Louisiana House OKs bill to boost vehicle liability coverage

| 5/30/2008

A bill that would require Louisiana drivers to carry more liability insurance is halfway through the statehouse.

State law now requires automobile policyholders to have at least $10,000 for damage to the property of others. They also are required to carry $20,000 coverage for injury or death to more than one person in any one wreck and $10,000 coverage for injury or death to one person.

The House voted 57-35 to advance a bill to the Senate that would increase the minimum requirements to $25,000 for property damage, $50,000 for everyone killed or injured, and up to $25,000 for each person injured. A minimum of 53 votes were needed to clear a non-money or tax bill.

Sponsored by Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, the bill is similar to one vetoed last summer by then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco. She cited concerns that it could lead to more uninsured drivers on Louisiana roads because new premiums could increase by $200 to $400 annually.

Hopeful that Gov. Bobby Jindal is more receptive to the change, supporters say the current insurance requirements no longer are adequate to cover damages. They were set nearly 25 years ago.

The existing mandatory minimum coverage is the lowest in the nation. Supporters say the bill would put the state on par with neighboring states.

The measure – HB1312 – is in the Senate Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor