Utah Legislature Approves Legislation Restricting Accident Response Fees

March 11, 2011

Taking a proactive stance against “crash taxes,” Utah legislators have approving a measure to restrict emergency response organizations such as fire and police from charging fees to motorist or insurers for accident response costs.

The Emergency Responder Fees bill, SB 273, came into play late in the session and was passed by the House on a 72-2 vote. The Senate concurred with clarifying House amendments and approved the bill unanimously, 28-0.

SB 273 does not ban all costs from being recovered by local government agencies. House Bill compromise language allows a local entity to bill “at-fault” motorists for “hard costs,” which are actual costs associated with providing medical treatment and transportation, debris clean-up and roadway repair. The bill will prohibit billing for “engine fees” and flat “response fees.”

Kenton Brine, assistant vice president and regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America said the bill was the result of months of discussions between PCI, other insurers and representatives of Utah’s local municipalities.

“We understand that local governments are facing declining revenues, however public safety is a basic role of local government and these fees take advantage of consumers,” Brine said. “SB 273 provides important protections for motorists in Utah and came as a result of compromise on both sides of this issue. We appreciate the work of the League of Cities and Towns of Utah, and the leadership of Sen. Stuart Adams in passing this legislation.”

Adams (R-Layton) was the bill’s prime sponsor.

The bill now heads to Gov. Gary Herbert for signature.

PCI is composed of more than 1,000 member companies, representing the broadest cross-section of insurers of any national trade association. PCI members write over $174 billion in annual premium, 37.1 percent of the nation’s property casualty insurance. Member companies write 43.1 percent of the U.S. automobile insurance market, 30.6 percent of the homeowners market, 35 percent of the commercial property and liability market, and 41.5 percent of the private workers compensation market.

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