A recently conducted survey has revealed startling conclusions for a growing number of like-minded American motorists. According to research done by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), one in three drivers believe that as many as 40 percent of motorists on the road have no car insurance.
While their conclusions may not have come as a surprise to industry experts who have expected this kind of reaction, the findings are forcing many analysts to rethink how they treat public perception.
In recent months, there have been numerous surveys and studies conducted to figure out how the exact numbers of uninsured drivers on American roads and highways. The IRC puts the estimate at a modest 13.8 percent in 2007. With the continuing economic slump and unstable job markets, however, the research body expects the figure to jump to 16.1 by 2010.
Some states have earlier admitted estimates of 20 percent or more. California, for example, has reported that some 20 percent of its car owners currently have no existing insurance. On top of that, the state is also facing a growing number of insurance fraud reports from different insurance companies.
Experts say that the number of uninsured and underinsured motorists is closely linked to unemployment rates. While unemployment figures are beginning to show early signs of improvement, economists are cautioning against premature conclusions. Other insurance research bodies are also saying that the nation can expect to see more uninsured motorists driving along because of the tougher economy.
Auto insurance premiums are also expected to spike with the increase of uninsured drivers. To cover policyholders against potential expenses if they get in an accident with an uninsured motorist, providers often claim that raising premiums is the only way. This would mean that more uninsured car owners on the road can also result in higher insurance costs for law-abiding citizens, analysts contend.
The public perception of a 40-percent, uninsured drivers figure may remain unsubstantiated for now, says researchers at the IRC. Even states with large numbers of uninsured motorists don’t even come close to the 40-percent mark. According to studies done by the IRC, the state of New Mexico has the highest percentage of uninsured drivers at 29 percent. Mississippi follows closely with 28 percent. A distant third is the state of Alabama, with 26 percent of its car owners believed not to have any form of car insurance at all.
The same study by the research institute also revealed a disturbing conclusion. When the respondents were asked whether they would still drive if they lost their insurance, some 36 percent said they would. Experts agree that while the 40-percent rate may be too high, the 36-percent figure is a stark reminder of what cash-strapped motorists may be willing to risk just to get behind the wheel.