Raleigh, N.C. — A Senate committee on Wednesday reinserted an insurance provision into a bill requiring moped owners to register their vehicles with the Division of Motor Vehicles.
The House last week stripped out the provision in House Bill 1145 calling for moped owners to carry liability insurance because of questions about their ability to obtain coverage, said Rep. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow. The insurance issue was to be studied in the coming months so lawmakers could take another look at it next year, he told the Senate Insurance Committee.
"There's a lot of concern we all have about these (vehicles), but right now, we have no oversight," Shepard said. "We've got to start somewhere."
Senators said, however, that they don't think the bill goes far enough and suggested the study also look into annual safety inspections for mopeds, similar to those for cars and trucks.
"What's the status of requiring lights that work at night?" asked Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba. "They just come out of nowhere. ... It's worse than a bicycle."
"Why do we need a study to say lights are needed at night?" asked Sen. Jim Davis, R-Macon.
Other committee members shared stories of knowing someone involved in a crash with a moped, and their insurance had to pay for the damage because the moped driver had no coverage.
Tim Lucas, a manager with the North Carolina Rate Bureau, which represents insurers in setting rates on policies, said an experienced moped driver with a clean record could probably obtain liability coverage for $65 a year. The cost would jump to $300 to $400 for a driver with a drunken driving conviction, he said.
John Hall of the North Carolina Motorcycle Dealers Association urged senators to stick with the House bill. His organization has pushed for years to get mopeds licensed and registered, he said, but getting operators insured is another matter.
"A lot of people (driving mopeds) have no driver's license, so there's no ability to rate them (for insurance)," Hall said, noting other states that have tried to require insurance have run into similar problems.
If the bill passes the full Senate and the House agrees to the insurance change, the new requirements would take effect next July.