From the Office of State Senator Glenn Hegar, District 18

For Immediate Release
September 5, 2007
Contact: (512) 463-0118

Uninsured Motorists Beware

Database Will Provide for Instant Verification of Coverage

In 2005 the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1670, which called for the installation of a statewide automobile liability coverage database, the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program. Several state agencies have been involved in setting up the database, which is expected to be operational in early 2008.

Like 47 other states, Texas requires all motorists to carry liability coverage. Unfortunately, uninsured motorists are able to easily sidestep this law by obtaining coverage and then dropping it as soon as they receive their proof of insurance card or by obtaining a false document. When these uninsured motorists are involved in a traffic stop they simply show their expired or fraudulent document to the officer, who has no way of knowing that the motorist is, in fact, uninsured. Soon gone will be those days. In early 2008 Texas peace officers will have access to a database that will provide instant verification of a motorist's coverage, or lack thereof. Law enforcement officers will, for the first time, be able to identify all uninsured motorists and assess to them the $175 to $1,000 fine called for by Texas law.

The Department of Public Safety estimates that approximately 1 in 5 Texas drivers do not carry valid liability coverage. The cost of these uninsured motorists is largely unseen. Be assured, however, that there is a very real cost. Many of us who know of the great number of uninsured motorists on our roadways choose to protect against the financial risk they pose by opting for a specific provision in our own policy to protect against accidents caused by uninsured motorists. The simple fact is that for every additional uninsured motorist on the road, the price for that coverage increases. With Texas' tough new stance on uninsured motorists expected to reduce the number of these lawbreakers, it is my hope that Texans will see a reduction in the cost of automobile insurance.

Not to be overlooked in this discussion is the cost to the taxpayer. Many uninsured motorists also do not carry health insurance. When these individuals are injured on our roadways, who foots the bill? If you answered the taxpayer, you hit the nail squarely on the head. By reducing the number of uninsured motorists on our roadways, the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program should reduce this cost, an outcome that will only be all too welcome considering the heavy burden already placed on our health care budget and the pocketbook of the average Texan.

I strongly supported and voted in favor of the legislation that authorized the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program because I believe that it is our responsibility as lawmakers to provide law enforcement with the tools they need to uphold the law. Laws that cannot be enforced effectively are detrimental to our criminal justice system because they erode respect for laws in general. The Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program is a clear victory on many fronts. I look forward to its implementation and to continuing in my efforts to provide the people of Texas with laws that will enhance our great state.