When an uninsured driver is at fault in an accident, insured drivers, or their insurance companies, are often left to pay for the resulting physical damage and health costs. As in cases with an underinsured driver, these individuals may not have high enough limits on his or her policy to cover all costs of damage caused.
Findings from a new study raise concerns.
Despite the fact that drivers in 49 states are required to carry car insurance, a new study found that nearly one in eight U.S. drivers was uninsured in 2015, putting insured drivers at greater risk in the event of an auto accident.
The study, directed by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) and co-sponsored by The Hanover Insurance Group, Inc. found that 13% of all U.S. motorists were uninsured in 2015, up from 12.3% in 2010 after a seven-year decline.
“The results of the survey sound an alarm,” said Daniel Halsey, president, personal lines, at The Hanover. “Uninsured motorists represent a significant risk to insured drivers. With the average cost of an uninsured motorist claim around $20,000, excluding any physical damage to the vehicle, the best approach is to make sure you have the proper insurance in place to protect yourself in the event of an accident.”
To protect themselves against uninsured drivers in the event of an accident, The Hanover suggests customers talk with their independent agents about the following:
- Do I need uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on my policy? Often, this is a low-cost way to add protection in the event of an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
- How much uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage do I need? Generally, it is a good idea to have the same amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage as bodily injury coverage. Be wary of suggestions to reduce or remove this coverage to reduce the premium on a policy.
- How does uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage work when I have an umbrella policy? Umbrella protection can kick in once auto limits are met. The Hanover offers uninsured/underinsured coverage of up to $2 million on umbrella policies in some states.
State by state
The IRC study found that the numbers of uninsured motorists varied between states, ranging anywhere from 4.5% to 26.7%. Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, Michigan, and Tennessee were the top five states with uninsured motorists, while North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York, and Maine had the least.
Related: 10 states with the worst drivers
While Massachusetts had one of the lowest rates, it did experience the largest percentage point increase over a 10-year period, researchers noted.
“While some states saw significant drops in their uninsured motorists rates, overall, the rate is increasing nationwide,” said Elizabeth A.Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC. “This can mean added risk for all motorists.”
To learn more about staying protected from uninsured drivers, check out The Hanover’s article, Protect Yourself from Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists, or visit the Insurance Research Council for more information.