The New Jersey State Legislature works hard to improve the quality of life for all residents in the Garden State, and sometimes that includes making changes to how auto insurance is addressed by insurers and vehicle owners. Already residents are required to purchase a minimum amount of coverage to legally drive, but there are some legislators who feel there are adjustments and additions that can be made to NJ state law that could improve many different aspects of being an insured motorist. As a result, the current legislative sessions has seen the introduction of several potentially significant bills that may one day become law. Here are just a few that could have a noticeable impact on policyholders:
- As of June 2012 the at-fault accident threshold in the Garden State is $500, but Bill A902 backed by Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R) hopes to increase this threshold to $1,000. Because at-fault accidents often have a negative impact on the responsible party’s driving record, these blemishes frequently lead to higher insurance rates. By doubling the state threshold, Shepisi hopes to reduce the number of point violations that are assessed for fairly minor incidents, which may help many NJ residents avoid premium inflation.
- Residents who buy New Jersey auto insurance have the option of purchasing a standard policy that offers greater protection at a higher price, or a basic policy that offers minimal protection at a considerably lower price. Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan (D) would require all basic policies to include $10,000 for bodily injury liability, which is currently optional. For current policyholders, this could mean increased coverage that may also come with a slightly higher price tag.
- Currently being reviewed by the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee is Bill A327. Sponsored and co-sponsored by a handful of state legislators, this bill proposes that volunteer motorists be exempt from certain underwriting practices. If passed, insurance companies would be unable to consider negative driving events that were committed while the motorist was acting as a volunteer driver. For people that volunteer regularly to help transport fellow New Jersey residents, this change could significantly reduce the risk of an accident having a negative impact on their driving record or insurance rates.
Although several of these proposed bills may someday become law, they still have a long way to go. As of June 2012, each of the pieces of legislation described here have only been introduced. Before the bills can become law, they need to get passed out of committee, approved by the House, approved by the Senate, and then they need to receive final approval from the governor.