SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Between January and April 30th of this year, Sioux Falls Police have given out 1,094 tickets to drivers who couldn’t provide an officer with current proof of insurance. Perhaps they forgot their insurance cards at home. If that’s the case, they can take it to the clerk of courts before their court date and the ticket will be disposed. If not, they’ll go in front of a judge.
We sat in a courtroom inside the Minnehaha County Courthouse last week, and in less than two hours we heard eight cases of people accused of driving without insurance.
Some got their cases resolved with proof that insurance was purchased.
Others will have to return to court. We witnessed at least two people who didn’t have the correct documents get in their cars and drive away.
Russ Janklow, an attorney in Sioux Falls, says nearly 10 percent of all drivers in the state don’t have insurance.
Insurance agent Aaron Smith says that number may be even higher, depending where you live.
“Uninsured drivers are probably right in that area of 23 percent of drivers in the Sioux Falls area. It’s probably a higher concentration in Sioux Falls than in rural places,” Smith said.
“It’s cost. You know, there’s only so much money to go around in some of these families and so they make economic decisions,” Janklow said.
But getting pulled over or crashing your car without insurance also comes with a cost. Driving without insurance is a class 2 misdemeanor in South Dakota, carrying a maximum sentence of 30-days in jail and a $500 fine.
“Our statute says you lose your license for 30 days. And forces you to get insurance as well. In order to get your license back, you have to prove that you bought insurance,” Janklow said.
According to Bankrate.com, auto insurance in South Dakota costs an average of $276 annually for liability coverage. That’s cheaper than the national average, which is $622. The average cost for full coverage in South Dakota is $1,500 annually. Nationally, it’s $2,000 per year.
“The best thing we have going in South Dakota is overall our insurance rates are very low. So we don’t have the amount of uninsured drivers that other states like Minnesota, which is probably about 33 percent more expensive for insurance than South Dakota,” Smith said.
Now if you do have insurance and are worried about colliding with a car that’s not insured — check your own policy. Both Janklow and Smith say having collision coverage is what will keep you the most protected.
“If you do not have collision coverage on your car, so if you’re just driving with liability, those uninsured drivers probably have no assets either to go against. So you have to have collision coverage on your policies if you’re going to have coverage if an uninsured motorist hits you,” Smith said.
And that’s not to be confused with underinsured coverage.
“The biggest misnomer is that there’s underinsured drivers coverage and that is just for bodily injury and loss of income, it is not for the damage done to your car. So you have to have collision coverage on your car if you’re hit by an uninsured driver,” Smith said.
“Uninsured motorist coverage is not that expensive, you’d be shocked at how cheap it is to get uninsured and underinsured coverage. So if you’re getting into an accident, you want to have your own insurance coverage that protects you because if someone runs into you who doesn’t have any, your claims against your own policy, you want to have plenty of coverage. It’s not that expensive,” Janklow said.
Spending a little more money can also give you some peace of mind each time you get behind the wheel.