There’s a legal requirement, per Kentucky law, that your car must have insurance coverage. Anyone who has read one of my blogs or has visited my website, www.AttorneyDesmond.com, has probably heard me preach about having at least $100,000 per of uninsured motorist coverage on both their automobile insurance and their motorcycle insurance. Nevertheless, it appears there’s a Kentucky uninsured driver loophole.
My blogs tell true stories of how a person injured in a car wreck in Kentucky, through no fault of their own and caused entirely by someone else’s negligence, ultimately discovered that the at-fault driver failed to have his or her vehicle properly insured. Consequently, my injured clients have to rely on their own automobile or motorcycle insurance to cover their medical bills and their claim for pain and suffering.
One of my most recent blogs dealt with the issue of suing an uninsured driver for my client’s pain and suffering and whether the potential recovery justified the cost of litigation. Several readers of that post raised the issue of how is it someone can be uninsured and still be on the road? Since personal injury law usually addresses the after-effect of someone not having their vehicle properly insured, I had to research some of the Kentucky Revised Statutes to find the answers. Unfortunately, from the information I am gathering, it appears that Kentucky law is totally inadequate to address the issue. I believe this creates a Kentucky uninsured driver loophole.
Most of the motor vehicle law for Kentucky is contained in what is known as the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. This Act can pretty much be found in Section 304.39 et. seq. of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. KRS 304.39-080 (5) of the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act states that if you own or operate a vehicle registered in Kentucky, you must have at least the minimum amount of liability insurance which is set out in KRS 304.39-110; which is an insurance policy with a single limit of $60,000 or limits of $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident and $10,000 in property damage.
If you fail to have your vehicle insured, the registration for your vehicle will be revoked, see KRS 304.39-080(5) and KRS 304.39-090, pursuant to KRS 186A.040 and you will be subject to the criminal penalties laid out in KRS 304.39-060.
So, when we are pulled over by a police officer, that officer will has a computer system in his vehicle, known as a Mobile Data Terminal (“MDT”), which is linked to a database referred to as AVIS, Automated Vehicle Information System. This database maintains title, registration, and insurance information for all vehicles, boats and trailers registered in Kentucky.
When an insurance company cancels or does not renew an automobile insurance policy, it is required to provide the Kentucky Department of Vehicle Regulation with the VIN number of the vehicle. If that VIN number does not appear in AVIS for two consecutive months, the Department has to send the insured a statement that they have to show proof of insurance within 30 days or the registration of the vehicle will be revoked. See KRS 186A.040.
This is the part the concerns me; the only proactive step taken by the State of Kentucky when it is informed that a vehicle is not properly insured, according to the AVIS system, is to revoke the registration of that vehicle!
The County Attorney is not even informed of this revocation of the registration unless that registration has been revoked 3 times within a 12 month period. See KRS 186A.040(4)(b). When State Representative Ron Crimm attempted to amend this statute, through HB 337 in 2010, so that the County Attorney would prosecute the first time the vehicle’s registration was revoked. The bill was shot down in part because the Kentucky County Attorney’s Association opined that there would be hundreds of more prosecutions thereby resulting in a significant financial burden to County Attorneys and local jails for the housing of inmates.
Risks of the Kentucky Uninsured Driver Loophole
So logically, according to the current status of Kentucky Motor Vehicle law, I can stop paying my for my car insurance and not until 90 days later, (two months of no insurance showing on my vehicle through AVIS and 30 days notice required by KRS 186A.040), will the registration for my vehicle be revoked. Thereafter, unless I am pulled over and issued a citation, I won’t be subject to criminal prosecution for no insurance so I can renew my license plate just before it expires and effectively save money by not having to pay for car insurance for approximately 9 months. To me, this is a dangerous Kentucky uninsured driver loophole.
Please understand that I am in no way advocating that someone operate a motor vehicle without car insurance.
If you do so, you can be subject to multiple claims from other driver’s for your negligence and even if you were not at fault for the car wreck, you cannot recover the first $10,000 of your medical expenses and lost wages. See KRS 304.39.060. However, I am shocked at what appears to be a big hole in criminal law in regard to Kentucky drivers who fail to carry the proper insurance. Again, as I have said hundreds of times before, there is nothing in Kentucky law that guarantees the at-fault driver truly has liability insurance to cover the damages he causes through in a car wreck.
I am not a politician and nor do I have any desire to be. In fact, out of all my blogs, this one has tended to violate one of my own rules and been overly complicated, by citing statutes, rather than simply addressing the needs of the typical Kentucky driver. However, I thought it was important that you, the consumer, could fact check my sources.
Very simply, the safety of you and your family, while operating a vehicle on Kentucky roadways, needs to be your primary concern. Even if the Kentucky Legislature amended the law so that an uninsured driver would be prosecuted sooner, there is still no guarantee in the law that he could be fully responsible for the injuries and damages he might inflict through his negligence.
My legal advice is remains the same. Rather than which personal injury lawyer you choose or which insurance is company is “best”, make sure each and every motorcycle or car insurance policy you have has at least $100,000 per person of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
Through the analysis described above, there is no guarantee that the other driver truly has car insurance and even if he does, it can be as little as $25,000 per person. Therefore, you need to protect yourself before the car wreck by putting on your own automobile insurance policy the types of insurance you may need should you be involved in a serious car wreck. Don’t be a victim of this Kentucky uninsured driver loophole.