MISSOURI – A bill has been introduced that aims to bolster automobile insurance laws to cover up a current legislative loophole which compels drivers in Missouri to maintain their liability insurance, but excludes drivers who register their cars outside of the state.
Carthage Republican State Rep. Tom Flanigan and Joplin Republican State Sen. Gary Nodler both introduced a bill to expand the liability laws of Missouri beyond state boundaries to cover ‘out-of-state’ car owners.
Nodler said that a recent incident given coverage in the news was what brought the loophole to the attention of the lawmakers. He admitted that he had no prior knowledge of the existence of the flaw which failed to provide any financial accountability for out-of-state motorists who are uninsured. He also added that they decided to deal with the issue the moment the incident was covered in the press.
The incident dealt with an Oklahoma driver hitting a resident from Jasper County who was in Joplin. Police investigators were unable to cite the Oklahoma driver for not having insurance coverage since the car has its registration done in another state. As a result, collision coverage was not granted to the local driver, who also did not have the finances to repair the damage done to her vehicle.
The Senator said that the Jasper County resident had a good track record as a citizen, which included availing of car insurance, promptly paying property tax payments, and faithfully updating her vehicle registration. However, she was ‘helpless’ because of the inability of the state to provide legal protection from out-of-state drivers. This exposed a weakness in state law which requires immediate remedial measures to benefit all law-abiding citizens.
The bills, named Senate Bill 902 and House Bill 1996, intend to compel non-residents to comply with financial responsibilities under the laws of their state of origin. This would permit law enforcers in Missouri to hold out-of-state drivers accountable for not possessing automobile insurance.
In the U.S., all states have minimum car insurance requirements. However, there are variations in the amount of liability insurance per state.
If drivers from outside the state are found guilty of not complying with their home state’s requirements, they would be penalized. A class C misdemeanor would be slapped on them and they would be suspended from their driving privileges in Missouri. After which, the Missouri Department of Revenue will also send a notice to the home state of the offending driver.
Noddler expressed that the bill will empower law enforcers to take necessary actions to make sure that uninsured drivers will be not let of the hook as easily as it was in the past.