Legislation is now pending in the New Jersey General Assembly that could cause insurance rates to increase and otherwise negatively impact us. We need to take action to prevent insurance claims costs from rising, and in preserving a marketplace for auto insurance in New Jersey with competitive pricing.
The New Jersey State legislature is currently considering Assembly Bill 1659 and Senate Bill 1559. Those bills would allow trial lawyers to sue insurance companies based on isolated violations of claims handling laws. In addition to suing for any amount they claim the insurer should have paid, they would be entitled to the amount of any jury verdict awarded against the other driver — which could greatly exceed the amount of insurance coverage the driver purchased.
These bills would allow lawyers to leverage the threat of lawsuits to get insurance companies to make costly settlement offers to avoid going to trial. This bill would not improve the efficiency or fairness of claims settlements. Rather, it would encourage more, and longer, drawn out court cases and line the pockets of trial lawyers. The cost of the trials as well as any excessive settlements would be passed on to insurance policyholders.
Currently, the New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance regulates insurers to confirm that they comply with state laws regarding claims processing. That department has broad powers when it comes to investigating complaints by individuals and enforcing the law. The government can, and does, levy hefty fines on insurers that do not follow the law. That oversight is more than adequate to discourage significant abuses by insurers. The proposed legislation in Assembly Bill 1659 and Senate Bill 1559 is not necessary.
What can you do to put a stop to these rising costs? Contact your legislator today and ask them to oppose this bill.
How to Contact Your Legislator:
Please click on the link below to take action. Simply enter in your home address and your letter will be sent directly to your NJ Assembly member and the governor’s office. A sample email is already drafted for you as well.
You may also go to www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/legsearch.asp to search for your Assembly member by Municipality, Legislative District or Interactive Map of Legislative District. Once you determine the number of your Legislative District, click on that number and the name of your State Assembly member. You can then click on their name to be directed to their web site where you can send an email.
If you are unable to access this site, please call the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services at 1‑609‑847‑3905 for assistance in determining and contacting your State Assembly member (they will ask for your home address).