Auto insurance database would improve police ability to catch uninsured drivers

“Can you go ahead and give me your license, registration and insurance card, please?” That question never signals happy times. Almost always it’s asked of a driver pulled over for a traffic infraction or involved in a crash. The law enforcement officer can quickly verify your license and registration status via a real-time statewide database, but not your current insurance status.

According to the Sun Sentinel, that could soon change if proponents get their way in this spring’s legislative session. A bill introduced by Rep. Matt Willhite, a Democrat from Wellington, would require the state to establish an online verification system by July 1, 2022. Once operational, insurance companies would be required to upload weekly status reports for all of their customers, and police would be required to query the insurance status of drivers involved in traffic stops or crash investigations. Drivers would still be required to carry proof of insurance.

In an interview Monday, Willhite said 13 other states have adopted a standardized database that Florida could join.
Verifying insurance could help reduce Florida’s 26.7 percent uninsured motorist rate. It’s the worst in the nation, according to an October 2017 report by the Insurance Research Council, an industry-funded not-for-profit research organization. Under the current system, it’s too easy for motorists to sign up for a six-month policy term, stop making payments after the first month, keep their “current” insurance card and continue driving, Willhite said.

Obligations of the scofflaws are assumed by everyone else who are forced to pay inflated premiums. In 2015-16, motorists in just four states and the District of Columbia paid more in average premiums than the $1,339 paid by Florida drivers, according to a report released last month by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Where number 8 out of 50 … on the worst drivers by state list.

Florida dropped to eighth this year after coming in first last year. However, the state still has the lowest rate of insured drivers in the country at 73%. To go along with the drivers forgoing insurance, Florida has very high fatality rates. Florida comes in right behind Alabama with 1.47 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. Fortunately for Florida residents, that fatality rate has fallen by a third since 1994. That year, Florida had a fatality rate of 2.2 fatalities per 100 million miles driven. In total, Florida had nearly 3,200 fatalities in 2016.

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