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Some cities and counties in California are thinking about trying a new way to recoup their funds after a collision. If the at-fault driver is from outside the area, they will be billed for the services provided.

There are many different arguments against the new policies. Insurers say they oppose the charges because they will ultimately foot the bill. Of course, we know that is not true, especially in a policy limits situation. The insured will receive less compensation if the bill is paid by the insurance company.

Many local government agencies defend the idea by saying that only people from out of town will be charged. The idea is that people who live within the district have already paid for the public services through taxes. My response is that the people who live outside the city pay taxes too. Just because they haven’t had to use them in their city, doesn’t mean that they don’t pay for them.

Many are worried that these fees will become an "accident tax" and they liken this policy to a speed trap. Speed traps in California are illegal based on the possibility of human error. This fee for collisions could have greater implications. Will law enforcement skew events or misinterpret statements to put out-of-town drivers at fault if it means they are allowed to assauge some of their costs? They may not do so on purpose, but it could be a factor in their decision.

If cities and counties decide to go through with this, they risk a decrease in tourism and an increase in hit-and-runs. Proponents say that it is not a revenue generator, but it kind of is. The police and fire department are given funds to operate. They spend those funds when they get called out to collision scenes. That is the way it is supposed to be. If they need more money to do their jobs then it needs to come from taxes and the funds dispersed by the local governments, not from individuals.

Another system they are considering is to "just bill insurance companies." But that is a mistake as it will only make the insurance premiums go up and it will be subtracted from what the parties recover. It is not fair to anyone.

What do you think? Florida already has this in place, but there is current legislation to repeal it. Does it work? Is it fair? Would you avoid areas if you knew they had this policy? Tell me what you think.

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