Jeffrey O’Connell – University of Virginia Law Professor

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He supports the Insurance Industry, and it supports him

Nothing conveys the impression of authority and objectivity better than academic credentials. That is why University of Virginia Law Professor Jeffrey O’Connell’s role in the insurance reform debate is so troubling.

O’Connell is known as “the father of no fault” based on his early and prolific writing on the subject. As discussed in greater detail in FTCR’s no fault section, no fault, promoted by insurance companies, has been an unmitigated disaster for consumers, with premiums in no fault states increasing an average of 25% more than those in traditional personal responsibility states.(1)

Wherever and whenever the insurance industry and its allies are promoting no fault, Professor O’Connell can be found.

But it’s not just no fault on which O’Connell aligns himself with the insurance behemoths. He’s also opposed to any reform of the insurance industry’s rates and practices (even though they are not inconsistent with his beloved no fault proposals).

Indeed, O’Connell has dismissed as untrue or unimportant such proven and pernicious insurance industry practices as redlining, territorial rating, price gouging, etc.

He has never responded to inquiries asking him to explain his position in detail.

Any pretense of Mr. O’Connell’s academic integrity was exploded by his role in the 1988 insurance wars in California. O’Connell, who resides in Virginia, campaigned throughout the state of California on behalf of the insurance industry’s $80 million campaign to defeat Prop. 103. (For detailed information, click here to visit our Insurance section.) O’Connell:

* Supported the insurance industry’s no fault initiative, Proposition 104, which offered a 20% rate reduction which even insurance industry executives admitted was phony and intended to mislead voters.

* Opposed the successful Proposition 103, which required insurers to refund premiums and prohibits many insurance company abuses.
* Official state disclosure reports filed by the insurance industry during the Prop. 103 battle show that O’Connell was paid $67,000 by the insurance companies to shill for them, a blatant sell-out that hardly comports with the impression of academic honesty that the “Professor” attempts to portray.

FTCR has been unable to determine whether or how much O’Connell has been paid by insurance companies and related trade associations to make his appearances on behalf of no fault in more recent years. Nor have University of Virginia officials commented, to our knowledge, on the extra-curricular activities of their frequent flier law professor.
(1) According to insurance industry data published by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. See our studies on the subject in our Insurance section.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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