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No Death Knell

By: Erin L. Ayers, Editor of The Standard (Wed, Jan/24/2007)

Auto insurers in Massachusetts — the ones that typically favor overhauling the system — have chosen to view Gov. Deval Patrick's suspension of the new assigned risk plan not as a death knell for reform of the state's auto insurance residual market (See The Standard, Jan. 26).

It is actually an opportunity for a new administration to get a handle on a complicated process and plan that it will ultimately be responsible for implementing. Any time a group or individual knows it will be holding a particular bag, it's a smart idea to know what's in it.

Luckily for the soon-to-be-formed study group, much of the work analyzing the auto insurance industry has already been done for them, starting with former Attorney General Tom Reilly's 2002 review of the inequities in the residual market. Also useful will be a 2004 report from consulting firm Tillinghast which outlined the system in great detail and compared it to other state systems.

Both sides of the auto insurance reform debate have scads of research that they will undoubtedly proffer. And finally, the Supreme Judicial Court in August 2006 crafted a careful review of the law governing the Commonwealth's residual market and reasons why an assigned risk plan fulfills the objectives of the statute.

Given all the evidence, the Patrick Administration can make its first significant statement on polarizing topic of auto insurance. Now, we just have to wait the 90 days for it.
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