Next time you’re at a traffic light, look around at your fellow drivers. Chances are, more than a few of them are driving with no insurance at all. Zero. Even though it’s against the law to do so.
According to a 2009 Insurance Research Council (IRC) study, approximately 1 in 10 drivers in Kansas are uninsured. In Missouri, the number is closer to 1 in 7. Missouri’s rate falls in line with the estimated national rate of 13.8 percent. These studies show that the unemployment rate and uninsured motorist rate track very closely. These numbers have probably increased in the last five years during the economic downturn.
The Missouri Department of Revenue reports that Missourians are involved in more than 6,000 accidents a year with uninsured motorists. In fact, the Missouri State Highway Patrol reported that in 2012 it issued more than 31,000 citations to drivers who could not provide proof of automobile insurance.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a crash with an uninsured driver, you are unlikely to recover any compensation from the uninsured driver. Fortunately, Missouri law requires that your insurance policy provide you with uninsured motorist coverage. When an uninsured motorist hurts you, you can make a claim on your policy to cover your harm and losses (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering).
Underinsurance is another issue. Missouri law requires that your policy provide you with at least $25,000 in uninsured motorist coverage. The amount that you receive will be determined by your policy’s coverage limits. If you, and the other driver(s), are carrying only the minimum and suffer serious injuries, you could expect a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of dollars. While it’s unfortunate, it’s also something we see far too often.
Although law doesn’t mandate it, you can purchase underinsured motorist coverage. This type of insurance allows you to make a claim against your insurance company when an underinsured motorist injures you. Obviously, it costs less when you carry the minimum amount of insurance. However, a few more dollars a month to increase your coverage can protect you against uninsured OR underinsured drivers.
Call your insurance agent and find out what it would cost to increase your coverage. Trust me, you’ll feel better next time you look at the drivers sharing the road with you. And remember, I’ve had a great deal of experience with personal injury car crashes and I’m here to help if you ever need it.