In 2022, a startling revelation came to light through the Insurance Research Council’s (IRC) comprehensive report titled “Uninsured Motorists: 2017—2022.”

This research, drawing data from 10 prominent insurers representing approximately 56 percent of the U.S. private passenger auto insurance market, disclosed that a concerning 14.0 percent of U.S. drivers operated their private-passenger vehicles without liability insurance.

This figure marks a noticeable increase from 11.1 percent in 2019, highlighting a growing trend that demands our attention and analysis.

The Factors Behind the Rise:

The IRC’s report delves into the multifaceted reasons behind the surge in uninsured motorists, pinpointing a complex interplay of economic factors. Declining personal income coupled with rising inflation, exacerbated by the initial years of the coronavirus pandemic, emerges as a pivotal catalyst.

The economic strain during this period led some motorists to make the risky decision of forgoing mandatory auto insurance liability coverage, contributing significantly to the spike in uninsured drivers.

Pre-Pandemic Trends vs. Pandemic Impact:

Before the pandemic, the landscape of uninsured U.S. drivers was witnessing an overall decline. Forty jurisdictions experienced decreases from 2017 to 2019, with Montana leading the way with a notable 4.1 percent reduction in the percentage of uninsured drivers.

However, the onset of the pandemic disrupted this downward trajectory, revealing a stark contrast in the pre-pandemic and pandemic-era dynamics.

Regional Disparities:

While the national average paints a concerning picture, regional disparities add another layer of complexity to the issue. Florida and Michigan witnessed the largest percentage increases in uninsured motorists during the same period.

Michigan, however, implemented legislative reforms in 2019 that resulted in a commendable 6.2 percent decline from 2020 to 2022, showcasing the potential impact of policy changes.

The Landscape in 2022:

As of 2022, specific states stand out for having the highest percentages of uninsured motorists. The District of Columbia leads with 25.2 percent, followed by New Mexico at 24.9 percent and Mississippi at 22.2 percent.

On the other end of the spectrum, Wyoming, Maine, and Idaho boast the lowest percentages at 5.9 percent, 6.2 percent, and 6.2 percent, respectively. Understanding the regional variations is crucial for developing targeted strategies to address the issue effectively.

Implications for Insurers, Governments, and Taxpayers:

The rise in uninsured motorists is not just a concern for individual drivers but has broader implications for insurers, state governments, and taxpayers.

Auto insurers, mandated by law, must underwrite uninsured and underinsured driver coverage and process associated claims. Additionally, many states require insurers to inform them when auto insurance coverage is canceled, creating an administrative burden for insurers.

State governments, in turn, bear the responsibility of administering taxpayer-funded programs designed to monitor the insurance status of motor vehicles registered in their respective states.


The IRC’s report sheds light on a critical issue plaguing the U.S. auto insurance landscape – the rise in uninsured motorists. Understanding the driving forces behind this trend, analyzing regional variations, and acknowledging the broader implications are crucial steps toward developing effective strategies.

As we navigate these challenges, collaboration between insurers, policymakers, and the public becomes paramount to ensure the safety and financial security of all stakeholders on the nation’s roadways.

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