INDIANAPOLIS (May 13, 2005)—The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC), Insurance Institute of Indiana and Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana (DTCI) prevailed on Indiana Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels today to veto a defective seat belt defense bill passed during the last hours of Indiana’s General Assembly. NAMIC had previously requested that Gov. Daniels veto Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 218.
“Governor Daniels has demonstrated strong leadership by vetoing this bill. It came out of the conference committee so convoluted that it did not achieve its stated purpose of allowing juries to hear evidence on the nonuse of seat belts in a workable manner,” said NAMIC State Affairs Manager Tami Stanton.
Additionally, Stanton said, “Governor Daniels’ veto sends an undeniable message to the trial bar that had a strong hand in crafting the conference committee report. The DTCI and the Insurance Institute of Indiana were the key veto forces on the ground countering the efforts of plaintiff attorneys urging the governor to sign the bill.”
NAMIC’s objections focused on two areas. First, although some states’ seat belt defense statutes have caps, SEA 218’s four percent cap coupled with the expert testimony requirements renders it useless. Secondly, SEA 218 invalidates the positive effect of a March 2005 Indiana Supreme Court ruling, Kocher v. Getz, which states that non-use of a safety device such as a seatbelt constitutes fault. Language inserted into SEA 218, by plaintiff lawyer representatives, reverses the ruling by stating that failure to wear a seat belt is not fault.
“NAMIC strongly supports passage of a seat belt defense bill in the state of Indiana. Unfortunately, NAMIC’s members, cannot support SEA 218 in the transmutative form endorsed by the trial lawyers,” wrote Stanton in NAMIC’s letter to Gov. Daniels.
Stanton’s letter to Gov. Daniels may be read on NAMIC’s website, NAMIC Online, at http://www.namic.org/pdf/InGovVeto218.pdf
Senate Enrolled Act 218 can be read at: http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2005/SE/SE0218.1.html
For further information, contact
Rick Nelson, APR (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Founded in 1895, NAMIC is a full-service national trade association with more than 1,400 member companies that underwrite 43 percent ($196 billion) of the property/casualty insurance premium in the United States. NAMIC members account for 44 percent of the homeowners market, 38 percent of the automobile market, 39 percent of the workers’ compensation market, and 31 percent of the commercial property and liability market. NAMIC benefits member companies through advocacy, public policy and member services. Information about the association, its member companies and the property/casualty insurance industry can be found at NAMIC Online. www.namic.org.