Legislation Enacted to Provide for Pre-Litigation Disclosure of Insurance Coverage in Vehicle Accident Cases

On January 25, 2013, the District of Columbia enacted the Pre-Litigation Discovery of Insurance Coverage Amendment Act of 2012 (A19-646). The legislation, which is subject to a 30-day Congressional review period, provides for pre-litigation disclosure of insurance coverage in vehicle accident cases, including but not limited to vehicle accident cases involving bicyclists. Specifically, the legislation requires insurers to disclose the coverage limits applicable to an insured’s policy within 30 days after a claimant (1) makes a written claim to the insurer for compensation concerning a vehicle accident for which the insured may be liable, and (2) provides certain documentation in support of the claim. Disclosure is required regardless of whether the insurer contests the claim and regardless of the amount of the claim. However, disclosure does not constitute an admission by the insurer that the claim is covered by the policy or waive any term or condition of the policy or any right of the insurer. Furthermore, the insurer, its employees, and its agents may not be held civilly or criminally liable for making the required disclosure. The stated purpose of the legislation is “to facilitate settlements and to reduce the amount of litigation in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.”

[Update: On April 23, 2013, the 30-day Congressional review period ended and Act 19-646 became Law 19-281. The operative text of Law 19-281 is now codified at D.C. Code § 31-2403.01 (2013).]