BY O.J. EARLY
Fortunately for county resident April Lane, she wasn't in her parked truck when a man struck it.
"He had proof of insurance when the cops came, but the next day when I called and filed a claim with his insurance company, they informed me that he had canceled a month or so beforehand," she said.
Had it not been for Lane's uninsured motorist coverage, she would have footed a hefty bill. Instead, Lane's insurance company paid about $3,500 to have the truck fixed.
"I have full coverage ... and I am very thankful for that," she said.
Lane's story had a nice ending.
The typical plot line, though, isn't nearly as bright: A motorist causes an accident, the motorist doesn't have auto insurance, and the driver not-at-fault automatically becomes responsible for a potentially pricey bill.
Uninsured drivers have found a comfortable home in the Volunteer State, based on figures from the Insurance Research Council.
In 2011, Tennessee almost topped the list of states with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists.
Nearly 25 percent of drivers on Tennessee's roads don't have insurance, according to the organization.
The problem of uninsured drivers exists in Greene County, and Sheriff Steve Burns said his department "sees several" instances of when a local resident is driving without insurance.
Nearly 600 citations have been issued for no-auto-insurance in Greene County since the start of the year, sheriff's department records show.
"We basically have a zero tolerance on no insurance," the sheriff said.
If his officers stop someone who can't produce proof of insurance, the person is cited, Burns said.
Offenders face penalties ranging from fines to a revoked license.
The Insurance Research Council estimates that 16 percent of drivers nationwide are uninsured.
In the U.S., about four percent of accidents are caused by uninsured motorists. Mississippi and Alabama are ranked first and second, respectively, for the highest percentage of uninsured motorists.
The three main reasons motorists report for not having auto insurance, according to the insurance council: first, vehicle not in operating condition, 2) unable to afford insurance, and 3) can't pay high premiums.
Males are more likely than females to drive uninsured, according to the industry-funded organization.