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For Immediate Release
December 29, 2004
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
207-626-8400

Secretary of State Urges Drivers to Learn about Maine's New Law to Protect the Public from Uninsured Motorists

AUGUSTA, MAINE – Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky encourages all Maine motorists to familiarize themselves with the state’s new electronic Notification of Insurance Cancellation Program (Title 29-A, §1601-A). It was created through legislation passed by the 121st Legislature and signed into law by Governor John Baldacci earlier this year. The new law takes effect January 1, 2005.

Designed to address the problem of uninsured motorists, the law requires insurers to report the cancellation or termination of mandatory liability insurance coverage on vehicles registered in Maine.  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. Motorists are expected to receive the first notices under the program on or shortly after January 8, 2005.

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 mail, fax or in person at a BMV branch office.

“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 270 insurers, representing approximately 95 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 individuals changing insurers report evidence of new coverage as quickly as possible.  More details are available online at www.maine.gov/sos/bmv/poi or by calling BMV’s Financial Responsibility Unit at (207) 624-9000, extension 52108.