New Orleans Gets Tough on Uninsured Drivers

Recent reports by the Insurance Research Council revealed that nearly 15% of drivers in Louisiana do not have insurance. That means if you are hit by one of these drivers, recovering the compensation you deserve becomes much harder. In most cases of accidents with uninsured motorists, you will be restricted to whatever your insurance policy pays, and the sad truth is that often this is not enough.

Thankfully the State of Louisiana realizes the problem and intends to do something about it. They are rolling out a new insurance verification system over the next year or two. This system will allow police to confirm that any driver they stop is current on paying their insurance premiums.

Previously, a police officer could only verify that the driver had a valid insurance card in the vehicle, and then had to radio in to have the main office verify the insurance policy with the insurance company. Uninsured motorists could present a seemingly valid card during a traffic stop, that in fact they had stopped paying the premiums for. Since the old system was time consuming, prone to error and sometimes skipped during routine stops, many uninsured motorists would be able to get away with presenting a worthless insurance card.

Louisiana auto insurance rates are among the highest in the country. On average, citizens of our state pay $1,842 in premiums each year versus the national average of $1,325. The high number of uninsured motorists is partly to blame. This preventive measure by the state will hopefully balance things out, but accidents with uninsured motorists are bound to still happen. What do you do if this happens to you?

Here at Smiley Law Group we encourage all of our clients and readers of this blog to make sure you carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (“UM”). In Louisiana you are given three options when purchasing auto insurance:

  1. Rejecting all coverage (not recommended and illegal).
  2. Choosing only economic (ex/damage) or non-economic (ex/pain and suffering) coverage.
  3. Selecting a lower amount of coverage ($15,000 minimum).

This is important because a significant number of Louisiana drivers either carry the minimum amount of coverage or no coverage at all. Adding uninsured or underinsured on your own auto policy will allow you to collect when someone hits you or your family and insurance does not cover your damages. Adding uninsured or underinsured is a small percentage of your total premium. Ask your agent about adding in more coverage to make sure you and your family are protected.

Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to eliminate a claim and minimize the amount they pay. You need an attorney who will stand up to the insurance companies and secure the compensation you deserve. The Smiley Law Group can help. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.