The full Senate approved legislation Wednesday to transfer oversight of the Compulsory Insurance Online Verification System (OCIVS) for motor vehicle liability policies from the Department of Public Safety (DPS) to the Oklahoma Insurance Department (OID). Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, is the principal Senate author of Senate Bill 115 and said the bill is an effort to reduce the number of uninsured drivers in the state.
“Currently, around 26 percent of Oklahomans are driving uninsured, which is illegal. The Oklahoma Compulsory Insurance Verification System was created by the Department of Public Safety to help law enforcement officers, tag agents, and court clerks quickly verify if a driver has auto insurance,” said Sharp. “While the system does minimally serve this purpose, DPS has pointed out that it’s sometimes unreliable and they haven’t been able to afford to update it since 2009 when the system was created.”
SB 115 would require the transfer of the system to take place by January 1, 2018. Although district attorneys can already access the system, the bill authorizes their access. The bill allows for license plate numbers to be used in tracking. It also affirms that the Insurance Commissioner does have the regulatory authority to deal with any insurance companies that violate the insurance verification law. Finally, it requires tag agents to accept proof of insurance from insurance agents in the event that OCIVS does not provide a clear answer, and to do so electronically at no extra cost to the person registering the vehicle.
“The Insurance Department, with its regulatory authority over insurance companies and its ability to improve and maintain the system, is the ideal agency to oversee the system,” said Sharp. “Once the transfer is made, police officers, highway patrol troopers and others will be able to check the system and have up-to-date information available to them. Having that accurate, real time information will ensure that violators are held accountable and we should see the number of uninsured drivers in Oklahoma decrease.”
Under the bill, the Oklahoma Tax Commission and DPS would work with OID for the ongoing improvement and maintenance of the system.
SB 115 now goes to the House for further consideration.