Possible Utah Legislation Carries Auto Insurance Implications

Utah state capitol building

A Utah newspaper reported this week that its local senator plans to propose legislation that would end the state’s practice of issuing driver’s privilege cards to individuals who lack U.S. citizenship or fail to meet the criteria needed to obtain a standard license.

More than 41,000 people in the state are in possession of these privilege cards.

State Sen. Steve Urquhart told The Spectrum that he intends to propose the legislation because the option of getting the cards “makes life easier in Utah for illegal immigrants to be here, which I think could be construed as a laying out the welcome mat.”

But aside from granting driving privileges, the cards serve another critical function: enabling their holders to purchase car insurance without a license.

Proponents of the law say that the privilege cards are beneficial in that they temper the state’s uninsured motorist rate. A 2008 legislative report estimated that 76 percent of cardholders had a matching vehicle insurance policy, while 82 percent of driver’s license holders were matched up to a policy.

Estimates from the Insurance Research Council indicate that, in 2007, Utah had the 10th lowest uninsured motorist rate in the nation, with only 8 percent of drivers lacking coverage.

According to Associated Press reports published in August, Utah remains one of the only three states that grant driving privileges to applicants without requiring proof of legal citizenship or residency, the other two being Washington and New Mexico.

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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