The DMV Debacle

The woman is driving home from work, happily tapping her fingers to the beat of her favorite song. All is right with the world, until….. she glances in her rear view mirror and sees flashing lights. Bummer.

She didn’t think she was speeding…nope, not speeding. What’s up? She pulls over and nervously gathers her driver’s license, vehicle registration and insurance card.

The officer steps to the window, “Hello Ma’am, do you know why I stopped you tonight?”

“No” she sheepishly replies.

“One of your tail lights is out”, says the officer while taking her license, registration and insurance card. He steps back to the patrol car for a few moments to verify insurance, and whatever else officers do in this type of situation. When he re-approaches the vehicle he is frowning, which is NEVER a good sign!

“Ma’am, do you realize your insurance is expired and that it is illegal to drive in Nebraska without insurance?”

The woman is shocked. Desperately willing herself not to cry, she points out to the officer that her insurance card shows that the coverage is indeed in force. She explains that the premiums are automatically deducted from her checking account so the coverage just can’t be expired. The officer is not convinced and gives her a “Fix-It Ticket” for the lights and orders her to provide proof of insurance right away. (Still frowning).

Is the woman me?….. No, but this exact scenario just happened to a client in our agency. Additionally, I attempted to renew one of my vehicle licenses online today (what a coincidence) and the insurance verification process basically gave me the same response as the officer got in the above story: insurance is inactive and not valid. I was furious, considering I was looking at my renewed insurance policy and the premium that had been automatically deducted from my checking account, just like my client in the story above. I’m an insurance agent for Pete’s sake, I should know if my insurance is valid or not! What was going on?

I put on my detective hat and decided to get some answers. After speaking to a helpful woman at the DMV, she directed me to their website for further documentation. This is what I found:

• The computer system the Nebraska Department of Motor vehicles uses has been in place for a number of years (so this is obviously not a new problem…just the first time I’ve heard of it).

• Insurance companies supply insurance information to the DMV monthly between the 5th and the 10th working day of the month.

• If your policy renews after the 5th – 10th of that same month, the information will not be updated until the following month.

Did I completely loose you? Let me illustrate using my own automobile policy:

• My personal auto insurance information on file with the Nebraska DMV shows a policy in force from July 10, 2010 through January 10, 2011.

• My insurance company uploads their in force policy report to the DMV every month, including the report submitted between January 5th and January 10th, 2011.

• My policy renewed though automatic premium payment effective January 10, 2011.

• My insurance company must have submitted their report prior to January 10th because my insurance renewal information was NOT on their report.

• Therefore, as of today, February 4, 2011, when an inquiry for my insurance data is processed through the DMV database, my insurance on record still shows my policy in force from July 10, 2010 and that it expired January 10, 2011 because the renewal data has not been uploaded yet.

• My insurance data will be uploaded when my insurance company submits their February report between the 5th and 10th of February… other words, to the “powers that be”, I look like I am running uninsured and in violation of the law for 1 month!!!

Don't get me wrong, while I admire the Department of Motor Vehicles, the insurance companies, and the law enforcement agencies who are attempting to streamline insurance verification and the enforcement of our compulsory auto insurance laws, it is obvious that the system is not perfect (is any system?) Please let your friends, family, and any law enforcement persons you know about this “glitch” so they may be better prepared than my poor client from the story above who received a reprimand from a police officer that was undeserved.

To have other insurance questions like this answered, contact me at The Writer Agency, LLC.

308-436-4202 or Drive Safe!

The Groundhog Froze!

Happy Groundhog Day! I don’t know about you but I am pretty sure that shadow or no shadow, the groundhog stuck his little nose out of his hole today and will NOT come out again until June! After all, it’s a balmy minus 16 degrees as I write this post!

Groundhog Day is such as strange tradition (to put all our hopes and trust in a furry rodent that is often more of a garden pest than a desirable critter) that I thought I would find out where this practice came from.

• February 4, 1841, Pennsylvania storekeeper James Morris wrote in his diary in Morgantown, Berks County: “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”

• The legend comes from poems in Scotland, England, and Germany, that predict longer or shorter winters depending on the weather on Candlemas Day:

If Candlemas Day be dry and fair,
The half o' winter's to come and mair;
If Candlemas Day be wet and foul,
The half o' winter's gane at Yule.

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Winter has another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again.

• According to folklore, Germans originally watched a badger for his shadow on that day. When they settled in Pennsylvania, the groundhog replaced the badger.

• The first official Groundhog Day was celebrated on February 2, 1886, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. The local newspaper, The Punxsutawney Spirit, printed the proclamation "Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow."

• Another explanation of the origin of the day is that about 1,000 years ago, before the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, the spring equinox fell on March 16. This was exactly six weeks after February 2.

Regardless of whether or not a shadow was seen today, we all need to continue to protect our homes and vehicles from the weather and other damages they are exposed to.  Call our agents at The Writer Agency, LLC 308-436-4202 or click: to see how we might help you today!