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Though some form of car insurance is required in nearly every state, a significant percentage of drivers still don't have insurance — approximately 13% nationally according to recent data.
Depending on the state, this rate can be as high as 29.4% — in Mississippi — or as low as 3.1% — in New Jersey. Nearly 230 million drivers carry car insurance in the U.S., meaning there are approximately 29 million uninsured drivers on the road.
To combat this issue, some states have instituted insurance verification checks and "no pay, no play" laws — which limit the ability of uninsured drivers to seek compensation.
National uninsured motorist rates by year
The percentage of uninsured motorists on the road has held steady in recent years, going from 12.3% in 2010 to 12.6% in 2019 — the most recent year data is available. This rate is estimated based on the ratio of uninsured motorist (UM) insurance claims to bodily injury insurance claims.
Uninsured motorist rates by state
Mississippi has more uninsured drivers than any other state, with an estimated rate of 29.4% of drivers driving without insurance. Mississippi is one of the cheapest states for car insurance, but it's also the state with the lowest household income, suggesting affordability is a key concern.
The state with the fewest uninsured drivers per capita is New Jersey. Only 3.1% of drivers in the Garden State are estimated to drive uninsured there. That's about one-quarter of the national average.
- New Jersey has very low bodily injury liability insurance requirements: just $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
- It is one of the 24 states (including the District of Columbia) that requires that drivers have uninsured motorist insurance.
UM rate 2019
UM rate 2009
|District of Columbia||19.1%||15.0%||4.1%|
Consequences of driving without insurance
Being caught driving without insurance can result in fees, license suspension, vehicle impoundment and even potential jail time. Additionally, if you are in an accident while you are driving without insurance, you can be sued for damage to the other driver's vehicle or their medical bills.
Though penalties vary across all states, you can expect a fine of a few hundred to a thousand dollars for driving uninsured.
|Florida||$150-$500||Suspended license and registration for up to three years, unless proof of insurance is provided within five days|
|Michigan||$1,000 ($500 per year for two years)||Driver's license suspended for up to 30 days||Up to one year of jail time|
|Mississippi||$500||License suspension for one year or until proof of insurance is provided|
|New Mexico||$300||Possible vehicle registration suspension||Up to 90 days of jail time|
|$300||Driver's license suspension until you provide proof of financial responsibility|
Being an uninsured motorist is different from not having proof of insurance. Generally, if you have the required insurance but don't have the proper proof, you are able to avoid a penalty (or at least lessen your penalty) by submitting proof within a certain time period.
For example, in Florida, those who provide the necessary documents within five days of being caught driving without insurance can avoid having their license and registration suspended.
How states are trying to lower the rate of uninsured motorists
States have introduced a number of measures to try to reduce the number of uninsured motorists on the road including "no pay, no play" insurance laws, insurance verification systems and random selection programs.
"No pay, no play" laws
In "no pay, no play" states, uninsured drivers are limited in what type of compensation they can receive if they are in an accident with another driver who is proven to be at fault. States with these laws include:
- New Jersey
- North Dakota
Often "no pay, no play" laws limit uninsured drivers from suing for noneconomic damages — which include pain and suffering damages — but don't limit the ability to seek compensation for economic damages, such as medical bills or vehicle repairs.
While these laws are meant to further disincentivize driving without insurance, on average states with "no pay, no play" laws actually have slightly higher rates of uninsured drivers — 13.7% compared to 12.2%.
Insurance verification systems
Some state governments require that insurers inform the state transportation office when an auto insurance policy lapses or is canceled. This allows law enforcement officials access to a database of currently insured vehicles, making it easier for them to identify uninsured motorists.
States that have implemented these online insurance verification systems include:
States that require uninsured motorist coverage
In order to reduce the financial impact of a collision with an uninsured driver, nearly half of U.S. states require vehicle owners to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as part of their auto insurance.
There are two forms of uninsured motorist coverage:
- Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI)
- Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD)
States that include this form of car insurance as part of the required coverage typically just require that you carry UMBI as part of your policy. But some, such as the District of Columbia, also require UMPD coverage.
States where uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is required
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Methodology and sources
Uninsured driver rates were calculated by the Insurance Research Group by comparing rates of liability insurance claims and uninsured motorist claims in the United States.