The New Jersey Business & Industry Association continues to oppose legislation that will result in consumers and businesses paying more for auto insurance due to litigation costs.
The “New Jersey Insurance Fair Conduct Act,” also known as the “bad faith” bill, is being voted on by the Senate today. It proposes to create a private cause of action for consumers regarding perceived unfair or unreasonable practices by insurers.
NJBIA Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas said, if enacted, bill S-1559 would open the floodgates for lawsuits that would be extremely costly for insurers to defend or settle.
“This bill will only enable unscrupulous counsel to target consumers with meritless lawsuits in the hopes of obtaining settlements from companies concerned about litigation costs,” Buteas said.
“The end result will be consumers and businesses paying the price in the form of higher insurance premiums.”
In testimony submitted to the Senate, Buteas noted the state Department of Banking and Insurance already has the authority to investigate unfair acts and claims by insurers.
Buteas reminded lawmakers how a series of reforms were needed to correct New Jersey’s automobile insurance crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, when it had the highest auto premiums in the nation and caused insurers to flee the state.
“Unfortunately, this bill shows that we have not learned the lessons from the past as it takes a major step back by jeopardizing rates for the benefit of a few,” Buteas said.