Georgia Computer Program Reducing Uninsured Motorists, State Says

December 27, 2005

The number of uninsured motorists on Georgia highways has been sharply reduced since the state began using a computer system to keep track of liability insurance rolls, the state Department of Revenue said.

Before the system took effect in February 2003, the lack of a central database allowed people to get tags without active policies, and no one knew how many uninsured motorists there were, said Keith Thomas, a Revenue Department official who works with the program.

Now, insurers are required to transmit a vehicle’s identification number and the policy’s effective date within 30 days of the start of coverage. Policy terminations, deletions and additions on the state’s eight million registered vehicles also must be reported.

“When we started, we estimated that 22 percent of motorists were uninsured,” Thomas said. “We think now we’re somewhere in the ballpark of 2 percent,” or 160,000 vehicles.

Any insurance that is lapsed more than 10 days prompts a letter from the state fining the vehicle owner $25. At one point, the state was sending out 10,000 lapse letters each week, Thomas said.

Revenue Department figures compiled last month listed Fayette as the county with the smallest percentage of uninsured vehicles, at 1 percent. Chattahoochee County was worst with 4.7 percent.

The insurance database can help police determine whether a vehicle is stolen. Police officers can access the insurance database during a traffic stop and know immediately whether a vehicle is insured.

The better reporting has cut down on the number of no-insurance tickets issued by the Suwanee Police Department, Sgt. Cass Mooney said.

Under the old system, the department issued about 100 tickets each month for lack of insurance. Many times the motorist had insurance but did not have the proof-of-insurance card in the glove box. With the computer in the mix, the department is down to issuing just 15 such tickets each month.

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