As a growing number of local governments enact accident response fees, a new survey shows the fees remain unpopular among residents.
In a Harris Interactive telephone poll for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), about 60 percent of Americans oppose the practice of charging fees for the time and services provided by emergency responders at car accidents scenes.
When are accident response fees charged?
Some local governments levy the fees on all accident victims, while others charge only out-of-town drivers, and still others target at-fault drivers or accidents that involve fires or spill cleanups. The fees, which range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, are often charged to insurance companies, but oftentimes insurance policies don't cover them.
If the fees resulted in an increase in car insurance rates, opposition to the fees reached 66 percent, according to the survey.
"The crash tax adds insult to injury by victimizing drivers twice--once by being in an unfortunate accident and then again with a fee," Robert Passmore, PCI's senior director, personal lines, said in a press statement. "Then when you add the potential negative impact on local businesses, charging for emergency services is simply a bad public policy option for local governments."
Local governments and accident response fees
But cash-strapped local governments see the fees as a way to fill budget shortfalls. Ten states restrict local governments from charging accident response fees, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
Half of Californians oppose the concept of emergency response fees for traffic accidents, according to a poll conducted earlier this year by the Insurance Information Network of California. Sacramento, Calif., is among cities to recently enact accident response fees.