A state insurance official reported that around 15% of Montana residents do not carry auto insurance. The national average is 13.8%.
Property and casualty actuary in Missouri state’s Auditor’s Office Mari Kindberg, explained that all of the states surrounding Montana have statistically lower rates of motorists without insurance including South Dakota (7%), North Dakota (5%), Idaho and Wyoming (both at 9%).
Billing Republican Sen. Roy Brown directed a resolution in 2009 to enable the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee to study the issue of underinsured and uninsured motorists.
Kindberg said that there are already existing laws in Montana which compels drivers to carry insurance with corresponding penalties for persons who are caught driving without any insurance.
By July next year, a law spearheaded by Republican Polson Sen. John Brueggeman will take effect. This will pave the way for the creation of an ‘online motor vehicle liability insurance verification system’ along with exclusive electronic access by the law enforcement authorities. Moreover, car owners will be compelled to carry liability insurance to be able to either renew or purchase license plates.
The Auditor’s Office had also called for an amendment in the state’s credit act. They aim to assist consumers to maintain their current insurance policies and to provide for more affordable insurance for any ‘extraordinary event.’
An insurer can decide on rating or underwriting exceptions for clients who have been affected by identity theft, temporary loss of employment, catastrophic injuries or illness, or the death of a family member. Any policyholder or applicant can avail of this upon request. The Auditor’s Office intends to expand ‘extraordinary events’ to consider military deployment, interruption of support payments, and divorce.
There are several options, although not endorsed by the Auditor’s Office, which would address the needs of drivers without insurance.
First, in availing ‘no-fault insurance’ the insurer covers the damages regardless of who caused the accident. In the event of a bodily injury, health insurance can pick up the tab. Although this option may encourage more people to sign up, there may be those who use the system for selfish gain to inflate their claims to ‘injuries.’
Second, ‘gas taxes’ may be proposed to cover auto liability coverage. This would provide an incentive to those who use fuel-efficient cars or who use less fuel.
Third, car owners may pay a certain proposed rate based on their car mileage which would encourage people to drive fewer miles and to consequently cause insurance costs go down to a certain degree. This may require the use of gadgets to track mileage to monitor location, speed and braking among others.