Gov. Quinn signs legislation to protect volunteer drivers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Gov. Quinn signs legislation to protect volunteer drivers

Governor Pat Quinn signed a new legislation Tuesday to protect volunteer drivers from being denied auto coverage or paying extra for car insurance premiums.

House Bill 1378 will also prohibit insurers from imposing a surcharge on or increasing the rate for a vehicle policy because one or more of the drivers is a volunteer driver.

"Many seniors rely on others when they need to go to the grocery store, pick up prescriptions or visit the doctor, and it is important that their volunteer drivers have the insurance coverage they need," said Governor Quinn. "This legislation clears hurdles for the volunteer drivers who are helping our seniors maintain their independence."

Illinois is home to more than 2 million adults ages 60 and older. Through the Department of Aging, the state provides programs to help the most vulnerable seniors in remaining independent.

With more seniors relying on transportation services to stay active and independent, several alternative transportation programs for seniors have been established in Illinois.

One program is the Independent Transportation Network America, a public-private partnership with 16 affiliates in 12 states. The ITN allows seniors who are unable or no longer wish to drive to donate their cars to ITN in exchange for rides from volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Many ITN drivers use their own vehicles to transport or run errands for seniors.

Volunteer drivers have to verify that they hold the proper liability insurance, but differing policies among insurers have in some cases limited the number of available drivers.

This new bill will remove this impediment to the operation of nationally-affiliated transportation networks.

By doing this, legislators hope it will expand the pool of volunteer drivers for organizations operating in the city of Chicago and several counties including: Bureau, Henderson, Henry, Knox, LaSalle, McDonough, Mercer, Putnam, Rock Island and Warren.

While insurers in these areas may not refuse or impose a surcharge based on a volunteer driver status, HB 1378 does not prevent the insurer from considering factors other than volunteer status when issuing policies or setting rates for volunteer drivers.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Joseph Lyons (D-Chicago) and Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Cicero) and will go into effect immediately.

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