R.I. Bill Upping Inspection Station Liability Limits Advances

June 14, 2005

The Rhode Island Senate has joined the House of Representatives in approving legislation to require a hike in the liability coverage of garages that perform bi-annual vehicle inspections required by the state.

Sponsored by Rep. William San Bento Jr. (D-Dist. 58, Pawtucket, North Providence), the legislation, (2005 – H5359aa) , will require inspection stations to maintain a minimum of $25,000 liability coverage for any damage sustained to a vehicle while under the control of the inspection facility, and to have a copy of that policy available on the premises.

“This is a consumer protection bill, pure and simple,” said Rep. Bento. “Stations currently carry some liability coverage, but it is often as little as $5,000. Increasing the level to $25,000 is going to ensure better protection for any damaged vehicle and peace of mind for the owners of those vehicles.”

Rep. Bento said increasing the liability coverage is designed to take into account the value of automobiles today. He said, also, that while it is rare that a vehicle is damaged while in the shop for an inspection, there have been instances where a vehicle being run at high speed on the testing machine breaks its mechanical restraints and hurtles into whatever object is in front of it, such as the wall of the shop or another vehicle.

“These are unusual and unfortunate events,” he said, “but when they do happen, the testing facility should be liable for appropriate coverage, and $25,000 is a more reasonable figure.”

The bill was approved by the House on May 3 and passed in concurrence by the Senate on June 8. Co-sponsors include Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) and Rep. John Patrick Shanley (D-Dist. 35, South Kingstown).
Similar legislation sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Daniel Da Ponte (D-Dist. 14, East Providence, Providence, Pawtucket), (2005 – S0951Aaa), was passed by the Senate in mid-May and is on the House Calendar for June 14.

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