If you get into a car accident, you will likely rely on the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to pay at least some of your accident-related expenses. But what if you’re hit by someone without car insurance or someone who is underinsured? Although auto insurance is required in most states, some drivers forgo an insurance policy — which can put you at great financial risk. Bankrate rounded up the most up-to-date statistics on uninsured and underinsured motorists, plus tips on how to keep yourself financially protected.

Auto Insurance
Uninsured motorist statistics
  • About one in eight drivers, or 12.6 percent, was uninsured in 2019. (Insurance Research Council – IRC)
  • 13.1 percent of motorists were uninsured in 2017. (IRC)
  • Mississippi has the highest recorded percentage of uninsured drivers at 29.4 percent.
  • New Jersey has the lowest recorded percentage of uninsured drivers at 3.1 percent. (IRC)

How many people drive without insurance?

According to the Insurance Research Council (IRC), around 28 million motorists drove without insurance in 2019. 2018 and 2019 both had lower numbers of uninsured motorists than in 2017 when the national rate of uninsured drivers reached a nine-year high of 13.1 percent. The average national rate of uninsured motorists is 12.6 percent as of 2019, but 21 states and Washington, D.C., have uninsured motorist rates higher than the national average.

Uninsured motorists can also be costly for other drivers and their insurers. The IRC reports that in 2016, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage cost drivers more than $13 billion in paid premiums. This levels out to about $78 per insured vehicle. Although people may choose to drive without insurance for a variety of reasons, 82 percent of uninsured drivers either cannot afford car insurance or have a vehicle that is inoperable or unused, according to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).

IRC Vice President David Corum summarizes: “Uninsured drivers increase the cost of insurance for those who comply with their state’s insurance requirements, and that’s not fair. Keeping auto insurance affordable is more difficult when a significant number of drivers refuse to carry their fair share of the costs.”

How much uninsured motorist coverage do you need?
Like almost everything else, the average cost of auto insurance has increased in recent years. According to a Bankrate study, the average annual cost of a full coverage car insurance policy rose 14 percent from 2022 to 2023. For drivers on a tighter budget, increased insurance costs could be the final straw that pushes them to drive without insurance. To protect yourself financially from a collision with an uninsured driver, many insurance experts recommend adding uninsured motorist coverage to your policy. Depending on where you live, you may already carry this coverage as a part of your state’s minimum insurance requirements.

Uninsured motorists by state

From 2015 to 2019, the national average rate of uninsured drivers fluctuated by 1.2 percent at the most, and rates hovered around the 12 percent mark. However, the state-by-state data tells a different tale. Some states, like Michigan and Delaware, actually saw decreased rates of uninsured drivers over the four-year period. On the other hand, Washington, Rhode Island and Mississippi saw increases of nearly seven percent. Below, we’ve broken down the uninsured motorist rates by state:

States with the most uninsured drivers:

  1. Mississippi: 29.4 percent
  2. Michigan: 25.5 percent
  3. Tennessee: 23.7 percent
  4. New Mexico: 21.8 percent
  5. Washington: 21.7 percent

States with the fewest uninsured motorists:

  1. New Jersey: 3.1 percent
  2. Massachusetts: 3.5 percent
  3. New York: 4.1 percent
  4. Maine: 4.9 percent
  5. Wyoming: 5.8 percent

What states require uninsured/underinsured motorists coverage?

Surprisingly, many states in the U.S. do not require any uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage at all. Currently, only 21 states and Washington, D.C. require some form of this auto insurance coverage. The required amount of coverage varies. For example, many states require bodily injury coverage, while only some require property damage coverage. Although you will not be able to buy a policy that doesn’t meet your state’s minimum car insurance laws, understanding coverage requirements can help you decide if you need to fill a gap in your policy.

  • State Uninsured coverage required Underinsured coverage required
    Bodily injury per person Bodily injury per accident Property damage Bodily injury per person Bodily injury per accident Property damage
    Connecticut $25,000 $50,000 N/A $25,000 $50,000
    District of Columbia $25,000 $50,000 $5,000; subject to $200 deductible
    Illinois $25,000 $50,000
    Kansas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000
    Maine $50,000 $100,000 $50,000 $100,000
    Maryland $30,000 $60,000 $15,000
    Massachusetts $20,000 $40,000
    Minnesota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000
    Missouri $25,000 $50,000
    Nebraska $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000
    New Hampshire $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
    New Jersey $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 $50,000
    New York $25,000 $50,000
    North Carolina $30,000 $60,000 $25,000 $30,000 $60,000
    North Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000
    Oregon $25,000 $50,000
    South Carolina $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 with $200 deductible
    South Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $50,000
    Vermont $50,000 $100,000 $10,000 with $150 deductible $50,000 $100,000 $10,000 with $150 deductible
    Virginia $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 with $200 deductible $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 with $200 deductible
    West Virginia $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
    Wisconsin $25,000 $50,000

How to protect yourself from uninsured motorists

You cannot control whether or not someone chooses to purchase car insurance. While that can be a daunting thought, Bankrate wants to remind drivers that there are several things they can do to financially protect themselves from uninsured motorists:

  • Carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: If it is not already a part of your car insurance policy, you might want to add uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Or, if your state requires you to carry this kind of coverage, you might want to double-check the limits of your policy. Very few states require drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage, and it may be worth adding it on.
  • Consider an umbrella policy: An umbrella policy offers added liability coverage when your car insurance, home insurance or other forms of insurance policy limits are not high enough to cover the damage. A car accident can get expensive quickly, and having an umbrella policy in your insurance arsenal may give you added peace of mind. However, you may need to verify that your umbrella policy applies to uninsured drivers, as some policies do not include coverage for this.
  • Practice safe driving habits: The best way to avoid dealing with an uninsured motorist is to avoid an accident in the first place. Eliminate driving distractions and stay alert behind the wheel.

Frequently asked questions

    • An IRC report found that 12.6 percent of drivers nationwide drove without car insurance in 2019. The percentage of drivers that are uninsured varies widely based on where you live. For instance, in Mississippi and Michigan, more than one in four drivers do not have insurance. States like New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine and New York, however, report uninsured driver rates of less than 5 percent.
    • Money is one of the primary motivators of why people drive without insurance. Although finding cheap car insurance is usually possible, especially if you only carry state minimum coverage, for some drivers, even the cheapest policies are out of reach. Inflation has many people tightening their budgets, which could contribute to a higher number of drivers forgoing their auto coverage.
    • New Hampshire is the only state where you are not legally required to purchase a car insurance policy to drive on public roads. Virginia used to allow drivers to pay an uninsured motorist fee instead of buying coverage, but the state recently voted to discontinue that option.