The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles has put software in place to ensure that everyone registering a vehicle has insurance for it.
Previously, the DMV was unable to verify if someone had insurance when they were registering, leading to roughly 30 percent of drivers driving uninsured, said DMV director Marla Thompson. Driving uninsured is illegal in Alaska.
“All drivers should comply with the law,” Thompson said in an interview. “If someone doesn’t, it increases the insurance premiums for all Alaska drivers.”
The update was rolled out last month, and requires no increased costs or difficulty for Alaska residents, as long as their vehicle is insured.
“If someone doesn’t have insurance, they can usually make a phone call,” Thompson said.
The DMV will accept electronic proof of insurance, usually in the form of an app from their insurance company, as well as printed proof of insurance, but will not register a vehicle without this proof. DMV employees used to take it on faith that someone was insured, but with the system to verify their status in place, that is no longer the case.
“It was thousands (of uninsured drivers),” Thompson said. “Before they would have just gotten tags and gone on their way. Now they have to show proof.”
The system is apparently simple to use for employees.
“We feel really confident that this is the right thing to do, to remind people they need insurance,” said Thompson, adding that in many cases, people weren’t uninsured out of malice but simple forgetfulness.
“It should help everyone in the long run,” said Thompson.
With higher rates of insured drivers on the roads in Alaska, the cost to individual drivers will actually go down.
Minimum insurance coverage for Alaska drivers are: $50,000/$100,000 for injury or death, and $25,000 for property damage.
More information can be found at http://doa.alaska.gov/dmv/.
• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org.