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For Immediate Release
December 8, 2004
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
207-626-8400

Secretary of State Highlights Upcoming Implementation of New Law to Protect the Public from Uninsured Motorists

AUGUSTA, MAINE – Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky issued a reminder this week about the upcoming implementation of the state’s new electronic Notification of Insurance Cancellation Program (Title 29-A, §1601-A).  The law was passed by the 121st Legislature and signed into law by Governor John Baldacci earlier this year.

Designed to address the problem of uninsured motorists, this new law requires insurers to report the cancellation or termination of mandatory liability insurance coverage on vehicles.  The law requires the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to issue a notice to the owners of those vehicles—indicating that their registration will be suspended if they do not provide evidence that new insurance coverage has been obtained.

Registrations will then be suspended if evidence of insurance is not provided within 30 days of the date BMV was notified by the insurance company.  The notice to vehicle owners will explain that proof of insurance can be submitted online at www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/poi or by visiting any BMV branch office around the state.  It can also be mailed or faxed to the BMV main office in Augusta .

“The new law is intended to protect the public from motorists who violate Maine law by operating a vehicle without appropriate insurance coverage.  The Bureau of Motor Vehicles is seeking to make it as convenient as possible for consumers to provide evidence of active insurance and to avoid the suspension of their registration.  We look forward to working with insurance companies and the public to effectively implement the requirements of this new law,” Secretary Gwadosky commented.

More than 210 insurers, representing approximately 93 percent of the Maine automobile liability insurance market, have registered in compliance with the law.  Successful pilot testing has been conducted by BMV and full implementation will begin January 1st.

Secretary Gwadosky emphasized that the law requires a registration to be suspended whenever a vehicle’s insurance coverage ends.  He noted that the law makes no distinction regarding the reason for the insurance cancellation.  Rather, it requires the motorist to demonstrate new active insurance coverage to avoid suspension whenever a policy is terminated.  Although insurance companies that cancel policies are not required to notify BMV if they know that new insurance has been obtained elsewhere, they’re permitted to provide that kind of notification, and many are expected to do so. 

It is likely that some people will receive a notice when they switch insurance companies, since their former insurer will notify BMV that the company has terminated the old policy.  The law seeks, in part, to make sure that individuals changing insurers report evidence of new coverage as quickly as possible.  More information is available online at www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/poi or by calling BMV’s Financial Responsibility Unit at (207) 624-9000 extension 52108.