Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Good Hands...

You would think drivers in a state that requires insurance would, more often than not, have insurance, right?

And you'd also think those who have insurance, and are provided with those nifty little insurance cards by their insurance companies every six months, would have the aforementioned cards in their vehicles as is required by law, right?

Not so much.

I looked at my stats recently, and saw that I write a LOT of citations for 16028(a) VC, which requires that a driver present a current insurance card upon demand by a peace officer. I'd estimate at least half of the drivers I stop in a given day either have no insurance information, or hand me an insurance card that is expired by several months, or even several years.

Then, when I point out their little faux pas and ask if they have anything "more current", they almost always tell me "It's the same information. You can call my insurance agent and confirm it.", or "I can get my agent on the phone and he/she can confirm it's current", or "Can't you look it up on your computer?"

Yeah, sure. Let me get right on that.

You see, the law does not require me to call your supposed insurance agent, who may or may not actually be the person I would be speaking to should I decide to call the telephone number listed on your expired insurance card from 2006. The law also does not require me to wait on hold for a seemingly interminable period of time in order to "confirm" your insurance coverage with said person who, as previously mentioned, may or may not be your actual insurance agent.

By that same token, if you were to ring up your "agent", how do I know I'm not talking to your cousin, who is just telling me what you told him/her to tell me.

The law also does not require me to access your personal insurance information on my "computer", nor is my "computer" so equipped.

The law requires YOU to have current insurance information in your vehicle, to be presented upon request by a peace officer.

If you were to hand an expired insurance card to someone with whose vehicle your vehicle had just made unintended contact (otherwise known as a collision), that person would not be required to accept it. In fact, they'd be stupid to "take your word for it".

I am far from the most organized person in the world, but it's actually quite simple people. Every six months when I get those little cards in the mail, I break one off for Mrs. Smith to put in the car, and I put one in the truck. If I'm ever asked for my insurance information, it will be a simple matter of opening my glove compartment, pulling out the DMV envelope containing my vehicle registration card, and handing over the insurance card contained within.

Believe me folks, if I can do it, you can too...


blackrat999 said...

In the UK the Police National Computer holds all vehicle details and the insurance (if any) that covers them and who is allowed to drive them etc. This is 24/7. Very very useful. Also can access the driver licence record nationwide at the same time. If there is no licence or no insurance then the vehicle gets towed and they got to get correct docs or its crushed after 14 days. :-) blackrat

True Police Stories said...

you would think right? WE all pay our reg, get the car smogged, and update our's really NOT that hard!

Same here...about 1/2 or so of the drivers I stop either have NO insurance or outdated info with no proof of insurance.

(I have been getting a lot of the "Reg Suspended" lately too)

Mark said...

I actually take it a step further. My insurance cards are emailed to me. I print out two copies -- one goes in the car, the other in my wallet. So I always have a copy of my card, even if I'm in a rental, or driving someone else's car.

Front Porch Society said...

It sure is amazing how many uninsured drivers are out there. And it is usually those that cause the accidents around here. Thank goodness for "uninsured protection" on my policy plan! lol.

ChiLax said...

OT -

Did you see this video from a Davenport Police Department shooting? Off duty PO assisted Davenport Police in a fight after taser is ineffective. Shots fired, offender down. I got the video from and it's from the Quad City Times website.

Sabra said...

Texas also now has a computerized system to verify whether a driver has insurance. (I'd be pretty surprised if CA doesn't.) Cop can know before he gets out of his car if you have insurance or not. Still doesn't erase your responsibility to have a current card.

I had to get my agent's secretary to print me out a card. They can manage to send me a bill, but not to send me a card. Twits. I like the company, but I think it's time to find another agent.

wlb50 said...

In California, the politicians are idiots. They make insurance "mandatory" then have no enforcement mechanism.

If you get into an accident here the odds are good that the other driver will have no insurance.

Why can't the insurance companies notify the DMV electronically when a policy lapses - and have the cops come out and **lock** the offending car.


That makes too much sense.

I think they do that in Germany.

Officer "Smith" said...

If I run the plate on a car, the return will tell me if the DMV has current insurance information for the car. It will also tell me if the registration has been suspended for not having insurance.

Unfortunately I can't stop a car just because I get INSURANCE STATUS NOT CHECKED. I can stop them for the suspended reg though.

Even if it says INSURANCE ON FILE, the driver still has to have a valid insurance card in the car.

Roanoke Cop said...

Virginia requires you to have either insurance, or pay the "uninsured motorist fee" to DMV. You don't have to have proof with you either.

Marco said...


"[...]I think they do that in Germany."

Yep, can confirm that. The process actually is, that you need confirmation from your insurance to register a car. You won't get registration without it. And if you fail to pay your bill, the insurance company tells the DMV (KFZ Zulassungsstelle actually :) ), and they will send someone out, to remove the yearly sticker! Having no insurance pretty much suspends your registration. So, Police can easily see when somethings wrong with the car, stop you and write a ticket. You can even loose your license when driving without insurance!

Not saying, that's the best thing and it would work in the US without changes, but it does in Germany and problems with uninsured drivers are pretty much non-existent.

Jeremy said...

what about 16020 (d)1 ??
it clearly states that if I have the policy name and number and it is verifiable electronically then that is proof. I also say that since I pay taxes and part of the taxes pay for the radio to call it in then I am providing proof of financial responsibilty to the officer.

Officer "Smith" said...

Actually Jeremy, I think you should read it again...

I'll refer you specifically to the last part of the last paragraph. The part that says...

"if that information is contained in the vehicle registration records of the department."

Unless you've somehow convinced the DMV to include your insurance info in the electronic return I get on my MDC, which they don't do by the way, this section does not exempt you from presenting the information as is required by the law.