Why doesn't the USA have a national car insurance database?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by neiltc13, Feb 1, 2009.

  1. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

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    #1
    Yesterday TUAW published a story about an American who was pulled over by the police and then fined for not being able to prove that they had car insurance. They got out of the fine by loading up the insurer's website on their iPhone and showing their policy that way.

    What shocked me was that you can actually be fined for failing to demonstrate that you have car insurance in the USA. It seems a little ridiculous to me, because in the UK it is so different.

    Here there is a national insurance database which all of the car insurance companies contribute to. The police have access to this and use it to check whether people have insurance without pulling them over. Sometimes they use cameras in their police cars which automatically scan registration plates and check whether there is a policy active on the car. If not, they pull that person over and arrest them.

    Here, the insurance companies advise against carrying insurance documentation in the car, for the simple reason that if the car was in an accident there is the possibility that the documentation could be destroyed by fire or the crash.

    In the UK, the police spend their time more wisely and stop uninsured drivers from costing legitimate road users significant amounts of money.

    So why isn't it like this in the USA? Why are the police wasting their time pulling over and then fining people even if they have insurance cover?
     
  2. Chundles macrumors G4

    Chundles

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    #2
    Because anything nationally focused is socialist big government red commie anti-state's-rights left wing nonsense.
     
  3. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #3
    They don't pull you over for not having insurance, they pull you over for something else. If you don't have your registration and insurance card (which is supposed to be carried with you at all times) they give you a ticket (sometimes) if you can't produce it.

    Most states will forgive the ticket if you send in a copy of the insurance card.

    As for the national database, it would be a political fight over which state would control it and who would program it and how it would be funded, etc.
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #4
    Like every effective government.
     
  5. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    #5
    Obviously you don't have your thinking cap on, so I'll give you a second to go and get it.


    Hammerhead sharks.

    Yeah. Makes sense now, doesn't it?
     
  6. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    #6
    Don't worry, the insurance companies do have a nationwide system so they can screw you if you get into an accident in another state.

    I'm not going to defend the national system thing, it's just that licensing and registration as well as inspection is done at the state level, not the federal level. The police are also managed at the state level.

    Only crimes get put into a national database.
     
  7. leekohler macrumors G5

    leekohler

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    #7
    Umm...what? :confused: Sometimes you completely confound me- like a walking David Lynch character. ;)
     
  8. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

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    #8
    I want to say because that would fall under state rights.

    The state of Texas in the past year has created a state database for cops linking up registration with insurance.

    Now they also change it so cops can pull you over for no insurance and if you can not produce proof of it they will impound your car.
     
  9. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

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    #9
    Some states do

    Maryland has a database. It's maintained by the department of motor vehicles. When they are notified by an insurance company that a car insurance policy has lapsed, they notify the police, who then show up at a car owner's house and demand the license plates from the car.

    Other states may have them, but I'm familiar only with Maryland's.
     
  10. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #10
    That is correct. Driving privileges are not handled on a national basis, so it wouldn't make that much sense to have a national database. Besides, as someone pointed out, the situation is easily corrected.
     
  11. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #11
    Yes, USA is different than England. For one thing, much of what in England is a national government issue is relegated by the US Constitution to the individual states and this certainly includes motor vehicle issues. This is in part due to size (UK is about the size of Oregon, England is about the size of Alabama) and part of it is due to cultural difference. IIRC, one of the reasons for the American Revolution is so we could do things different than they do in the UK. It's working reasonably well so far, automobile insurance issues notwithstanding...

    A nationalized government control of something as trivial as auto insurance might work well in a country as small as England, but that doesn't necessarily scale up well to 300 million people.
     
  12. renewed macrumors 68040

    renewed

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    #12
    Yup. It is to the point here where they park under overpasses and as you go under them (one lane with no where else to go) they will motion for you to pull over if your window sticker is expired or, now, if they scan your plates and you have no insurance registered.
     
