Across Country, 1 in 7 Drivers Uninsured; In Some States, 1 in 4

April 21, 2011

Across the United States, chances are roughly one in seven that a driver is uninsured.

The estimated percentage of uninsured motorists stood at 13.8 percent in 2009, according to a new study from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The group said the percentage declined four straight years before rising to 14.3 percent in 2008 and then dropping slightly in 2009.

The five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates are Mississippi (28 percent), New Mexico (26 percent), Tennessee (24 percent), Oklahoma (24 percent), and Florida (24 percent), according to new estimates IRC that are based on 2009 data.

The five states with the lowest uninsured driver estimates are Massachusetts (4.5 percent), Maine (4.5 percent), New York (5 percent), Pennsylvania (7 percent), and Vermont (7 percent).

The research group says the economic downturn is likely a major factor in the brief increase in 2008.

“The leveling trend in the percentage of uninsured motorists is an unfortunate consequence of the economic downturn and illustrates how virtually everyone is affected by recent economic developments,” said Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC.

In its new study, Uninsured Motorists, 2011 Edition, the bases its estimates on the ratio of uninsured motorist (UM) insurance claim frequency to bodily injury (BI) claim frequency. UM claims are made by individuals who are injured in accidents caused by uninsured drivers. BI claims are made by individuals injured in accidents caused by insured drivers.

The study confirms that the magnitude of the uninsured motorist problem varies from state to state.

“Despite laws in many states requiring drivers to maintain insurance, about one in seven motorists remain uninsured. This forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all,” Sprinkel said.

The IRC study examines data collected from nine insurers, representing approximately 50 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in the U.S.

The IRC provides research on public policy issues affecting insurance companies and their customers. It is supported by property/casualty insurance organizations

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