Originally created 05/05/02

Stop insurance liars



South Carolina is still looking for ways to get tough on uninsured motorists. Previous attempts have been too complicated or ineffectual.

The most recent effort - funded by a $2 fee every licensed driver kicks in to pay for programs to boost the number of insured drivers on the road - is failing. It has the state Department of Public Safety require a certain number of motorists who claim to have insurance to prove it.

Presumably many insurance scofflaws, fearful their deception could be exposed at any time, would start complying with the law. It hasn't happened. The department estimates that more than 20 percent of Palmetto State drivers are still uninsured.

That's much too high and it's terribly unfair to insured drivers whose premiums keep rising to cover death, injury and collision costs incurred by the uninsured drivers.

Now lawmakers are looking at another program to enforce compliance and this one holds some real promise. It calls for insurance companies to notify state law-enforcement when auto insurance policies lapse or are not paid for. This will create more paperwork for insurers, but they'll be compensated from the fund created by the $2 fee.

More importantly, it would send a strong message to insurance liars that cheating the system has just gotten a lot more difficult. If honestly insured drivers want their auto premiums to go down for the first time in years, they should put election-year heat on their legislators to pass this measure before the session ends next month.