purchase, george & murphey.

purchase, george & murphey.


Pa Insurance Claims Lawyers State May Use Surveillance To Enforce Ins Laws

July 31, 2010

A proposal championed by Governor Ed Rendell to put surveillance cameras on Pennsylvania’s public streets and highways in order to enforce insurance laws is being met with resistance by insurance companies.

The problem of uninsured drivers in Pennsylvania is more common than many people appreciate. As Erie car accident lawyers, we see too often the “coverage tragedies” that these drivers inflict on others. When an uninsured driver causes injury the injured person is frequently left without any source of recovery to offset medical bills, lost wages and other harms.

Insurance companies are resisting the plan. Sam Marshall, President of the Insurance Federation of America, says that the technology does not exist to provide the Commonwealth with “real time” data on the status of a person’s auto insurance. He also claims that the fact that people use variations in their names (sometimes including a middle initial, sometimes not) will pose a practical problem. Hmmm. I’m pretty sure that’s nonsense. Perhaps there would be a slight challenge in crafting the particular software necessary to interface with the state but I can call my Pennsylvania insurance company and find out the status of my policy at a moment’s notice. So, the “real time” component seems already in place. As for the middle initial problem, come on. These are problems that can be solved.

What’s really happening here? Why would insurance companies resist a plan designed to reduce uninsured drivers? I don’t know, but I can speculate that their real concerns are directed more at cost and liability than anything else. Perhaps they are concerned that there would be some additional administrative cost associated with staffing and supporting the data interface with the state. Perhaps they are concerned that if they provide inaccurate or false information that they’ll be held responsible.

Regardless, it seems apparent that the stated concerns of the Insurance Federation are pretense. Their resistance to the idea is revealing, too, in what it says about their commitment to the welfare of Pennsylvania drivers. While they don’t hesitate to spend countless dollars advertising how good they are to their insureds and how bad Pennsylvania car accident lawyers and injured people are, they are unwilling to spend the money (I’ll bet far less money than they budget for advertising) to help enforce the insurance laws that are designed to protect their insureds from dangerous, uninsured drivers.

I’m mindful of the intrusion of government into the privacy of its citizenry and so I view many surveillance proposals with a skeptical eye. But I’m inclined to be supportive of this proposal because it’s limited to public venues (streets), because it’s limited to collecting license plate data and because the problem it’s designed to remedy is a substantial and pernicious problem. Also, I have faith in a vigorous and aggressive legal system in which private lawyers are encouraged to take action against government when it exceeds the bounds of what is constitutionally or legally permissible.