Reader poses proof-of-insurance puzzle

The in basket: A reader who wanted his name withheld rather than irritate his employer wrote to ask, “Who is responsible for having proof of insurance in a vehicle?  The driver of the vehicle or the owner? 

“I work for a company that can’t (or wont) get a proof of insurance card for the vehicles I drive on a daily basis,” he said. “If there is a ticket issued for no proof of insurance, will I be the one to get the ticket ($450, I believe) or will the ticket be issued to the company who owns the vehicle?”

The out basket: Trooper Krista Hedstrom of the local State Patrol office says a lot has to do with whether the vehicle is registered as a commercial vehicle.

“The fine for not having proof of insurance is $550,” she said.  “Drivers issued a citation for not having insurance may provide proof to the court that the vehicle was insured at the time of the violation and the case will be dismissed with a $25 administration fee.  

“If the driver purchases insurance within 15 days of the violation date and shows proof to the court, the court will reduce the infraction amount to $290. 

 “When a driver gets stopped by WSP, they are asked to show proof of insurance,” she said. “The vehicle driven should be listed on the insurance card, as well as a date showing the insurance is valid.

 “Commercial vehicles are a bit different,” she said. “Typically, drivers are only cited for moving violations or load violations (if they are responsible for the load).  All others would go to the company.  

“So, for example, if a person driving a commercial vehicle over 10,001 pounds did not have an insurance card and the driver was not the owner, the insurance ticket would go to the company.  

“Commercial vehicles weighing 26,001-plus pounds are required to have a common carriers permit, which requires them to have insurance to even get the permit.”  

Very few vehicles under 10,000 pounds qualify as commercial vehicles. If a lighter vehicle is stopped and there is no proof of insurance, and the driver is employed by the vehicle owner, the ticket can go to the driver or the company, Krista said, at the trooper’s discretion.

“This applies only to company vehicles (where the operator is not the owner).   Otherwise, say, if you borrowed a friend’s car and you did not have any proof of insurance, you would get the ticket.

“The best advice I can give,”she said, “is to keep an insurance card in your glove box, and one in your wallet – especially if you drive multiple vehicles registered to different people.  Many drivers have insurance that covers them on any car they drive.”

The fellow who posed this question, incidentally, said he and his employer resolved the issue while I sought his answer.

One thought on “Reader poses proof-of-insurance puzzle

  1. A solution for anyone who is in a similar situation would be to get a Broadform insurance policy. This type of liability-only policy meets the WA requirements but covers the DRIVER rather than the car. Broadform policies are ideal for singles with more than one vehicle or particularly people who rent, borrow, or are assigned to a company vehicle. They are also less expensive than a traditional policy.

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