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Nearly 1 in 4 motorists in Oklahoma is uninsured. The state is doing something to correct this problem that places Oklahoma among the states with the highest percentage of uninsured drivers.
The Oklahoma Insurance Dept.(OID) has created a coalition of agencies to fight the problem because it's costing the state $8.8 million annually in lost revenue.
“You take a 10-year snapshot of that, that’s $80 million that could be going to fund other good services,” says John Doak, the IOD Commissioner.
There are more than 560,000 cars in Oklahoma that are uninsured, according to the OID. The Insurance Research Council (IRC) says that's almost 1 out of every 4 Oklahoma motorists lacking the coverage required to drive, giving the Sooner State the third-highest uninsured rate in the U.S. It is tied with Tennessee for the spot, according to the IRC’s 2009 rankings, which are the most recent available. (Mississippi (28 percent) and New Mexico (26 percent uninsured) are the worst.)
So Oklahoma is cracking down and planning to model its approach on one that worked well in Louisiana.
According to Onlineautoinsurance.com, Doak said Louisiana’s reduction in uninsured motorists was largely achieved through “good, innovative” legislation that allowed police to remove the tags of drivers lacking coverage.
Two pieces of Oklahoma legislation —HB 1792 and SB 701— seek to establish similar procedures. Both proposals were introduced this month and are currently in committees for further consideration.
HB 1792 empowers police who find a driver lacking coverage to remove vehicle tags and license plates from the vehicle.
Under SB 701, police replace the confiscated tags and plates with a temporary sticker noting the car as lacking coverage. Vehicles with those tags are charged fees that fund a temporary insurance plan lasting five business days, at the end of which the driver needs to have obtained and be able to prove coverage.
Rep. Mike Christian (R-Oklahoma City), HB 1792’s sponsor, called uninsured driving a “plague on Oklahoma motorists for decades.”
In Oklahoma, fines for driving without insurance amount to a maximum $250. The resulting license suspension will mean a $275 administrative fee for reinstatement, along with towing fees if the vehicle is impounded.
However, the fine itself is “less than the cost of insurance,” OID Commissioner John Doak said in a statement, meaning there is little incentive for those lacking coverage to get it.
“I’m working with the Legislature to try and change that,” Doak said about Oklahoma’s fine for driving without coverage.
Of course, if people can't pay for insurance the state may end up waiting a long time to collect fines that exceed $250.
Nonetheless, removing the license plates with potential impounding of vehicles is a good incentive for greater compliance with the law.
If only more states (Florida, are you paying attention?) were as diligent about law enforcement!!