MS looking to make sure drivers carry liability insurance

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - To reduce the high number of uninsured drivers, Mississippi's insurance commissioner said his office is working with state legislature to lower the cost of liability auto insurance. Although liability insurance is required by state law, Commissioner Mike Chaney said 30 percent of drivers still don't have it. So the state is looking at ways to check and see if people are getting behind the wheel legally.

An estimated 1 in 3 Mississippians is driving without liability insurance and if one slams into you, getting compensated could be difficult.

"I've been hit before and they were uninsured," said Jimmy Williams, driver. And to try to go to court and try to get everything settled is a nightmare."

Mississippi plans to implement a new insurance database system. That law enforcement can use to check to see if drivers have valid insurance.

However, insurance commissioner Mike Chaney said, "We need a verification program, but I'm not certain this is the type we need because it has a lot of problems. Some states have chips that go on the tag. That means a trooper can read the chip from 100 yards away and know if a driver has insurance."

Some drivers have their own ideas for better enforcement.

Driver Michelle O'Kefe said, "I think they should be able to show their proof of insurance before they get a new tag."

Commissioner Chaney said for customers who renew their insurance month by month, it is difficult to keep up with. So he's encouraging insurance companies to require customers buy at least 90 days of coverage. He said generally people who don't carry liability are lower income and can't afford to pay up front for six months or a year.

"Times are tough, but there are some things we have to pay for," said Alexis Kellum, driver. "You just have to move some things around. Maybe let go of some luxuries in life to make sure we can pay for things that are necessary."

Williams said, "I'm 69. I've been driving since I was 16-years-old and I've never driven without insurance liability and most of the time I have collision. So I think everyone should have it."

The state also wants to save money for Mississippians who have uninsured motorist coverage in their insurance plan. Commissioner Chaney said the state is trying to lower that coverage to $50 a year.

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