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October 24, 2012   Email to Friend 

Authorities Crack Down On Uninsured Alabama Drivers
Miranda Mattheis

Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, the state of Alabama will begin using a new electronic verification system to help enforce the existing mandatory insurance law.

The Online Insurance Verification System (OIVS) will allow highway patrol officers and police officers to electronically access and verify whether a driver has automobile insurance.

“Alabama is the first state to have a true, online, real-time system for the enforcement of the automobile Mandatory Liability Insurance (MLI),” said Ginger Johnson, director of compliance for Alfa Insurance. “Owners and drivers of vehicles in the state of Alabama do not need to wait until Jan. 1, 2013, to obtain automobile liability insurance as Alabama’s current MLI law requires non-commercial, registered vehicles to have liability insurance.”

Alfa Insurance has prepared for the release of this system by offering policyholders a new way to view insurance cards through the Alfa2Go mobile app. Alabama is one of the first states to accept electronic images when showing proof of insurance.

While electronic proof of insurance is accepted, Alfa will continue to mail out insurance cards, and policyholders should still keep these in their vehicles at all times. When traveling out of state, policyholders will still need a card in the vehicle to show proof of insurance.

To protect the privacy of drivers, only agencies allowed by law will be allowed to access OIVS. Alfa and other insurance carriers will only provide OIVS with information necessary to determine if a vehicle is insured. Tag offices will use the system to verify insurance for purchasing or renewing a tag, and law enforcement will use the system to verify insurance at the scene of an accident, when issuing a citation or for any other reason allowed by law.

Alabama has more than 4 million registered vehicles. About 22 to 25 percent of those are reportedly uninsured, making it the 6th worst state in the nation for uninsured motorists. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, under-insured and uninsured motorists cost policyholders more than $114 million in losses in 2008-2009.

In 2011, the Alabama Legislature passed a bill requiring a web-based automobile liability insurance verification system.

The law states that no one will “operate, register, or maintain registration of, and no owner shall permit another person to operate, register or maintain registration of, a motor vehicle” that is driven on our state’s highways without an automobile liability insurance policy, bond or deposit of case (with the State Treasurer’s Office) for the minimum limits required by law.

The law requires the owner to retain proof of insurance in the vehicle.

First-time offenders found lacking coverage will face a fine of up to $500, which increases to $1,000 for second and subsequent violations. Repeat offenders can also have their driver’s license and registration suspended for six months.

Those providing proof of auto insurance after a first offense will have to pay a $200 reinstatement fee, while a second or subsequent violation will require a $400 reinstatement fee and a mandatory four-month registration suspension. For more information visit BeSureToInsureAL.com.

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