INDIANAPOLIS (March 1, 2005)–– Stricter driver’s licensing laws and tougher driving under the influence (DUI) sanctions enacted by the Virginia General Assembly this year will improve the state’s personal insurance climate, according to an official of the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC).
“In the past, the Commonwealth of Virginia has been criticized for lax licensing procedures, but several bills enacted this year should improve that situation,” said NAMIC State Affairs Director Neil Alldredge. The Virginia General Assembly adjourned Saturday, following a 47-day session. Lawmakers will reconvene April 6 to consider any amendments or vetoes offered by Gov. Mark R. Warner.
Among the bills enacted were House Bill 2509, which requires that driver’s license applications include the applicant’s or licensee’s full legal name; Senate Bill 972, which allows licensed drivers to exchange their driver’s license for special identification cards without incurring an additional fee; and Senate Bill 1198, which requires stricter licensing and record-keeping procedures and imposes increased sanctions against commercial driver’s license holders who operate commercial and noncommercial vehicles in an unsafe manner.
Some of the DUI bills enacted include House Bill 1896, which makes it a DUI violation to drive with specified levels of illegal drugs in one’s blood; and House Bill 2668, which allows an officer to issue, on the premises of a medical facility, a summons for a DUI violation and for refusal of blood alcohol tests in lieu of securing a warrant. House Bill 2786 brings the operation of a moped on a public highway under the state’s DUI laws.
Among the more insurance-related bills enacted, Alldredge noted Senate Bill 913, which revises the criteria for qualification as a large commercial risk subject to rate regulation.
“Passage of this law by policymakers is a clear recognition that the initial criteria for large commercial risks were too high and limited the number of entities that could take advantage of this requirement,” Alldredge said. “We commend lawmakers for lowering the eligibility thresholds so more companies can take advantage of this law.”
Alldredge also noted that lawmakers enacted House Bill 814, a bill that prohibits an insurer from canceling or refusing to renew homeowners’ insurance policies based solely on inquiries from insureds about insurance coverage or policy provisions.