Driving without insurance is detrimental to society, and a crime. Yet Wisconsin still has its fair share of uninsured motorists on the road—about 12 percent of the driving population, according to state representative Joe Sanfelippo. To combat the problem, he recently proposed stricter penalties for those caught driving without insurance. If successful, it could be beneficial for all motorists, including the ones who find themselves at the receiving end of the law.
Uninsured Motorist Claims Cost $2.6 Billion
Insurance companies are in the business of making money. So, to even out the costs of having to cover hospital bills and car repair for those injured or hit by uninsured motorists, they pass the excess cost to those that purchase insurance through higher premiums. The national total of all these costs combined was nearly $2.6 billion in 2012, the Insurance Research Council says. Overall, that is a 75 percent increase in uninsured motorist costs over the course of a decade.
Current Penalties for Driving without Insurance
Under current law, motorists caught driving without insurance can face a fine of up to $5, 000. This amount is the exception, however, so most end up paying much lower fines on their first offense (and even on repeat offenses). The proposal from representative Sanfelippo, which is based upon a study from Florida State University's College of Business on the rate and consequences of uninsured motorists from 40 states, would change all of that.
Assembly Bill 92
Titled Assembly Bill 92, Sanfelippo's proposition would significantly increase the fines currently administered for driving without insurance. It would also permit the suspension of a driver's license upon just the first offense, leaving uninsured motorists without driving privileges until they provided the Wisconsin Department of Transportation with an SR-22 insurance certificate, which they would be required to carry for three years. This increases their insurance rates, and it tracks them to ensure they keep their insurance (or suffer the consequences of having their license suspended again).
Added Benefits of Purchasing Insurance
Purchasing insurance to protect oneself has added benefits to the policy holder. Auto policies usually include, among other things, uninsured and uninsured motorists coverage that will provide compensation when the driver who causes the accident has either no insurance or insufficient insurance, medical pay coverage to take care of medical bills, and collision coverage to fix or replace damaged or totaled vehicles. It is not just about the “other guy, ” it's also about you.
Seeking Compensation After an Uninsured Motorist Accident
When a motorist is uninsured, other drivers are left with fewer options: first, an exhaustive search needs to be made to determine whether another party, such as an employer or a party in a joint venture with the uninsured drive may be responsible for the damages: second, if the victim is in a vehicle that has uninsured motorist coverage on it or has their own insurance with uninsured motorist coverage, they may file against one of these insurance policies; third, if there is no such coverage, they can file a lawsuit against the other driver and hope that they have the ability to pay and do not file for bankruptcy. Unfortunately, however, pursuing a claim against a driver in a case where there is no insurance from any source can be expensive and may not result in the payment of compensation.
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