AIA Lauds Vt. Legislature for Actions on Child Safety, Rejection of UIM Expansion

June 6, 2003

The American Insurance Association (AIA) praised Vermont’s Legislature as it ended its current session for enacting an AIA-supported bill (S.25) to improve the safety of children in motor vehicles, and for its rejection of provisions that would have expanded the definition of underinsured motorist coverage (UIM), which the AIA opposed.

“The safety of children is an important issue,” stated Paul Moran, AIA VP, northeast region. “This new law will make children much safer when they are passengers in motor vehicles on Vermont’s highways.”
The bill which was signed into law by Gov. Jim Douglas (R) increases the age in which children must ride in safety seats to eight years old from five years old. It also makes not wearing a seat belt a primary offense for riders between eight and 15 years old.

“AIA also was successful in convincing the legislature to reject S. 119, which was put forward by the trial lawyers, to greatly expand the definition of underinsured motorist. If enacted, this bill would have increased auto insurance costs,” Moran indicated.

The measure would have reversed the Vermont State Supreme Court decision in Colwell v. Allstate, which defined the parameters of UIM coverage. The legislature directed the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Administration (BISCHA) to study the issue.

“AIA looks forward to working with the department to take a fair look at this issue. The trial lawyers’ proposal was simply designed to provide them with a new pool of money to go after at everyone else’s expense,” added Moran.

The AIA announcement also noted Vermont’s ongoing study of issues concerning workers’ compensation. “The legislature spent a lot of time on the issue but took no action,” it said. Officials have been requested to conduct a study “of the factors behind increasing workers’ compensation premiums” to be presented nxt January. The AIA said it would “work with officials conducting this study.”

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