Malvern, Pennsylvania – One in six drivers across the U.S. may be driving without insurance by 2010, with a sharp rise triggered by the economic downturn, according to a new study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC). The estimated percentage of uninsured motorists decreased nationally from 14.9 per cent in 2003 to 13.8 per cent in 2007, but economic hardship is expected to reverse the trend.

The IRC estimates the uninsured driver population using a ratio of insurance claims made by individuals injured by uninsured drivers, to claims by those injured by insured drivers.

The percentage varies widely between states. In 2007, the five states with the highest uninsured driver estimates were New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida, ranging from 29 to 23 per cent. The five states with the lowest estimated number of uninsured motorists were Massachusetts, Maine, North Dakota, New York and Vermont, ranging from one to six per cent.

An increase of one percentage point in the unemployment rate is associated with an increase of more than three-quarters of a percentage point in the uninsured motorist rate. Based on current unemployment rate projections, the percentage of uninsured motorists is expected to rise from 13.8 per cent in 2007, to 16.1 per cent in 2010.

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