Lawmakers Consider Bill That Would Raise Auto Insurance Rates For NJ Residents
Auto insurance rates may soon rise as a new bill rolls through Trenton that would require nearly a quarter of New Jersey drivers to increase their auto insurance coverage for bodily injury.
State Senate President Nick Scutari is behind the bill.
“The people of New Jersey need this legislature to protect them from themselves,” says Scutari
The Democrat says he supports the bill, which would increase the amount of injury protection most drivers must carry from $15,000 to $25,000 in January if passed. This amount would also increase three years later.
Scutari unexpectedly jumped into a state budget hearing on Monday where the bill was being discussed by his opponents.
“It’s insane. I can’t believe what I’m hearing sitting in the back,” Scutari said. “I urge you all to support the bill.”
John Harmon, CEO of the state’s African American Chamber of Commerce, testified against the bill on Monday
“That guy was like his life depended on getting this done,” Harmon says. “It’s so important that we shouldn’t rush.”
Harmon says higher premiums will likely have a disproportionate impact on black, brown and poor drivers.
“To blame this on people who are just struggling to survive, I think it’s ultimately going to lead to more people driving without insurance,” Harmon said.
Harmon and even industry representatives say they are baffled by Scutari’s reaction.
“Who is his audience? Why is this so important?” Harmon asks.
Scutari is also a personal injury lawyer.
“The insurance industry is not the Red Cross. But they’re good enough to attack me and Nick Scutari because we stand up for policyholders,” Republican Sen. Jon Bramnick said.
Bramnick is also an attorney who handles personal injury cases.
“It doesn’t change my way of life at all, but it will change the way of life for the injured in this state,” he says.
The bill passed the Senate Budget Committee on Monday along party lines — all Democrats for, all Republicans against.
Scutari’s office did not respond to a News 12 request for further comment.