Senate Committee Looks for Ways to Decrease Number of Uninsured Drivers
House Bill 3588, a comprehensive transportation reorganization bill passed last regular session, includes a provision allowing the state to find ways to decrease the number of uninsured drivers in Texas. To that end, the Senate Infrastructure, Development and Security Commission heard recommendations from state and insurance officials on the most effective methods to ensure that more drivers are insured. According to the Department of Public Safety, 20 percent of drivers in the state are uninsured. DPS Driver's License Division Chief Frank Elder laid out several suggestions for the committee, including a database that checks vehicle identification numbers (VIN) against insured drivers, and also a system where the state mails a survey to a percentage of residents requiring them to return proof of insurance back to the state. Elder added that current legislation gives the state authority to implement an insurance verification program, but that additional legislation is needed in the future to strengthen the program.
The committee also heard opinions from members of the insurance industry on which programs work and which do not. Donald Coy of State Farm Insurance testified that his company prefers the random-survey method to a VIN matching program. Coy said that in states with a VIN matching system, database errors can lead to fines, impoundment, and even jail time for drivers who are insured. Cyndi Krier of USAA Worldwide Insurance said that VIN matching systems are expensive, and do not significantly increase the number of insured drivers.
The Senate Infrastructure Development and Security Committee is Chaired by Senator Todd Staples and Vice-chaired by Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. The other members of the committee are Senators Kim Brimer, Rodney Ellis, Florence Shapiro, Jon Lindsay, Frank Madla, Eliot Shapleigh and Jeff Wentworth.