The Effect of Mandatory Insurer Reporting on Settlement Delay

Published in: American Law and Economics Review, Volume 22, Issue 2, pages 397–433 (Fall 2020). doi: 10.1093/aler/ahaa010

Posted on on January 22, 2021

by Paul Heaton

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To improve their fiscal position, Medicare and some state Medicaid programs have recently taken steps to mandate reporting of personal injury awards and thus facilitate subrogation against such awards. Participants in the tort system have argued these additional reporting requirements might delay settlement of claims, harming both plaintiffs and defendants. This article examines this problem empirically, using a rich, national data set of closed automobile bodily injury claims. Using a differences-in-differences research design that exploits the introduction of a new Medicare reporting requirement in 2011, it demonstrates that mandated reporting increased time to settlement by 19%, or an average of 58 days. Robustness checks using data from closed malpractice claims reveal a similar delay. Conservative calculations suggest such delays could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in waiting costs each year. Policymakers should be aware of and seek to avoid such costs as they assess whether and how to expand reporting of personal injury awards.

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