Auto Insurance News

Mississippi Auto Insurance Consumers to Pay More for Mississippi Auto Insurance

Thousands of Mississippi motorists will see a higher bill when they renew their automobile insurance in 2006. The minimum bodily injury and property damage limits have doubled according to a new law that went into effect January 1, 2006.

This change does not double the cost of car insurance, but does double the minimum liability requirements a driver must have to drive in Mississippi. The increase in insurance premium only affects Mississippi drivers who are carrying liability limits at the old state minimum liability requirements. Many drivers will see no change at all.

Liability insurance is required by state law and only protects people and property that may be injured or damaged by the driver who carries the policy.

The previous minimum liability requirement was $10,000 to cover one injured person other than the driver; $20,000 to cover the total number of people injured, or killed, other than the driver; and $5,000 to cover property damage when the policy was paid out.

The new law requires $25,000 for one person's injuries, $50,000 to cover the total of all people injured or dead and $25,000 for property damage.

The insurance changes came about because lawmakers said that the old coverage was insufficient, particularly in comparison to other states. Another factor is the rising costs of automobiles and replacement parts.

The change in the law puts Mississippi on par with most other states' insurance laws.

The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident since accidents may cost far more than the minimum limits mandated by most states. However, limits of this size have a significant impact on premium costs.

State Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, an independent insurance agent in Columbus who was author of the new law, said the changes were in the best interest of Mississippi drivers.

"The customer is going to be better protected,'' Chism said. "The insurance company will have to pay out more, but the customer is paying a little higher premium.''

Motorists may also see an increase in uninsured motorist coverage, Chism said. The change will protect insured drivers who are hit by a driver without insurance.

Driving without insurance carries a $1,000 penalty in Mississippi.

Although the change took effect Sunday, motorists will not switch over until their current policy expires. Most motorists have a six-month renewable policy.

While many drivers have expressed concern over the changes, it only affects those who have the least amount of car insurance required by law.

"It really doesn't affect as many policy holders as you think it would,'' Chism said.


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