Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco vetoed a measure opposed by insurers that would have more than doubled the state’s required minimum auto insurance coverage limits.
SB 223 would have raised the limits to $25,000 for bodily injury liability for one person, $50,000 for bodily injury liability for two or more persons injured in any one accident, and $25,000 for property damage liability.
The current limits are $10,000 for bodily injury, $20,000 for two or more persons injured, and $10,000 for property damage liability.
In her veto message, the governor recognized that over a million drivers currently carry the minimum limits. “In light of the devastating storms of 2005 and the difficult ongoing economic effects on many of our residents, this is not the time to increase the required liability coverage,” said Ms. Blanco.
Property-casualty trade groups urged the governor to veto the legislation, arguing it would mean insurance rates would dramatically increase for so many drivers.
“We were concerned that many motorists would go without automobile insurance due to the 30-to-50 percent increase in premiums,” said Greg La Cost, assistant vice president and regional manager for Property Casualty Insurers Association of America.
During legislative debate on this issue, Mr. La Cost said negligence attorneys put pressure on lawmakers to reject an amendment that would increase the limits over time.
“The trial bar may have overreached on this bill in an attempt to get higher settlements,” he said.
While the minimal limits may have to be increased slightly or gradually, more than doubling them to benefit trial lawyers is unfair to consumers, he added.
“Once again the governor agreed with us that a phased approach would be more appropriate to allow motorists an opportunity to adjust to the higher costs,” he said.