‘Pocket veto’ kills bill to up car insurance requirements in Alabama

| Thursday, June 21, 2007

Motorists in Alabama don’t have to worry about the expense of carrying more liability insurance – for now.

Gov. Bob Riley blocked legislation to raise the minimum amount of liability insurance that motorists must carry. The governor allowed the bill to die without acting on it at all, which is commonly referred to as a “pocket veto.”

Riley said that while he supports the concept, he had concerns about the bill – SB202 – because it didn’t include an implementation period for insurance companies to prepare new policies and motorists to purchase them. The new insurance requirements would have taken effect as soon as the governor signed it.

For the past eight years, drivers in Alabama have been required to carry liability insurance. The minimum amount has been set at $20,000 for a single injury or death, $40,000 for multiple injuries or deaths, and $10,000 for property damage.

Sponsored by Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, the bill sought to boost the requirements to $25,000 in coverage for a single injury or death, $50,000 for multiple injuries or deaths, and $25,000 for property damage.

Motorists would have been required to comply with the new limits when they renewed their current policies.

Supporters said the change in minimum liability requirements for physical injury would bring the state in line with 25 other states.

Opponents said the change would hurt the state’s low-income residents who wouldn’t be able to afford the increases and cause many people to drop their insurance coverage altogether. They also said the minimum insurance standard would be beyond the worth of many vehicles.

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