The U.S. Experience with No-Fault Automobile Insurance: A Retrospective

Overview

No-fault regimes, a formerly popular alternative to the tort compensation system for auto-accident victims, have gradually lost support. Over time, premiums and claim costs have grown in no-fault states relative to other states, primarily driven by explosive medical cost increases. No-fault and tort states have also converged across many domains affecting costs, including excess claiming, litigation patterns, and noneconomic-damage payments.

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The U.S. Experience with No-Fault Automobile Insurance: A Retrospective

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Overview

No-fault regimes, a formerly popular alternative to the tort compensation system for auto-accident victims, have gradually lost support. Over time, premiums and claim costs have grown in no-fault states relative to other states, primarily driven by explosive medical cost increases. No-fault and tort states have also converged across many domains affecting costs, including excess claiming, litigation patterns, and noneconomic-damage payments.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780833049162
  • Publisher: RAND Corporation
  • Publication date: 4/16/2010
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface iii

Figures ix

Tables xi

Summary xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Abbreviations xix

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Background 1

Research Purpose and Approach 3

Organization of This Monograph 5

Chapter 2 A Primer on Tort and No-Fault Systems 7

Conventional Tort Approaches to Automobile Insurance 7

No-Fault Approaches to Automobile Insurance 11

Variations on No-Fault and Tort Approaches 14

Add-On Coverage 14

Choice 15

A Typology of Auto-Insurance Regimes 16

Conclusion 17

Chapter 3 A Brief History of No-Fault 19

The Emergence of Fault and No-Fault: 1875-1915 19

As Automobile Accidents Increased, Academics Recommended Extending a No-Fault Workers' Compensation Approach to Compensating Victims of Automobile Accidents: 1915-1940 23

As Automobile-Accident Costs Continue to Rise, More Studies Call for Variations on a No-Fault Approach to Auto Insurance: 1940-1970 28

Massachusetts Becomes the First State to Adopt No-Fault: 1965-1970 35

Insurance Industry Divides Over No-Fault 37

Rise of No-Fault and Consumer Rights: 1970-1985 39

Evaluations of No-Fault Were Generally Positive but Noted Higher-Than-Expected Premium Costs 44

The California Experience with No-Fault 49

The Attempt to Enact Federal Choice No-Fault: 1998-2003 55

The Political Situation Today 58

Conclusion 60

Chapter 4 The Cost of No-Fault 63

Aggregate Cost Trends Among States 65

Aggregate Cost Trends Among No-Fault States That Differ in Size and Threshold Type 72

Aggregate Cost Trends in States That Repealed No-Fault 74

Conclusion 76

Chapter 5 Why Have No-Fault Regimes Been More Expensive Than Anticipated? 77

Does No-Fault Lead to More Accidents? 79

Does No-Fault Lead to Higher Claiming Rates When Accidents Occur? 83

Are Costs per Claim Higher for No-Fault? 86

Does No-Fault Provide a More Victim-Friendly but More Expensive System? 86

Does No-Fault Offer Higher Reimbursement to Victims Than Tort Does? 87

Does No-Fault Result in Faster Claim Processing? 88

Does No-Fault Create Greater Consumer Satisfaction? 90

Did No-Fault Reduce Litigation? 92

Does No-Fault Create Greater Incentives for Fraud? 97

Threshold Overclaiming 99

Claiming for Hard-to-Verify Injuries 105

Are Claims for Lost Work Higher Under No-Fault? 111

Does No-Fault Provide Different Levels of Reimbursement for Noneconomic Damages? 115

Does No-Fault Encourage Greater Claiming of Medical Services? 117

How Likely Is a Claimant to Use a Particular Category of Medical Provider? 120

How Many Visits to a Medical Provider Is a Victim Likely to Claim? 124

Is Medical Cost Inflation Different in No-Fault States? 127

Summary of Key Factors Behind Cost Growth 131

Chapter 6 Conclusion, Policy Implications, and Future Developments 135

Policy Lessons 136

Is No-Fault a Failed Policy Experiment? 136

How Could No-Fault Be Improved? 137

Likely Future Developments and Their Possible Implications 139

Pay-as-You-Drive Auto-Insurance Technology 139

Autonomous-Vehicle Technology 141

Universal Health Insurance 143

Conclusion 144

Appendix: Required Insurance and Actual Insurance 145

Bibliography 151

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