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Massage Today
June, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 06

Colorado Auto Insurance Reverts to Tort System: Massage Coalition Disappointed by Outcome

By Editorial Staff

In March, Massage Today reported on the formation of the Colorado Coalition of Massage Therapists and Bodyworkers (CCMTB) in response to HB 1225, a bill designed to revise the state's no-fault auto insurance law.1

Although the CCMTB supported efforts to revise the no-fault law, it opposed HB 1225 because of its exclusion of massage therapy as a benefit of motor-vehicle-injury-insurance coverage.

HB 1225 was eventually killed. The coalition supported revisions to subsequent no-fault bills, HB 1321 and SB 78; however, both failed to pass in the Colorado legislation.

Now, effective July 1, 2003, Colorado will change from a no-fault auto insurance system to a tort-based system with the passage of HB 1188, marking a shift in how auto insurance benefits have been managed in the state for the last 30 years.2 Under the new system, people injured in auto accidents will be forced to seek out-of-pocket medical care, then sue the at-fault driver's insurance company for reimbursement. They must be able to prove that such medical care was reasonable and medically necessary. Under this law, the at-fault party cannot sue for reimbursement of medical costs.

This law comes as a great disappointment to the coalition, which fought hard to ensure that a revised no-fault law would be fair to the massage therapy profession. Under the tort system, there is a high probability that people injured in traffic collisions will rely on their private health insurance to cover the costs, which could substantially raise premiums as many health plans still do not cover massage; this system will likely deprive many auto-injury patients of the benefits of massage.

According to Rachel Dale, CCMTB secretary: "Under this tort law, people will be reluctant to get care and then bet that they can get their bills reimbursed in a lawsuit. They'll use their health insurance, which won't cover massage therapy for most of them and will drive up health premiums. That will hurt everyone who buys health insurance, including massage therapists."2

Despite the setback, the CCMTB's Executive Committee will discuss the future of the coalition and whether it can utilize its influence in the state capitol for other issues that may arise in the profession. "Using the power of grassroots lobbying, along with expert professional representation, [the CCMTB] gained a significant reputation in the state legislature this year," said Dale.

The CCMTB also will be compiling data on how tort-based insurance affects massage therapy in other states. If you would like to share your experience or information, contact Susan Jackson Grubb at or visit for more information.

To view the complete text of HB 1188, visit


  1. Colorado coalition formed to fight proposed auto insurance bill. Massage Today, March 2003:
  2. E-mail/phone conversations with Rachel Dale, CCMTB secretary, May 7, 2003.


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