24 July 2008

hb1312 former insurance commissioner jim brown blasts higher legislatively mandated auto insurance rates

in his latest column, former louisiana state insurance commissioner jim brown blasts baton rouge rino erich ponti's house bill no.1312 which increases the minimum limits for compulsory motor vehicle liability insurance and in turn the premium burden borne by some 1 million+ of louisiana's poorest drivers.

In the area of car insurance, the news is just as bad. For years, Louisiana has always hovered in the list of the top 10 or 15 states in the country when it comes to the basic cost of auto insurance. But it hovers no more. The Bayou state is at the top of the heap. Numero Uno. Number one in the country. For the first six months of 2008, the average car owner in states throughout the country paid an average of $1893 per year to ensure their vehicle. Louisiana led the nation as being the most expensive state to drive a car, with an average premium of $2600.

So what did the Louisiana legislature do about this growing problem? They more than doubled the mandatory required amount to drive on Louisiana highways, which will raise the rates of the average car owner by anywhere from 20 to 30%. Governor Bobby Jindal would not touch this proposal with a 10 foot pole, and let the huge auto insurance increase become law without his signature.

A number of states are aggressively addressing auto insurance costs with some creative approaches. Our neighbors in Texas have joined a number of other states in allowing insurance to be sold based on the amount one drives. The car owner receives a monthly bill just like they do for the use of utilities. The more you drive the more you pay. Some states have seen the average insurance rate drop by as much a 30% when mileage is a factor in what insurance costs. Driving less means savings in both what a driver pays for insurance as well as gasoline. There are a number of other ideas being considered by states across the country. Unfortunately, all Louisiana did was to significantly raise the price the average driver has to pay to be on the highways.~ read more
hb1312 was championed by central louisiana's ultral-liberal democrat chris roy, jr. who voted in committee for the bills favorable passage as well as for it on the house floor. rep. roy had also filed his own bill, hb1291 to increase minimum motor vehicle liability insurance limits.

rino ponti's hb1312 was even opposed by the louisiana association of fire and casualty companies but the louisiana legislature shoved it down our throats anyway. apparently, the legislators and their trial lawyer friends - who have the most to gain from this bill, have learned that most of the people affected by the premium increase don't bother to vote or follow politics.

in the 2007 louisiana regular legislative session, then governor kathleen blanco to her great credit, vetoed a similar bill to increase minimum motor vehicle liability insurance limits, sb223 by lafayette rino mike michot.

rep. ponti you might recall voted in committee for sb672 the massive legislative pay raise fraud bill because he claimed that he wanted it to go to the house floor for debate. however, no one including rep. ponti spoke against it on the house floor. rep. ponti and rep. roy voted against sb672 in the house final passage vote and somewhat hypocritically neither one turned down the pay raise. sb672 was ultimately vetoed by governor piyush "bobby" jindal who as mr. brown pointed out, allowed hb1312 to become law without his signature.