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With new year come changes to insurance law

Changes to Alabama’s Mandatory Liability Insurance (MLI) law, which were approved by the Alabama Legislature last year, will “boost the effectiveness” of the law while providing “a clearer and less punitive path to compliance by vehicle owners,” according to a press release from the Alabama Department of Revenue (ADOR).

The ADOR’s Motor Vehicle Division, which oversees the state’s MLI law, verifies that all registered vehicles in the state have the minimum liability insurance coverage via an online system – under current law, a driver has 30 days to provide proof of insurance if insurance can not be confirmed by the insurer; after 30 days, the driver’s registration is suspended.

The first violation requires a $200 reinstatement fee, as well as proof of insurance, while a second violation within four years requires a $400 reinstatement fee, proof of insurance and a four-month registration suspension.

As of Jan. 1, the current four-month registration suspension has been eliminated.

“The suspension of vehicle registration after the registrant became compliant by providing proof of insurance and paying a $400 reinstatement fee created an undue burden on taxpayers,” the ADOR press release stated. “It prevented compliant taxpayers from driving to work, school, doctor visits and the like after they became compliant with the law.”

The changes also provide a one-time option for drivers to claim an exemption on mandatory insurance by voluntarily surrendering their registration and associated license plate before storing a vehicle.

Further, the law provides a second option for surrendering registration within 30 days of receiving a MLI notice if the vehicle has not been operated since the verification date on the notice.

“These revisions provide clear avenues for compliance with the mandatory insurance law for deployed military personnel who will not be operating their vehicles, individuals with inoperable vehicles or individuals who cannot operate their vehicles for medical reasons,” the press release stated.

The law also includes a reduction of the “look-back” period for second and subsequent violations from four to three years and a new MLI verification notice in letter format that will replace the current postcard questionnaire.