In a perfect world, everyone would be considerate, follow the rules, and never drive without automobile liability insurance. But unfortunately, approximately 30 million, or 13 percent, of American drivers are uninsured, although New Hampshire is the only state without a compulsory insurance liability law. In Oklahoma, Florida, and Mississippi, as many as 25 percent of all drivers are uninsured.
Uninsured Drivers in Colorado
Colorado is no stranger to uninsured motorists. During the 1990s, the state led the nation with a whopping 30 to 40 percent of drivers going without liability insurance coverage, and ranked number one among all states for the rate of underinsured drivers for each year that decade.
In 2003, Colorado discontinued its no-fault insurance system, and between 2005 and 2011, the state disappeared from the top 10 ranking of uninsured drivers. Although Colorado drivers must show proof of insurance to register a vehicle, the number of uninsured drivers has been creeping up steadily since 2009. According to AAA Colorado, the state currently ranks 9th in the number of uninsured drivers on the road, meaning almost 600,000 of the state’s drivers are uninsured.
Drivers caught without insurance in the state may face a variety of penalties, including a $500 fine for a first offense and $1000 for the second, as well as potential license suspension or revocation, loss of vehicle registration and license plates, vehicle impoundment, and jail time.
What Do Some Motorists Drive Without Insurance?
Although lack of automobile insurance coverage typically arises from higher unemployment and lower income, the median income in Colorado was almost 10.5 percent higher than the national average during 2012. Auto insurance premiums in the state average $848.25 per year, just below the U.S. average of $884.39, according to BankRate.com. Colorado has the 15th lowest auto ownership costs of any state.
The numbers of uninsured or underinsured young drivers have been found to be disproportionately high compared to those in the general population, indicating that younger drivers are willing to risk being fined because they think they won’t get caught, their vehicle is relatively low in value, or they’re good drivers and won’t get into a car accident.
Some motorists choose to violate the law and save money by not buying automobile insurance. But purchasing car insurance isn’t only a legal issue — it’s a moral one as well. Being insured and taking responsibility not only protects the covered driver, but also those around him.
It’s actually very selfish to drive without insurance, since everyone makes errors while driving, but insurance helps ensure that other people aren’t required to pay for another driver’s mistake. Uninsured drivers can become insured motorists with a simple call to an insurance agent, giving everyone on the road greater peace of mind.
Hope on the Horizon
A 2014 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council found that the trend of driving without insurance is actually declining nationwide. The IRCs findings estimate that the ratio of uninsured drivers hit a cyclical high of 14.9 percent in 2003, but has now fallen to 12.6 percent nationwide.
Image by West Midlands Police