A committee hearing at the Montana Legislature revealed that around 15 percent of the state’s drivers do not have insurance. This is in light of the fact that Montana already has laws in effect mandating motorists to have vehicle insurance. A fine and a penalty may also be imposed if a driver was caught without the necessary insurance.
The study is part of a Joint Resolution made by the Senate and House of Representatives. SJR 16, requests of an interim study “to investigate the issues of the underinsured and uninsured motorists,” It is set to make recommendations and submit findings as well as calculate the amount that uninsured vehicles are costing the state.
The Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee began its study through a resolution by Senator Roy Brown in 2009. In a report made by Mari Kindberg, property and actuary in the state Auditor’s Office, Montana falls way below other states with uninsured drivers. North Dakota has five percent uninsured motorists, South Dakota has seven percent, and Wyoming and Idaho both have nine percent.
Kindberg presented some suggestions prepared by his office. One of these is the amendment of a state credit statute in order to keep insurance costs low and help consumers maintain coverage. Aside from this, a proviso covering “extraordinary events” was suggested to be expanded to include support payment, the deployment abroad of members of the armed forces, divorce, and interruption of alimony. It must be noted that as of the moment, consumers could already request for lower rates in case of an incident such as illness or injury, death of a family member, temporary loss of employment or identity theft had befallen them.
Other options were discussed including the effects of implementing a “no-fault” insurance policy. Kindberg stated that regardless of who was at fault, insurance companies must indemnify the insured motorists. This may increase compliance to the mandatory insurance coverage law. However, she also explained that fraud may be committed by some in order to spike-up claims.
A “pay-at-the-pump” system was also discussed. The system involves adding additional tax to gasoline refills. Thus, those who drive less would benefit from this system. The premiums would also be based on a set mileage. Nevertheless, privacy issues may be raised because the state could, in effect, monitor the location of the vehicle as well its speed while cruising among other things. An onboard monitoring device would also have to be bought which is expensive.
By July next year, an online motor vehicle insurance verification would be implemented and is expected to provide real-time monitoring of whether cars plying Montana roads are insured or not.