This is a sponsored post.
Recently, a pair of New Jersey state senators introduced a bill that might raise car insurance premiums for drivers state-wide.
Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) and Sen. Jon Bramnick (R-Union)—both personal injury attorneys—maintain that car insurance liability laws in New Jersey are long overdue for an update. But not everyone agrees—and not everyone is excited by the prospect of a rate hike.
Here’s a look at what could soon be changing for drivers in New Jersey.
Current Minimum Car Insurance Requirements in New Jersey
Here are the current car insurance requirements in the state of New Jersey, according to Ross Martin from The Zebra:
- $15,000 per person for bodily injury and $30,000 per accident.
- For property damage, $5,000 per accident. New Jersey drivers also have an option to take a basic policy which can include bodily injury coverage up to $10,000.
- Policyholders can also purchase additional medical benefits, as well as death and funerary coverage.
As of 2022, the average driver in New Jersey pays about $1,459 per year in insurance premiums.
How the New Bill Changes Things
The bill currently on the table seeks to drive the minimum requirements for car insurance up significantly. The proposed changes would more than double the current requirements for bodily injury from $15,000 to $35,000.
Furthermore, the bill would require a minimum coverage of $25,000 for a crash resulting in death or injury for one person and $50,000 for multiple injuries or deaths.
According to Brammick, New Jersey has some of the lowest insurance limits in the country, meaning policyholders could benefit from the additional coverage. But critics maintain that the resulting rate increases could make it difficult for some drivers to afford the insurance, and people who are already paying for the minimum insurance will feel the brunt of the financial consequences.
Senator Scutari argues that those possible rate hikes won’t (or can’t) happen, because insurers must get approval from the Department of Banking and Insurance, and the department is unlikely to approve a higher premium rate.
The Reasons Behind the Push for Increases
So why is this bill being pushed now? One major reason, according to Bramnick, is that New Jersey has some of the lowest liability requirements in the country, while having some of the highest rates. The sharply rising costs of medical care also point toward a need for more coverage, as well as the increased cost of repairing newer, more sophisticated vehicles.
Another reason why this bill is being pushed now. For starters, 1 in 87 drivers in New Jersey is uninsured. This increases the cost of insurance for everyone, both insurers and policyholders alike. If insurers can offer more coverage without an accompanying rise in premiums, as the Senators suggest, then it stands to benefit everyone. An accident that leaves policyholders paying huge fees out of pocket because they don’t have enough coverage could spell financial disaster.
How to Help Keep Your Insurance Rates Low
While it’s uncertain whether or not the changes suggested by this bill will result in higher car insurance premiums for everyone, there are some steps you can take to be prepared. Here are a few ways drivers can bring those premiums down:
- Shop around and compare rates to find reliable, cheap car insurance in New Jersey.
- Review your coverage and see if you can reasonably cut back, such as dropping collision or comprehensive coverage (particularly if you have an older car with lower value).
- Adjust your deductible and trade off paying more out of pocket in case of an accident for lower monthly premiums.
- Many insurers will allow you to bundle your auto insurance with your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance, getting a discount in the process.
- Insurers may also give you a discount for paying your car insurance premiums in advance as a lump sum.
- Taking an advanced or defensive driving course can earn you a lower premium.
- If you don’t drive your car very much, talk with your insurer about the possibility of a low-mileage discount.
- Improve your credit score. Whether it’s fair or not, insurers consider your credit score a good indicator of how much financial risk you pose when it comes to insurance. The lower your credit score, the higher your premiums are likely to be.
- Consider changing or downgrading your car. Newer, more sophisticated vehicles are more costly and labor-intensive to repair and replace, and that means bigger payouts for insurers. If you have an older, reliable car that’s less of a thief magnet, your insurer will likely give you a significant discount on your premiums. At the same time, adding a security system or anti-theft devices to your vehicle can also bring your premiums down.
- Just ask your insurer about what kinds of discounts are available! The average insurance company offers 50+ discounts for various criteria. Find out what might apply to you.