12 percent of U.S. drivers lack car insurance. What does that cost the rest of us?
Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires drivers to have minimum amounts of car insurance. The purpose of car insurance is to fulfill drivers’ financial responsibilities for both bodily injury and property damage losses in accidents they cause.
However, not everyone complies with these requirements: An estimated 12 percent of drivers in the U.S. lack insurance. That’s why many people in the U.S. have insurance coverage specifically for accidents that uninsured drivers cause. After performing a survey in March of 2022, we analyzed the trends of uninsured motorist coverage in the U.S. These were our key findings:
Nearly three-quarters of drivers in the U.S. have some form of uninsured motorist coverage, which is separated into bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage.
|Survey question: Do you currently have uninsured motorist coverage? Select all that apply.||Percentage of respondents who selected this answer|
|Uninsured motorist bodily injury||74%|
|Uninsured motorist property damage||59%|
|I don’t carry either of these coverages||26%|
Of these policies, nearly three-quarters are six months long, while nearly a third are annual.
|Survey question: What is the coverage period for your auto insurance policy?||Percentage of respondents who selected this answer|
Not all states require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but it’s necessary to get your losses covered in an accident that an uninsured or underinsured driver caused.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage exists to reimburse you for your bodily injury and property damage losses from an accident caused by someone who drove without insurance or lacked limits high enough to cover your losses completely. In many states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage includes hit-and-runs, accidents in which the driver flees the scene without leaving any insurance or contact information.
If someone hits your car or hits your parked car, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage would reimburse you for your losses (detailed below). Sometimes uninsured motorist coverage is bundled with underinsured motorist coverage, and sometimes they’re separate.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage covers the following:
Despite the increasingly high cost of car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage is relatively inexpensive for both bodily injury and property damage coverage. The median price of uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage is just $50 a year.
|Uninsured motorist bodily injury||Price|
The median price of uninsured motorist property damage coverage is even less at $38 annually.
|Uninsured motorist property damage||Price|
All in all, you can get away with paying a median price of $90 a year for uninsured liability coverage.
|Uninsured motorist bodily injury and property damage||Combined price|
The coverage liability limits are how much insurance companies will pay under covered insurance claims. For example, with a 100/300 limit, an insurance company would pay up to $100,000 for accidents involving one person, or $300,000 for accidents involving two or more people.
|Survey question: What is your level of coverage for uninsured motorist bodily injury per person and per occurrence (in thousands of dollars)?||Percentage of respondents who selected this answer|
The most common liability limits for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, which 27 percent of our survey respondents have.
|Survey question: What is the coverage amount for your uninsured motorist property damage?||Percentage of respondents who selected this answer|
For property damage coverage, one-third of respondents have $25,000 limits — a plurality but not a majority.
Under a covered uninsured motorist claim, the deductible is the amount you’ll pay before your insurance provider contributes. Over one-third of survey respondents with uninsured motorist property damage coverage have $0 deductibles, meaning they don’t have to pay anything out of pocket before they’re compensated for their property damage losses, while 1 in 5 have $250 deductibles.
|Survey question: What is your deductible for uninsured motorist property damage?||Percentage of respondents who selected this answer|
As of 2019, the last time the Insurance Research Council published national data, an estimated 12 percent of drivers in the U.S. lack car insurance. That means over 29 million licensed drivers do not have any financial liability protection when driving, an average of 581,080 drivers per state.
|State||Estimated percentage of uninsured drivers in 2019 (high to low)||Difference from national average||Estimated number of uninsured licensed drivers per state in 2019|
The state with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists is Mississippi, where 1 in 3 drivers lack insurance. Accordingly, drivers are required to carry at least $25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person and $50,000 per accident4. But surprisingly, car insurance in Mississippi costs 10 percent less than the national average at only $975.58 annually, according to 2019 National Association of Insurance Commissioners data.5
Why is the ratio of uninsured drivers versus insured drivers so high in Mississippi? Perhaps it’s because Mississippi drivers don’t need to show proof of insurance when purchasing a car, renewing their license plates, or updating their driver’s licenses, making the laws difficult to enforce.6
Unfortunately for those who follow the law, uninsured drivers increase the cost of car insurance for everyone else. Based on the Federal Highway Administration’s estimated number of licensed drivers in the U.S. in 2019, this is what uninsured motorist coverage costs Americans:
When you drive without insurance, not only are you risking fees, jail time, community service, and a license suspension or revocation, you’re also forcing other people to pay in the billions for your liability. To explore more of our original data, read our car insurance research.
After sourcing respondents on Prolific, we conducted a survey on SurveyMonkey from March 10 to March 14, 2022, getting responses from 228 U.S. adults. The respondents had car insurance from six different companies, and we provided them with information on how to access their policy declarations pages, which cover limits. We chose these insurance companies based on their market share and the availability of online instructions for accessing the declarations pages.
We also used third-party data from these sources:
Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Coverage. GEICO. (2022). https://www.geico.com/information/aboutinsurance/auto/uninsured-underinsured-motorist/
Uninsured Motorists, 2021 Edition. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar). https://www.insurance-research.org/research-publications/uninsured-motorists-2021-edition
Highway Statistics 2019. U.S. Department of Transportation. https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2019/dl201.cfm
What You Need to Know Auto Insurance. Department of Public Safety. https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/forms-documents/Documents/AutoInsuranceInfo.pdf
2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2022). https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf
NEARLY 25% OF MISSISSIPPI DRIVERS ARE UNINSURED. Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. Injury Lawyers. (2018, Jun). https://www.1call.ms/blog/2018/june/nearly-25-of-mississippi-drivers-are-uninsured/