What is uninsured motorists?

None of the current legal or regulatory approaches to keeping uninsured motorists from driving are particularly effective at producing a high degree of compliance. Overall, there is evidence (reported in the GAO study) that in compulsory insurance states, somewhat more drivers do have insurance.

Significant numbers of uninsured motorists are on the road

Even in these states, howTever—New York and California, for example—significant numbers of uninsured motorists are on the road. The conclusion, therefore, is that none of the existing laws aimed at preventing uninsured motorists from driving constitutes a solution to the problem.

Proponents of compulsory liability insurance laws base their position on the concepts of justice and fairness, and on the traditional tort liability doctrine that people must pay for any damage or injury their negligence causes to others. Since liability insurance is the easiest way for most motorists to pay compensation, advocates of these laws maintain that the state should require motorists to buy coverage by making it a criminal offense to drive without it. See if you qualify for car insurance discounts and see how much you can save.

They also argue that it is unfair that insured drivers pay for uninsured motorist coverage to protect themselves from uninsured drivers who are at fault in accidents. If uninsured motorists were compelled to buy liability coverage, they say, others would not have to pay the extra cost of this extra coverage.

Critics of compulsory laws base their opposition primarily on pragmatic grounds, maintaining that such laws have proven to be ineffective; costly to taxpayers, insurance policyholders and the driving public; and inconvenient as well. Many opponents also argue that the state has no right to force low-income drivers, with no assets to protect, to buy insurance simply for the benefit of more affluent drivers. Each of these arguments is examined below.

The core of the case against compulsory insurance laws is the argument that they simply don’t work, because they do not compel drivers to maintain liability insurance coverage. Insurance dodgers can easily circumvent compulsory insurance laws by buying minimal coverage on the installment plan. This enables them to obtain the necessary proof of insurance to register their vehicles.

Then, after getting registration, they cancel the insurance, fail to pay the next installment or fail to renew coverage. Other ways insurance dodgers can sidestep compulsory laws include using fake evidence of insurance, registering vehicles out-of-state in a state without a compulsory insurance law, or transferring ownership to someone in such a state.


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