Survey Finds Opposition to Billing Auto Insurance Cos. for Crash Fees

Car with smashed front endA poll released yesterday by the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) shows that only one-in-five of the state’s residents support levying fees on at-fault, out-of-town motorists for the cost of emergency services used for responding to accidents.

According to the IINC, 50 percent of respondents oppose the fees and 26 percent are undecided.

A number of California cities have recently proposed implementing such fees. Earlier this year, Huntington Beach approved charging visiting motorists who cause accidents $405 an hour for fire response crews and $750 for responses to car fires. However, the plan was rescinded after facing public opposition.

The disparity in support for so-called “crash taxes” grew even more when respondents were told California auto insurance companies were expected to foot the bill. In light of this information, 62 percent said they were against the practice, although 29 percent were in favor.

Furthermore, poll respondents were against the idea of having car insurers cover such fees, as this could cause premiums to increase.

The IINC’s executive director, Candysse Miller, says the public doesn’t believe forcing motorists to pay a “crash tax” is the right way to fill a budget shortfall.

And cities may not stop at charging out-of-town motorists for emergency services. The San Francisco Examiner says that lawmakers in the city have their eyes on truck drivers, too.

The paper reports that a spokesman for Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier says large trucks getting stuck on the city’s streets has become a monthly occurrence. The city is forced to spend money to get out-of-town tow trucks to move the vehicles while traffic clogs the streets.

Alioto-Pier asked the Department of Public Works to recommend  “a procedure to recover costs … when large trucks ignore posted signs and become stranded on the city’s hills,” according to the paper.

Some who are against such measures have argued that city taxes should be enough to cover such expenses, which shouldn’t be passed on to motorists or their auto insurance companies.

Interest in “crash taxes” isn’t exclusive to California. In August, the city council of Quincy, Mass., voted to charge out-of-city motorists for clean-up services related to accidents.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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