In Alabama, the uninsured motorist rate is estimated to be 22%, or 6th worst in the nation, even though there are laws making it mandatory that drivers carry liability on their vehicles. 

Alabama’s law reads:  “No person shall operate, register, or maintain registration of a motor vehicle designed to be used on a public road or highway unless it is covered by a liability insurance policy.”

The most recent estimate is that one out of every six drivers has no insurance.  Many take out a policy long enough to renew their registration, then either drop the policy or let it expire. 

Liability policies pay for the other party’s damages when involved in an accident.  If someone who has no liability insurance hits your vehicle or bike, there is no policy to pay for your repairs and/or medical bills leaving you or your insurance company to foot the bill.  That puts you at risk of seeing your insurance premiums go up considerably and it means carrying more insurance because others carry none.

In the event the person who hits you has no liability insurance and you suffer trauma from the wreck, guess who’ll be paying your medical bills?  If you’re lucky the person who hits you will have some assets which can be claimed in a lawsuit and used to pay for your medical care, but don’t count on it.  You can’t squeeze blood from a turnip.  If they have no money or assets, you, or possibly your auto insurance, will be paying those bills, and again, if your policy-holder pays you may see drastically higher premiums. 

Alabama consistently places in the top 10 poorest states in the U.S.  How likely are those uninsured motorists to have money or assets enough to cover your losses?

How many Alabamians have been laid off and lost their medical insurance, or work at a job that does not provide insurance?  If someone hits your vehicle without liability insurance and you have no medical insurance because you’ve lost your job or your employer does not provide medical coverage you can afford, how do the medical bills get paid?

Don’t look to me for an answer, because there isn’t one.   A large percentage of us have probably had periods of time in which we had no medical insurance and were susceptible to these dangers and that situation may only get worse in time. 

In an attempt to enforce the mandatory liability insurance law, officials will attempt to verify liability insurance using the State of Alabama Online Insurance Verification System beginning January 1, 2013.  That’s great!  But how great?

Alabama has entered a new phase of “normal” regarding services which have been perceived as a God-given right for the past 30 odd years, and many of those services are being scaled back considerably.  In 2013 restaurant inspections will be made less often, building inspections will be cut back, nursing home inspections will be made less often, and Medicaid will be cut considerably leaving someone to pay Grandma’s nursing home bill since 70% of Alabama nursing home residents are Medicaid recipients. 

When offices and departments throughout the state are being cut back either through lay-offs or attrition (not replacing those who retire or leave for any reason) we can expect longer wait times for services to be completed which in the scenario outlined above could leave us in quite a pickle while we wait for the parties involved to work out a settlement.

 Ways the state thinks will reduce the number of uninsured drivers in Alabama are outlined at:  It remains to be seen if these measures will remedy the situation, but every citizen should support any effort to make sure all drivers carry insurance and do our utmost to keep medical insurance.  Even if the party who causes the accident has that mandatory liability coverage, the amount may not cover all your losses. 

Current minimums are:

$25,000 for death or bodily injury to one person

$50,000 for death or bodily injury to two or more persons, and

$25,000 for damage or destruction of property.

How far will those amounts go in covering your loss in an accident?  It depends, but the CDC estimates the cost of crash-related injuries and deaths totals about $12 billion per year. 

Stay informed, and Ride Safe.