What You Need to Know about New Auto Insurance Reform Bills
- Dan T. Matrafajlo
- Fri Jun 2022
- Auto Accident,
Read or listen to any news report, and you’re likely to gleam that New Jersey legislators are on a mission to raise your automobile insurance policy rates.
The New Jersey State Senate just moved forward with nine separate insurance reform bills. But, frankly, the changes can’t come soon enough for law firms that represent auto accident injury victims.
With the increase in fuel costs, there’s no doubt that any future rise in insurance premiums sounds frightening. However, not having enough coverage for medical bills alone can leave you in financial ruin. Many of our clients also find it incredulous when they learn to expect only little compensation for their injuries.
Here’s a breakdown of three of the proposed new laws, together with some detailed explanations of how they could help injury victims:
NJ Bill S467 – Provides that limitation on lawsuit option does not apply in accidents caused by drunk or reckless drivers.
Without a doubt, drunk and reckless drivers create dangerous conditions. Unfortunately, you may be involved in a motor vehicle collision with a car operated by an intoxicated driver. Many times, liability doesn’t pose an issue. However, when you meet with an attorney, you may be surprised to discover you are not entitled to damages.
Under New Jersey’s current laws, it does not matter if the driver who caused the accident was drunk or acted recklessly. If your insurance policy states that you’ve selected the Limitation on Lawsuit Threshold option, you may be limited as far as pursuing a lawsuit.
Truth be told, N.J.S.A. §39:6A(a) states that this coverage choice only allows you to sue for non-economic damages for:
- Dismemberment (loss of a body part)
- Significant disfigurement or scarring
- Displaced fractures
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury other than scarring or disfigurement
Under this proposed bill, you won’t be limited to seeking monetary damages for just these claims if the individual who caused the accident was intoxicated or driving recklessly.
NJ S-471 – Requires $250,000 of Medical Expense Benefits for Personal Injury Protection
As you may already know, Personal Injury Protection “PIP” is a portion of your insurance that covers your medical expenses. If you’ve never been involved in a motor vehicle accident, you should know that your policy pays for your bills regardless of fault.
Notably, the “standard” insurance policy generally calls for $250,000 of coverage. However, some motorists attempt to lessen their premiums by opting for a less expensive option. It only takes the accumulation of a few medical bills to recognize the problem with doing so.
This new requirement stands to help average people from going into financial ruin because they suffered injuries in an automobile accident.
NJ S-481 – Requires automobile insurance policies to provide certain minimum amounts of liability, uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist coverage.
New Jersey law only requires that private passenger vehicle owners carry $15,000 liability coverage for the injury or death of one person in one accident. If more than one person dies or is injured, $30,000 is split among the victims.
Under this proposed bill, the $15,000 requirement would change to $50,000. Meanwhile, the payout to multiple injury victims would be raised to $100,000.
You may have heard the terms uninsured and underinsured motorist claims. This new law sets up at least the following limits: $250,000.00 for each person and $500,000.00 for each accident for bodily injury; $100,000.00 for each accident for property damage or $500,000.00 single limit, subject to the exclusion of the first $500.00 of such damage to property for each accident,
What Auto Insurance Reform Really Means to You
These are just three examples of the changes proposed and intended as insurance reform. While the rest also represent value, these three emphasize what consumers need to know.
In order to make things fair and equitable, it appears that the state legislators have come up with some good ideas. It makes sense to call and let local representatives know that you stand with them on your side.
While insurance may appear confusing and represent an increase in expenses, your protection is priceless. Have questions about your existing policy or these proposed laws?
Contact the Law Offices of Beninato & Matrafajlo to learn more about ensuring you are choosing the best options for you in purchasing automobile insurance. We look forward to speaking with you.