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Harm to the Consumer

An unfortunate twentieth anniversary has just passed. A law that went into effect on January 1, 1989 greatly curtailed the rights of Massachusetts auto accident victims. This concerned uninsurance and underinsurance motorist coverage. The Legislature passed a bill, called the Massachusetts Auto Insurance Reform Act, signed by Governor Michael Dukakis, which eliminated stacking of policies and instituted a “trigger”. The “trigger” offsets the amount of money an injured motorist can receive by the amount paid by the at-fault driver/insurer.

Why was this done? To reduce auto insurance premiums. The problem is that in response to a slight premium reduction Massachusetts consumers received greatly reduced insurance benefits for those coverages. Mind you, for access to those coverages the injured party must show damages. People who receive money under those coverages are injured. The point is that there may not be enough coverage to compensate the injury sufficiently.

I have testified before the State Legislature to repeal this law. Unfortunately, we are dealing with representatives who are disinclined to upset the apple cart. It is still possible to be appropriately compensated in an auto accident but you need to be certain that the at-fault party has sufficient insurance coverage. If not, you will need to have sufficient coverage under your policy and you may not because of the quirk in this law.

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