Colo. Rejects Legislation Changing Claims Practices for Liability Coverage

February 9, 2006

The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee has unanimously rejected a backdoor attempt to convert auto liability coverage into a quasi no-fault coverage for health care providers.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) testified against House Bill 1044, which would have created the legal presumption that if an insured accepts liability for property damage to a claimant’s vehicle then they are also liable for bodily injury.

“The bill would have hurt consumers and insurers by changing the purpose and function of liability coverage,” said Kelly Campbell, regional manager for PCI. “The bottom line is that the bill would have made the at-fault driver’s liability coverage an open checkbook for chiropractors, physical therapists, massage therapists and other medical providers. It would re-open the system up to some of the abusive practices that led to skyrocketing insurance costs under the old no-fault law.”

On other auto insurance issues, legislation (HB1036) that would require insurers to provide $5,000 medical payment coverage unless it was rejected in writing by the consumer has advanced to the House floor.

“We are urging the House to defeat this legislation because it will make insurance more expensive for all consumers,” said Campbell. “The problem is that medical payments coverage is duplicative for many consumers. Studies show that 84 percent
of Coloradoans already have access to health insurance and this would require them to pay twice for medical coverage – once through their health insurance and a second time through car insurance. Consumers already have the option of purchasing medical payment coverage without it being a mandated coverage that must be rejected.”

Another bill (HB 1030) before the entire House would put into statute the current regulatory language for the auto insurance disclosure form. The bill, as introduced, also substantially revised the current suitability statute and would require that a policyholder agree in writing to the purchase of any coverage in excess of the minimum mandated coverages.

However, PCI and other industry representatives worked with the bill sponsor Rep. Fran Coleman (D) to amend the bill so that it would restore the language in the suitability statute.

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