Uninsured Motorists: What Your Insurance Customers Should Know
The rate of uninsured motorists in the United States is trending downward, according to a recent study of the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The organization claims that the estimated percentage of uninsured motorists moved down in 2010, 2011 and 2012, though the drop isn’t a steep one.
In 2003, a cyclical high of 14.9 percent of drivers were uninsured, the council notes, adding that recent findings show that ratio has fallen to 12.6 percent (or a decline of 2.3 percent over a 10-year period).
The study, entitled “Uninsured Motorists, 2014 Edition,” estimates the percentage of uninsured drivers nationally and in individual states. It bases findings on a ratio of insurance claims made by individuals who were injured by uninsured drivers to claims made by those who were injured by insured drivers.
Nationally, the number of uninsured topped out at 29.9 million in 2009 and then began a moderate decline to 29.7 million by 2012. Stateside, the uninsured motorist problem showed its peak numbers in these three states:
- California (4.1 million)
- Florida (3.2 million)
- Texas (1.6 million)
The IRC study also estimated total uninsured motorist claim payments. Not counting fatalities and total permanent disability claims, the council estimates that $2.6 billion was paid in the U.S. on 2012 uninsured motorists claims.
In spite of the falling trend in uninsured rates over the last 10 years, the total claim payment amount is up 75 percent over the same period and translated to $14 per insured individual in 2012.
“Responsible drivers who pay for insurance end up also paying for injuries caused by uninsured drivers,” said Elizabeth A. Sprinkel, CPCU, senior vice president of the IRC. “The declining trend in the percentage of uninsured motorists is a positive development for consumers; however, the heightened levels of uninsured motorists and the rising claim payments involved still remain a concern for insured drivers, insurers and policymakers.”
While costs can affect the insured when an uninsured motorist causes an accident, that’s not to say that driving without insurance is without its share of consequences. According to DMV.org, said consequences can vary from state to state, but some of the most common outcomes include the following:
- Having driver’s license suspended.
- Having vehicle registration suspended.
- Receiving a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation. This is in addition to the traffic ticket(s) received for the original reason subject was pulled over.
- Depending on the officer and where the ticket was received, one might be able to have the ticket dismissed if they can show proof of insurance within a certain time period following the date of the citation; however, this generally only applies if one really did have coverage at the time of the traffic stop and just happened―for whatever reason―to not have their insurance card with them.
- Meeting SR-22 requirements.
- Some states might only impose this if one causes an accident while driving without insurance; others may impose it simply for driving uninsured.
- Hefty fines. In addition to meeting other requirements, one will have to pay to have their license and registration reinstated. Plus, they will have to cover the traffic ticket fines.
- Increased future insurance premiums.
It can certainly be frustrating for a customer to see increased costs when they are involved in an accident caused by an uninsured motorist. As an agent, you are likely the first person they will turn to with questions, complaints, and concerns. By helping your insurance leads & customers understand the claims process and the auto insurance market as a whole, you can reemphasize the value of auto insurance and help to quell those frustrations.