UNINSURED DRIVERS ARE DRIVING UP YOUR RATES
According to a recent article by Julie Patel in the October 14, 2011 edition of SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL.COM the insurance industry says that there's a one-in-four chance that the driver in the car next to you does not have auto insurance. Florida is in the top five states for uninsured drivers, according to the Insurance Research Council.
The state estimates the percentage of uninsured drivers is much lower, but regardless the number of uninsured drivers is one reason Floridians pay $1,476 a year, on average, for automobile insurance, Insure.com estimates. More than half of the premium pays for bodily injury, physical damage and uninsured motorist coverage, and nearly a fifth for personal injury protection and medical payment coverage, according to 2009 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The rest goes for collision and comprehensive coverage.
The article goes on to say that while state officials hold meetings and news conferences to declare war on personal injury protection (PIP) insurance fraud, few raise the possibility of doing more to enforce a Florida law requiring cars have at least $10,000 in PIP coverage and $10,000 in property damage liability coverage. "If all drivers had insurance, and all carried adequate liability insurance, then there would be little need to purchase" uninsured motorists coverage, said Sharon Tennyson, an associate professor at Cornell University's Department of Policy Analysis and Management. PIP coverage also would cost less: "If some drivers are uninsured, then the full costs will have to be borne by the insured driver's insurance."
In Florida, a driver whose insurance expires has a note put on his record in the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles' computer system and his license, registration and tags could be suspended. But the information isn't sent to local law enforcement or noted in its computers in the field. "With 18 million-plus registered vehicles, [that's] hard to do," said Ann Howard, a spokeswoman for the department. As it is, "plenty of people are pulled over without proof of insurance, and there are repercussions."
DHSMV estimates 3 percent to 4 percent of registered vehicles in Florida are uninsured, based on the number of tickets doled out, warnings from insurers and other information, she said. The research council's ranking is "just flat-out wrong," she said, blaming the council's methodology. "This is just their attempt to scare people in Florida that there are all these people driving uninsured, which is not the truth," she said. Hialeah police partnered with 19 insurers for a day last month to verify insurance during normal traffic stops and they found 40 uninsured drivers among the 228 who received summons for traffic violations, according to a report from the Hialeah Police Department. One person was arrested for having a fake insurance card.
Insurers are required to tell the state when a driver's insurance has lapsed. The state then gives the driver 20 days to prove he or she has insurance, or face suspension, Howard said. Once suspended, it costs $150 to reinstate the first time and $500 after that. David Corum, of the research council, stands behind his estimates, which are based on a ratio developed to allow for comparisons across states. The research council is funded by leading property and casualty insurers and groups and uses the information to raise awareness about uninsured drivers nationwide and
the problems they can create for insurers and policyholders.
Higher unemployment seems to be a factor. Unemployment was 10.5 percent in 2009 for Florida and Tennessee, both among the five states with the most uninsured drivers. It was around 8 percent or less for the states with the lowest uninsured drivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, insurance only gets more expensive when more drivers drop coverage.
States with highest percentage of uninsured driversMississippi 28 percent
New Mexico 25.7 percent
Tennessee 23.9 percent
Oklahoma 23.9 percent
Florida 23.5 perent
States with lowest percentage of uninsured drivers
Massachusetts 4.5 percent
Maine 4.5 percent
New York 5.4 percent
Pennsylvania 6.6 percent
Vermont 7.1 percent
Source: Insurance Research Council
If you or someone that you care about has been hurt in an auto accident, you need a legal team that will fight for you and your rights every step of the way. To speak with members of the Charpentier Law Firm about your case and to find out how we can help, contact our Central Florida personal injury attorneys today.
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