OAIN: La., Ala. Auto Insurance Measures Kick in Aug. 1

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La. measures apply harsher enforcement against uninsured, new ways of coverage proof; Ala.'s texting ban kicks in, reports Online Auto Insurance News

In Louisiana and Alabama, new measures that stiffen driving-related penalties and open new avenues of proving coverage go into effect on Aug. 1, which should push drivers there to acclimate themselves to the new rules and their insurance implications, according to Online Auto Insurance News.

In Louisiana, Act 824 of 2012 goes into effect on Aug. 1 and allows authorities to accept electronic forms of coverage proof. Policyholders will be able to get proof of insurance online on their smartphones from most providers and use that rather than hard-copy versions. Several major insurers also provide smartphone applications that show proof of coverage, but the Louisiana law also allows policyholders to scan their own documents and input them into their smartphone to display to authorities upon request.

The new law makes Louisiana the third state in the U.S. with similar measures, which are currently in effect in Idaho and Arizona. Both passed their respective pieces of legislation in March.

Also effective on Aug. 1 is another Louisiana law that applies harsher enforcement against uninsured drivers. Under the new law, drivers who cannot prove they have coverage can have their car towed on the first offense. Previous regulations allowed police to tow vehicles only on second and subsequent offenses.

Rep. Ray Garafalo (R-Meraux), who sponsored the legislation behind Act 512 of 2012, said during debates in the state Legislature that the vast majority of drivers cited for failing to provide proof of coverage were found to ultimately lack the required policy to drive, so wrongful towings would not be widespread.

Motorists lacking coverage in the state are barred in crash-related incidents, regardless of fault, from seeking compensation for other parties for the first $15,000 of bodily injury damages and the first $25,000 of property damages, according to state law. They also face monetary fines. 

In Alabama, a law establishing a statewide ban on texting behind the wheel goes into effect Wednesday. HB 2, finalized in May by the state’s governor, institutes a two-point penalty on a driver’s record with each offense.

Insurers often view such points as a valid reason to hike insurance rates. Alabama’s point penalty for texting puts the infraction in line with other offenses such as driving up to 25 mph over the speed limit and drinking behind the wheel, both violations that carry similar two-point penalties.

Also under the law, first-time violators are fined $25, two-time violators get a $50 fine and $75 fines are issued for third and subsequent violations.

For more on this and related issues, head to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/proof/ for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.

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Charles Nguyen
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