New Jersey’s top lawmaker came out swinging in fierce defense of his legislation that could force more than 1 million people in the state to pay more for car insurance each year.
Senate President Nicholas Scutari on Monday defended the bill that would hike the minimum amount of liability insurance in the Garden State from its current $15,000 coverage to $25,000 beginning in 2023, and a minimum of $35,000 starting in 2026. He says it’s long overdue to protect victims of crashes.
“This is all nonsense,” said Scutari, D-Union, during a Senate committee hearing, arguing the cost to drive in the state would not immediately increase.
“(Insurers) cannot raise rates for a minimum of three and a half years. They cannot substantiate a raise in rates when we go to $25,000 in coverage. The industry cannot substantiate it. It is an impossibility. The Department of Banking and Insurance will not allow it,” he said.
“The people of New Jersey need this Legislature to protect them from themselves because we tell them what they need to get, and that’s what they get.”
He added taxpayers are the ones who are stuck with the costs to “subsidize unpaid medical bills” and “everything that the insurance industry doesn’t cover” in the minimum policy.
“This is insane,” he said.
Scutari’s impassioned defense of the bill (S481) came moments after people urged legislators not to support the bill.
“Why the urgency?” John Harmon, president and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, asked. “Could we not pull this back and do some impact studies?”
Harmon tested at the committee hearing Monday and spoke to NJ Advance Media Tuesday. He said he was surprised to see Scutari appear briefly at the event to “whip the votes” and then disappear moments