Several years ago as I sat in my insurance office, the outer door opened and a middle aged man came through the door with a scowl on his face. I heard him mumble something about a highway patrolman stopping him and asking him for his insurance card.
“I have a right to drive any time I want and no one can tell me differently. No one can say I have to have insurance which is just a waste of money because I can take care of myself.”
He was invited into my office where he revealed he had been caught in a highway patrolman sting in the little town of Clark Fork, Idaho, where the officers were stopping people and checking for insurance verification and registrations. Over the next three hours we had four more individuals come into the office with the basic same story and feelings.
Upon doing some research to see if these folks had a legitimate gripe I discovered these officers were acting under the charge they have as peace officers, Chapter 29 Section 67-2901, , (a),(b),(c),(f),(i),(k),and (m) to uphold the law. They were enforcing Idaho Code–Section 49-1428 which reads, “It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle upon highways without a valid policy of liability insurance in full force and effect in an amount not less than that provided in section 49-117, Idaho code, or unless the person has been issued a certificate of self-insurance pursuant to section 49-1224, Idaho code, or has previously posted an indemnity bond with the director of insurance as provided in section 49-1229, Idaho code.”
This codification of the activity of driving shows that our right to drive is a privilege given with certain responsibilities attached, one of them being the requirement to show financial responsibility. This wouldn’t be an issue if no one else were using the highway; but where others are using the highway and negligence on either party may cause harm, some regulation is required.
The State of Idaho has determined under Section 49-1229 pursuant to section 49-117, minimum coverage of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per occurrence for bodily injury, and $15,000 property damage financial responsibility can be met by certificate of insurance, or posting of indemnity bond with director of department of insurance for private individuals. This financial responsibility can also be met for motor carriers under section 49-1224. Self-Insurers with a certificate of self-insurance and certificate of liability insurance in a form the department prescribes when the department is satisfied that the person is possessed and will continue to be possessed of ability to pay judgments obtained against that person upon application, and providing a statement by a certified public accountant attesting the applicant’s net worth is five hundred thousand dollars, a list of vehicles, and a seventy dollar issue fee to be deposited in the state highway account. The motor carrier agrees to always be in compliance with the law according to section 49-1233 Idaho code. This section of the code lists intrastate motor carriers who qualify for exemption from having to carry liability and property damage insurance coverage required by the board. Examples of those qualifying–motor vehicles employed solely in transporting school children and teachers to and from school or to and from approved school activities, taxi cabs with limitations, motor vehicles controlled and operated by any farmer when used in transportation of his fam equipment or transportation of supplies for his farm, motor propelled vehicles for the sole purpose of carrying United States mail or property belonging to the United States–to name a few.
Those individuals who came into my office that day were required to have had such proof of responsibility prior to their inspection by the highway patrol. Since they didn’t, the infraction for each was punishable by a fine of $75 plus the requirement to file a SR22 form with the Department of Insurance. They were also subject to a $16.50 court fee, $5.00 county justice fee, $15.00 police officers training fee, $10.00 technology fund fee, and a $10.00 emergency surcharge, license suspension, and an $85.00 license reinstatement fee when the license would be returned.
The second offense carries up to $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in jail. They must show the department of insurance they are complying with the financial responsibility requirement for an unbroken coverage of three years. If at anytime there is a break, the three years starts all over again.
Those are the penalties imposed by the State; but in addition to those, they face additional premiums by insurance companies. The insurance company feels these individuals are not preferred risks so they offer insurance in their high risk market which can be twice or more expensive as preferred customers. They also monitor driving records; and if any citations occur during the three year SR22 time, those higher rates will be maintained. Since insurance company must notify the Department of Insurance of insurance coverage, they also impose a $25 filing fee. It is pretty obvious that going without insurance can become rather expensive.
Back to the highway patrol sting, one of my insureds was one of those officers. He advised my in the four hours they ran the sting, 35 drivers were found to be in violation of the law. He did not tell me how many were actually stopped, but it did shine a light on what could be a major concern for those who are exposed to the driving habits of others. By a point of interest, you might like to reference the blog on this website titled “Should I go without insurance.”