Wash. Anti-Fraud Auto Insurance Bill Wins Committee Approval

January 16, 2006

A key legislative committee this week amended and passed legislation in Washington that is designed to assist consumers injured in intentional “road rage” collisions – and protect insurers against auto insurance fraud, reports Kenton Brine, northwest regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI).

The bill, House Bill (HB) 2415, would redefine state law so that a person who is injured or suffers property damage as a result of a collision caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorists has a right to financial recovery from those injuries or damages through the uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist insurance coverage, said Brine.

HB 2415 requires that this recovery would be mandatory even if the collision is the result of an intentional act of the uninsured driver, or whether or not the accident victims are the intended targets of the at-fault driver.

PCI supports the amended version of the bill.

Brine noted the bill, authored by Rep. Steve Kirby (D-Tacoma) at the request of Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, was unanimously approved by the House Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee, which will likely schedule a vote by the full House in the coming weeks. The Senate is working on an identical bill, which could be considered in committee next week.

“PCI is pleased to see this legislation move forward to protect innocent victims of collisions that are caused – on purpose or due to an accident – by uninsured motorists,” said Brine. “We appreciate Commissioner Kreidler bringing this bill forward and we support the effort made by State Rep. Mark Ericks (D-Bothell) and others to strengthen the bill and help insurers guard against fraud.”

Without Ericks’ amendment, Brine said, insurers would potentially be exposed to the chance that an alleged “intended victim” might actually be colluding with the driver who caused a collision in order to collect insurance proceeds. The amendment makes no changes to the protection the bill offers to unintended “third party” victims.

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