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Californians, Here It Comes: Pay At The Pump Insurance

It's one of those things Californians dread. Getting involved in a car accident invariably means hefty bills and months of legal wrangling, not to mention the near-certainty of higher auto insurance premiums. Now, faster than you can say "fill 'er up," the nation's most populous state is looking at universal auto insurance by hitting the insured where they are weakest: at the pump.

It's still a long way from becoming law, but if a growing group of California politicians has its way, the state could become the nation's first to force motorists to finance their auto insurance with a stiff new tax on gasoline. Proponents claim that the new pay-at-the-pump insurance would save California drivers as much as $4 billion annually by stripping away unnecessary administrative and legal costs. It would also protect Californians from uninsured motorists, now one in every four state drivers. And, like auto-emission standards and skateboards, it could catch the fancy of such states as New Jersey and Massachusetts, which also are at odds over how to rein in their soaring insurance costs.