PCI Urges Veto Involving Drunk Driving Legislation

August 15, 2005

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) on Monday urged New York Gov. George Pataki to veto legislation that would require insurers and their policyholders to pay for injuries to a drunk driver caused from an accident that occurred while he or she was driving while intoxicated.

Specifically, the legislation, A.5158/S.5578 would require insurers to provide no-fault benefits to an insured driver for treatment of emergency medical conditions despite the fact the driver was operating a motor vehicle while in an intoxicated state. Currently, the law allows insurers to exclude no-fault coverage for intoxicated operators.

“This change in existing law is contradictory to the important public policy of discouraging individuals from driving vehicles after consuming alcohol,” said Kristina Baldwin, regional manager and counsel for PCI. “It would seem counterintuitive and destructive to require insurers and their policyholders to pay for injuries caused by the illegal act of driving while intoxicated.

“While this bill does attempt to limit the treatment which would be required to be covered under no-fault to emergency treatment, it could still present opportunities for fraud,” continued Baldwin. “With the resourcefulness which the medical mills and fraud rings have demonstrated over the years, it would not be prudent to make changes in the law which could provide another avenue for the fraud rings to exploit the no-fault system and steal more money from insurers and their policyholders.”

According to Baldwin, “After years of rising insurance premiums and an explosion of no-fault fraud in New York, insurance premiums are starting to come down and we are starting to see reductions in no-fault fraud. We cannot jeopardize this progress through the enactment of measures that will add costs to the no-fault system.”

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