INDIANAPOLIS (May 6, 2005)—A defective seat belt defense bill passed during the last hours of Indiana’s General Assembly has prompted the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) to request a veto of Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 218 by Gov. Mitchell E. Daniels.
NAMIC State Affairs Manager Tami Stanton pointed to the influence of the plaintiff lawyer lobby for 11th hour conference committee developments that marred “an otherwise very good legislative session for strengthening Indiana’s insurance marketplace.”
NAMIC’s objections focus 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.
There were two positive tort reform measures enacted by the 2005 legislature prior to adjournment on April 29. SEA 125 has been signed into law clarifying commercial insurers will not be required to offer uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) coverage effective July 1, 2005. The new law corrects two negative Indiana court decisions that altered the intent and pricing of uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage in the state, United National Insurance Company v. DePrezio and West Bend V. Keaton, both erroneously emanating from Indiana’s mandatory offer of UM/UIM on personal auto policies.
Additionally, SEA 132 was approved by both legislative chambers and sits on Gov. Daniels desk. The measure relieves some of the liability burden on nonprofit religious organizations by addressing the 1987 Fleischer v. Hebrew Orthodox Congregation decision. Until the Fleischer case, non-business Indiana landowners retained a reasonable degree of protection against liability claims asserted by persons coming on their premises. Both tort reform measures were introduced by the Insurance Institute of Indiana and supported by NAMIC.
“Indiana also advanced in the fight against insurance fraud. NAMIC worked with the ad hoc insurance and business coalition for the passage of House Enrolled Act 1403. The measure, currently awaiting the governor’s signature, more clearly defines insurance fraud and significantly expands the list of fraudulent activities,” said Stanton.
Stanton’s letter to Gov. Daniels may be read on NAMIC’s website, NAMIC Online, at NAMIC Online
Senate Enrolled Acts 218, 125, 132 and House Enrolled Act 1403 can be read at:
For further information, contact
Rick Nelson, APR (Indianapolis, Ind.)
Posted: Friday, May 06, 2005 12:00:00 AM. Modified: Monday, September 12, 2005 12:31:52 PM.
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