Almost all states require their drivers to carry insurance to get behind the wheel. At a minimum, they usually need bodily injury and property damage liability insurance to protect other people on the road.
This alone can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year, depending on the driver's accident history and location. For some, the price is so high that they choose to skip coverage altogether. But it's a huge problem – and not just for those who break the law.
These 10 states have the most uninsured drivers
The following 10 states had the highest rates of uninsured drivers in 2019, according to the Insurance Research Council:
- Mississippi (29.4%)
- Michigan (25.5%)
- Tennessee (23.7%)
- New Mexico (21.8%)
- Washington (21.7%)
- Florida (20.4%)
- Alabama (19.5%)
- Arkansas (19.3%)
- District of Columbia (19.1%)
- California (16.6%)
Some of these states, like Michigan, have higher than average insurance premiums, which is probably too high for some. But uninsured drivers are on the roads in every state, and in some, they're increasingly common.
A recent JD Power survey found that South Dakota saw a 106% increase in uninsured drivers between the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023. New Hampshire, West Virginia, Oregon and Indiana also saw an increase of 36% or more during this period. period of time.
The problem of uninsured drivers
Uninsured drivers pose an obvious problem. Most states impose fines, suspend licenses and even jail those caught driving without insurance. And when those drivers apply for coverage again, they'll pay a lot more.
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Uninsured drivers also risk huge bills if they cause an accident. Without insurance, they will have to pay the entire bill out of pocket. This could amount to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars if someone is injured. The risks clearly outweigh the short-term gain of skipping premiums.
But even insured drivers are at risk when uninsured drivers are on the road. Most states' minimum coverage requirements will not help a driver if they are hit by an uninsured driver. Those seeking this protection must invest in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
This covers a driver's medical and auto repairs if they are hit by a driver who does not have auto insurance or who does not have enough insurance to cover the full damage. In some states, the amount of uninsured motorist coverage a driver chooses must equal their liability coverage limits, while other states allow policyholders to choose the amount of coverage they want for each.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is always an option, even in states where it is not required. Adding it will increase the policy premiums, but the only way to know by how much is to get quotes from the best car insurers.
Compare prices with and without coverage to decide if the investment is worth it. If it's too expensive, look for coverage from other providers or consider increasing the deductible to reduce premiums. It only takes a few minutes and could save drivers big headaches in the event of an accident.
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