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Lawmakers put brakes on moped insurance plan

Posted March 17, 2015

— Questions and criticism from several lawmakers scuttled a planned House committee vote Tuesday on legislation that would require moped operators to obtain insurance and have their scooters inspected annually.

The House Transportation Committee could vote on House Bill 148 as early as next week, but stiff resistance makes it uncertain whether the proposal will pass.

The General Assembly last year passed legislation requiring mopeds to be registered with the state Division of Motor Vehicles, and lawmakers flirted then with the notion of requiring insurance before eventually backing off the idea.

Reps. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow, and Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, who sponsored the 2014 law returned Tuesday to encourage passage of more restrictions on mopeds.

"There have been many, many instances the last several years where mopeds were involved in accidents, and sometimes it was their fault," Shepard said. "It's increasingly becoming more and more of a problem. We could put it off for a year or two years, but the problem doesn't go away."

Dr. Anna Miller, an orthopedic trauma surgeon and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, told lawmakers that moped crashes result in some of the most severe injuries she sees. She led a study that compared moped operators involved in crashes with motorcyclists in crashes and found moped riders had six times the rate of impaired driving convictions as motorcyclists and also were less likely to be employed or have health insurance.

"This is actually a large danger not only to the patients themselves but to other drivers on the road," Miller said. "It's a major public health hazard that we're all paying for, both monetarily and with patients' lives."

A DMV study found that mopeds were involved in 833 accidents statewide in 2013.

Tim Lucas, personal-lines manager for the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which helps insurers set rates on various policies, said moped insurance wouldn't be covered by the Rate Bureau, so pricing would be up to individual companies. If no company wants to write moped policies in North Carolina, insurance wouldn't be available in the state, he said.

Shepard said that's unlikely, noting some moped operators already have insurance coverage.

Still, the prospect of forcing insurance on mopeds when it might not be available – or could possibly be cost prohibitive – made some lawmakers balk.

"I'm concerned that we're adding additional (restrictions) already, and we haven't even implemented Stage 1," said Rep. Jamie Boles, R-Moore, referring to the registration requirement, which doesn't take effect until July. "I don't know if maybe we're a year ahead of ourselves."

"Don't you think we're being premature?" asked Rep. Dana Bumgardner, R-Gaston. "There are a lot of unanswered questions."

"Bottom line is I think we're jumping into something here before we have enough information to make a decision," said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven.

"I don't know what more information to give you except there's a problem here," Shepard said.

18 Comments

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  • Shane Taylor Mar 18, 2015
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    Ok, but 320lbs traveling at 30mph can and will cause a ton of damage...That is common sense...

  • Dominic Leuci Mar 18, 2015
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    This isn't NJ...

  • Yolanda Clay Mar 18, 2015
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    Even though they are motorized, they can only go so fast. What's next? Bicycles? A Trikke? Anything motorized? Ridiculous, and more money grubbing for insurance companies.

  • Shane Taylor Mar 18, 2015
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    Seriously??? I grew up in NJ and was required to carry insurance in order to legally ride my moped...At the age of 15. How much damage can 120lb bike do at 30mph? Bring your car to me and I will show you what it can do...Add a 200 lb rider and now you have 320lbs at 30mph...Seriously, bring you car to me and I will show you that a traveling mass of 320lbs at 30mph will cause THOUSANDS of dollars of damage...

  • Mike Luddy Mar 17, 2015
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    So, the people riding mopeds are doing so because it's a last resort. They have very little money, but they still have the same need to get to school & work as the rest of us. Requiring insurance is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. How much damage can a 120 pound bike do with a max speed of 30mph? Bette yet, where are the stories about all the people injured by mopeds? I haven't heard of any myself. Who actually would benefit from an insured moped? Something to think about.

  • Alexia Proper Mar 17, 2015
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    The driver must maintain control at all times. The answer is the driver's insurance.

    A point I tried to make was that whether it's the driver's insurance company or the rider's company, the "insurance company" pays. These are just capitalistic forms of socialism, so we all pay in the end. Asking moped riders to pay for insurance won't make any difference to your insurance rates.

  • Brian Hill Mar 17, 2015
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    And if they do something stupid (like cut someone off, which I've seen the liquorcycles do before) and someone swerves to avoid them and crashes into another car, who is going to pay for that?

    I'm fine not requiring insurance as long as they demonstrate they have the financial means to pay out any claims and put down a deposit.

  • Alexia Proper Mar 17, 2015
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    Everyone calling for insurance has forgotten what insurance is really for. When I was a kid, insurance wasn't even required at all. Insurance became popular for the right reasons: so people can protect the value of their property against loss. Then the insurance companies likely paid off the right politicians to make it a requirement, so everyone had to get it, even if they did not need it.

    And why does somebody driving a $1200 car need insurance? It's only so you can force their insurance company -- which is likely your insurance company or one of the very, very few we have -- to pay for your more expensive car. If we go back to "no insurance required", then the same small set of insurance companies would still pay for your car with an uninsured motorist policy, which you keep anyway and which was the reason people a few decades ago bought insurance in the first place.

    So, bottom line: there is no reason to require insurance. It's only to the benefit of insurance companies.

  • Jim Boseman Mar 17, 2015
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    If they share the road with other drivers they should have insurance and be Licenced. A large number of people who drive those things have lost their operators License for dui, and yet they can get a scooter and get back on the road.....I just don't get it

  • Peter Panda Mar 17, 2015
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    You're not allowed to drive any of those on the roads

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