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Rivals to Draft Bill for Low-Cost Auto Insurance


Top representatives of the insurance industry and their rivals, the trial lawyers, met for five hours Tuesday and agreed to try to draft compromise legislation to offer low-cost auto policies to lower-income motorists.

After lunching at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, David Casey, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, summarized the closed-door encounter by saying, "Well, at least we didn't blow up the hotel."

Casey said the dozen or solobbyists, lawyers and insurance company officials agreed to meet again in November to begin drafting specific language of a bill that would be presented to lawmakers next year.

Industry lobbyist Dan Dunmoyer declared, "We're hopeful. We've agreed to talk. It will take some time. We are two strong-willed groups trying to reach common ground."

This was the group's second meeting, and it was more inclusive than the first, with both Dunmoyer and a representative of consumer advocate Harvey Rosenfield's Proposition 103 Enforcement Project invited.

They represent the poles of the insurance issue, with Dunmoyer and other industry representatives often contending that only a no-fault insurance system, barring most lawsuits, can bring big reductions in price, and Rosenfield backing the lawyers in opposing such legal reforms.

At stake for millions of Californians is the nature of the auto insurance policies the state legally requires them to buy. They are often so expensive now that a sizable number of motorists defy the law and do not have a policy.

"I don't think much is going to happen today," said lawyer Bruce Brusavich, former head of Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles County. "It's 'make nice' time."

But one thing the two sides agree on is the desirability of avoiding another of the big initiative fights that have cost them millions of dollars in the past.

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