We are always advising our clients, "IF YOU DON'T HAVE UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE ON YOUR POLICY, GET IT!!!!" In Alabama, this is always one of the most important coverages you can have on your car insurance. Why? because it is estimated that approximately 900,000 Alabama drivers have no insurance. Yes, let me repeat that, "900,000 ALABAMA DRIVERS HAVE NO INSURANCE!!" That is approximately 22% of all drivers in the State. That's 6th worst in the nation according to the Insurance Research Council as of April 2, 2011.
Even if a driver has insurance, the minimum coverage is $25,000.00. Uninsured motorist coverage on your policy covers you for UNDERINSURED MOTORISTS too. Underinsured motorist coverage means that you will be able to add your uninsured motorist coverage to the other person's liability coverage if theirs is not enough.
Example: You are in a wreck and injured with $30,000.00 of medical bills. You have no health insurance, and the other driver only has $25,000.00 of liability insurance. If you have the minimum of uninsured motorist coverage on your policy in the amount of $25,000.00, you can pursue your own insurance company for the additional $5,000.00 in medical bills plus pain and suffering and whatever other damages you might have.
For years, no insurance was required in Alabama, but it was made mandatory a few years ago with the passage of the Mandatory Liability Insurance Law "MLI" (32-7A-4 Code of Alabama 1975). If you didn't have the minimum insurance, you couldn't get a license plate. Unfortunately, a lot of people would get insurance, get their plate, and let the insurance lapse, but they still had their insurance card to show police. The State did not have a good method for policing this activity and making sure that the mandatory insurance law had teeth. That is all changing as of January 1, 2013.
On January 1, 2013, law enforcement officers will be able to utilize the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS). This will allow the officers to immediately verify the insurance status of a vehicle without the necessity of having the driver produce an insurance card. If found guilty of driving without insurance, you may be fined or have your license suspended:
- $500 for the first violation
- Up to $1,000 for the second or subsequent violations
- And/Or a six month driver's license suspension after the first violation
In addition, if a vehicle is registered or operated without liability insurance, the vehicle registration will be suspended, and the vehicle owner will be subject to the following:
- First violation, $200 reinstatement fee
- For second or subsequent violations, a $400 reinstatement fee and a mandatory four month registration suspension
- Evidence of current insurance will be required in order to reinstate the vehicle registration
According to AL.com, Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee's goal is to get the 22% unsinsured motorist figure reduced to 10%. According to Chief of Staff Ragan Ingram :
That would be a relief for staffers at the state Insurance Department. "Our number one or number two complaint every year is: I got hit by someone without insurance. Why is this happening?"
Finally, some help for motorists on our highways. This has been a problem for years, and with technology today, it should be a simple fix. Now, you MUST have insurance or pay the price. However, we still HIGHLY RECOMMEND MAKING SURE YOU HAVE A MINIMUM OF $100,000 OF UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE!!! It does not cost much, and if you raise your deductible, it can even lower your premium; however, you will have much better protection. $25,000.00 is not a lot these days when it comes to auto wrecks.