Hank Investigates: Controversial Coverage

BROCKTON (WHDH) - It happened in an instant…

Romneisha: “All of a sudden we heard this loud explosion.”

The car Romnesha was in got smashed by a cab in Brockton.

Romneisha: “That was the most afraid I’ve ever been in my life.”

Badly injured, she’d been in this demolished back seat, an ambulance whisked her to the hospital.

At least, she figured, the cab’s insurance would help pay for her massive medical bills.

But we found Romneisha, still in constant pain, is a victim of a little known insurance coverage law that left her medical and financial future in jeopardy.

Romneisha: “It could be you, it could be your family.”

Though most drivers think you must have bodily injury insurance of at least 20 thousand dollars per person, we found a Massachusetts law allowing drivers to carry only half that amount, $10,000.

The law is administered by the state Treasurer’s office.

Hank: “Do you think people know about this?”
Deborah B. Goldberg, MA Treasurer: “I’m the treasurer and I didn’t know about it—so I don’t think it’s something that people really know about.”

Here’s how it works: You don’t need an insurance company. You don’t pay premiums. And no matter what your driving record you just deposit $10,000 to a state account.

If you cause an accident that $10,000 is the extent of your coverage.

Deborah Goldberg: “This makes no sense whatsoever.”

This law was passed almost 100 years ago. Now, as a result victims like Romneisha must hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit and get a court order to collect whatever money they can.

Jason Stone, Attorney: “They’re left just in pain and frustrated and sad and really without any recourse whatever. It’s horrible, it’s heartbreaking.”

Romneisha was awarded the cab company’s $10,000 but the unavoidable legal and medical costs left her with just 2,100 bucks—and eighty thousand dollars in bills.

Stone: “It’s definitely not protecting people.”

Will you be hit by someone with this controversial coverage? State records show there are hundreds of $10,000 deposits on file with the state. Some cab companies, some private drivers.

But when you get into a cab or when you’re sharing the road, there’s no way to know.

Romneisha: “I was like—how is this possible? This shouldn’t be possible, this shouldn’t be legal.”

And if the State Treasurer has her way, it won’t be legal much longer. She’s filed a bill to end the program, and require all drivers have traditional insurance.

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