Senator Scutari Introduces Bill To Expand Protections For Drivers Injured On The Job

Would prohibit use of ‘Step-down’ provisions to limit employees’ coverage

LINDEN — Senator Nicholas P. Scutari (D – Middlesex, Somerset, Union) today announced that he is introducing legislation to prohibit the use of “step-down” clauses in commercial automobile insurance policies to limit protection for employees injured in motor vehicle accidents while on the job. The bill, S-1666, would require that commercial policies provide the maximum uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage available under the policy to all employees of the covered business. Currently, employees not specifically named in a commercial policy are only entitled to coverage equivalent to that provided by their personal automobile liability policies.

“This is a classic bait and switch, and it’s leaving working New Jerseyans out in the cold,” said Senator Scutari. “The pervasive use of step-down clauses allows insurers to dodge responsibility for the well-being of workers, plain and simple. If you are injured on the job, you should be entitled to the maximum protection that your employer’s insurance offers.”

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is important because it ensures that persons injured in automobile accidents will receive some coverage of medical expenses if the responsible driver does not have adequate liability coverage. By capping UM/UIM coverage at the lower limits contained in an individual’s personal policy, “step down” provisions create arbitrary levels of protection that differ from employee to employee. Thus two employees with the same job, working for the same employer, traveling in the same vehicle, and with identical injuries can be treated completely differently. S-1666 would end this fundamentally unfair practice.

“Ultimately, this is an issue of responsibility and basic fairness,” explained Senator Scutari. “Commercial auto policies ought to provide the same level of protection to all individuals traveling in covered vehicles for work-related purposes. S-1666 will ensure that hard working New Jerseyans have the coverage they need and deserve.”