The state Department of Banking and Insurance announced it will release the long-awaited changes to last year’s proposed personal injury protection regulations, after considering more than 18,000 comments from consumers, policyholders, insurance careers, medical professionals and others.
The 60-day comment period on the portions of the proposals that were significantly changed since the last comment period is slated to begin Feb. 21, with the publication of the proposed changes in the New Jersey Register. Once the comment period closes April 21, the state will review the entire set of changes and decide whether to make further changes or adopt what has been proposed.
“The department’s comment period accomplished what it was meant to do, and we listened, and we now have an opportunity to make the proposal better, to improve it. It’s a significant step forward,” said Marshall McKnight, DOBI spokesman. “These proposals will help auto insurance consumers get more treatment for the same PIP premium dollar by removing wasteful costs from the current system.”
Last year, DOBI, which has said higher PIP costs were responsible for increased insurance rates, proposed new PIP regulations that would add more than 1,000 procedures to the medical fee schedule, reform the arbitration system and put in place additional state oversight authority of PIP vendors hired by insurers to administers benefits.
Since the proposed changes in this round affect only about 25 percent of the entire proposal made by DOBI last year, only the portions that have been significantly changed will be open for comment under the Administrative Procedure Act, signed by Gov. Chris Christie, in March, according to the state.
A report released earlier this week by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said New Jersey’s average combined personal auto insurance premium, including liability, collision and comprehensive, rose to $1,217.96 in 2009, from $1,197.91 in 2008.