Utah Committee Considers Uninsured-drivers Problem

May 13, 2004

A committee of legislators and state agency and insurance representatives is considering how the state might implement a plan to treat the state’s 120,000 uninsured drivers much the way financial institutions deal with uninsured cars.

The idea was put forward Tuesday by state Sens. Dan Eastman, R-Bountiful, and Bill Hickman, R-St. George.

They believe the state should treat uninsured motorists much like financial institutions do. When a car that has a lien on it becomes uninsured, the financial institution insures the vehicle itself and adds the cost of the insurance to the car loan.

The question is how to recoup the money the state is paying out for uninsured cars?

The committee discussed possibly collecting an additional fee on vehicle registrations that would fund insurance on the uninsured.

A $1 fee would give the state a $2 million pot to start with, and ideally, any money spent by the state would then be repaid when the uninsured went to register the vehicle.

The insurance representatives favored having motorists insure themselves against damage from uninsured drivers. They did not want the state getting into the insurance business.

“There’s a certain percentage of people who will always be uninsured, so if I want to protect myself, I get (uninsured property damage insurance),” said Ross Marchant of Farmers Insurance.

Eastman said, “The wrong people are paying the bill,” and added that the goal should be to get everyone insured.

According to Insure-Rite Inc., which tracks the data for the state, about 6 percent of Utah’s 2 million registered cars are uninsured in any given month, with 50,000 perpetual offenders.

The committee will meet again next month.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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