DES MOINES, Iowa — A group of Iowa politicians wants the insurance industry to impose a levy on automobile policies to help fund a program to thin deer populations and decrease accidents they cause.
Sen. Dennis Black (D-Newton) and other members of the House and Senate Natural Resources committees met with insurance industry officials on earlier this month. Some asked that the industry commit funding to the state’s “Help Us Stop Hunger” program, while others wanted to find out what other options might help cut the deer population.
The HUSH program, administered through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, allows hunters to donate deer carcasses to Iowa’s food banks and prisons.
Black, co-chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee, said a 10-cent levy on the insurance policies of 3.9 million vehicles and trailers insured in Iowa would help the DNR and other agencies coordinate hunters and recruit participating meat lockers to boost to 5,000 the number of deer turned over to the HUSH program.
According to the DNR’s Web site, HUSH collected more than 1,600 deer in 2003, its first year. Last year’s numbers weren’t available. Black said about 13,000 deeror about 8 percent of the 165,000 deer killed annually in Iowadie in car collisions. If the number of HUSH deer were increased to 5,000, just 8 percent of those could help account for 400 fewer accidents, he said.
With the average deer-car collision claim costing about $2,000, the industry would save about $800,000 by helping the HUSH program, Black claimed. Policyholders also would benefit, he said.
“Millions of dollars would be saved by the insurance companies of this state, and thus individual policyholders, if the industry would fund the state’s HUSH program,” he said, adding that state agencies would save more money by having the venison donated to them.
Insurance industry officials weren’t convinced Black’s proposal was the best way to help create safer roads and curb deer-car accidents. Some said the proposal amounts to a tax on insurers.
“As far as the industry agreeing that there ought to be a tax on automobile insurance to pay for the HUSH program, I’m not sure that it’s safe to say right now that anybody in the industry would be keen about that,” said Bob Skow, executive director for the Independent Insurance Agents of Iowa.
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