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Bill to Modernize Car Insurance Heard Today in State Senate

A bill to raise minimum auto-insurance coverage gets a hearing today at the state Senate.(jppi/morguefile)
A bill to raise minimum auto-insurance coverage gets a hearing today at the state Senate.(jppi/morguefile)
March 28, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. – If a driver with a bare-bones liability policy hurts someone, the victims are out of luck once the bills exceed the driver's policy limit. This morning, the state Senate transportation committee takes up a bill to raise the minimum amount an auto-insurance policy must cover.

Currently, state law requires drivers to carry a policy that will pay out $15,000 per person for bodily injury; $30,000 per accident and $10,000 for property damage.

But, Reno personal-injury attorney Matt Sharp says a so-called 15-30-10 policy is woefully insufficient.

"An emergency room and a couple visits to the doctor and you've hit $15,000," he said. "You're not going to have enough money to repair your car. You don't have a car, you can't get to work. So these are real-life issues."

The current limits of 15-30-10 were set way back in 1958. The new bill, SB 308, would set a new mandatory minimum of $25,000 for bodily injury, $50,000 per accident and $20,000 for property damage.

Opponents of the bill say it would drive up insurance premiums. But, the state of Maine has the highest mandatory minimum but does not have the highest premiums. It does, however, have the lowest rate of uninsured drivers.

Sharp says the current system drives up costs for everyone because people who get hurt and aren't compensated turn to taxpayer-funded emergency care. And many drivers end up buying costly uninsured motorist coverage.

"The lower people's limits are, the more likely you will need to use uninsured-motorist coverage," he explained. "The fact that we have arcane policy limits makes uninsured motorist coverage more expensive."

Statistics show that as of 2011, about 18 percent of drivers in Nevada carried only the minimum insurance coverage.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV