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Q

Approximately how many people in America are driving without auto insurance?


A

We do not have numbers on how many motorists drive without insurance however a study published in 2001 by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that around 14 percent of America's motorists were driving without insurance.

The IRC study showed that in 2001 that 14 percent of drivers in the United States were uninsured during the years 1995 to 1997, the same rate as in 1995 as reported in a previous study.

The percentage is even higher though than the national average of 14 percent. The states with they found with the highest amount of uninsured motorist include Colorado at 34%, Mississippi at 29%, Alabama at 28%, New Mexico at 27% and California with 26%. The five states with the lowest uninsured driver estimates were Maine at 4%, Vermont at 6%, Massachusetts at 6%, New York at 7%, and Nebraska at 8%.

It appears that uninsured drivers are causing an increasing number of accidents and larger claims. Insurance industry officials estimate these drivers can be blamed for 1 of every 8 serious accidents. This is up about 40 percent over the last decade.

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A new study we ran across by IRC now states that if someone is injured in an auto accident, the chances are about 1 in 7 that the at-fault driver is uninsured. A newer IRC study found that the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists increased nationally from 12.7 percent in 1999 to 14.6 percent in 2004. However, the magnitude of the uninsured motorists problem varied widely from state to state.

In 2004, the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates were Mississippi at 26%, Alabama at 25%, California at 25%, New Mexico at 24%, and Arizona 22%. The five states with the lowest uninsured driver estimates were still Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, and Nebraska with the same percentage of uninsured drivers as in 2001.

As you see Colorado is no longer in the top 5 of states with the most uninsured drivers. Colorado, along with other certain states, in recent years have been implementing new laws to enforce compliance with requirements that motorists buy liability insurance or show financial responsibility. It would appear that at least in Colorado the new laws have helped keep drivers without insurance off the roadway.

You can protect yourself from being hurt financially by buying Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverages as part of your auto insurance policy. Without UM/UIM coverage you will likely not be able to get payment for your damages or injuries if you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist since those that tend to be uninsured do not have assets to go after.

The actual number of uninsured motorists in the United States is hard to pinpoint. Some studies compare the number of registered vehicles in a state with the number of insurance policies in force. Other studies look at the number of crashes reported or number of insurance claims filed involving an uninsured motorist.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), uninsured motorists are involved in more than 20 percent of fatal crashes in the United States. Some drivers cannot afford insurance or simply do not want to pay for it and are willing to risk getting caught. Penalties for driving uninsured differ from state to state, and can include fines, license suspension or revocation, losing your vehicle registration and license plates, vehicle impoundment, or jail time.

As we mentioned earlier if you are concerned about having an accident with an uninsured motorist, which if you live in the top 5 states listed above for having the most uninsured motorists should be a big concern, you may want to purchase UM/UIM coverages.

Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) pays for your medical expenses if you are injured in a crash caused by an uninsured motorist. This coverage also usually includes Underinsured Motorist coverage (UIM), which protects you if you are hit by a driver who is underinsured.

Depending upon your state's laws you also have the option to purchase Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage (UMPD), which pays for damage to your car. If you already have Physical Damage coverages of comprehensive and collision instead, which would pay for damages to your car if you were hit by an uninsured motorist than you would not need UMPD.

With the downturn in the United States economy as of late it is likely that there will be more uninsured motorists on the road due to the fact that people will try to work around the system and cut out an insurance payment to save money. It is important to make sure you have the right type of auto insurance coverage so that if any person driving without insurance hits you, you will be covered and not out of pocket for damages to your car or injuries you suffer.

If you need more information on how many uninsured motorist there are in America you may try contacting the PCI or IRC directly. Government agencies such as the NHTSA may also be able to provide you with information such as how many drivers there are in the US and if they United States government has done any studies into the amount of drivers there are nationwide driving without car insurance or other financial responsibility.


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