Nationwide Campaign Planned to Reform Insurance Industry

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) - More than 30 consumer groups Wednesday announced a nationwide campaign to reform the insurance industry and fight efforts to cap the amount of damage awards that courts can give victims.

Joan Claybrook of Public Citizen, a group founded by Ralph Nader, said the newly formed Coalition for Consumer Justice seeks insurance reforms that will ""ease the insurance crisis'' and ""helpto stabilize this industry so that future crises will not be as likely to occur.''

Various groups will fan out across the country, lobbying state legislatures to make changes in the insurance industry, she said. Ultimately, the consumer groups want the federal government to set national regulations for the industry.

Claybook said the insurance crisis in the United States is the result of ""greedy'' insurance companies which have mismanaged their portfolios, and has nothing to do with the damages that some juries have awarded victims in liability cases.

The size of jury awards and the number of law suits filed have remained essentially level during the past 25 years after inflation and population increases are taken into account, the groups said.

""The purpose of our liability system of justice is to compensate and to deter,'' she said at a news conference.

The reason insurance companies have canceled risky policies, raised rates and refused coverage to some groups is because declining interest rates have lowered investment income, Claybrook said. …