7951 E. Maplewood Avenue, Suite 110
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
Serving Colorado, New Mexico, Utah & Wyoming
Contact: Carole Walker, Executive Director
303-790-0216 or toll free 800-355-9524
New Colorado Car Insurance Law Drives Consumer Education
November 11, 2008 – Starting this month, the mail and inboxes of Colorado drivers will begin filling up with notices from their car insurance companies informing customers of a new “opt-out” requirement due to a new Colorado Law that takes effect January 1, 2009. Since many car insurance policy renewal notices are sent 60 days in advance, drivers whose coverage renews in January will start receiving revised premium notices—along with an optional rejection form. However, it's important for all Colorado insurance consumers to understand how the legislation affects their insurance.
Colorado Senate Bill 08-11 creates a mandatory opt-out of $5,000 in medical payments coverage (MPC). Medical payments coverage is currently optional auto insurance coverage that is offered in many different amounts—ranging from $1,000 to $100,000. This is extra coverage on your auto policy that pays for you and your passenger(s) medical bills regardless of who causes the accident. If you buy this coverage it is in addition to health insurance and settlement money from an at-fault driver.
During the 2008 Legislative Session, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill that will require car insurance companies to add $5,000 of medical payments coverage to every car insurance policy, unless the customer rejects the amount in writing or in the same way it was sold to them (i.e. telephone, internet).
For policies that go into effect after January 1, 2009, the additional $5,000 in med pay coverage will be automatically rolled on. For customers who don't already carry med pay this will mean a new premium. If you purchased less than $5,000 previously, your company is still required to offer you a $5,000 limit, since the lower limit amounts will no longer be offered. Bottom line: You'll need to buy $5,000, choose a higher limit, or reject all medical coverage by sending back the rejection form.
It's estimated that about 32 percent of Coloradans currently choose to purchase some amount of medical payments coverage on their car insurance policy. “So the implementation of this new law will require the majority of Colorado drivers to again carefully weigh their decision to buy extra medical coverage and take action to reject the coverage if they determine they don't want or need it,” says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. “That's why it's important to talk to your agent or company representative about your insurance choices and make sure you have the protection that's right for you and your family.”
Colorado insurance companies are taking steps to make sure their customers understand their options and the new opt out legal requirements. Companies are implementing education campaigns that will start this month to inform their customers, agents and employees of the law changes. RMIIA also has new educational guides, “Colorado Car Insurance GPS,” that help steer drivers though their coverage choices.
Medical Payments Coverage Tips
When deciding to purchase med pay or how much, consider the following:
What and how much your health insurance policy already covers if you are injured in a car accident.
Med pay may cover health insurance co-pays and deductibles.
The convenience of having your own auto insurance company pay medical bills while you work out a final settlement with an at-fault driver.
If you don't have health insurance, med pay can pay for your medical bills even when you cause the accident.
Other Helpful Colorado Auto Insurance Links:
If you can afford more insurance, carrying more than the mandatory minimum requirement is recommended. Think about the amount of insurance you'll need when you need it the most. Families should sit down with their insurance agent or company representative to determine the right amount for each individual and family.
For more consumer information on insurance topics visit www.rmiia.org.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association is a non-profit consumer information organization. Affiliated with the Insurance Information Institute, RMIIA has been serving consumers and the media since 1952.