The 10 Worst States for Uninsured Motorists

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10 worst states for uninsured motorists: top view of a busy highway

Liability auto insurance is mandatory in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia, but that doesn’t stop people from driving without insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, 12.6% of drivers were uninsured as of 2019. This means that if you get into an accident, there’s about a one in eight chance it will be with an uninsured driver.

Find out which are the 10 worst states for uninsured motorists. Then learn how these uninsured drivers affect you and what you can do to ensure you’re adequately protected on the road.


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What Are the 10 Worst States for Uninsured Motorists?

While 12.6% is the national average, some states have a higher percentage of uninsured drivers. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the following are the 10 worst states for uninsured motorists as of 2019:

  • 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%

Where does your state fall? Here are the uninsured motorist percentages for all 50 states:

State Percent of Uninsured Drivers
Alabama  19.50%
Alaska  16.1%
Arizona  11.8%
Arkansas  19.3%
California  16.6%
Colorado  16.3%
Connecticut  6.3%
Delaware  8.5%
D.C.  19.1%
Florida  20.4%
Georgia  12.4%
Hawaii  9.3%
Idaho  13.2%
Illinois  11.8%
Indiana  15.8%
Iowa  11.3%
Kansas  10.9%
Kentucky  13.9%
Louisiana  11.7%
Maine  4.9%
Maryland  14.1%
Massachusetts  3.5%
Michigan  25.5%
Minnesota  9.9%
Mississippi  29.4%
Missouri  16.4%
Montana  8.50%
Nebraska  9.3%
Nevada  10.4%
New Hampshire  6.1%
New Jersey  3.1%
New Mexico  21.8%
New York  4.1%
North Carolina  7.4%
North Dakota  13%
Ohio  13%
Oklahoma  13.4%
Oregon  10.7%
Pennsylvania  6%
Rhode Island  16.5%
South Carolina  10.9%
South Dakota  7.4%
Tennessee  23.7%
Texas  8.3%
Utah  6.5%
Vermont  8.8%
Virginia  10.5%
Washington  21.7%
West Virginia  9.2%
Wisconsin  13.3%
Wyoming  5.8%

States are cracking down on driving without insurance. Some states use Electronic Insurance Verification, a system in which a third-party company compares car insurers’ records to motor vehicle registrations to determine who’s uninsured.

While the percentage of uninsured drivers has decreased over the years, the national annual total for bodily injury claims involving uninsured motorists rose 75% from 2003 to 2012 to $2.6 billion. And whether through higher insurance premiums, increased insurance coverage, or more costly claims, insured drivers may end up paying more for their insurance policy due to uninsured drivers in their area.

Why Risk Driving Without Insurance?

Traffic in a city road

You may picture uninsured motorists as carefree scofflaws, laughing at all the law-abiding drivers as they zoom past. But that’s not entirely accurate. “Most uninsured motorists in the U.S. are responsible, safe drivers who simply cannot afford to purchase liability coverage with their income but who still need to drive for their work,” the Insurance Journal reports, citing a study by the Consumer Federation of America.

A significant majority of uninsured motorists are from the two-fifths of American households with incomes below $36,000, the CFA found. Part of the problem, the federation says, is that insurance companies discriminate against low-income drivers by charging them more, even when they have clean driving records.

Researchers are trying to figure out how to reduce the number of people driving without insurance. The strength of the economy doesn’t have a significant effect on the number of uninsured motorists. Nor do stiffer laws and penalties, according to the Insurance Journal. The CFA’s research has found that the possible penalties for driving without insurance (first offense) include a fine of $500 or more in 33 states, license suspension in 32 states, and jail time in 14 states.

The best strategy, the CFA argues, is to make insurance more affordable for low-income drivers.

Do Uninsured Drivers Affect Your Insurance Rates?

The number of uninsured drivers in your state can affect your insurance rates in a few different ways. First and foremost, you may need to purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), which can cover medical bills and property damage if you get into an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist who is unable to pay.

If you do get into an accident with an uninsured motorist and have to file a claim, this could increase your rates, even if you’re not at fault. Whether or not insurers can or do raise your rates depends on several factors, including local and state regulations, your driving history, and your claims history.

Finally, if there’s a large percentage of uninsured drivers in your area, your premiums may simply cost more as a result.

10 worst states for uninsured motorists: 2 cars that crashed into each other

Protecting Yourself From Uninsured Drivers

If you get into an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance, how you should proceed depends on where you live. Some states have “no-fault” insurance laws, which means it doesn’t matter who caused an accident. You simply report the accident to your insurance company and file a claim.

Other states are “tort” states, which means you will have to sue the other driver if you want them to pay for the damage to your car and your medical bills. Unfortunately, if they’re one of the millions of low-income uninsured motorists, you probably won’t have much luck getting the money you need.

This is why it’s a good idea to purchase underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) if it’s available in your state. This policy pays for bodily injury to you (and possibly your passengers) and property damage caused by an uninsured motorist or a hit-and-run driver.


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How Much UM/UIM Coverage Do You Need?

In some states, underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage is required. In this case, you’ll need to purchase at least the minimum amount required by your state. According to Insurance Business, uninsured motorist coverage is required in:

  • Connecticut: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • District of Columbia: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability, $5,000 per accident in property damage
  • Illinois: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Kansas: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Maine: $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Maryland: $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily liability, $15,000 per accident in property damage
  • Massachusetts: $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Minnesota: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Missouri: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Nebraska: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • New Hampshire: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability, $25,000 per accident in property damage
  • New York: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • North Carolina: $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in bodily liability, $25,000 per accident in property damage
  • North Dakota: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Oregon: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • South Carolina: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability, $25,000 per accident in property damage
  • South Dakota: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability
  • Vermont: $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in bodily liability, $10,000 per accident in property damage
  • Virginia: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability, $20,000 per accident in property damage
  • West Virginia: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability, $25,000 per accident in property damage
  • Wyoming: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily liability

In other cases, UM/UIM coverage is optional, but it’s still usually a good idea. If you’re interested in UM/UIM coverage, you should consider purchasing coverage amounts similar to those for your liability insurance. For example, if you have 100/300/100 coverage for your liability insurance (that’s $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $100,000 per accident for property damage liability), you should choose similar coverage amounts for UM/UIM coverage.

Luckily, UM/UIM insurance coverage tends to be relatively affordable, costing only about $50 to $75 per year.

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Are you curious about supplementing your policy with UM/UIM coverage? Or are you driving without insurance? Don’t risk it! Get fast and free car insurance quotes from more than 40 companies and find an affordable policy that fits your budget.


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