Across the U.S., chances are roughly one in
seven that a driver is uninsured, according to new estimates from the Insurance
Research Council (IRC).
The estimated percentage of uninsured motorists declined
four straight years before rising to 14.3 percent in 2008 and dropping to 13.8
percent in 2009. The economic downturn is thought to be a major factor in the
"The leveling trend in the percentage of uninsured
motorists is an unfortunate consequence of the economic downturn and
illustrates how virtually everyone is affected by recent economic developments," said Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, senior
vice president of the IRC. "Despite laws in many states requiring drivers
to maintain insurance, about one in seven motorists remain uninsured. This
forces responsible drivers who carry insurance to bear the burden of paying for
injuries caused by drivers who carry no insurance at all."
In a new study, Uninsured Motorists, 2011 Edition, IRC
estimates the percentage of uninsured drivers countrywide and in individual
states for 2008 and 2009. The IRC estimates are based on the ratio of uninsured
motorist (UM) insurance claim frequency to bodily injury (BI) claim frequency.
UM claims are made by individuals who are injured in accidents caused by
uninsured drivers. BI claims are made by individuals injured in accidents
caused by insured drivers. The magnitude of the uninsured motorist problem
varies from state to state. In 2009, the five states with the highest uninsured
driver estimates were:
Mississippi (28 percent)
New Mexico (26 percent)
Tennessee (24 percent)
Oklahoma (24 percent)
Florida (24 percent)
The five states with the lowest uninsured driver
Massachusetts (4.5 percent)
Maine (4.5 percent)
New York (5 percent)
Pennsylvania (7 percent)
Vermont (7 percent)
In a previous report, the IRC anticipated a trend
reversal in the countrywide estimate of the percentage of uninsured motorists,
citing a strong historical relationship between the national unemployment rate
and the national UM to BI ratio. The strength of the historical relationship
appears to have diminished slightly with the inclusion of more recent data.
Several possible reasons for this are discussed in the report.