Join the Fight Against Insurance Fraud!
Insurance fraud is a crime that is estimated to cost New Jersey consumers more than $120 million per year. In the State of New York, insurance fraud has come to be known as "the hidden tax" because all policyholders pay for the cost of those who scam insurance companies.
The Insurance Council of New Jersey and a diverse coalition of law enforcement, consumer and business organizations are leading the fight in Trenton to amend and enhance the state's anti-fraud laws. ICNJ is strongly supporting Senate Bill 1461, sponsored by Senator Fred Madden (D-4) and Senator Robert Gordon (D-38), and Assembly Bill 944 , sponsored by Assemblywoman Celeste Riley (D-3) and Assemblyman Matthew Milam (D-1). The Senate and Assembly bills are identical and include 17 Democratic and Republican cosponsors.
The legislation also has been endorsed by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, the County Prosecutor's Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, the New Jersey Bureau of Fraud Deterrence, the New Jersey Police Chief's Association, the New Jersey Sheriff's Association, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association and the New Jersey Lawsuit Reform Alliance.
Despite the widespread support, the legislation has not moved in the Legislature. We urge you take action now and contact your local State Senator and State Assembly representatives and tell them you support S-1461/A-944 and want New Jersey to become more aggressive in its fight against insurance fraud.
Some of the key provisions of the legislation include:
Increasing the statute of limitations from 7 to 10 years for crimes involving insurance fraud.
Strengthening penalties for reverse rate evasion violations. Reverse rate evasion comes when a person knowingly registers his/her vehicle out of state to avoid paying New Jersey automobile insurance premiums.
Amending existing anti-fraud statutes to include anti-kickback language similar to the Medicare and Medicaid Protection Act of 1987, which would prohibit kickbacks in connection with insurance claims. This provision would help identify all participants in widespread insurance schemes.
Expand civil immunity for law enforcement and insurance fraud investigators who share information about suspected fraudulent activity. This tool will allow law enforcement and insurance investigators greater flexibility in identifying fraud rings.
Require a "cooling off period" of 30 days before an accident report is made available to the public. This provision would not apply to parties involved in the accident. It is designed to stop "runners" working for insurance fraud rings from obtaining copies of accident reports.
Please get involved and fight back against Insurance Fraud!
Bad Faith Bill Introduced in Legislature
Legislation that would undermine decades of established case law involving New Jersey's bad faith standard has been introduced in the Senate. The Bill, S-766 , sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-22). would establish a private cause of action for insureds or their assignees regarding bad faith settlement practices in the settlement or attempted settlement of claims involving insurance coverage.
Scutari's bill would weaken the current "reasonably debatable" bad faith standard and establish a standard where the claimant would have to prove that the insurer acted unreasonably in the investigation, evaluation, processing, payment, or settlement of the claimant’s claim for coverage or without a reasonable basis in denying the coverage. If enacted. the legislation will virtually guarantee that every case involving a dispute between an insured, or a provider, with an insurance company also will have a bad faith charge attached to it. This will require insurance companies to litigate the claim dispute and then defend the bad faith claim separately.
The legislation will undoubtedly result in increased and costly litigation as witnessed when California enacted a similar law, and then later repealed it. The bill also reverses the recent holding of the Supreme Court of New Jersey in Wood v. New Jersey Manufacturers Ins. Co., 2011 N.J. Lexis 679, (2011), that bad faith breach of contract claims against insurers are actions to which the right to a jury trial attaches; the bill provides that these claims are to be heard and decided by a judge of competent jurisdiction.
ICNJ strongly opposes this bill and urges you to contact members of the Senate Commerce Committee -- Senator Nia Gill (D-34), chair of the committee, Senator Raymond Lesniak (D-20), Senator Tom Kean, Jr. (R-21) and Senator Gerald Cardinale (R-39) and voice your opposition to this legislation. We also urge you to contact Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-3) and express your opposition to the bill.
Support Assembly Bill 1570 to Require Fire Suppression Systems in New Homes
The Insurance Council of New Jersey encourages you to support Assembly Bill 1570 (Wisniewski/Green) which would require fire suppression systems in new single and two family homes. We believe the installation of fire suppression systems is an inexpensive and sensible way to save the lives of New Jersey citizens.
ICNJ respectfully asks you to convey the following message points in support of the legislation to your state legislator.
The legislation doesn't require anything of current homeowners.
These systems do not cause excessive water damage. They confine it. They put out far less water than a fire department's hoses - roughly about one-tenth of the water. Only the sprinkler head nearest the heat is activated, not the entire system.
These systems do not create leakage problems and are likely more dependable than existing plumbing systems when installed correctly.
These systems are not expensive. Average installation costs $1.61 per sprinkled square foot, a 1 percent to 1.5 percent increase in total cost of the home – about the same as upgrading flooring. And the potential savings in loss of property far outweighs the installation costs.
Where well water is used, a tank ensures adequate water supply. This does raise the cost from $2,000- $3,600 (or from the $1.61 per sprinkled square foot to $2.73 per sprinkled square foot) depending on whether a pump and a tank are added -- about the same cost as if a higher capacity pump was added to the well system.
Some insurers such as offer discounts of up to 10 percent on homes that are constructed with sprinkler systems or that have been retrofitted with approved sprinkler systems.
National building code standards incorporate new sprinkler technology because it has been proven effective.
These systems save lives and prevent firefighter risk: The risk of dying in a reported home fire is cut by 80 percent when sprinklers are present.
Please contact your state Assembly representatives and ask them to support Assembly Bill 1570.