Alaska drivers, their families, pedestrians and bicyclists should soon be safer on the road due to new mandatory auto insurance enforcement capabilities at the Division of Motor Vehicles.
Since the late 1980s, Alaskans who register vehicles have been required to have liability insurance to protect other people from any damages they may cause while driving. State enforcement of mandatory auto insurance can be very expensive, so in Alaska the decision was made to adopt an honor-based system. When registering a vehicle, owners have not been required to show proof of insurance but must sign under penalty of law that they have the required insurance. Unfortunately, recent data from the DMV indicates that over 30% of drivers on Alaska’s roads are uninsured.
However, recent technological advancements now allow the DMV to verify if a motor vehicle in fact has insurance coverage when it is being registered, licensed, or titled. If the database indicates a motor vehicle does not have the required insurance, the owner will be required to provide proof of insurance, or they will not be able to register the vehicle. Additionally, the DMV will be conducting random checks to verify that drivers have insurance coverage. Drivers that do not have required insurance will be asked to provide proof of insurance. If a driver does not have insurance, their license may be suspended, or vehicle registration may be canceled.
State officials have historically estimated Alaska’s uninsured driver rate is one of the highest in the nation. Uninsured drivers’ failure to follow the law has increased the insurance rates for all other drivers in Alaska; the cost of uninsured/underinsured coverage has dramatically increased for all Alaskan drivers. Yet this new DMV capability should reduce the number of uninsured drivers and, as a result, reduce insurance premiums.
Proof of motor vehicle liability insurance must be in a person’s possession at all times when driving a motor vehicle, and they must present the proof for inspection upon demand of a peace officer or other authorized representative of the Department of Public Safety. Any vehicle may be impounded by local law enforcement if the driver does not have proof of insurance.
The minimum amounts for insurance coverage are:
$50,000/$100,000 for bodily injury or death
$25,000 for property damage
There is an exception to the vehicle liability insurance requirement: insurance is not required in areas of Alaska where registration is not required. However, a driver that has received a ticket for a violation of 6 points or more within the last 5 years must have liability insurance. Alaska Statute 28.22.011 (1)(A)&(B), identifies the areas that are exempt from registration and the Mandatory Insurance law. You can see the list at: doa.alaska.gov/dmv/faq/manins.htm
The State of Alaska is committed to protecting the safety of everyone on Alaska’s roads. Through using technology innovatively, the DMV now can ensure all drivers are adequately insured and that our roads are safer.
Kelly Tshibaka is commissioner Alaska Department of Administration.