Senate and Commissioner Endorse Oklahoma ‘No Pay, No Play’ Bill

The Oklahoma State Senate and insurance commissioner are hoping that a bill moving its way through the legislature will be signed into law and will ultimately help discourage drivers from taking to the road without coverage.

SB 272, which gained approval from the Senate Wednesday with a 28-20 vote, would change state law by barring uninsured drivers from collecting for pain-and-suffering damages after a car accident caused by another person.

Drivers who lack coverage would still be able to successfully seek compensation for medical costs, property damage and loss of income that are the result of a crash.

This type of law — often referred to as “no pay, no play” — is already in place in a handful of states. Supporters of the law often say they help discourage motorists from driving uninsured, which has been a perennial problem for Oklahoma.

The state’s proportion of drivers who lack coverage has been reported to be one of the highest in the nation. An estimated 24 percent of drivers in the state did not have a policy in 2007 and 2009, according to reports published by the Insurance Research Council. That means approximately 1 in 4 drivers on the road were unprotected during those years. The national average was 1 in 7.

State Insurance Commissioner John Doak voiced his support for the legislation Wednesday after the senate vote, saying that it is a “common sense piece of legislation” that could help increase access to cheap auto insurance in the state.

“Steps like SB 272 will encourage motorists who might forgo liability coverage to obtain it,” Doak said in a prepared statement. “That will help reduce premiums because no longer will the insured bear the costs of the damage and injuries caused by uninsured motorists.”

But the Oklahoman newspaper reports that opposition to the bill remains.

Sen. Sean Burrage told the paper that the bill should not be passed because it would hurt Oklahomans who are forced to forgo coverage due to bad economic circumstances.

There are some exceptions to who would be affected by the bill. Exceptions are carved out for cases in which the at-fault driver is convicted of having driven under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident, when the at-fault driver intentionally caused the accident or fled the scene of the accident and when the uninsured motorist was previously insured but had had coverage canceled unknowingly due to non-payment of premiums.

According to the release published by Doak, the Oklahoma’s last governor vetoed similar legislation in 2009.

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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