Do You Play Auto Roulette?

Statistics can be
interesting, some are fun like your favorite baseball player’s batting average
or the winning percentage of your football team; other statistics can be a
little scary. One statistic that may fall in this latter category is the number
of uninsured motorists on the road. The folks who track this statistic estimate
that, nationally, about 16% of drivers are without insurance. The numbers vary
by state of course with Alabama and Mississippi topping 25% of drivers without
insurance; Maine and Vermont are at the low-end with 4% and 6% of uninsured
drivers, respectively. In Washington estimates are close to the national
average at 16%.

To put this
statistic in perspective, you can think about driving down the road and seeing
six cars coming toward you from the other direction. If you know that you have
insurance, it is a good bet that one of the six people driving toward you does

There are
requirements for insurance in the state of Washington and there are stiff fines
for not carrying insurance. Nevertheless, some people do not purchase insurance
and short of finding them in a traffic stop, the state does not have a
mechanism for determining who does not have insurance.

We know a lot about uninsured motorists. For example, we know that they cause about 14% of
motor vehicle accidents. We also know they pay over $850 million in tickets
received for not having insurance. They are more likely to be male than female;
62% of uninsured motorists are male. There are likely to be young, with 22% of
uninsured motorists between 18 and 24 years of age. Uninsured motorists tend to
be less well-educated, 45% have a high school education or less. They are also
likely to be less well-off; nearly 1/3 of uninsured motorists earn less than
$20,000 a year and the car they are driving is likely to be 15 or more years
old. When asked why they do not have insurance, 21% say they can’t afford it
and 20% say it’s too expensive. Probably none of these numbers is particularly
comforting if you were hit by an uninsured motorist and hoping for compensation
for your car or yourself.

A few states
require that motorists purchase uninsured motorist coverage. Other states,
California for example, require that uninsured motorist coverage is included in
every basic policy and must be specifically declined to avoid purchasing it. In
Washington state uninsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage. If you
have read this far, you are probably ready to check your Washington auto insurance policy to make sure you have uninsured motorist coverage. If you
don’t, give us a call at Homer Smith Insurance and we will help you correct
that oversight.

Oh, and if you
are the person driving down the road without your Washington required auto
insurance, please be aware that those six people driving toward you would
really appreciate it if you purchased a policy.

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