  13. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

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    #13
    I love it how a spammer revives a year old thread and people just pick up posting. :D
     
  14. chris975d macrumors 68000

    chris975d

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    #14
    From what I hear from law enforcement friends, Georgia is similar. Insurance is linked to the vehicle's state registration (license plate number), and the insurance companies notify the DMV when insurance is revoked, cancelled, or has lapsed. The state then cancels the registration for that vehicle until insurance is placed back on it. I know that within GA, law enforcement doesn't even need you to provide proof of insurance anymore during a traffic stop, as they can check that by just calling in your tag number, which they have usually already done before they even exit their car. I've had more than one officer tell me that they don't even need to see an insurance card anymore, but they still recommend carrying one in case you travel out of state. But I agree that all of the states' DMV's should link up their databases so that law enforcement in other states have access to insurance and registration nationwide.
     
  15. colourfastt macrumors 6502a

    colourfastt

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    #15
    In the interest of necroposting: because not all states require auto insurance.
     
  16. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    #16
    A phone call or fax can substitute for this, as well.

    In reality, it's pretty easy to make sure you have the paperwork in the car - I get four (yes, four) in the mail every six months when the policy renews, and I promptly either lose or throw away every single one of them before the policy even takes effect. So I log into the insurance company's website and print 'em off, several times a year as I lose them.

    You're ticketed if you can't produce proof of coverage. The actual violation is not failing to produce proof of coverage, it's for not being covered at the time of the violation.

    I once got pulled over about three days after the policy renewed, and I didn't have an up-to-date printout in the truck. I was ticketed for not having coverage, and told that if I can produce proof that I was covered at the time of the violation it would be dropped, which it was.

    Now that I don't understand, because it's not that hard to reproduce proof of coverage in the (rare) event a car burns up.

    It happens here, too, but apparently they could stand to work harder at it, because I've run across MANY people who routinely drive without insurance.

    Texas has recently started scanning license plates and comparing them to a statewide database, and you can now be ticketed just for that.

    I didn't know this - which ones?

    I need to know where to avoid driving. :eek:
     
  17. renewed macrumors 68040

    renewed

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    #17
    New Hampshire and Wisconsin.
     
  18. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #18
    In lieu of requiring auto insurance, New Hampshire and Wisconsin both have a Financial Responsibility law as an alternative, which requires that you must be able to prove financial responsibility for liability you might incur while driving. Obviously, having automobile insurance is a far more popular option.

    Wisconsin is going to outright requirement for medical liability insurance, property liability insurance, and uninsured motorist insurance as of June 1, 2010.
     
  19. mmomega macrumors demi-god

    mmomega

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    #19
    Not sure if this would count, but a guy I work with just moved here 2 weeks ago and could not get his Texas drivers license because he had a suspended license in another state. He didn't admit that he even had a prior license up until she told him " um you're going to have this matter handled before getting a license here" and printed out the info for him.

    I know, nothing to do with insurance but still something flagged his name, DOB, or something from 2 other states that he had unpaid fines in within 5 minutes.

    This is fairly recent because I know for a fact of someone having a revoked license and moving to another state and getting a brand new license.
     
  20. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #20
    States do share information (and this varies from state to state again, they all have different relationships), but what you are pointing out is government to government cooperation. An insurance database would involve corporate to government to government cooperation. It would be no small feat.
     
  21. DesignerOnMac macrumors 6502a

    DesignerOnMac

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    #21
    There as been a rumor that I heard over 2 years ago, that the government wants to have a national car registration data base with a national driver ID, as a form of interstate and national ID to track everyone under Homeland Security Administration. I do not know if this has gone anywhere or not.

    I do know, however, that after the Patriot Act was passed, you now need two picture IDs to get a drivers license in any state. I had a problem in 2004 when I went to get my drivers license in CO. I was not informed before I drove 2 hours to get my license that I needed two picture IDs. The registry person told me I needed my previous drivers license, a college ID, or US Passport. Being in my 50's I did not have a college ID, and I had never been outside the US as a civilian to have a Passport! I had to get a passport before I could get my drivers license in CO!
     
  22. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

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    #22
    Sorry, not true, at least as a federal requirement (as the feds still have no say in state licensing). CO may require that, but not "any state."

    While AZ for example requires two ID's, the secondary need not have a photo. http://mvd.azdot.gov/mvd/formsandpub/viewPDF.asp?lngProductKey=1410&lngFormInfoKey=1410
     
  23. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

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    #23

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