Majority of Public Disagrees with the Idea of Local Governments Charging Accident Response Fees to Individuals Involved in Traffic Accidents

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Sixty-eight percent of adults disagree with the idea that local governments should charge accident response fees to individuals involved in traffic accidents, according to a new study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC).

Efforts to fund emergency response services through accident response fees stand in direct conflict with the fundamental notion that certain government services should be paid for by all taxpayers — not just those unlucky enough to need the service.

Sixty-eight percent of adults disagree with the idea that local governments should charge accident response fees to individuals involved in traffic accidents, according to a new study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). Requiring insurance companies, rather than the individuals involved in an accident, to pay accident response fees had little impact on the level of support for accident response fees. When reminded that requiring insurance companies to pay accident response fees could lead to higher auto insurance costs, 69 percent of survey respondents disagreed with the idea of local governments charging accident response fees.

“Efforts to fund emergency response services through accident response fees stand in direct conflict with the fundamental notion that certain government services should be paid for by all taxpayers — not just those who are unlucky enough to actually need the services,” said Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC. Lawmakers in twelve states have enacted legislation prohibiting local governments from imposing accident response fees. Several more have debated similar legislation.

The study, Public Attitude Monitor 2011, Accident Response Fees, was based on telephone interviews with 1,012 adults countrywide conducted in January 2011 by the market research firm Harris Interactive. Survey results were weighted by known demographic distributions to ensure that the final results were representative of the total U.S. adult population.

In looking at different demographic groups and opinions regarding accident response fees, the IRC found only one group, individuals between 18 and 24 years of age, whose members were more likely to agree than disagree with the imposition of accident response fees. For all other age, education, and income groups, more respondents disagreed than agreed with the idea of accident response fees.

For more information on the study’s methodology and findings, contact David Corum at (484) 831-9046 or by e-mail at irc(at)TheInstitutes(dot)org. Copies of the study are available in an electronic format ($65) or printed ($80). Visit IRC’s Web site at http://www.ircweb.org for more information.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The Insurance Research Council is a division of the American Institute For CPCU (The Institutes). The Institutes are an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing educational programs, professional certification, and research for the property-casualty insurance business. The IRC provides timely and reliable research to all parties involved in public policy issues affecting insurance companies and their customers. The IRC does not lobby or advocate legislative positions. It is supported by leading property-casualty insurance organizations.

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