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Why Nevada Car Insurance Rates Might Rise In 2011

Nevada car insurance rates might rise in 2011 if Assembly Bill 120, increasing the minimum vehicle liability insurance requirement, passes and is signed into law. The proposed legislation could end up rising annual car insurance rates in several states, such as $122 to $290 in Las Vegas, $100 to $263 in Las Vegas suburbs, $60 to $174 in urban Nevada areas and $50 to $117 in the rest if the state, according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. That group opposes the bill.

Assemblyman William Horne of Las Vegas introduced the bill that is before the Assembly Transportation Committee. Horne suffered injuries to his shoulder, wrist, neck and back when his car was hit by a car whose driver carried only the minimum $15,000 liability insurance. That amount would not begin to pay for needed medical work and surgery, according to Horne.

The bill would raise liability insurance minimums to $50,000 from $15,000, as much as 54 percent for some drivers. Liability insurance pays for expenses incurred by a driver during accidents in which they damage other vehicles besides their own and injure other drivers.

As it stands, the bill has attracted supporters, so Nevada car insurance rates might rise in 2011 if Horne has his way. The current $15,000 for injuries or death of one person, $30,000 for injuries or death of all persons in an accident, $10,000 for property damage to one other vehicle would change to $50,000, $100,000 total and $25,000, respectively. The new insurance rates would be among the highest minimums required in the nation along with Alaska, Maine and Wisconsin.

Rising car insurance rates also probably means rising costs for attorneys or other services backing up claims, which are sure to be more hotly contested, analysts say. The more than tripling of potentially injury claim payouts also will be passed down to consumers, according to the property casualty insurers group.

Insurance industry lobbyists showed up in large numbers to testify against the bill. They said 40 percent of Nevada drivers would be affected, many of whom were financially challenged, since they were the drivers typically with the minimum insurance liability coverage. The bill also could be modified, before final passage, with lower minimum limits that would still raise Nevada car insurance rates in 2011.

A committee workshop could consider those changes, according to Assemblywoman Dina Neal of North Las Vegas, who said working-class people with fixed incomes would be hurt badly with any rate increases. Horne said he would consider lower minimum insurance coverage if that meant the bill's passage. This also would mean that Nevada car insurance rates might rise in 2011.

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