A number of Texas counties have a problem matching the number of registered vehicles with their current auto policy. Major insurance providers in Texas say that this failure of the state’s database to match records correctly causes a big problem especially since there is a huge percentage of motorists who do not posses auto insurance. To solve this problem, letters have been sent to more than 100,000 Texas drivers starting November 30 asking them to verify and match their insurance information.
According to Texas Department of Insurance spokesman Jerry Hagins, the challenge for officers and patrol officials on public highways is that there is an existing gap between information that is available in their system and ones being sent to them by insurance providers. He adds that there are even instances where there is a 14-day lag in this information that an officer needs to access. According to Hagins, 2 weeks is a very long period, long enough for someone to buy or sell a motor vehicle, and when this happens, the database, as a tool to help car insurance, becomes unhelpful and even totally useless.
The Police Department in Corsicana and the Sheriff’s Office in Navarro County are known to have a practice of towing vehicles that are found to not have auto policies. Navarro County’s Sheriff Les Cotton said that even though his department does not conduct random insurance inspections, they will still find one or more uninsured vehicles on a daily basis. Meanwhile, in Corsicana, towing of cars is known to be a common practice, since more often than not a driver will willingly admit that he does not have auto insurance.
According to Police Chief Randy Bratton, when instances like this happen – this is where the problem lies. The procedure is that when an uninsured motorist is found on the road, the database puts a note on this driver and the officer handling the case will be calling his insurance company and try to confirm if the car is really uninsured. Bratton adds that providers take a lot of time before they can verify their records and worse, they send feedback that they fail to verify their records.
Bratton said in a recent interview that if companies cannot confirm if a towed vehicle is insured, he can give the driver the benefit of a doubt. While it is within discretion of road officers whether to tow or not to tow vehicles, some still find it very inconvenient that they cannot determine what action to take when faced with a car suspected to be uninsured.