02/10/2012 // Seattle, Washington, USA // [email protected] // Benjamin Zitney
OAI: Pair of Wash. Bills Would Affect Auto Insurance Laws
A pair of bills being considered by the Washington State Legislature would enable car owners to participate in for-profit car-sharing programs without losing their insurance coverage and allow insurers to keep their usage-based car insurance rating models free from public scrutiny, according to Online Auto Insurance.
Lawmakers have until Valentine’s Day to vote on the bills, state regulators say.
The first bill would enact changes similar to those made to California and Oregon auto insurance laws over the past two years. Both of those states added new laws to the books saying that when car owners are renting out their vehicles for money through a sharing service, the sharing service assumes the liability of the renter behind the wheel—not the car owner.
That’s significant because owners wishing to rent their cars for cash in Washington currently risk such an act being considered commercial use and having their coverage voided as a result.
With the proposed changes, sharing services would be required to provide at least $180,000 in liability coverage, as well as comprehensive and collision coverage, through its own policy for damages that occur when a renter’s driving the vehicle.
The second bill would make the usage-based component of insurers’ rate filings exempt from public inspection.
A committee report on the bill showed that supporters during public testimony said that a certain usage-based product won’t be sold in the state until there are greater “confidentiality protections” that keep the public—including other coverage providers from seeing how information collected by that product is used to set rates. This bill would put those protections in place.
Although the product and the company that sells it aren’t explicitly named in the committee report, it’s likely that the company pushing for passage of the bill is Progressive and that the product is its Snapshot usage-based discount program. (One of the two people testifying in support of the bill was a representative from Progressive, and the summary of public testimony includes references to a company with usage-based patents, of which Progressive owns a handful.)
For more on this and other coverage issues, visit http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/oregon/ to get access to informative resource pages and a useful rate-comparison generator that can help drivers get the best prices on a policy.
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