Low-Cost Auto Insurance for Poor: Good Idea or Bad?

May 9th, 2011 by Farhan Naqvi in Car Accidents

This blog has reported numerous instances where people have been injured in auto accidents by uninsured drivers. In these cases, it is often difficult for victims to collect compensation for medical bills and property damage from the offending driver. Even though it is illegal for Nevadans to drive without auto insurance, many people choose to break the law because they cannot afford the premiums.

One lawmaker is trying to help. Kelvin Atkinson, a State Assemblyman who represents North Las Vegas, has submitted a bill to the state legislature which would begin a pilot program in Clark County. The program would provide low-cost auto insurance for county residents who make less than 75% of the poverty level. This pilot program would be funded with a $1 surcharge on the insurance premiums of all drivers in Clark County.

Supporters of this idea say that the low-cost insurance could save about $184 per year in premiums for drivers who sign up for the program. It would also reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the county and provide protection for accident victims because these drivers’ insurance policies could cover medical and repair costs.

But there are many other people who are opposed to this type of legislation. First, an insurance industry representative said the program would only shave about $50 off annual premiums. Also, some lawmakers are balking at the idea of having every Clark County driver help pay for the auto insurance of a small subset of people; and argue that those who cannot afford auto insurance should take the bus, walk, or ride a bicycle. And the chairman of the Nevada Republican Party (of which Atkinson is a member) claims that a similar measure in California is failing, with less than 1.5% of the state’s estimated 3.5 million uninsured drivers opting in to the program.

It remains to be seen whether this bill has the support to become law. What do you think about it?


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