Rhode Island Auto Insurance Bills Drawing Opposition

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  • The amount of money consumers pay for auto insurance has long been a concern not only for drivers across the country, but also legislators at the state and even federal levels. That’s why a slate of bills currently being considered in the Rhode Island state legislature is drawing a fair amount of ire from both the insurance and auto body repair industries. While proposals of this type are being considered and grabbing headlines within their borders, it might be wise for insurance agents to take the time to explain to their clients what they may be able to expect in terms of how their plans will change, if at all, when and if those bills are passed.

    One bill that has proven particularly contentious in the Ocean State as of late would allow first- and third-party lawsuits to be brought against auto insurance companies in specific situations, according to a report from the Providence Journal. First parties, of course, are people who were involved in an accident directly, while third parties are largely going to include auto body repair shops that haven’t received payment for repairs they’ve already completed.

    What’s at issue?
    The problem for insurance companies, of course, is that they believe the bill would lead to higher costs for taking these cases to court, the report said. Attorneys for insurance companies say that those incurred costs would then be passed on to consumers one way or another in the form of higher premiums. In fact, some studies from within the industry suggest that the added cost could be as much as an extra $215 per car with collision and comprehensive coverage per year.

    “If this bill were to pass, Rhode Island drivers would likely pay the highest premiums in the nation,” Frank O’Brien, vice president of state government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told the newspaper.

    Changing rules related to auto insurance laws may create a little bit of confusion for many drivers, and as such, it’s imperative for agents to clarify what the alterations will mean for their policies. The better consumers can understand the rules that affect their premiums and claims processes, the better off they’re likely to feel in terms of how they deal with their coverage. Meanwhile, the improved communications will typically lead to better relationships between customers and agents which, in turn, can boost both satisfaction and retention rates.

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