Arizona, like every state in the nation, requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of auto insurance. Arizona's minimum is $15,000 per person and $30,000 for all involved in a collision. These limits are the lowest in the nation and have not been adjusted since 1972, the year I was born. The current minimums are not enough to pay for the first day in the Emergency Room.
As the 2014 legislative session starts, Tucson Representative Ethan Orr (R) is working to change this. Rep. Orr's bill, House Bill 2165, proposes raising the current minimum to $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. These figures represent an increase in the protection Arizona drivers will have, and they are right around the national average.
There is valid concern that raising the state minimum will result in those who currently choose 15/30 coverage to abandon coverage and become uninsured drivers. The data does not support that conclusion. While increasing the minimum will result in a very slight premium increase, on the order of a fast food meal per month, there is no correlation between raising the limits and a jump in uninsured drivers. Instead, the biggest indicator appears to be how strictly the insurance requirement is enforced.
Maine, which as one of the highest minimum requirements in the country, has only 5% of uninsured drivers. Florida, on the other hand, which has the lowest minimum of any state, reports uninsured drivers at 24%. In Arizona it is currently estimated that 12-14% of drivers carry no protection.
One of the most difficult conversations I have with clients centers on telling them that the driver who hit them carries only the state minimum coverage. Without adequate insurance, my ability to help my clients is severely impaired. As with all things, there are tradeoffs. But on the question of increasing insurance minimums, the very slight premium increase is well worth the protection this change in the law provides to all of the residents of Arizona.
By: Dev Sethi