DMV Ready To Enforce Provisions of Mandatory Insurance Law

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: Mike Marando, Steve Haskins, Armando Botello, Mike Miller
September 26, 2006




SACRAMENTO—Californians who operate their vehicles without auto insurance could have their vehicle registrations suspended effective October 1 as part of SB 1500, designed to reduce the risk of economic losses sustained as the result of collisions involving uninsured motorists.

The legislation, signed in 2004 by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger requires the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to notify a customer about possible vehicle registration suspension if their insurance company fails to provide proof of insurance within 30 days of a vehicle’s initial registration with the department, or within 45 days once DMV has been notified by an insurance carrier about a policy cancellation or change in coverage.

“This new law is intended to protect Californians by reducing the number of uninsured vehicles on our roads,” said Sunne Wright McPeak, Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency during a 10 a.m. news conference today at the DMV South Sacramento Field Office. “Each year thousands of collisions occur involving uninsured vehicle owners.” Secretary McPeak was joined by State Senator Jackie Speier, who authored the law, and George Valverde, Director of the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

“SB 1500 requires insurers to electronically transmit insurance verifications to the DMV and it directs the DMV to notify a vehicle owner if the vehicle is not insured,” said Director Valverde. “Beginning October 1, we’ll be in a position to identify vehicles that are uninsured and begin the process of notifying motorists of the need to get their vehicle insured.”

The initial provision of SB 1500, which took effect Jan. 1, 2006, requires that insurance companies doing business in California electronically report all private-use vehicle (except trailers, off-highway vehicles or boats) liability policies to DMV, both when a policy is issued and/or cancelled.

Since July 1, 2006, law enforcement agencies have been able to electronically verify if any private-use vehicle is properly insured by accessing the department’s vehicle registration database. DMV statistics show that there are more than 23 million licensed drivers in California who operate almost 30 million vehicles.

DMV statistics show that 1.4 million drivers have been convicted since 2001 for driving without proper insurance coverage, and 78,000 drivers were convicted for failing to have liability insurance when involved in a collision.

Senator Speier acted on complaints that the California mandatory financial responsibility law was weakened by a loophole that allowed individuals to register vehicles while insurance was in effect and then let the coverage lapse; DMV had no way to continuously monitor customer insurance status.

“The law makes a great deal of sense for California vehicle owners and consumers as well as law enforcement. In addition to the obvious taxpayer savings, we also expect it to result in lower vehicle insurance premiums,” Senator Speier said.

Director Valverde emphasized that vehicle owners whose insurance carrier is electronically connected to the department database do not have to provide paper proof of insurance when renewing their registration, because the DMV already has the information. “That’s why electronic reporting is so useful,” he said. “It saves DMV and California taxpayers money and all of the extra problems that comes with an employee having to personally examine paper documentation.” Valverde added that there are some exceptions to the electronic insurance verification process, and urged customers who might be affected to check the information available on DMV’s website by logging on to www.dmv.ca.gov.

As of Oct. 1, 2006, the toll free number customers must call to reach a member of the Vehicle Registration Financial Responsibility Program is 1-866-664-4545. Once a vehicle registration has been suspended, customers must submit evidence of a valid vehicle insurance policy and pay a $14 reinstatement fee before a registration can be reinstated or renewed.

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