In theory, driving on the public roads is safe. People go through proper courses of instruction to learn how to avoid crashing into each other. And, even if an unavoidable accident does occur, all but three states have mandatory liability coverage. That should ensure a minimum amount to pay for medical expenses and repairs to the vehicles of those not at fault. Except, life in the raw does not match the theory. Despite the fact most insurers offer the discount to teen drivers if they go through an approved course, only a small proportion actually do so on uninsured losses.
Worse, even those who do attend the courses still drive badly. The rate of injury and death among teens makes driving the number one cause of death from any causes. When you think about it, there’s no reasonable explanation for the rate of traffic accidents when the young are behind the wheel. Some may be distracted because they feel obliged to carry on texting. . . Well, for whatever reason, drivers under the age of 25 have the highest accident rate and therefore the highest rate of premium with uninsured losses.
The issue of mandatory liability insurance is even more disappointing. This was introduced to ensure there would always be enough money around to cover losses except, from the first days, state legislatures have been undermining its effectiveness. For a start, no state has linked the minimum amount to inflation, so rates set in the 1950’s and 60’s are worth a fraction of their original value. Second, states have soft-pedaled any enforcement. Since drivers know they stand a good chance of not being detected, they quietly forget to ensure their vehicles. The result is the premium rates for everyone else rises. If the mandatory policy was enforced, the maximum number of people pay into the central fund. That keeps the rates low.
Let’s take Mississippi as an example of what can go wrong. It has had mandatory insurance since 1955, but the law is effectively unenforceable. As a result, about 28% of the drivers on the road are uninsured. The Republicans introduced Bill 620 to create a state database for uninsured losses. This would allow state troopers to check whether any driver stopped for a moving violation is insured. It would also have required local tax collectors to check all vehicles were insured before issuing tags. But the Bill has stalled and will likely fail. Incredibly, one opponent said mandatory insurance takes “money out of a poor man’s pocket.” The fact the number of uninsured drivers takes money out of every law-abiding driver’s pocket seems lost and secure uninsured losses.
So when it comes to looking through those auto insurance quotes, remember that those higher premium rates are usually because your state fails to enforce the mandatory liability insurance provisions effectively. This is not just Mississippi. It’s a nationwide problem. So when cheap car insurance is hard to find, try writing your local representative and suggesting your state changes the law to enforce the mandatory insurance provision. The more this becomes an electoral issue, the better the chance laws will be changed, and police action will be funded. That way, we will all pay less.