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SURVEY FINDS OPPOSITION TO NO-FAULT AUTO INSURANCE

 SURVEY FINDS OPPOSITION TO NO-FAULT AUTO INSURANCE
 BOSTON, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Three times as many Massachusetts


consumers oppose the state's no-fault auto insurance system as favor it, according to a recent survey.
 The statewide survey of 624 registered car owners found that 47 percent oppose no-fault insurance, while only 16 percent favor it. In addition, 73 percent of those surveyed want to see no-fault eliminated entirely or scaled back.
 The survey was conducted by McDermott/O'Neill Research for the Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA) and has a 4 percent margin of error.
 Commenting on the survey results, MATA President Walter Costello said, "It is clear that Massachusetts consumers don't support the existing system and don't want to see it expanded. Drivers across the state are sending a message: No-fault auto insurance costs too much and is not fair."
 Costello noted that contrary to consumer wishes, the auto insurance reform legislation recently filed by the Weld administration would expand no-fault insurance.
 On cost issues, almost nine out of 10 consumers feel that Massachusetts rates are higher than the national average, and almost 70 percent say that the no-fault system hasn't kept rates under control. A plurality think rates would be lower if no-fault were repealed.
 Consumers also think the no-fault system is unfair. A majority feel that it is unfair to treat the person who causes an accident the same as an accident victim, a central tenet of the no-fault system. Further, consumers believe no-fault reduces victims' rights and does not hold bad drivers accountable for their actions. Middle and lower income consumers are particularly likely to think that the current system is unfair.
 Costello said that a repeal of no-fault insurance, as advocated by MATA, is much more in keeping with consumer wishes and noted that no-fault repeal has been endorsed by Ralph Nader, America's most respected consumer advocate.
 "Consumers want real reform, not more tinkering to expand a failed system. They want lower premiums; they want fraud reduced; and they want a system that's fair. The verbal threshold proposed by the administration will not achieve these goals. A tort system is the only way to achieve the reform consumers are demanding," he added.
 Costello noted:
 -- Of the 37 states that have tort systems, all but one has lower rates than Massachusetts. Tort system rates average 17 percent lower than no-fault rates.
 -- Tort systems decrease lawyer involvement in claims by 30 percent.
 -- Tort systems compensate good drivers and hold bad drivers accountable, thereby reducing overall costs and apportioning them more fairly.
 -- Tort systems give legitimate victims access to redress from bad drivers and their insurance companies.
 ----
 The following is a brief executive summary of the survey:
 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
 The Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys (MATA) sponsored a statewide telephone survey of registered car owners in Massachusetts regarding their attitudes toward the state's no-fault automobile insurance system.
 The survey concludes that the no-fault system is extremely unpopular. The majority of Massachusetts consumers agree that the current no-fault auto insurance system is responsible for higher costs, is unfair, and should be changed. A significant percentage of consumers are undecided or neutral, possibly because they have insufficient information about the complex issues involved in the auto insurance debate. These conclusions are based on the following survey findings.
 1. People believe that Massachusetts' auto insurance rates are higher than the national average.
 -- Almost nine out of 10 (88 percent) survey respondents feel that automobile insurance rates are higher in Massachusetts than the national average.
 -- Rates are perceived as being higher because of the large number of accidents and careless drivers (42 percent), stolen cars (36 percent) and insurance fraud (18 percent).
 2. People hold the no-fault system responsible for failing to control auto insurance costs in Massachusetts.
 -- Most (69 percent) respondents disagree that the current no-fault insurance system has helped to keep insurance rates under control.
 -- A plurality (47 percent) of the respondents agree that rates could be lowered if the no-fault system is replaced.
 3. More Massachusetts consumers oppose the no-fault system than favor it.
 -- Almost three times as many survey respondents oppose the no-fault automobile insurance system as favor it, 47 percent to 16 percent respectively. Over one-third, 37 percent, are either neutral or undecided.
 -- Over one-third of the survey respondents want the effects of no-fault reduced (38 percent), and over one-third more would like to see no-fault eliminated entirely (35 percent). Only 13 percent favor keeping it or expanding it and 13 percent are undecided.
 -- A majority of the respondents who oppose no fault want to see it eliminated entirely. Even among those who favor no-fault, almost twice as many would like to see its effects reduced as would prefer to keep it as is, 44 percent to 24 percent respectively.
 4. In addition to higher costs under no-fault, people are upset about the system's unfairness.
 -- A majority (61 percent) of the respondents feel that an automobile insurance system which treats the person who causes an accident the same as a victim is unfair.
 -- Significantly more respondents agree than disagree that no-fault both reduces the rights of accident victims and eliminates people's responsibility for their actions.
 -- A majority (59 percent) of the respondents feel that a system which does not allow you to sue the person who causes an accident, regardless of the level of physical injuries he/she causes, is unfair. Methodology
 The survey was conducted by McDermott/O'Neill Research, an affiliation of Atlantic Marketing Research, and McDermott/O'Neill & Associates.
 The survey was conducted between Feb. 6 and 10, 1992. In all, 624 telephone interviews with registered car owners were completed. The questionnaire itself focused on several specific areas:
 -- Level of understanding of the no-fault insurance system
 -- No-fault cost issues
 -- No-fault fairness issues
 -- Overall attitudes toward the no-fault system
 -- Demographics and factual questions relating to car ownership, insurance rates, and history of auto accidents and insurance claims.
 The results of the survey are accurate at a 95 percent confidence level with a plus or minus 4 percent margin of error.
 -0- 3/17/92
 /CONTACT: Jennifer Watson of McDermott/O'Neill Research, 508-855-3099/ CO: ST: Massachusetts IN: INS SU:


EG-SH -- NE003 -- 8676 03/17/92 09:51 EST
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Date:Mar 17, 1992
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