Clearwater Sen. Ed Hooper wants to give drivers more options to keep their auto insurance costs down.
All members of the Senate Rules Committee supported the bill and it’s now ready for the Senate floor.
The bill (SB 420) would change a law that requires auto owners to obtain minimum insurance coverage for all driving-age individuals in a household.
“If you have a relationship with a provider and you want to continue that relationship at an affordable rate and not start over, this is one option,” Hooper said speaking at a previous committee meeting.
Under Hooper‘s proposal, policyholders could exclude a driver from their policy to keep their premiums down or maintain coverage. The excluded driver would need to have their own car and own policy to keep driving. Hooper’s running example has been excluding a reckless teenager from a family’s insurance policy.
The Office of Insurance Regulation currently requires insurers to provide minimum coverage, even for drivers who are explicitly excluded from the policy. One driver can potentially drive up the rates for the entire household, pushing the household away from an insurance company they trust.
The effect could lower premium prices because a policyholder could exclude a driver in their household that would otherwise increase the premium cost, according to the bill’s analysis.
But the bill does mean an excluded driver who does not get their own insurance coverage could end up in a car crash with no insurance coverage.
While the bill received no pushback from members in the Rules Committee, in a Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meeting in early March Sen. Doug Broxson, leaning on his years of experience as an insurance agent, worried that without limits, insurance companies could weaponize the option to drive out family members from a policy.
“I can understand that when it’s an egregious behavior, DUIs or points that go beyond the point of suspension,” Broxson said.
After that committee meeting, an amendment was added to the bill that required an excluded driver to “show proof of financial ability” to respond to damages from a car crash or other vehicle damage.
Companion legislation (HB 273), carried by Longwood Rep. Scott Plakon, is in its final committee, Commerce.