Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro’s bill (A3721), which would prohibit automobile insurance companies from rating drivers based on a gap in car insurance, was approved by the New Jersey General Assembly today by a 52-19 vote. The bill was also sponsored by 33rd District Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and 31st District Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, and co-sponsored by Assemblywoman Angelica Jimenez (D-32).
“Despite strong pushback from special interests, I was glad to see my colleagues put their constituents first to support this legislation to protect all New Jersey residents from increases in insurance when there is a gap in coverage,” Chaparro said. “If we’re going to mandate that drivers have insurance, we need to ensure they’re being judged based on their driving record and not factors that tend to favor only certain New Jersey residents.”
A report from the Consumer Federation of America concluded that non-driving rating factors can increase rates by 59% each year for drivers with perfect driving records but non-driving characteristics that suggest a lower economic status in society.[i] The bill was supported by, in part, New Jersey Citizen Action.
“If someone’s driving record does not change and they decide to go without a vehicle to go green or because of a financial hardship, their premiums should not skyrocket,” Chaparro said.
The bill was inspired by residents of the 33rd District and beyond who, despite no change in their residence or driving record, were hit with higher monthly insurance bills because they went without a personal vehicle to take advantage of the robust public transit options in Hudson County and beyond.
“The bill would not prohibit insurance companies from increasing rates on drivers with convictions or suspended licenses,” Chaparro said. “However, this legislation would ensure that the driving conviction or other offense would be the reason for the increase and that people with voluntary gaps are not lumped in with drivers who have poor driving records.”
Assemblywoman Chaparro wishes to thank former Hoboken Councilman Tim Occhipinti for working with her and originally bringing this issue to her attention. The Senate version of the bill (S2797), which is pending introduction, is sponsored by 33rd District Senator Brian Stack.
 Consumer Federation of America, Major Auto Insurers Raise Rates Based on Economic Factors; http://consumerfed.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/6-27-16-Auto-Insurance-and-Economic-Status_Report.pdf