Nevada Cell Phone Ban Appears to Lack Car Insurance Implications

Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval last week signed into law a bill that will make texting or talking on a handheld cell phone while driving a fineable offense, but one that appears to have only marginal car insurance implications.

The new law establishes a $50 fine for a first offense, a $100 fine for a second and a $250 fine for a third offense. Third offenses will also result in a six-month driver’s license suspension.

Whether these penalties will have an effect on insurance prices for drivers who get caught talk talking or texting remains unclear.

When insurers look at a person’s driving history in order to gauge the risk he or she poses, they generally look at moving violations. But the text of the new law specifies that a first offense will not be treated as a moving violation, and it gives no particulars on how subsequent convictions will be handled.

If second and third convictions do end up on a motorist’s driving record, Nevada car insurance companies may decide to take that into consideration when assessing risk and setting rates. That would be up to each insurer.

There’s another potential insurance-related dilemma here, though. If drivers receive third convictions and have their licenses suspended, they will need to make a tough decision about whether to continue insuring their car during that suspension period.

If they continue insuring the vehicle, they will be paying to cover a car that they are not driving. The obvious alternative here is to discontinue coverage and to pick it back up once they are allowed to drive again.

But, according to the state’s division of insurance, those drivers could run into problems down the road.

That’s because if you go uninsured in the state of Nevada for any duration of time, “you may find it difficult to obtain insurance you can afford,” according to a guide provided by regulators. They note that some companies choose to deny coverage to individuals who allow their policy to lapse or expire and that others will simply charge more for drivers who have done so.

Having to make this decision, though, is likely a long way off. Until January 2012, being caught talking or texting while driving will only result in a verbal or written warning.

Nevada is the 34th state to ban text messaging while driving, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.


About John Pirro
John Pirro is a licensed fire and casualty insurance agent specializing in various aspects of the auto insurance industry. He worked in the auto body repair industry before taking a reporting position at Online Auto Insurance News.

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