LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – State officials said the number of uninsured drivers in Arkansas have been cut in half thanks to a verification system.
The latest numbers shared Monday by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration show that 8% of 2.8 million registered vehicles on the road have insurance. That’s down from 16% before a real-time verification system went online in January of 2020.
The DFA credits the Online Insurance Verification System for the change. The system was created as a result of two acts of the Arkansas General Assembly, Act 1016 of 2017 and Act 869 of 2019.
“It just has I think really exceeded our expectations,” DFA Spokesperson Scott Hardin said.
The web tool is constantly checking to see if Arkansas drivers are uninsured. Once it detects that a letter is automatically mailed out to the person in violation with an issued $100 fine and a way to obtain coverage. To date, that’s happened 872,000 times.
“That’s really the magic of the system combined with the benefit to law enforcement,” Hardin said.
Law enforcement can access the system on patrol. The fines have generated $9.9 million. Officials said 25% goes toward the State Police Retirement Fund, with the other 75% going to the State Treasury for Arkansas State Police, supporting ASP agency operations.
A crash is already one of the worst moments for a motorist. When an uninsured driver is at fault, it only makes it worse. According to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, it could also help the premiums for all drivers, especially those who pay for uninsured motorist coverage.
“The cost for those will be higher over time the more uninsured drivers there are on the road,” APCIA senior director, personal lines and counsel Paul Tetrault explained
Tetrault said it does a better job of spreading the risk, but people may not see their premiums go down. Rising costs from inflation, longer repair times and supply chain issues are having the opposite effect.
Arkansas is the 17th state to implement a real-time system, and the benefits could only increase if other states follow the lead.
“Arkansas having a positive experience could potentially influence other states,” Tetrault said.
A study of all 50 states by the Insurance Research Council showed Arkansas had the 8th-highest percentage of uninsured drivers before the system launched. If Arkansas had the percentage it does now then, the Natural State would have been the 12th best in the country instead of the 8th worst.
“I don’t see any reason we can’t get down to four or five percent, which would be great for Arkansans,” Hardin said.