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Hey everyone,

I recently got word of a bill going through the legislature that has raised considerable concern for myself as well as many citizens and organizations. I figured this is a group who should also know of it.

Alcohol establishments need to have dram shop insurance in order to operate legally. Dram shop coverage applies when a patron who was ridiculously intoxicated continues to get served at the bar and then they go out and end up hurting someone because of their over-inebriated state. This coverage is provided by insurance companies who are supporting passage of this new bill, Senate Bill SF2169,to lower their coverage risks in the event of a patron causing a catastrophe. The crux of this new bill seeks to cap the limits insurance companies would have to pay out to victims and victims’ families in the event of such catastrophes. This cap would be at a level that would put Iowa at the second lowest in the United States – something that is absolutely absurd for a state that so heavily requires people to drive everywhere.

Something to consider: dram shop coverage plays a huge role in recovery for victims who are hit and hurt by people who are repeat offenders that cannot get insured and/or drive with a barred license, etc. Disincentivizing this is just straight bad news for anyone else on the road.

Last I checked, it was in the House. I recommend contacting your state rep and letting them know these concerns. We certainly don't need to make monitoring over-served patrons a lower priority in our bars and restaurants when we know full well that person is likely going to get behind the wheel.

PS - for those looking for a script, the Iowa State Bar Association has suggested contacting representatives to strike the provision capping damages and to support a mandated study by the Insurance Commissioner to determine whether the premiums paid by Iowa dram shop liability are too onerous, and study the lawsuits filed, number of claims settled and jury verdicts paid and compare them to the premiums collected by dram shop carriers. If establishments are upset because premiums are too high, then we should know why as opposed to jumping to the conclusion that a cap on damages will bring about the benevolence of insurance carriers to lower their premiums.

Thanks for reading.

- Jeff



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