May 9, 2001
administration releases auto insurance proposal
Comprehensive package is intended to reduce costs, combat fraud
The Pataki administration Wednesday proposed changes to auto insurance in New York designed to fight fraud and cut auto insurance premiums.
The legislative and regulatory package includes an executive order from the Governor naming the Attorney General special prosecutor to coordinate state-level investigatory and prosecutorial efforts to fight fraud.
In a release, the state Insurance Department said the legislative proposal includes new protections against insurance fraud, which it said costs New York drivers $1 billion a year, as well as new rights and options for consumers.
"This comprehensive package will protect honest New Yorkers from the mounting costs of fraud and abuse by putting insurance crooks out of business. Consumers must be confident that they are paying for the insurance coverage they need, not subsidizing the fraudulent activities of scam artists, unscrupulous lawyers, doctors, and medical providers," Gregory V. Serio, acting superintendent of the state Insurance Department, said in a release.
Provisions designed to fight fraud: The plan would reduce, from 90 days to 30, the period in which accident victims should report a claim. It would also give medical providers 45 days from each treatment to submit claims for payment. These changes would eliminate existing loopholes that have been exploited as opportunities for fraud and abuse, the Insurance Department said in a release.
But the new regulations would excuse noncompliance with these deadlines when there is a clear and reasonable justification, the release added.
The package also would:
- Create a new felony of no-fault insurance fraud.
- Create a felony for operating as or using a "runner" - that is, one who obtains clients, patients, or customers for health-care providers or attorneys that file fraudulent insurance claims.
- Create separate crimes for fraud against regulatory officials and against insurance businesses.
- Bar damage recoveries by those who engage in certain criminal activities or who own or operate an uninsured vehicle.
New consumer protections: The proposal also calls for a comprehensive new set of consumer rights:
- When an insurer requests an independent medical examination, those exams would have to be done at a reasonable and convenient time and place by health-care providers who have been authorized by the Superintendent of Insurance.
- Consumers would have new product options available to them under the state's no-fault system.
- Insurers would be required to establish objective standards of review for judging cases when notices of claims are filed after 30 days but the claimant argues that the delay was reasonable. An expedited arbitration process has been established to resolve disputed claims expeditiously, the Insurance Department release said.