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AUTO INSURANCE OFFICIALS ASSAIL LEGISLATOR’S PLAN TO CURB RATES

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Insurance industry officials say a pair of bills sponsored by a Davis County legislator intended to curb auto insurance rates for college-age drivers and people who receive one speeding ticket per policy year will result in higher rates for all drivers.

Republican Scott Holt has filed a bill in the 1990 Legislature seeking cheaper insurance rates for drivers age 18-21.Holt said in a recent telephone interview that 18-year-olds are considered adults under criminal statutes and federal voting laws so insurance companies ought to consider them as adults as well.

"Basically, the under-21 age group has a pretty good (driving) history," Holt said.

Insurance officials disagree. Dave Hill, corporate counsel of State Farm Insurance Co., said in a telephone interview youthful drivers, particularly males, are more likely to be involved in auto accidents.

Hill said national statistics compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety showed male drivers age 18-19 were involved in 1988 in twice as many fatal accidents as drivers age 30 to 54.

But Holt said young people who are struggling to buy homes, pay college tuitions and start families should not be penalized because of youth, particularly those who are safe drivers.

Hill said treating young drivers as adults will force insurance companies to raise the rates of all adult drivers to help cover the higher number of claims filed by drivers under 21.

Insurance companies would face a similar problem if Holt's bill to limit premium increases of people cited for a rare speeding violation makes its way through the Legislature.

The bill would preclude insurance companies from raising the insurance rates of any insured motorist or member of the household who received one citation during the policy year. However, rates could be increased if the insured received two or more citations during the policy year.

The bill would cover violations covered in Article 6 of the state traffic code, which addresses speed limits in school zones, residential neighborhoods and the interstate. The law also speaks to speed contests and exhibitions.

Tim Dalton Dunn, a Utah lobbyist for the Alliance of American Insurers, said studies show drivers who speed are more likely to be involved in accidents and make claims with their insurance companies.

"The faster you go, the harder this huge mass of metal slams into another. If you're going slower, you're not going to have as much damage or personal injury or death," Dunn said.

Holt said his wife, whom he described as a safe driver, received a speeding citation about five years ago and the family's auto insurance rate increased about 20 percent.

"You can't determine it by one incident if it is or isn't (a habit)," Holt said.

Holt said his family's insurance rates have since fallen to a lower rate because no one in his household has received a speeding citation and none of them would benefit directly from the proposed legislation.