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STATEMENT BY WALTER COSTELLO, PRESIDENT OF THE MASS. ACADEMY OF TRIAL ATTORNEYS REGARDING, GOV. WELD'S AUTO INSURANCE LEGISLATION

 STATEMENT BY WALTER COSTELLO, PRESIDENT OF THE MASS. ACADEMY OF TRIAL ATTORNEYS REGARDING, GOV. WELD'S AUTO INSURANCE LEGISLATION
 BOSTON, March 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Walter Costello, president of the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, regarding the Weld administration's auto insurance legislation:
 The auto insurance legislation unveiled today by the Weld administration is another attempt to expand, at the consumer's expense, a system that is inherently anti-consumer.
 When No-Fault was passed 20 years ago, consumers were promised that rates would go down if they gave up their rights to hold bad drivers accountable for the damage they do. The insurance companies made this promise again in 1988. Those promises were broken. Instead, Massachusetts drivers pay among the highest rates in the country.
 Now again, the insurance companies are promising to reduce rates, if only consumers will give up even more rights. Given the history of the past 20 years, there is no reason to believe that rate reductions will be any more than a one year agreement between the administration and the insurance companies. The insurance companies have done very well under the present system. They are backing the expansion of No-Fault for one reason: bigger profits.
 The proposed verbal threshold expansion hasn't worked in the three states where it's been tried. In New York, rates have increased every year since the system was adopted in 1977 and 140 percent since 1981. In all three verbal threshold states, rates have increased dramatically, and litigation has skyrocketed over what constitutes a "serious" injury.
 We do, of course, strongly support the administration's efforts to crack down on fraud and hope that the insurance companies will finally take seriously their obligation to police and reject fraudulent claims.
 Rather than putting a band-aid on our terminally ill auto insurance system, the time is right to repeal No-Fault altogether. It is the only real reform that promises true long-term rate relief for consumers. It is the only reform that promises to protect both consumers' rights and their pocketbooks.
 Of the 37 states that have tort systems, all but one have lower rates than Massachusetts. These systems are working, and the reasons are clear. A tort system protects good drivers, holds bad drivers accountable, and means real long-term rate relief. We encourage the legislature to reject the insurance industry sponsored bill and pass the real reforms Massachusetts drivers deserve.
 -0- 3/5/92
 /CONTACT: Jennifer Watson of McDermott/O'Neill, 617-261-2200, for Walter Costello/ CO: ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


TM-EG -- NE013 -- 5606 03/05/92 16:16 EST
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Date:Mar 5, 1992
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