Uninsured drivers are a major threat to everyone in Hawaii. Know one? Scold the person and insist that they buy good auto insurance if they plan to take to Hawaii roads. Why? Because if they negligently injure or kill someone while driving, who will pay for the damage? They could not only leave a family devastated by the loss of the main bread winner. They could also take away the bread. The decision to drive without having adequate insurance is a question of moral turpitude. It is akin to driving drunk.
So what can you do to protect yourself from these scoundrels?
the first line of defense is Underinsured (UIM) and Uninsured (UM) motorist coverages. Your insurance agent will add those coverages to your auto insurance policy for a very modest sum. Read about these coverages at this helpful resource on Hawaii Insurance Law:
Uninsured Motorist (UM)
Uninsured Motorist coverage pays for injuries that you and the occupants of your car sustain in an accident caused by a hit-and-run, unidentified, or uninsured car. It is for injury only and does not cover damages to your car. UM coverage is not mandatory under Hawaii auto insurance law.
Underinsured Motorist (UIM)
Underinsured Motorist coverage pays for injuries that you and the occupants of your car sustain in an accident if injured by an at-fault insured driver whose bodily injury liability limits are less than the amount of damages that you are entitled to recover. It is for injury only and does not cover damages to your car. UIM coverage is not mandatory under Hawaii auto insurance law.
Although "optional" coverages, UM and UIM are inexpensive protections for you and your family and friends.
Buy the same amount of UM and UIM as you buy for Bodily Injury (BI) coverage. BI coverage is what your insurance company will pay to cover the injuries to people and property that you may accidentally cause in a traffic accident. Get $300,000 of BI and add on the UM and UIM at $300,000 each. The cost is very affordable.
But if you don’t have UM or UIM and a driver with no insurance crashes into you, the State has created a fund called the Hawaii Joint Underwriting Plan (HJUP) that provides some funds to recover against the uninsured scoundrel that hit you. Here is what State Auto Insurance Law tells you:
3. Your Rights – Under Hawaii auto insurance law, an insurance company cannot cancel your policy mid-term unless your license is suspended or revoked, or you do not pay your premium. A company may choose to not renew your policy, but the company must properly notify you and offer you coverage through the Hawaii Joint Underwriting Plan. Before you agree to be placed in the Hawaii Joint Underwriting Plan, you should shop around and check with other producers and company representatives to see if you can get a better price and service.
The statute that applies is HRS §431:10C-407:
§431:10C-407 Classifications. (a) The commissioner shall establish classifications of eligible persons and uses for which the joint underwriting plan shall provide both the required motor vehicle insurance policies and any optional additional insurance an eligible person or user applies for. The commissioner shall, by rule, establish, implement, and supervise the joint underwriting plan, through the bureau, assuring that insurance for motor vehicles will be conveniently and expeditiously afforded, subject only to payment or provision for payment of the premium, to all applicants for insurance required by this part to provide insurance for payment of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance, or optional additional benefits, and who cannot reasonably obtain insurance at rates not in excess of those applicable to applicants under the plan, or who otherwise are in good faith entitled to, but unable to obtain, the insurance through ordinary methods.
