Proof of car insurance letters – are they random?

BMV Proof of Insurance Letters

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - Thousands of Ohio drivers get a letter from the state every year asking them to prove they have car insurance.

The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles claims it's random but 2 NEWS Investigates has heard from several viewers who don't think that's the case. Lawrence Dunlevy is one of them.

"I have a car that's 8 years old and in that 8 years I've been selected 3 times to produce proof of my insurance," said Dunlevy.

If you are behind the wheel of a vehicle in Ohio, it's law to have insurance coverage and to make sure the millions of drivers are following that law, the BMV randomly selects drivers to show proof.

Dunlevy doesn't have a problem with the state checking in to make sure a driver has coverage but he doesn't think it's very productive to keep checking the same people.

"It just seems to be out of the 8 million drivers in the state of Ohio we now know that Lawrence Dunlevy has insurance so maybe we should move on and start looking at other people that may or may not have insurance," he said.

2 NEWS Investigates wanted to know how random the selection is.
We dug through an entire year's worth of BMV data that broke down the make, model and year of cars picked for random insurance proof.

We found a 2007 was selected the most, as well as a Chevrolet, but that year and make is also a pretty common car to have in Ohio. So we took your questions to the top and asked the BMV how exactly those random picks are made.

Natalie: Is the random selection really random? Are some drivers being picked on?
"Absolutely not," said Ohio BMV Registrar, Don Petit, "It really is just a mathematical sequence that goes through the 7.7 million active drivers and picks out of a pool of 10,000 at a time."

The BMV contracts with an outside vendor who sends the letters.
They use a formula that selects 10,000 drivers a week. That 10,000 is reduced to 5,400 after going through a bunch of filters that skip some registrations such as emergency vehicles and drivers who are already suspended.

It also pulls out all the people who have already received a letter within the past year and a half.
The BMV says the program is working.

"We get approximately 96% of the customers that do send in proof of insurance for the specific date in question." said Ohio BMV Interim Administrator for Suspension & Licensure Services, Dianna McConnaughey.

The 4% who don't show proof of insurance go under suspension.

"What we aren't able to establish is how many of that 96% carry insurance mainly because they are afraid of being caught without it," said Petit.

While the BMV said the law helps protect drivers from those that wouldn't carry insurance, but Lawrence still believes the wrong people are being targeted.

"My premise would be that we'd spend a little more time investigating other people rather than people who have insurance.. we might make that program work," said Dunlevy.

Top 10 Vehicle Makes selected in 1 year

*taken from a year's worth of BMV random selection data

Vehicle Make Total Amount
CHEV 103,095,883
FORD 93,359,595
HOND 51,409,771
TOYT 47,914,747
DODG 37,507,899
JEEP 22,514,384
CHRY 19,199,159
NISS 18,194,064
BUIC 17,958,349
HYUN 17,905,228


Top 10 Vehicle Years selected in 1 year

Vehicle Year Total Amount
2007 17,835
2005 17,597
2008 17,322
2004 17,088
2006 16,781
2012 16,490
2003 15,857
2013 15,444
2011 15,290
2002 14,774

Random Selection Process

Vehicle Registration Criteria from the BMV

  1. Pull criteria
    1. Pulls owner types of single or join
    2. Pulls records with a valid key type that is not a tax id
    3. Sips records that have an organization type of collectors, historical, volunteer firefighter, or emergency vehicle.
    4. Pulls records that are category type passenger car or non commercial truly only
    5. Pulls where the expiration date is between a variable range (start date being 120 days from the run, end date being 360 days from run)
    6. Pulls records with a blank disposition code only
    7. Pulls records with no random sample flag or has one, but the random date is less than a year and half ago.
  2. Counts total records scan pulled and divided amount by 10,000. This is how many records you skip between the ones selected.
  3. Program calculates a random number between zero and .999999999999 then multiples this by the interval from step 2 to determine the starting record.
  4. It returns 10,000 records that are passed to the driving license database to be cross checked.

Driving License Criteria

  1. Pulls record from driver tabled based on social security numbers.
  2. Checks driver status (DLD203).
  3. Checks to see if driver suspended.
  4. Check for non compliance.
  5. Checks for non commercial suspensions.
  6. Checks for valid address in CNA database
  7. Outputs first 5,400 records provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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