Louisiana Legislature OKs boosting minimal liability coverage

| Thursday, July 05, 2007

Louisiana drivers would be required to carry more liability insurance under a bill headed to the governor’s office.

State law now requires automobile policyholders to have at least $10,000 for the property damage 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 25-12 to sign off on House changes to the bill that would increase the minimum requirements to $25,000 for the property damage of others, $50,000 for everyone killed or injured and up to $25,000 for each person injured. The bill – SB223 – now moves to Gov. Kathleen Blanco’s desk, where it is unclear whether she will sign it.

Sponsored by Sen. Mike Michot, R-Lafayette, the bill would give motorists six months to purchase more insurance to avoid penalties.

Supporters say the current insurance requirements no longer are adequate to cover damages. They were set more than 20 years ago.

Opponents say 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 say the minimum insurance standard would be beyond the worth of many vehicles.

Insurance industry representatives also are opposed to the effort. They say expected higher premiums will only add to the gap between registered vehicles in the state and those that have insurance coverage, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, LA, reported.

State estimates show that of the 3.7 million registered vehicles in the state, insurance companies report that 2.5 million have coverage.

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