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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. However, depending on the state, this rate can be as high as 26.7%—in Florida—or as low as 4.5%—in Maine. Nearly 215 million drivers carry car insurance in the U.S., meaning there are approximately 32 million uninsured drivers on the road. To combat this issue, some states have instituted random insurance verification checks and no pay, no play laws—which limits the ability of uninsured drivers to seek compensation.
National Uninsured Motorist Rates by Year
The percentage of uninsured motorists on the road has been on a steady decline in recent years, dropping from 14.9% in 2003 to 13% in 2015 (the most recent year data are available). This rate is estimated based on the ratio of uninsured motorist insurance claims to bodily injury insurance claims.
Uninsured Motorist Rates by State
According to recent data, the state with the highest rate of uninsured motorists is Florida, with an estimated rate of 26.7%. This makes sense considering Florida is the only state that doesn't require drivers to have bodily injury liability insurance.
The state with the fewest uninsured drivers per capita is Maine with a rate of 4.5%, which is 65% lower that the national rate of 13%. Maine has one of the highest bodily injury liability insurance requirements of any state, of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident. It is also one of the 24 states (including the District of Columbia) that requires that drivers have uninsured motorist insurance.
|State||UM Rate 2015||UM Rate 2009||Difference|
|10||District of Columbia||15.6%||15.0%||0.6%|
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, below we've provided an outline of some possible consequences for the five states with the highest rates of uninsured drivers.
|State||Fees||Driving Privileges||Additional Penalties|
|Florida||$150–$500||Suspended license and registration for up to three years, unless proof of insurance is provided within five days|
|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|
|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.|
|Tennessee||$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 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 licence 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 includes 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 higher rates of uninsured drivers—13.2% compared to 12.0%.
Insurance Verification Systems
Some states governments require that insurers inform the state transportation office when an auto insurance policy lapses or is canceled. This allows the law enforcement officials access to a database of currently insured vehicles, therefore making it easier for them to identify uninsured motorists. States that have implemented these online insurance verification systems include:
Random Selection Programs
In the state of Ohio, drivers are required to participate in a random selection program to lower its rate of uninsured motorists. This is a program in which a certain number of registered vehicle owners per week are randomly selected and are then required to provide proof of insurance. Drivers that aren't able to provide proof of insurance within the set timeline will receive a random selection suspension.
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: bodily injury (UMBI) and 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