5 Reasons 1 in 8 Drivers Is Uninsured

by Dana George | Updated July 15, 2021 - First published on July 5, 2021

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A person sits in the driver's seat of a parked vehicle and puts on a facemask.

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With 1 in 8 drivers uninsured, it's particularly important to protect yourself.

One in eight drivers on the road is currently uninsured, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

In 2019, the last year studied by the Insurance Research Council, Mississippi had the most problems with uninsured drivers -- 29.4% of the people in Mississippi did not carry auto insurance. The following states also ranked high in uninsured drivers:

  • Michigan (25.5%)
  • Tennessee (23.7%)
  • New Mexico (21.8%)
  • Washington (21.7)
  • Florida (20.4%)
  • Alabama (19.5%)

While it's difficult to know why so many people on the road are willing to take their chances, here are five possible reasons why there are so many drivers on the road without auto insurance.

1. Cost

The most common reason stated for driving without insurance is the cost. When things get tough and funds are low, people still need a roof over their heads, groceries, and to get back and forth to work.

Still, the problem with skipping auto insurance because of the expense is how expensive it can be to get caught without it. For example, suppose a driver is caught without insurance in Colorado -- one of the states with the strictest auto insurance laws. Here's what driving uninsured will cost:

  • A $500 (minimum) fine
  • Four points against license (which makes an insurance policy even more expensive)
  • Up to 40 hours of community service
  • License suspended until proof of insurance provided

And if someone is caught again without auto insurance, the penalties are more severe.

2. Invincibility

There's a reason why teens have to pay more for insurance. Young drivers are more likely to get into an accident than older drivers. They lack the life experience that reminds them that bad things do happen. That sense of "it can't happen to me" is even strong enough to convince some drivers that they don't need to pay for insurance.

3. Nothing to lose

If a driver is without funds and feels there's nothing to lose financially, skipping insurance may make sense. But the issue is that there is always something to lose. Say an uninsured driver has several people in the car and is involved in an accident that leads to injuries. In addition to figuring out how to pay their medical bills, the driver is now on the hook for the injuries sustained by others. Lawsuits, garnished wages, and emotional stress are byproducts of life without insurance.

4. "Others will pay" mentality

Some drivers are under the mistaken belief that all insured drivers carry uninsured motorist coverage. This is not true. While some drivers do pay for the extra coverage (and some states require it), an uninsured driver cannot assume that every driver does. In any case, if there is an accident and the uninsured driver is at fault, the other driver can take them to court to pay for damages and cover medical bills.

5. It can be complicated

There's no doubt that some insurance jargon is complicated, and it takes a while to understand the difference between liability and comprehensive coverage. Plus, people could be confused over how much car insurance coverage they need. In either case, the best move for drivers is to spend some time becoming familiar with insurance terms and "shopping" for a policy that meets their state requirements and their personal needs.

If you're currently uninsured and not confident that you can afford an insurance policy, here are a few ideas that may help:

  • Shop around and get multiple car insurance quotes. Not only does shopping around give you the chance to find out which company offers the fullest coverage at the lowest price, but it gives you the chance to let an agent know about your financial concerns. The best car insurance companies have insurance agents who work in your area and may be able to point you toward financial resources designed to help people afford auto insurance.
  • Learn if usage-based insurance can save you money. Usage-based programs use technology (like your cell phone or GPS) to track your driving behavior. If you're a safe driver, this technology can help assure an insurer that you don't need high-risk car insurance. This could help minimize your insurance costs.
  • Raise your deductible and lower your coverage limits. Although you'll have to pay more out of pocket if you file a claim, you can save big on premiums.

While it may not be fun, auto insurance offers peace of mind. That's enough to make shopping for the best cheap insurance worth the trouble.

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