News 4 Investigates: Religious exemptions for car insurance lega - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: Religious exemptions for car insurance legal in Missouri

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Under Missouri law, church members opposed to conventional insurance can apply for a certificate of self-insurance.  (Credit: KMOV) Under Missouri law, church members opposed to conventional insurance can apply for a certificate of self-insurance.  (Credit: KMOV)
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

Don and Kathy Meier say the medical bills are piling up.

In 2009, Don Meier was a passenger in a dump truck that veered off the highway after a teenage driver crossed the center line on a rural stretch of Missouri Highway 89. 

Meier said, "All my ribs on the right side were busted, my lungs collapsed, internal bleeding."

Those are just a few of the serious issues he faced following the crash.

Kathy Meier said her husband was airlifted to a trauma center where "the chaplain came in the room and said, 'Have you called family?'"

Kathy said she thought her husband was going to die.

Immediately following the crash, Don's recovery was the couple's main focus, but years later they are still struggling to pay unpaid medical bills. 

According to Missouri court records, the Meiers obtained a $489,000 judgment against the teenage driver Jonathan Schrock. 

According to federal court records, Schrock filed for bankruptcy, listing $489,000 dollars in liabilities. 

In 2013 the Meiers sued Schrock again and obtained a $3.8 million judgment in their favor.

Don and Kathy told News 4 they have never received any money, and Don's medical bills weren't paid by Schrock. 

Attorneys for the Meiers questioned Schrock on video and under oath. Attorney Andy Gelbach asked Schrock the following questions:

(Gelbach) Is it a true statement to say you don't have an insurance policy with an insurance company on the day of the wreck? (Schrock) Yes 

(Gelbach) Do you take 100 percent responsibility for causing the wreck? (Schrock) Yes 

The Meiers learned Schrock attended Mint Hill Mennonite Church where some of the members are opposed to conventional insurance plans. 

In paperwork filed with the Missouri Department of Revenue in 1989, members of the church stated the following:

We as a church body at Mint Hill Mennonite Fellowship Church do hereby wish to state that according to religious beliefs, prohibit the purchase of insurance that does not consist of a brotherhood type aid plan. We do believe that as Christians we are responsible to care for those of our church. This we desire to do for conscience sake in so far as the laws of the state of Missouri grants us these privileges. 

Under Missouri law, church members opposed to conventional insurance can apply for a certificate of self-insurance. 

Members of Mint Hill were awarded a certificate, which means they can be self-insured but must carry the state's mandatory minimum coverage limits of $50,000.

Mint Hill's Pastor, Dan Hostetler, worries $50,000 isn't enough money, and that's a reason he does not participate in the church plan. 

Hostetler told News 4, "Unfortunately there are no good options for the Meiers. How do we eliminate this in the future? Change the laws." 

Missouri State Representative Kevin Engler (R-District 116) chairs the insurance policy committee in Jefferson City. 

Engler said, "We want to protect people's freedoms of religion, but they have to have some responsibility." 

He said it's too late to introduce legislation this year, but he added, "our responsibility as legislators is to make sure the person harmed has a method to seek recovery." 

Kathy and Don are still hoping their medical bills will be paid by Schrock or Mint Hill Mennonite Church. 

In an emotional plea, Kathy said, "I'm a Christian. I go to church. So why does it make it different they can go to their church and get their car insurance. If they hurt someone God will excuse it. God can't excuse this."

Copyright 2017 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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