Louisiana Senate OKs bill to boost vehicle liability coverage

| 6/18/2008

A bill nearing passage in the Louisiana Legislature would require drivers to carry more liability insurance. A change made to the bill in a Senate committee would mandate less insurance than previously sought.

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 Senate voted 33-2 to approve a bill that would increase the minimum requirements to $25,000 for property damage, $30,000 for everyone killed or injured, and up to $15,000 for each person injured.

The increases would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2010. The changes would be implemented upon renewal of policies after that date.

Sponsored by Rep. Erich Ponti, R-Baton Rouge, the original bill called for raising the limits to $25,000 for one injury or death and property damage and $50,000 for multiple fatalities or injuries.

That version was 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 – has moved back to the House for approval of changes. If approved there, it would head to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor