The New Year will ring in new changes aimed at making sure all motorists are insured or else promptly reported to the state by their insurance companies if they let their auto insurance lapse.
Drivers should check that the VIN on their registration and insurance cards are correct but won’t have to worry about taking the documents to the county to be verified. Insurance companies will report their information, and only if there is a problem will motorists have to take action.
In that case, the motorists will receive a notice from the state asking them to respond within 30 days. If there is no response, they will get a warning letter telling them that if they do not respond within 30 days, they will get a $25 penalty. A final notice imposing the $25 penalty and warning of a $100 penalty and suspension will then be sent, giving the motorist 30 days to respond. Finally, a suspension notice will be sent with a total $125 penalty.
The system will be run by the Tennessee Department of Revenue.
“Tennessee already has a financial responsibility law that applies to Tennessee drivers,” Revenue Commissioner David Gerregano said. “The goal of this new system is to efficiently and effectively check compliance in order to reduce the number of motorists who lack insurance or another form of financial responsibility.”
The law was passed in 2015, with implementation to begin in 2017. The James Lee Atwood, Jr. Law was passed to help reduce the overall number of uninsured drivers on Tennessee roadways.
A 2014 study by the Insurance Research Council found that in 2012, Tennessee had the sixth-highest uninsured motorist rate in the nation, with an estimated 20.1 percent of drivers being uninsured.
Rather than checking for insurance coverage at the time of registration renewal, the system will verify insurance coverage on a continual basis throughout the year.
If the system is unable to confirm insurance coverage for a vehicle, a notice will be sent to that owner directing him or her to a website where he or she can provide proof of minimum liability insurance or other means of financial responsibility. If a customer does not respond to the initial notice, subsequent notices will follow. Failure to comply with the notices could result in fines and eventual vehicle registration suspension.
For more information about the department’s new program, visit www.DriveInsuredTN.com.