By Jen Lynch
The economic downturn has left most wallets feeling lighter. People are cutting back on expenses they feel aren't 'necessary', and many are beginning to let their car insurance lapse because the premiums are simply too high. But motor vehicle accidents happen every day, and many times it's not even your fault. The percentage of uninsured motorists is expected to rise from 13.8 in 2007 to 16.1 in 2010, based on current unemployment rates. Choosing to go uninsured on the highway is a very dangerous gamble, especially if you're having financial problems.
According to the Insurance Research Council, one in six drivers in the U.S. do not have auto insurance. In 2007, the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates were New Mexico (29 percent), Mississippi (28 percent), Alabama (26 percent), Oklahoma (24 percent), and Florida (23 percent). The higher the percentage means that if you get into an accident, there is a stronger chance that it will be with an uninsured driver. This means that you would receive no coverage for injuries except for what your own insurance covers.
Ten states have a 'no pay, no play legislation', where uninsured drivers can only collect for property damage and medical expenses, but courts will not allow them to collect non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, which usually increases the claim considerably. Although some states do not require uninsured motorist coverage, it seems like a good time to look into getting it in your policy, especially with more and more people driving uninsured.
How do you protect yourself from the increase in uninsured drivers?
- Include uninsured motorist (UM) coverage in your policy.
- Look into your home state's accident and insurance policies and legislation. Find out if you're covered when it's not your fault!
- Your UM coverage should take care of medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver.
- To avoid becoming an uninsured driver, call your insurance company and find out if there are any available discounts, or look into increasing your deductible.