Alabama bill would up car insurance requirements

| 11/14/2007

If an Alabama state lawmaker gets his way, motorists in the state would have to carry more liability insurance.

Sen. Roger Bedford, D-Russellville, has prefiled a bill for consideration during the 2008 session that would raise the minimum amount of liability insurance that motorists must carry. He offered a similar bill during the 2007 session that Gov. Bob Riley allowed to die without acting on it, commonly referred to as a “pocket veto.”

Riley said that while he supports the concept, he had concerns about the bill 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.

With the governor’s concerns in mind, Bedford specified in his newest effort the new minimum requirements take effect three months after it is signed into law.

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.

Bedford’s bill would boost the requirements to $50,000 in coverage for a single injury or death, $100,000 for multiple injuries or deaths, and $20,000 for property damage.

Motorists would be required to comply with the new limits when they renew their current policies.

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

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.

The bill – SB4 – is in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting consideration during the session that begins in January.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2007, click here.