Missouri ranks 18th among states with the most uninsured motorists. In 1999, it was estimated by the Missouri Department of Insurance that 28 percent of drivers within the municipality of St. Louis were uninsured—one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation. According to statistics released in 2016 by the Insurance Research Council (IRC), 13.5 percent of all motorists in Missouri are uninsured. That means more than one in every ten vehicles on the road is driving without insurance. Uninsured drivers in Missouri present a logistical, legal, and financial nightmare for responsible drivers with insurance.
Potential Criminal Penalties for Driving Uninsured
Missouri law requires a person attempting to register a vehicle to have insurance. However, it is not uncommon to see motorists drop their required coverage after registering their car, and then proceed to drive uninsured. This common occurrence is not only ill-advised, but it is also illegal. If an uninsured motorist is stopped by a law enforcement officer, that individual could face serious criminal penalties such as revoked driving privileges, fines, and even jail time. Furthermore, if an uninsured motorist is involved in a collision, they could be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by the crash.
Minimum Coverage in Missouri
Motorists in Missouri are required, at the very least, to have minimum coverage, commonly known as liability insurance. While minimum coverage guarantees low premiums, liability insurance can also result in not enough coverage. The minimum level of coverage in Missouri requires $25,000 in personal injury liability limits per person and $10,000 in property damage liability limits. These minimal amounts of coverage were placed into law in 1981 and have remained unchanged despite dramatic increases in medical care costs and car prices. Medical bills after a vehicle collision can easily exceed $25,000, and many vehicles on the road are worth well over $10,000. Costs in excess of the minimum coverage provided by liability insurance can cause recovery to be difficult both physically and financially.
It is believed that most insured motorists in Missouri only have minimum coverage. Considering the percentage of uninsured drivers in Missouri (13.5 percent of all motorists) in combination with the fact that most motorists in Missouri only have minimum coverage, it is in your best interest to have adequate motorist coverage. Underinsured motorist coverage is an optional coverage but is simple and affordable. In cases involving injuries caused by a person without insurance or minimum coverage, underinsured motorist coverage should provide the extra protection you need.
Paying the extra premium for underinsured motorist coverage may seem like a financial burden. However, in the event of an emergency, the benefits far outweigh the risks. As a result, underinsured motorist coverage should be a serious consideration.