Rhode Island House Backs 60-Day Limit on Uninsured Driver Claims

May 24, 2005

The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would require insurance carriers to respond to a request to settle with an uninsured driver within 60 days of the request; if the request has not been responded to within 60 days, then the original request to settle will be granted.

Sponsored by Rep. Al Gemma (D- Dist. 20, Warwick), the bill (2005 – H5158) forces insurance companies to respond to settlement requests in an expedited manner.

“Oftentimes, insurance companies drag out what should be a one-week process of collecting information,” said Gemma. “This bill protects individuals who have been hit by an uninsured driver, and find themselves waiting for a settlement from their own insurance company for a prolonged period of time.”

Currently, an individual’s own insurance company will not allow that individual to accept an offer from a negligent (i.e. uninsured) driver after an accident without the company’s permission. The process can sometimes take more than several months, according to the bill’s supporters.

Gemma’s bill says that insurance companies will now have a maximum of 60 days to respond to a settlement request. If they fail to respond to the request in a timely fashion, the original settlement will be issued to the insured driver.

“I’ve seen it happen too often where people are left swinging in the breeze because the insurance company won’t pay,” said Gemma. “Sometimes people are left with a damaged car for months and months, waiting to have it fixed. That’s too long.”

The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. Co-sponsors of the bill include Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D- Dist. 19, Cranston, Warwick), Rep. Anastasia P. Williams (D- Dist. 9, Providence), Rep. Joseph S. Almeida (D- Dist. 12, Providence) and Rep. Amy G. Rice (D- Dist. 72, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth).

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