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Survey Article


The big news for 1991 is the repeal of Georgia's No-Fault Act. The Dawkins/Taylor Bill,1 which became law in- April 1991 and effective on October 1, 1991, surgically exscinded all no-fault provisions from the Georgia Motor Vehicle Accident Reparations Act and replaced them with an extensively revamped compulsory automobile liability insurance system. During its sixteen-year reign, Georgia's no-fault regime, embroidered by numerous amendments, has spawned an amount of litigation that rivals or surpasses that of the Uninsured Motorist Act. At least ten percent of all appellate judge-time was devoured by no-fault cases. Accordingly, the purveyors of no-fault, who captured our consumerite imaginations in the early seventies, now agree that a bad no-fault law is worse than none. Georgia's modified no-fault law suspended the torts system only in regard to no-fault limits. Although the statute permitted insurance consumers to purchase optional coverage beyond the basic five thousand dollar limit, the low five hundred dollar threshold for plugging into the torts systems and obtaining compensation for noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering, was unrealistically low. Georgia's no-fault law was truly an ersatz system, and few will mourn its demise.

The Dawkins/Taylor Bill is a piece of omnibus legislation containing a cornucopia of substantive and procedural changes. This Article addresses two of the most salient changes. The first change revises and strengthens the "Insureds' Bill of Rights," which relates to the unlawful nonrenewal and cancellation of automobile or motorcycle insurance policies. The law now permits aggrieved insureds to vindicate their rights by obtaining a speedy hearing before the Commissioner of Insurance. The Commissioner is authorized to "order such penalties as he determines are appropriate in the event of an abusive nonrenewal or cancellation."

The second revision directs the Commissioner of Insurance to "provide by rule or regulation procedures for the expeditious and efficient settlement of first-party property damage claims under personal private passenger motor vehicle policies involving a variety of contentious issues, such as "[c]ost of repairs" and "[u]se of aftermarket parts."

The past year has produced a bountiful harvest of well over 100 insurance cases. Rather than attempt to discuss them all within the necessary confines of this Article, an informed and perhaps random selection of cases has been made. In order to assure continuity, the cases selected for comment will be discussed in conformance with subject matter headings used in past years.

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