The use of no-fault auto insurance systems in Michigan and Colorado hasn't caused accident claims and costs to skyrocket and probably won't in the future, independent actuarial consultant Philip O. Presley reported to the Senate Commerce Committee yesterday.
The committee, in the midst of a fight over a no-fault bill sponsored by Sen. Warren G. Magnuson (D.-Wash.), ordered the Presley study to see whether no-fault pushes up insurance costs unduly.
Presley, in a report due to be made public today, concluded that frequency of claims hasn't increased unduly in the two states, that cost increases have risen about the same as the general rate of inflaton, and that future cost increases wouldn't be any greater than in states without no-fault systems.
Lynn Sutcliffe, president of the Committee for Consumers No-Fault, said, "The study shows that the pricing of insurance in the two no-fault states is fair . . . It demonstrates clearly that larger benefits are being paid to accident victims without unreasonable increases in premiums."
Under the Magnuson no-fault bill, instead of having to sue the other party for damages, a motorist injuried in an accident would receive up to $100,000 in medical costs, $12,000 in lost salary and additional amounts for home care from his own insurance company.
He and his family could sue the other party only for economic losses above those amounts or in cases of serious and permanent injury, disfigurement, death or scarring.
Magnuson, backed by the Department of Transportation, says the no-fault bill would mean that injured motorists would get back 60 to 65 to every insurance dollar, instead of the current 45 cents, by slashing the 20-cent share that goes to lawyers under the current fault-lawsuit system.
TThe bill is opposed by the Association of American Trial Lawyers, and many critics have charged that no-fault sysstems in effect in several states have caused insurance claims and costs to skyrocket.
The Presley stufy was an attempt to determine whether this is so. ATLA experts were still studying the report yesteday and had no immediate comment.
Staff studies also prepared for the committee concluded that no-fault is working reasonably well in Massachusetts and New York, but that costs have risen in New York because state law there makes it too easy to sue even while collecting no-fault.