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SURVEY FINDS PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR CHANGES IN AUTO INSURANCE SYSTEM

 OAK BROOK, Ill., Dec. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The American public, by a two-to-one margin, says it would be a good idea to change the way people are paid for injuries received in auto accidents.
 In a survey of 1,976 U.S. households, 61 percent of drivers agreed it would be a good idea if injured persons could get paid by their own auto insurers instead of having to file claims against the other driver.
 Three out of ten (30 percent) said that's a bad idea, and the remaining 9 percent did not express an opinion. Support was very broad across all age groups, income levels and geographic regions. The idea also was favored by 59 percent of the people who said that paying for auto insurance is a major problem for them.
 A follow-up question found 61 percent of drivers in favor of paying only for medical expenses and wage losses in minor auto injury cases, in order to reduce auto insurance costs. Respondents were informed that more than half of the money paid for auto injuries today goes for payments in excess of actual expenses, and is considered compensation for such things as the inconvenience and discomfort associated with the injury. Several states already have laws that attempt to eliminate such extra payments in minor injury cases.
 These findings came from in-home interviews with 1,976 U.S. households in June 1992. The survey was conducted by the Roper Organization for the Insurance Research Council, a nonprofit public policy research organization. Roper estimates the countrywide results to be accurate within three percentage points in either direction.
 In the same survey, drivers strongly rejected ideas for changes that would merely shift auto insurance costs to different groups of drivers, rather than reduce costs for everyone. Only 22 percent said it would be a good idea to use tax money to pay part of the auto insurance premiums for low-income people. Only 15 percent of drivers favored using tax money to pay off the auto premium for people who live in big cities where auto insurance costs are higher. And only 15 percent said it would be a good idea to require auto insurers to reduce the premium for low-income people and charge others more to make up the difference.
 The idea of shifting auto insurance costs through insurance regulations was rejected more than three to one by respondents with household income under $20,000, and more than six to one by households with annual incomes above $20,000.
 Car owners rated higher medical costs (82 percent of respondents), higher repair costs (76 percent), larger awards and settlements (75 percent), and more lawsuits (74 percent) as the four leading causes of rising auto insurance costs. In a separate question, 78 percent said they had seen or heard advertisements by lawyers, and nearly eight out of ten (78 percent) of those who had done so said such ads have increased the number of liability claims and lawsuits. However, only 39 percent thought the lawyer advertising they had seen would make them more likely to talk with a lawyer if they were injured in an auto accident. More than a third (35 percent) said the ads wouldn't make any difference in their own behavior, and 22 percent said it would make them less likely to contact a lawyer.
 Copies of the survey report, Public Attitude Monitor 1992, will be available from the Insurance Research Council, 1200 Harger Rd., Suite 310, Oak Brook, Ill., 60521, telephone 708-572-1177. The cost is $5 in the U.S., $10 elsewhere.
 -0- 12/16/92
 /CONTACT: Donald W. Segraves or Elizabeth A. Sprinkel of Insurance Research Council, 708-572-1177/


CO: Insurance Research Council ST: IN: INS AUT SU:

WB -- NYFNS1 -- 7518 12/16/92 07:31 EST
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Date:Dec 16, 1992
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