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4/27/2005
Texas Senate Approves Insurance Verification Program
The Texas state Senate approved bill creating an open-ended automobile insurance verification program.

Texas Sen. Todd Staples
On Tuesday, the Texas state Senate unanimously approved legislation that would allow state agencies to design their own program to verify whether automobiles within the state are insured or not.

Although another proposal from the Texas House would mandate RFID transponders in all vehicles to provide for automated insurance checks, this bill, introduced by Sen. Todd Staples, does not go so far. Details on implementing the program are left up to the Texas state police and transportation department. The Senate-passed bill would, however, advance a key element of the House proposal by authorizing the creation of a statewide auto insurance database run by the state or a contractor.

Under the legislation, any company offering auto insurance in Texas must either hand over information on their customers or allow private contractors access to their databases. The bill makes it a misdemeanor to misuse any information extracted from the insurance database. The measure will now move to the Texas state House for consideration.

Article Excerpt:
SB 1670
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
AN ACT
relating to a motor vehicle financial responsibility verification program; providing a penalty.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Chapter 601, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Subchapter N to read as follows:

SUBCHAPTER N. FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY VERIFICATION PROGRAM
Sec. 601.451. DEFINITION. In this subchapter, "implementing agencies" means:
(1) the department;
(2) the Texas Department of Transportation;
(3) the Texas Department of Insurance; and
(4) the Department of Information Resources.

Sec. 601.452. IMPLEMENTATION OF PROGRAM; RULES. (a) The department in consultation with the other implementing agencies shall establish a program for verification of whether owners of motor vehicles have established financial responsibility. The program established must be:
(1) the program most likely to:
(A) reduce the number of uninsured motorists in this state;
(B) operate reliably;
(C) be cost-effective;
(D) sufficiently protect the privacy of the motor vehicle owners; and
(E) sufficiently ensure the security and integrity of each database to which it is applied; and
(2) capable of being audited by an independent auditor.
(b) The implementing agencies shall jointly adopt rules to administer this subchapter.

Sec. 601.453. AGENT. (a) The department in consultation with the other implementing agencies, under a competitive bidding procedure, shall select an agent to develop, implement, operate, and maintain the program.
(b) The implementing agencies shall jointly enter into a contract with the selected agent.
(c) A contract under this section may not have a term of more than 10 years.

Sec. 601.454. INFORMATION PROVIDED BY INSURANCE COMPANY;
PRIVACY. (a) Each insurance company providing motor vehicle liability insurance policies in this state shall provide necessary information or allow a chosen agent sufficient access to its databases to allow the agent to carry out this subchapter, subject to the agent's contract with the implementing agencies and rules adopted under this subchapter.
(b) The agent is entitled only to information determined by the implementing agencies to be necessary to carry out this subchapter.
(c) Information obtained under this subchapter is confidential. The agent may use the information only for a purpose authorized under this subchapter and may not use the information for a commercial purpose.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly uses information obtained under this subchapter for any purpose not authorized under this subchapter. An offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor.

SECTION 2. Subsections (c) and (d), Section 502.1715, Transportation Code, are amended to read as follows:
(c) Fees collected under this section shall be deposited to the credit of the state highway fund. Subject to appropriation, the money may be used by the Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Insurance, the Department of Information Resources, and the department to carry
out Subchapter N, Chapter 601.
(d) The Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Insurance, the Department of Information Resources, and the department shall jointly adopt rules and develop forms necessary to administer this section.
SECTION 3. Subsection (b), Section 502.1715, Transportation Code, is repealed.
SECTION 4. The Department of Public Safety of the State of Texas shall select an agent required by Section 601.453, Transportation Code, as added by this Act, before December 31, 2005, and the agencies responsible for implementing Subchapter N, Chapter 601, Transportation Code, as added by this Act, shall
require full implementation of the financial responsibility verification program under that subchapter before September 1, 2006.
SECTION 5. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005.


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