Being a safe driver is not enough to keep you accident free. Unfortunately, another driver may cause an accident. If that driver is uninsured or underinsured, the person may not have enough — or any — insurance coverage to pay for your medical bills, if you are injured, or repair damage to your vehicle.
How many uninsured drivers are there?
What are your chances of having an accident with an uninsured driver? Recent data from the Insurance Research Council (IRC) suggests that if you are in a collision, you have a one in eight chance of the other driver having no auto insurance coverage at all. That could mean if the uninsured driver is at fault, the cost of the accident will be paid by your insurance, if you have coverage, or out of your pocket.
The cost of uninsured motorists
However, even if the person carries the minimum amount of auto liability coverage required by the state of residence that does not mean the driver, if at fault, has sufficient coverage in the event of an accident that causes extensive injury and/or vehicle damage. IRC’s data shows the average uninsured motorist claim comes in at nearly $20,000, including $11,379 in claimed medical losses and $7,960 in lost wages — and this amount excludes any physical damage to the vehicle.
The most uninsured motorists drive in these states
Two things are most likely to impact the number of uninsured drivers in a state — state law and the cost of auto insurance. Higher auto insurance costs are associated with a higher number of uninsured motorists in a state. While the countrywide average of uninsured motorists is 13 percent, five states come in with averages ranging from 20 percent, including Tennessee, Michigan, and New Mexico, to 23.7 percent in Mississippi, and nearly 27 percent in Florida. Vermont, North Carolina, Massachusetts, New York and Maine are the states with the lowest percentage of uninsured drivers with averages ranging from 6.8 percent in Vermont to 4.5 percent in Maine. However, even drivers in states with low percentages of uninsured drivers should be vigilant. Massachusetts, for example, has had the highest increase in numbers — with the percentage of uninsured drivers doubling in recent years. Discover the percentage of uninsured motorists in your state.
Even though 49 states — all but New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia — require drivers to have auto liability insurance to drive legally, the number of uninsured motorists is up for the first time in seven years. One of the best ways to protect yourself from uninsured and underinsured drivers is to be sure you have enough of the right coverage, including uninsured and underinsured coverage, and high enough limits yourself.
The price of peace of mind
Uninsured motorist coverage costs on average $67 or a little more than $5 a month.
How much coverage do you need? The rule of thumb is you should have the same amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage as you have bodily injury coverage. So, if you have bodily injury limits of $100k if one person is injured and $300k if multiple people are injured, you should carry the same limits for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
The Insurance Information Institute offers additional details on how to protect yourself in the event of an accident with an uninsured driver.
In addition to checking your auto insurance coverage and limits, another great way to safeguard yourself is to have an umbrella policy. It kicks in when you reach the limits of your auto policy. For example, The Hanover offers an umbrella policy with $1 million uninsured/underinsured coverage for Platinum customers, and, in some states, offers $2 million of uninsured/underinsured coverage.
Contact your independent insurance agent to help ensure you have the right combination of coverages, value and price.
Uninsured and underinsured drivers pose financial risk and danger for insured drivers. Data shows that an estimated $2.6 billion was paid in uninsured motorist claims in 2012, the most recent data available. This high cost is one reason insurance premiums are on the rise across the country. Explore our interactive infographic to learn what other factors are impacting auto insurance premiums.
Source: Uninsured Motorists, 2017 edition, Insurance Research Council