The San Juan Daily Star
Vargas Vidot files bill to plug gaps in auto insurance law
By The Star Staff
If you hit another car with your door when opening it in a parking lot, would the mandatory auto insurance cover it?
The answer is no, and that is precisely what Senate Bill 1009, authored by independent Sen. José “Chaco” Vargas Vidot seeks to remedy.
When Law 253-1995, as amended, known as the “Motor Vehicle Compulsory Liability Insurance Act,” was passed, a “traffic accident” was not defined for the purposes of coverage.
That legal vacuum was filled by regulation, but left out the possibility of coverage for damages caused by an insured driver. This is because the current rules of the Joint Subscription Association and the insurance commissioner provide that only accidents where at least one of the vehicles is moving are covered.
This means that if an insured person causes damage in a door-opening mishap as described above, that person will be liable personally and perhaps in court for that damage, because that type of accident is not covered by the compulsory insurance.
Vargas Vidot argues that the current reality is far from the intention of compulsory insurance when it was legislated.
“In the absence of an effective mass transportation system in Puerto Rico, not receiving the proper compensation to repair a vehicle that suffers damage in a traffic accident can be an undue hardship for its owner, if he does not have the means available to carry out the repair on his own,” Vargas Vidot said. “With compulsory liability insurance covering vehicle damage, repairs or replacements arising as a result of the actions of others would be covered up to the limit of insurance to be established.”
To remedy this, the independent senator’s bill intends to define by law what a traffic accident is as “a collision or Impact between motor vehicles or between a motor vehicle and a part of another vehicle or an object which is detached from another vehicle, or between a vehicle and a part or object that was struck by another vehicle,” according to the legislation’s preamble.
“For the purposes of this law, it will not be required that one, both or several of the vehicles involved in an accident are in motion, it is enough for a claim to proceed that the vehicle of the person responsible for the accident is insured with this compulsory insurance,” the bill says.