In a recession, people look for places to cut costs. One area that may seem less urgent is insurance. When it comes to providing for one’s self or family, items such as rent, mortgage, food, utilities and gas take a higher priority than car insurance. Getting into a car accident without auto insurance can be devastating, but it is a risk that many drivers are willing to take if they are needing to cut back expenses.
This means that the number of uninsured motorists driving, often illegally, is steadily rising. An uninsured motorist may not be able to pay for any damages they cause in a collision. Some states require uninsured motorist coverage but many merely suggest that it would be a good idea to purchase this additional coverage.
Lawmakers in Hawaii have submitted a proposal that would force drivers to have the mandated Hawaii car insurance minimums in order to drive. The way it would work would be that motorists would have to show their proof of insurance in order to purchase gasoline for their cars. Without fuel, there would be no way for the driver to get around anyway. This proposal has been submitted by Honolulu City Council rep, Tom Berg.
At the same time, legislators in Hawaii will also be considering another Tom Berg suggestion. This one would require that car insurance companies in Hawaii submit uninsured motorist information to local municipalities.
This is not the first time the State of Hawaii Insurance Department has considered this idea. It was submitted in 2009 by another legislator, Mike Gabbard. That proposal would have drivers utilize electronic insurance cards to buy gas or register their vehicles. That proposal did not pass.
Those against the proposal argue that mandating car insurance helps the car insurance companies more than the residents of Hawaii. Drivers worried about people operating vehicles without insurance always have the option of purchasing uninsured motorist coverage. In this economy, requiring families to purchase car insurance in order to obtain the gasoline they need to commute to work would be another undue hardship on people already struggling to make ends meet. Similar to home or health insurance, the burden of responsibility should fall to each individual to make choices based on their capabilities and priorities.
If approved, this proposal may help to clear up the rising number of uninsured motorists operating on Hawaiian roadways, but the burden it places on families may see more people struggling just to keep afloat.