Missouri law requires that the owner of every vehicle in the state somehow prove that they can be financially responsible if they are involved in an accident. Because Missouri is a tort state, meaning that the driver that is found to be at fault in an accident is financially responsible for all damages and injuries, state law requires a driver to be able to pay for any injuries or damages that they cause in an accident. The easiest way for most state residents to satisfy financial responsibility requirements is to purchase an auto insurance policy that meets Missouri State standards. In order to meet these standards an insurance policy in Missouri must include at least $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, as well as at least $10,000 in property damage coverage. These amounts are only the minimum amounts of liability coverage required by state law and residents are free to purchase more coverage than is required by the state. The purchase of coverage over state limits is common in Missouri because an at-fault driver is financially liable for all costs associated with an accident and will have to pay out of pocket for whatever the liability insurance does not cover. For instance, if a driver has $10,000 in property damage coverage on their policy and cause $12,000 in damage to another driver’s vehicle the at-fault driver will still be liable for the $2,000 in damage not covered by the policy. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is also required to be maintained on every vehicle registered in the state and must be purchases in the same minimum amounts as bodily injury coverage.
Although there are means of satisfying the state’s financial responsibility requirement other than purchasing a policy, these methods are generally only available to residents that meet certain criteria. A resident that wants to self-insure for instance must own at least 25 vehicles and will be required to obtain a self-insurance ID card from the department of revenue. Additionally, Missouri drivers can also purchase a surety bond or make a cash deposit with the Department of Revenue in the amount of $60,000. If a driver decides to use any of the above methods to satisfy financial responsibility requirements they are still required to keep proof of the fact in their vehicle at all time. In fact, maintaining proof of insurance is a requirement In Missouri and failure to do so is against the law. Proof of insurance is also required when a vehicle is registered in Missouri, when a driver is pulled over for a traffic violation and when the Department of Revenue requests proof from the vehicle owner. Failure to provide proof of insurance can result in one of three penalties allowed under state law. The Drivers License Bureau could choose to play four points on the offending driver’s license, the court could suspend the driver’s license or the DLB could just choose to monitor a driver’s insurance status more closely. If a driver is actually convicted by the courts of driving without insurance they will face additionally penalties, including a mandatory suspension of the driver’s license or registration. Conviction of driving uninsured will also result in a small $20 fee and the requirement to provide proof of insurance. A second offense in a two year period will be penalized with a $200 fine and a mandatory 90 day suspension of driving privileges. A third offense and each offense thereafter in a two year period will be penalized with a $400 fine and a mandatory 1 year suspension of driving privileges. If any of these convictions occur as a result as a car accident the driver will also be required to file an SR-22 form for a three year period.
In addition to residents Missouri State car insurance laws also imposes regulations on insurance companies that sell auto insurance policies within the state. For instance state law requires every car insurance company in Missouri to offer their customers every type of coverage required by the state. While Insurance companies are allowed to refuse to write a policy for any Missouri resident that they see as uninsurable every driver that they do insure must be offered liability coverage as well and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Missouri law also requires that insurance companies keep the Missouri Department of Revenue Driver License Bureau up to date with the status of the policies sold in the state. This means that insurance companies must report the sale, cancelation, renewal or lapse of any car insurance policy to the state. This reporting requirement allows the most accurate car insurance records to be kept by the state which the Department of Revenue then uses to find uninsured drivers so that corrective action can be taken by the state.