
— amend the Excess Profits Regulation,
— reduce medical fraud abuse,
— improve the timeliness of policy form approvals,
— modify the medical fee schedule to include more treatment codes, and
— grant full implementation of the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act.

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