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Oklahoma Senate approves proof of auto insurance bill

The Oklahoma Senate has approved a bill to require drivers whose licenses have been suspended due to lack of auto insurance to show proof of insurance to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) in order to have their lack-of-insurance suspension lifted.

Under current law the DPS suspends the license of anyone found driving without insurance. Under Senate Bill 260, by Sen. Ron Sharp, such offenders must provide proof of insurance before the suspension can be removed.

Those drivers will have to submit an SR-22 form, which is a certificate issued by an individual’s insurance company affirming that driver has auto liability insurance meeting the minimum requirements.

Anyone who fails to maintain their SR-22 with DPS will have their driving privileges suspended again until proof of insurance is re-filed.

The Insurance Research Council estimates nearly 26 percent of Oklahoma vehicles are operating without insurance — totaling about 721,000 vehicles. That is twice the national average.

At least 36 states use some form of SR-22 reporting as a tool to combat uninsured motorists. The bill also states that when an insurance company has certified an insurance policy with an SR-22, the policy can only be terminated if the company provides notice to DPS within 10 days after termination.

“Current law is allowing offenders to simply buy insurance and drop it within days just to get their license back. This bill ensures that insurance companies let DPS know when policies are dropped so that they can make sure those individuals aren’t driving without insurance,” said Sharp.

SB 260 provides exemptions in which DPS must waive the SR-22 filing requirement including if the person dies or is incapacitated or if the person surrenders his or her vehicle registration.

The Oklahoma Insurance Department estimates, based on the average statewide premium for minimum auto liability coverage and the premium tax rate of 2.25 percent, that if the uninsured motorist rate were reduced to 15 percent (still above the national average), Oklahoma would see just over $7.7 million in additional premium tax revenue.

SB 260 now moves to the House.

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