Initiative Drive Under Way to Roll Back Insurance Rates in Nevada

April 20, 2004

A Las Vegas woman has launched an initiative drive to roll back auto, homeowners and medical malpractice insurance rates by 20 percent and to provide an additional 20 percent reduction for good drivers.

At the same time April 16, Carmen Cashman filed with the Secretary of State’s Office to launch an initiative drive to guarantee the right of individuals to collect full damages for all harm they suffer through the negligence of others.

That proposal would overrule a new state law that generally caps at $350,000 the amount of damages a person can collect for pain and suffering in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Cashman and her People for a Better Nevada group have until June 15 to gather 51,234 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The measures would have to pass twice, in November and again in November 2006, before becoming part of the Nevada Constitution.

State Insurance Division officials said the proposal to roll back auto insurance rates by 20 percent is unconstitutional.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1990 that the state of Nevada could not roll back rates because it would deny insurance companies their constitutional right to earn a profit, said division spokeswoman Peggy Dehl.

Judges tossed out a state law that called for a 15 percent rollback in auto insurance rates.

“Companies are allowed to make a profit,” Dehl said.

But Cashman said residents are outraged over soaring insurance rates and she intends to go forward with her initiative drive to cut premiums.

“They will have to prove it to me that we can’t do this,” Cashman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Insurance rates are very, very high and every year they get higher.”

Cashman, a 58-year-old retired graphic artist, said People for a Better Nevada consists of herself and a couple of friends.

“We don’t have any funding right now,” she said. “I am working out of my home.”

A 13-year Nevada resident, Cashman said she has battled with insurance companies over construction defects in her home and suspects they charge high rates to make up for stock market losses.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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