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Auto-Insurance Reform is Still an Active Topic

May 2, 2007

By Matt Murphy, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

May 3--BOSTON -- Two consecutive years of dips in auto-insurance rates have not been enough to take the idea of auto-insurance reform off the table.

State lawmakers yesterday held a public hearing at the Statehouse on 15 different bills filed this year to reform the auto- insurance industry, from deregulation to a plan by Sen. Susan Tucker, D-Andover, to reduce insurance costs for consumers by decreasing the numbers of accidents and insurance claims in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts auto- insurance rates have dropped more than 20 percent over the past two years to an average premium of about $900 a year. Consumers, however, still pay some of the highest rates in the country, which are set by the state.

"If we want to reduce auto- insurance rates, we must reduce the number of accidents," Tucker said.

Massachusetts has the highest accident rate in the country, a full 40 percent higher than the number-two state -- Rhode Island.

Tucker has proposed a special commission to study the impact of accidents on auto-insurance

premiums that would also be charged with developing a plan to reduce the accident rate within 180 days of implementation.

Pointing to the crackdown of insurance fraud in Lawrence and efforts made to improve safety on the Lowell Connector as important steps, Tucker said some other keys to lower rates are improving dangerous intersections, incentivizing driver education and prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving.

The Lowell Police Department has also made efforts to curb insurance fraud,resulting in insurance discounts for Lowell drivers.

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Copyright (c) 2007, The Sun, Lowell, Mass.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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