Not having current auto insurance could get your car impounded, even if you are obeying the traffic laws when you drive. Police in some states are now using computer checks of license plate numbers to identify drivers without current insurance and stopping them.
Nnamdi Asogwa found that out the hard way when his car was impounded after such a license check, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Asogwa’s “crime” was that his GEICO policy was not current because the insurer had mailed a late payment notice to the wrong address when he moved.
GEICO notified the state of Pennsylvania that Asogwa did not have car insurance. The state put that information into a database that a Haverford Township police checked when he “ran” Asogwa’s license plate on July 31, 2014.
The officer pulled Asogwa over and told him that his car would have to be towed and his license plates confiscated because he had no insurance. The problem was that Asogwa had insurance and he had been making his monthly payments regularly.
The state database identified Asogwa as having no insurance because of a clerical error and a defect in Pennsylvania’s state law. He had missed an insurance payment in January because he was short of cash, but covered the payment in February when he found a better job.
Unfortunately, Asogwa’s policy lapsed during the period, and GEICO notified the state of the lapse, but not that his coverage had been restored. Pennsylvania state law requires insurers to notify the state if insurance policies end, but obligates policyholders to notify the state if their coverage has been resumed.
To make matters worse, GEICO sent a notice of the lapse to Asogwa’s old address in Pittsburgh after he moved to the Philadelphia area. Asogwa didn’t realize that he had to notify the state that his insurance was resumed until he was stopped and ticketed.
According to The Inquirer, Asogwa had to pay a $250 towing bill and a $50 restoration fee to the state in order to start driving again. The Inquirer report indicates that the Haveford Township Police have a policy of monitoring plates and stopping them.
How you can Avoid Having Your Car Towed for No Insurance
There are a number of steps that you can take to avoid the nightmare that Mr. Asogwa found himself in. These steps include:
- Put your car-insurance premium on auto payment or use a credit card or the electronic bill payment feature on your bank to pay your auto insurance. That way, you can be sure the money reaches the insurer. Don’t send a paper check, which can be lost or delayed in the mail, and don’t hand a check to your insurance agent.
- Check your bank or credit card account statement to make sure that your payment has gone out.
- Make sure your auto insurance company has your current mailing address.
- Have your insurance notify you of changes by email, which is instantaneous in addition to the mail. That way, you can know of problems quickly.
- Make sure you notify the state directly if your auto insurance changes. Don’t rely on your insurance company or agent to do it.
The bottom line is to not rely upon the insurance company or an agent to notify the state if your coverage changes. Do it yourself or you could find yourself in the same boat as Mr. Asogwa.