After years of having thwarted legislative reform in Annapolis, it's hard not to view with skepticism an industry-initiated partnership with local civic groups to bring down the cost of automobile liability insurance in Baltimore. And yet the plan, which essentially would involve new legislation to allow drivers to choose between the current tort liability system of coverage and so-called "no-fault" policies, may be just the sort of compromise that both the insurance industry and its critics can agree on.
Under "no-fault," insurers pay for medical bills and lost wages within 30 days regardless of who is a fault in an accident. Policyholders in return give up the right to sue for "pain and suffering." The theory is that rates are high because so much is spent bringing cases to court. A system that wrung the legal costs from the process could result in average savings of as much as 20 percent on the annual cost of insuring a car in Baltimore.