New Report Shows 1 in 8 Drivers Don’t Have Insurance

By
Charles Nguyen

The rate of uninsured drivers in the U.S. has dropped significantly since 2008, according to a new report.

Nationwide, 12.6% of drivers in the U.S. — or about 1 in 8 — were uninsured in 2012, according to the latest figures released last month by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). That’s a significant drop from 2008’s uninsured rate of 14.3%.

According to the IRC , the rate of uninsured drivers has decreased every year since 2008, except for 2011-12.

Year

% of motorists without insurance

Percentage point change from previous year

2008

14.3

+0.5

2009

13.8

-0.5

2010

12.3

-1.5

2011

12.2

-0.1

2012

12.6

+0 .4


The 2010-12 period represents the lowest uninsured motorist rates since 1999, when 12.8% of drivers in the U.S. were uninsured.

The IRC calculates its uninsured rates by comparing uninsured motorist claims with bodily injury claims in each state.

‘Good news for U.S. drivers’

“This is a substantial drop,” says Michael Barry, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute (III), about the overall decrease from 2008 to 2012. “It reduces significantly the likelihood a typical, insured driver will be in an accident with an uninsured motorist.”

Barry calls the trend “good news for U.S. drivers.”

“Uninsured drivers pass a significant burden on to law-abiding motorists by increasing the need for uninsured motorist coverage, which drives up their rates,” says Timothy Hummer, vice president of property and casualty at AutoInsurance.com, where 31% of new policy sales are to uninsured drivers. “Unless you have the proper coverage, you could be responsible for all of your costs from an accident if it was caused by an uninsured driver.”

Why is the rate of uninsured drivers dropping? Barry cites several factors, including an improving economy and stiffer enforcement against drivers who lack the required coverage to be on the road.

“The IRC has consistently found a link between the U.S. unemployment rate and the percentage of motorists who are insured,” he says. “We agree that it is the decisive criterion.”

How to protect yourself from uninsured drivers

Only certain types of auto insurance will cover damage from an uninsured driver, and they’re not all required by law.

The following coverages will help pay for your accident-related medical bills after an accident caused by an uninsured driver:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP)

  • Medical payments

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) bodily injury

The following coverages will help pay for your accident-related car repair bills after an accident caused by an uninsured driver:

  • Collision

  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)

If you want to make sure you’re covered for accidents with uninsured drivers, check your policy or ask your insurer.

2012 uninsured rates by state

The rate of uninsured drivers differs greatly from state to state, from a high of 25.9% in Oklahoma to a low of 3.9% in Massachusetts, according to the latest IRC data.

Highest rates of uninsured drivers

Rank

State

% of drivers uninsured in 2012

1

Oklahoma

25.9%

2

Florida

23.8%

3

Mississippi

22.9%

4

New Mexico

21.6%

5

Michigan

21%

6

Tennessee

20.1%

7

Alabama

19.6%

8

Rhode Island

17%

9

Colorado

16.2%

10

Washington

16.1%


Lowest rates of uninsured drivers

Rank

State

% of drivers uninsured in 2012

1

Massachusetts

3.9%

2

Maine

4.7%

3

New York

5.3%

4

Utah

5.8%

5

North Dakota

5.9%

6

Pennsylvania

6.5%

7

Nebraska

6.7%

8

Idaho

6.7%

9

South Carolina

7.7%

10

South Dakota

7.8%


Biggest drops in uninsured driver rates

The uninsured motorist rate dropped in 39 states and the District of Columbia between 2009 and 2012. But some states showed larger drops than others.

According to the IRC, Mississippi had the 3rd-highest rate of uninsured drivers nationwide. But the Magnolia State also reduced its rate of uninsured drivers from 28% in 2009 to 22.9% in 2012. That drop of 5.1 percentage points was the largest statewide drop in the U.S. during that period.

State

Percentage point change between 2009 & 2012

% of drivers uninsured in 2009

% of drivers uninsured in 2012

Mississippi

-5.1

28%

22.9%

North Carolina

-4.4

13.5%

9.1%

New Mexico

-4.1

25.7%

21.6%

Georgia

-4

15.7%

11.7%

Tennessee

-3.8

23.9%

20.1%


States with an increase or no change in uninsured driver rates

There were a total of 11 states with an increase or no change in the rate of uninsured drivers from 2009 to 2012.

In Montana, 14.1% of drivers were uninsured in 2012, an increase of 2.7 percentage points from 2009; it was the biggest increase of any state in the U.S.

Oklahoma saw the next biggest increase between 2009 and 2012, jumping 2 percentage points from 23.9% to 25.9%.

State

Percentage point change between 2009 & 2012

% of drivers uninsured in 2009

% of drivers uninsured in 2012

Montana

+2.7

11.4%

14.1%

Oklahoma

+2

23.9%

25.9%

Michigan

+1.5

19.5%

21%

Vermont

+1.4

7.1%

8.5%

Colorado

+1

15.2%

16.2%

Louisiana

+1

12.9%

13.9%

Delaware

+0.7

10.8%

11.5%

Florida

+0.3

23.5%

23.8%

Alaska

+0.2

13%

13.2%

Maine

+0.2

4.5%

4.7%

Washington

no change

16.1%

16.1%


To learn the consequences of driving uninsured in each state, read our page about penalties for driving without auto insurance.

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