GOVERNMENT: State legislative and regulatory news

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley has signed a new law to create by 2013 an electronic database to match up cars in that state to valid insurance policies; the system will enable law enforcement officials and DMV officials registering vehicles to verify proof of insurance. Officials estimate that about 22 percent of Alabama drivers lack car insurance.
Missouri regulators have released the latest report on consumer complaints about auto insurers, showing complaints fell by 14 percent last year to fewer than 3,100.
A legislative proposal in Michigan would allow low-income drivers with clean driving records in Wayne County (which includes Detroit) to purchase reduced personal injury auto insurance coverage for lower rates; data from the Insurance Information Institute indicates Detroit drivers have the highest premiums in the country, 56 percent more than second-place New Orleans.
And for the second time within a year, the Texas Department of Insurance has issued a bulletin reminding insurers that state law prohibits them from “directly or indirectly” limiting auto insurance coverage by limiting policyholders from using a shop of their choice. The bulletin also states that while an insurer is not required to pay more than a reasonable amount for repairs or repair parts, neither that nor policy language suggests that the reasonable amount for repairs or parts must be based on the amounts charged by DRP shops. Insurance Commissioner Mike Geeslin said that despite his similar warning last August, his department continues to receive reports of insurers steering and limiting reimbursement rates.