R.I. Senate Approves Minimum Liability Limit for Inspection Stations

Cars passing muster at any of Rhode Island’s recognized vehicle inspection stations should not come out of the testing facility in worse condition than when they went in, according to Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence, Providence, Pawtucket).

However, he adds, accidents do happen. The testing machines, he explained, are like treadmills for automobiles – the vehicle held in place while the motor is run at a high rate of speed. Sometimes, the cars come free of the restraints and lurch forward, smashing into whatever is in front of them. The resulting damage can be fairly significant.

To ensure that vehicle inspection stations have the level of liability coverage for any damage sustained to a vehicle while under the control of the inspection facility, Da Ponte sponsored legislation requiring inspection stations to maintain a minimum of $25,000 liability coverage, and to have a copy of that policy on the premises.

The bill, (2005 – S0951A), was approved unanimously last week by the Rhode Island Senate and now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“This is a consumer protection bill,” said Da Ponte. “Stations need to carry liability coverage that is consistent with the potential for damage, and $25,000 is a fair and appropriate number, especially considering the value of many of today’s vehicles.”

The Da Ponte legislation is a companion bill to one sponsored in the House of Representatives by Rep. William San Bento Jr. (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket, North Providence). That bill, (2005 – H5359aa) , was approved this week by the Rhode Island House of Representatives. It is currently before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Housing and Municipal Government.