Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro’s bill (A3721), which would prohibit automobile insurance companies from raising premiums based on a voluntary gap in car insurance, cleared the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee on Thursday.
“If a person has a great driving record and gives up a car to ride a bike or ride public transit, they shouldn’t be punished when they go to obtain insurance again after buying a new car,” Chaparro said. “In my view, the focus of rating drivers should be their driving record – that’s it.”
The bill was supported by, in part, New Jersey Citizen Action, and program director Ann Vardeman testified in favor of A3721 before the Committee. Vardeman called the bill a good step, citing a report from the Consumer Federation of America that concluded non-driving rating factors can increase rates by 59% each year for drivers with perfect driving records but non-driving characteristics that suggest a lower economic status in society.
The bill would not include protections for drivers with gaps due to bad driving records, DUI’s, or other convictions, but rather those with a voluntary gap in insurance.
“After the testimony I heard today I am committed to tightening the language of the bill to ensure that there are no loopholes, but the vote to release the bill this morning from Committee was a loud and clear message from my colleagues that this legislation will protect their constituents from an unnecessary spike in insurance costs,” Chaparro said.
The bill, which received opposition from insurance organizations, was inspired by residents of the 33rd District who, despite no change in their residence or driving record, were hit with higher monthly insurance bills because they went some time without a vehicle to take advantage of the robust public transit options in Hudson County. The bill is also sponsored by 33rd District Assemblyman Raj Mukheri.