(b) The plan shall provide all personal injury protection benefits and services and bodily injury and property damage liability coverages to the limits and coverages specified in this article for all classes of persons, motor vehicles, and motor vehicle uses specified in this part upon the payment of premiums as provided in subpart C, as follows:
(1) The plan shall provide personal injury protection benefits and policies for each of the following classes, and each class shall be able to secure a personal injury protection and bodily injury and property damage liability policy through the plan:
(A) All motor vehicles owned by licensed assigned risk drivers as the commissioner, by rules, shall define. The commissioner shall regulate the class in accordance with the general practice of the industry, the applicable results, if any, of the commissioner’s examination of the motor vehicle insurers’ business records and experience, and any applicable and scientifically credible governmental or academic studies of the multi-accident or high-risk motor vehicle driver;
(B) All motor vehicles owned by licensed drivers convicted within the thirty-six months immediately preceding the date of application, in any jurisdiction of any one or more of the offenses of, or of the offenses cognate to:
(i) Heedless and careless driving;
(ii) Driving while license suspended or revoked;
(iii) Leaving the scene of an accident;
(iv) Manslaughter, if resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle;
(v) Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant as provided in section 291E-61; or
(vi) Driving under the influence of an intoxicating liquor as provided in section 291-4 or any drug as provided in section 291-7, as those sections were in effect on or before December 31, 2001;
(C) All commercial uses, first class, defined as any commercial use engaged in the transport of passengers for hire or gratuity;
(D) All commercial uses, second class, defined as any commercial, business, or institutional use other than the transport of passengers as described in subparagraph (C) or the exclusive use of a vehicle for domestic-household-familial purposes; and
(E) All other motor vehicles, not classified under subparagraph (A), (B), (C), or (D), owned by licensed drivers who are unable to obtain motor vehicle insurance policies and optional additional insurance through ordinary methods;
(2) The plan shall provide personal injury protection benefits and bodily injury and property damage policies for all classes of persons, motor vehicles, and motor vehicle uses, at the premiums specified under subpart C, at the option of the owners, for the following classes, which the commissioner, by rules, shall further define and regulate:
(A) All licensed drivers, or unlicensed permanently disabled individuals unable to operate their motor vehicles, who are receiving public assistance benefits consisting of direct cash payments, or who received public assistance benefits in the form of medical services prior to July 1, 1994, and are still receiving the benefits, through the department of human services, or benefits from the Supplemental Security Income program under the Social Security Administration; provided that the licensed drivers, or unlicensed permanently disabled individuals unable to operate their motor vehicles, are the sole registered owners of the motor vehicles to be insured; provided further that not more than one vehicle per public assistance unit shall be insured under this part, unless extra vehicles are approved by the department of human services as being necessary for medical or employment purposes; provided further that the motor vehicle to be insured shall be used strictly for personal purposes, and not for commercial purposes;
(B) Any licensed physically handicapped driver, including drivers with any auditory limitation; and
(C) Any licensed driver who is a minor under foster care and whose parents are unable to pay for the minor’s motor vehicle insurance as provided in section 587-90.
Each category of driver/owner under subparagraphs (A), (B), and (C) may secure motor vehicle insurance coverage through the plan at the individual’s option; provided any previous motor vehicle insurance policy has expired or has been canceled. Any person becoming eligible for plan coverage under subparagraph (A) shall first exhaust all paid coverage under any motor vehicle insurance policy then in force before becoming eligible for plan coverage.
Any person eligible or becoming eligible under rules adopted by the commissioner under subparagraph (B) or (C) may at any time elect coverage under the plan and terminate any prior private insurer’s coverage.
A certificate shall be issued by the department of human services indicating that the person is a bona fide public assistance recipient as defined in subparagraph (A). The certificate shall be deemed a policy for the purposes of this chapter upon the issuance of a valid motor vehicle insurance identification card pursuant to section 431:10C-107; and
(3) Under the joint underwriting plan, the required motor vehicle policy coverages as provided in section 431:10C-301 shall be offered by every insurer to each eligible applicant assigned by the bureau. In addition, uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverages shall be offered in conformance with section 431:10C-301, and optional additional coverages shall be offered in conformance with section 431:10C-302, for each class except the class defined in paragraph (2)(A), as the commissioner, by rules, shall provide.
(c) The commissioner may further refine the definitions of the classifications provided for in subsection (b). [L 1987, c 347, pt of §2; am L 1990, c 253, §2; am L 1993, c 205, §29; am L Sp 1993, c 4, §7; am L 1994, c 225, §1; am L 1997, c 251, §51; am L 1998, c 275, §31; am L 1999, c 142, §3; am L 2001, c 157, §32; am L 2006, c 289, §4]
In short, the State requires all insurance companies that sell automobile insurance in Hawaii to pay into a fund to deal with those drivers who cannot obtain insurance, ewither because they cannot afford it or because they cannot obytain insurance from any carrier. By spreading the rsik over all of the isnurance companies, it makes no one insurer take the brunt of insuring a particular driver. When a claim comes in, the HJUP office assigns that claim, or a rotating basis to an particular insurance company.
A resident of Honolulu, Hawaii, Wayne Parson is an Injury Attorney that has dedicate his life to improving the delivery of justice to the people of his community and throughout the United States. He is driven to make sure that the wrongful, careless or negligent behavior that caused his clients' injury or loss does not happen to others.