Bikers’ Complaint Over Mass. Rates Nixed

June 18, 2004

Motorcycle drivers upset with the way insurance rates are set in Massachusetts lost a court bid to force the state to reconsider the fairness of its rating system.

The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed the complaint by the Motorcycle Association of Massachusetts, citing a lack of evidence to support the changes the bikers sought in the rating system.

Motorcycle rates are set along with private passenger rates by the insurance commissioner following a series of public hearings. During the hearings for 2004 rates, MMA witnesses criticized the system as unfair to bikers and urged several changes including the creation of class ratings for motorcyclists based on operator experience; treatment of optional coverages for guest passengers; discounts for anti-theft devices; increases in optional medical and property damage coverage; and review of the territories used in setting rates.

“They did not intervene as ‘parties,’ submit any advisory filing, submit to any discovery, nor subject themselves to any cross examination by the parties,” noted Associate Justice Martha B. Sosman.

In its 2004 rate decision, the state did not incorporate any of MMA’s suggestions but did ask the industry’s rating bureau to address the issues in time for the next round of hearings.

The industry and the insurance department moved to have the complaint dismissed because there was no evidence on which to base the changes sought by the MMA.

The court agreed, noting that the court “cannot entertain judicial review of an agency decisioin on issues that were not addressed by way of evidence introduced at the agency proceeding.”

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