Agents support MS moving to auto insurance verification system

SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - The days of police depending on an insurance card to see if you are driving legally are on the way out. A new verification system will go online next year.

South Mississippi agents like the idea of having this database. One in every three drivers doesn't have liability insurance - something they are required to have by state law.

Agents said many drivers have found ways to maneuver around Mississippi's mandatory auto liability insurance law.

"What you find is some consumers try to game the system. They know that there's a law that says you've got to have insurance," said Angelyn Treutel, South Group Insurance Services President. "So they go in and they make a down payment on the policy. They don't make any other payments, so their policy has been expired. It's been canceled, but they have a piece of paper that makes it look as though they still have a policy when, in fact, they have no coverage whatsoever."

Treutel said the insurance industry is glad to see Mississippi trying to make changes.

"There has to be a way to validate on more of a real time basis. There has to be a way to know. The law officials, they can't stop and make calls to every insurance agent at two and three in the morning to see if someone has their coverage," Treutel said.

To make determining who is driving legally easier to track, the Mississippi Insurance Commissioner is encouraging insurers to sell policies of at least 90 days and not month to month. Treutel said for many customers, that's not financially feasible.

"That is a problem with the database concept. How frequently do you have to update it? You want it to be as accurate as possible," said Treutel. "The reality is a three month or six month or a 12 month policy is harder. That's exactly why there are month to month contracts, because of the cost. It's just a burden on consumers to have to pay a large sum. So that's why we have a lot of clients who chose a month to month payment approach."

She said while the verification system concept is great, she admitted it will be a technological challenge.

"It's very hard to think about all of the hundreds of companies that we have. The information that would have to come in on a daily basis and be updated and pushed out to the law officers, as well as the tax offices," said Treutel. "Just to keep up with it, it's mind boggling what a huge undertaking it is. So I can understand that they might be having some technical difficulties. I admire them. It is a good project. But I can see that it would be a challenge.

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