Ohio Legislators Take Aim at Auto Insurance Verification Program

Ohio Rep. Matt Huffman recently introduced to the state legislature a bill that would end a random car insurance verification program administered by the state.

State officials first instituted the Random Selection Program in 1998 in an effort to cut down on the number of motorists driving without coverage. Through the program, letters are sent to auto owners who are then required to mail proof of auto insurance back to the state Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV).

Ohio unemployment chart

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Those who do not respond or cannot furnish proof within 90 days of the letters’ being sent have their licenses suspended and must pay more than $100 in fines.

According to the BMV, about 5,400 letters are sent weekly, with an average of between 400 and 500 of the recipients’ licenses being placed on hold each week.

The Insurance Research Council has estimated that 16 percent of Ohio motorists were uninsured in 2007, and that number is expected to have risen along with the rate of unemployment.

The unemployment rate for Ohio in January 2010 was double what it was in January 2007.

But Rep. Huffman told a panel that unfair things are happening to some who receive the letters and don’t respond. He said that in some instances residents living outside of Ohio for a short period return to find that their licenses have been suspended because of a failure to reply to the notices.

Huffman suggested that the BMV require car owners to show proof of coverage when they go to renew their registrations. But he BMV says on its website that this method would be ineffective, since many would simply obtain a policy with a short coverage period before registration and then drop the policy immediately after.

It’s uncertain whether Huffman’s bill will make its way to the governor’s desk. Other legislators have already said that, without some sort of alternative, they do not see how ending the verification program would be a good decision.

Huffman introduced an identical bill last year and, although it found numerous sponsors, it received no further action after being referred to the Committee on Insurance.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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