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TURNBULL: AUTO INSURANCE MUST TAKE EFFECT

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Despite calls to have the Feb. 13 start of compulsory auto insurance delayed, the governor and a senior senator said Monday the law must proceed as scheduled.
Following Martin Luther King Jr. Day ceremonies Monday on St. Thomas, Gov. Charles Turnbull and Sen. Lorraine Berry voiced their support for the law, approved by the Senate seven months ago.
Last week, Sens. Alicia "Chucky" Hansen and Adelbert Bryan wrote Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II asking that he, as commissioner of Banking and Insurance, delay the implementation of mandatory auto insurance. Hansen contended that there was insufficient insurance capacity in the territory to cover premiums and that the cost of insurance would be a burden to too many people.
A recent report by the Division of Banking and Insurance estimated the average premiums for drivers on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John at $332.88, $293.53 and $253.73 respectively. Using those premium averages and the number of autos registered in the territory, James and insurance industry representatives said there was adequate capacity to cover claims.
Bryan blasted the higher premium cost for St. Croix and called for a 60 to 90-day moratorium on the start of the law until a government-operated proposal that insures the license of each driver rather than motor vehicles can be developed.
On Monday, however, both Turnbull and Berry said the law must go on.
"I know it will pose hardship on some," Turnbull said. "But we have to have our priorities right … It would be irresponsible to delay the implementation of the law."
Berry said there were not enough votes in the Legislature to amend the compulsory insurance law. She added that a special session of the Senate, set by Turnbull for later this week to appropriate funding for the local OSHA program, cannot include other business unless senators choose to change the agenda.
"I don’t think there are enough votes in the Legislature to do that," she said. "We cannot continue to not have liability insurance in the Virgin Islands."

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