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Southern California Voices

Modest Proposal : Impound Uninsured Vehicles

July 12, 1993|MICHAEL J. LIEDER

Cypress — I was recently rear-ended by an uninsured motorist. The accident made me think about this problem of uninsured drivers.

It is solvable. Part of the solution has been proposed--making it mandatory to show proof of insurance in order to register a vehicle. But what about the possibility of someone canceling or letting the policy lapse after registration?

Solution: Require that a minimum amount of liability insurance be paid up in full to the date the registration expires.

A minimum liability coverage pool also needs to be established. This would be composed of a risk-sharing consortium of insurance companies. The pool would act much like today's assigned risk pool, in that nobody could be denied. However, this liability coverage would be attached to the car, not the individual. When the car was sold, the remaining premium would be prorated and transferred to the seller's new vehicle or paid out by the pool. Every vehicle would have to have this minimum liability in order to be registered. Uninsured visitors to the state would have short-term access to this pool and would be required to obtain a visible sticker as proof.

The law has to have teeth. Any car seen on the road that has no current registration/sticker/insurance could be confiscated and impounded until the owner showed proof of insurance/registration. After a reasonable amount of time, if the proof had not been provided, the vehicle would be sold at auction. Part of the proceeds from this sale would go to subsidize the minimum-insurance pool. The rest would go to provide assistance to vehicle owners who, because of hardship, cannot afford even the minimum insurance.

There are no easy solutions, but there are some that will work.

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