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Bill to Raise Auto Liability Rates Would Impact 40% of Nevada Drivers

March 28, 2011

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - State lawmakers are debating whether the minimum auto liability coverage Nevada drivers need to carry should be raised for the first time since 1954. Assemblyman William Horne (D-Dist. A34) says some Nevadans were driving Edsels and gas cost less than 50 cents a gallon the last time state lawmakers set the minimum rates for auto liability insurance.

Horne, who chairs the Assembly Judiciary Committee, says he found out from personal experience that the current liability minimums don't provide enough to pay to get you to the hospital, let alone pay for treatment, if you are the victim of a serious accident.

"It was an auto accident that I had, the gentleman who hit me had the minimums, as did I. You quickly know, I mean... I got transported to UMC Trauma and the minimums won't even cover that."

If the measure passes, Nevada drivers would have to carry at least $50,000 in liability coverage for an accident that injures a single victim. About 40 percent of Nevada drivers would see rate increases, and opponents say poor people in the state wouldn't be able to afford the extra payments which are expected to run about $300 per year.

Horne says he is looking out for poor Nevadans especially, because they are the most likely not to have additional health insurance, or a savings account that could help them pay for medical costs if they are an accident victim.

"Missing time off of work due to the accident, those things affect the poor more. So, on the other side, the bill actually helps the poor, not hurt them."

Horne agrees the increase would impact four-in-10 Nevada drivers, but says all of those Nevadans are driving around carrying only enough liability coverage to pay for medical expenses in 1950 dollars.

"Gas was 24 cents a gallon, the top TV shows were 'Gunsmoke' and 'The Rifleman' - this gives you an idea about how long ago this was put in place."

Horne says he is willing to compromise, but coverage needs to be increased. The measure, AB 120, could come up as early as Tuesday before the Assembly Transportation Committee.



Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV