Insurance Commissioner Donelon denounces "Notices of Delinquent Debt" issued by Office of Motor Vehicles
Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon condemned a move by the state Office of Motor Vehicles that has hit Louisiana citizens with 1.2 million debt collection notices. “These notices are an attempt by the Jindal administration to plug a hole in the state’s budget.” Donelon said.
“Yes, we want all drivers to be insured because when more drivers are insured, auto insurance rates can go down. But the way that this has been handled is fundamentally unfair. For years the state has failed to collect fines. Now, years later, the average citizen likely does not have the documents to prove that they had insurance one way or the other. No one keeps proof of insurance from a decade ago,” Donelon said. “How can any reasonable person defend themselves from an alleged infraction 10 years ago? And why should any of us assume that the records are accurate and correct?” Donelon asked.
Donelon said he received a call from a veteran of the Iraq war who was deployed for some time on active duty when that service member’s auto insurance expired, according to state records. “Now, ten years later the state wants to fine this veteran over $600 and she has no ability to prove whether the state’s assertion is correct. I think most people think this is outrageous, and I wonder if the state has effectively deprived many of its citizens of their legal rights,” Donelon said. “The administration also retroactively applied a recent increase in the penalty for not having insurance to people whose alleged infractions happened before the Legislature voted to increase the penalty. I question whether that is even legal,” Donelon said.
The Louisiana Department of Insurance has received numerous inquiries and complaints from constituents about the notices from the Office of Motor Vehicles, although the Department of Insurance has no authority to resolve the complaints or provide information to consumers to help them prove whether their vehicles were insured or not. “Consumer protection and assistance is a priority for me and I wish we could help people sort through this mess, but I don’t have the information that they might need to prove they were or were not insured 10 years ago, or five years ago, for that matter,” Donelon said. “We have been in contact with the Office of Motor Vehicles and have been told they are making adjustments to better handle consumer calls but in the interim, consumers can also call the Governor’s office,” Donelon added.