(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), April 23, 2015 — A major bill establishing an online verification program to help ensure compliance with Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law was approved by the Senate before the Legislature adjourned this week. Senate Bill 648, sponsored by Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), aims to reduce the state’s uninsured motorist rate, which is currently at 23-24 percent.
There are approximately 40,000 crashes a year that involve uninsured motorists.
“This is one of the most significant bills passed in the last 40 years to affect automobile insurance,” said Ketron. “It will allow for the enforcement of Tennessee’s Financial Responsibility Law with a real-time system of auto liability policy verification to protect the public on our state’s roads. Those who have been involved in a car crash with uninsured drivers know how devastating that can be financially, particularly when there are injuries.”
Tennessee law requires drivers to have a driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance; however, there is no verification system to track the insurance requirement. The bill requires that a notice procedure be provided to any driver found to be uninsured, allowing them 15 days to provide proof of insurance or exemption. If there is no response, the owner will be sent a second notice stating that they have 30 days to provide proof of insurance. Failure to comply will result in a $25 coverage failure fee on the first notification and a $100 fee on the second. The bill also increases the fine for failure to provide proof of insurance from $100 to $300, and if a driver fails to provide proof of insurance to an officer, the officer may tow the vehicle as long as the officer’s agency has adopted a policy for such procedure.
Forty-six other states have similar auto liability verification systems.
“I am very pleased this bill has passed in Tennessee. It will make our streets safer and will hopefully save lives as well,” Ketron said.