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Lawmakers plan crackdown on uninsured motorists who drive up your premiums

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Minnesota state law requires motorists to have auto insurance, but there's no easy way for that to be checked, so a task force is working to come up with one.

An estimated 10 to 20 percent of motorists in Minnesota are uninsured, according to MPR News and the Insurance Information Institute, and those motorists have been driving up premium costs for Minnesotans.

"Responsible drivers who pay for insurance end up also paying for injuries caused by uninsured drivers," Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the Insurance Research Council (IRC), said in a news release.

State Sen. Susan Kent, a Democrat who represents District 53, says insurance fraud, including those without auto insurance, costs Minnesota families an average of $1,000 more on their insurance premiums every year.

IRC estimates $2.6 billion was paid in 2012 in the U.S. on uninsured motorist claims, noting between 12.6 and 14.9 percent of drivers in the country are uninsured.

Currently, if a Minnesota driver is found not having insurance, they risk losing their drivers' license, a fine not less than $200 or possible imprisonment, according to state law.

However, it's not easy to track down uninsured motorists, Kent told MPR. Drivers don't have to show proof of insurance when they renew their vehicle's registration and the Department of Public Safety's information systems don't communicate with insurance companies on who has coverage.

Kent and the uninsured motorist task force, which includes members of law enforcement and insurance industry representatives, is trying to fix that. The group met Tuesday and by Feb. 1, 2015, it hopes to come up with the best legislative recommendations on better ways to identify Minnesotans who drive without insurance.

The task force is trying to come up with something legislators can agree on, that's not too demanding, but still cracks down on the issue, Kent told MPR News.

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