Thursday, February 17, 2011

Go shopping, have an accident, pay for your rescue?

We all know that having a car accident can raise your insurance quicker than congress can vote to raise their benefit package. While the economy showing signs of recovering is debatable, one thing that is certain is that local governments are strapped for cash. Governor Brown in his budget proposal for California plans on raiding city and county redevelopment funds to help close the states budget gap and the race is on to prevent that.

A few weeks ago the Sacramento City Council passed an ordinance that charges out of town drivers who are involved in traffic accidents for the cost of emergency response fees. Cities have to pay for fire, police and other services. This is done through the cities share of local taxes paid by property owners, businesses, and other local sources. When someone lives out side the community and uses emergency services, the city does not get that money back. The Sacramento City Council did allow a waiver for business owners who live outside the city and commute to work, but their employees did not seem to get that waiver.

The fee, called the "fire recovery charge",  would be billed through the drivers insurance company and would only be imposed on non-resident drivers if insurers found them at fault.

So basically I could go to a nearby town to do some shopping or coming or going to work and get involved in an accident. Because I don't live in the city, I could be fined a "fire recover charge" if my or the other parties insurance carrier decided I'm at fault.

This could get ugly. And because this is a city ordinance, the only way to stop it is to get out to your local city council meetings and get heard. Many cities in fact already have such a charge against out of town motorists.

You can read about the Sacramento fire recovery charge HERE.

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