Pretty much every state requires its drivers to have insurance to get behind the wheel. At a minimum, they usually need bodily injury and property damage liability coverage to protect others on the road.
This alone can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year, depending on the driver’s accident history and location. For some, the price tag is so steep that they choose to skip coverage altogether. But that’s a huge problem — and not just for those breaking the law.
These 10 states have the most uninsured drivers
The following 10 states had the highest rates of uninsured drivers in 2019, according to the Insurance Research Council:
- Mississippi (29.4%)
- Michigan (25.5%)
- Tennessee (23.7%)
- New Mexico (21.8%)
- Washington (21.7%)
- Florida (20.4%)
- Alabama (19.5%)
- Arkansas (19.3%)
- District of Columbia (19.1%)
- California (16.6%)
Some of these states, like Michigan, have above-average insurance premium costs, which are likely too much for some to afford. But uninsured drivers are on the road in every state, and in some, they’re becoming more common.
A recent J.D. Power survey revealed that South Dakota saw a 106% increase in uninsured drivers from the second half of 2022 to the first half of 2023. New Hampshire, West Virginia, Oregon, and Indiana also saw increases of 36% or more during this time period.
Read more: check out our picks for the best car insurance companies
The problem with uninsured drivers
Uninsured drivers pose an obvious problem to themselves. Most states assess fines, suspend licenses, and even jail those who are caught driving without insurance. And when these drivers apply for coverage again, they’ll pay a lot more.
Uninsured drivers also risk massive bills if they cause an accident. With no insurance, they’ll have to pay the full bill out of pocket. This could be tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars if someone is injured. The risks clearly outweigh the short-term gain of skipping premiums.
But even insured drivers are at risk when uninsured drivers are on the road. Most states’ minimum coverage requirements won’t help a driver out if they’re hit by an uninsured driver. Those seeking this protection must invest in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.
This pays for a driver’s medical and auto repairs if they’re hit by a driver who doesn’t have car insurance or who doesn’t have enough to cover the full extent of the damages. In some states, the amount of uninsured motorist coverage a driver chooses must equal their liability coverage limits while other states enable policyholders to choose how much coverage they want for each.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is always an option, even in states where it’s not required. Adding it will increase the policy’s premiums, but the only way to know how much is to get quotes from the best auto insurers.
Compare prices with and without the coverage to decide whether it’s worth the investment. If it’s too expensive, seek out coverage from other providers or consider raising the deductible to lower the premiums. It only takes a few minutes, and it could save drivers major headaches in the event of an accident.
Where to invest $1,000 right now
When our analyst team has a stock tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has nearly tripled the market.*
They just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now…
See the 10 stocks
*Stock Advisor returns as of February 12, 2024
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.