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10 least insured cities for auto policies in the U.S.

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Each state sets its own minimum coverage requirements for auto insurance. While lower insurance limits make premiums more affordable on a month-to-month basis, they can also result in greater financial responsibility for others when an accident occurs with an uninsured or under-insured driver.

If a driver carries the minimum liability coverage for their state and causes an accident that exceeds the amount of damage covered, they are still on the hook for the excess. That said, if they are unable to pay, it may be helpful for the victim to have uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance to help make up the difference. Thus, it’s good to know how much responsibility other drivers in your city and state bear when they’re at fault for an accident; because if it’s not a lot, those costs may fall back on you. 

To find the least-covered cities for auto insurance in the country, we looked at three sets of data. 

Discover what cities (and states, since you’ll see some patterns here) have the lowest insurance coverage and how that can affect all drivers.

1. Los Angeles

Los Angeles comes in as our least covered city for auto insurance in the country. Part of this is because of the state of California’s statistics: 16.6% of motorists are completely uninsured, and policy requirements are low. The minimum liability for injury or death to one person is $15,000 and $30,000 to more than one person. Auto insurance is only required to cover $5,000 for property damage. Plus, the likelihood of an accident in Los Angeles is 82% higher than the national average.

Los Angeles by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 16.6%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 15 / 30 / 5
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 82%

#2: San Francisco, CA

San Francisco follows close behind its California neighbor to the South. The main differentiator is that drivers are nearly 30% less likely to get into an accident. But if you are hit, the at-fault driver is subject to the same low financial responsibility for both medical treatment and property damage.

San Fransisco by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 16.6%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 15 / 30 / 5
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 55.6%

#3: San Jose, CA (tied)

Yet another California city rounds out our top three, although it ties with Seattle for the distinction. Accidents are less likely to happen in San Jose compared to L.A. and San Francisco. But compared to the national average, they’re still 44.7% higher.

San Jose by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 16.6%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 15 / 30 / 5
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 44.7%

#3: Seattle, WA (tied)

Washington state has higher auto insurance requirements compared to California, but they’re still below average compared to other states. At a minimum, auto policies must cover $25,000 for one person injury or death, $50,000 for two or more, and $10,000 for property damage. However, the percentage of uninsured drivers in Seattle is one of the highest of the cities we surveyed, at nearly 22%.

Seattle by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 21.7%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 25 / 50 /10
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 37.4%

#5: Sacramento, CA (tied)

It’s hard to get away from California in this list and Sacramento ties for fifth largely because of the state’s low coverage limits. Additionally, the city ranked in the lower 30% of surveyed cities for the likelihood of getting into an accident compared to the national average, which was 40% higher.

Sacramento by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 16.6%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 15 / 30 / 5
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 40%

#5: Detroit, MI (tied)

Detroit has slightly better minimum coverage requirements than California does, and the likelihood of getting into an accident isn’t as high as other areas on our list. But Michigan ranks worst for uninsured motorists out of all 50 states we evaluated for our study. Over 25% of drivers don’t have insurance, putting other drivers at greater financial risk when they’re in an accident.

Detroit by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 25.5%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 20 / 40 /10
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 22.9%

#7: Tampa, FL

Tampa is the first of three Florida cities to round out the bottom half of our list. The primary factor is the state’s uninsured motorist population, which accounts for over 20% of drivers in the state. Florida also has one of the lowest car insurance requirements in the country. Personal injury and death liability ranges between $10,000 (for one person) and $20,000 (for two or more people). And property damage liability, while not the lowest in the country, still maxes out at $10,000. In Tampa, drivers are over 17% more likely to be in an accident compared to the national average.

Tampa by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 20.4%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 10 / 20 / 10
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 17.2%

#8: Orlando, FL

Orlando shares the same state statistics as Tampa: about a 20% uninsured motorist rate and low insurance liability requirements. It ranks slightly lower on our list thanks to a lower likelihood of getting into an accident, at just over 15% above the national average. Maybe that’s thanks to all the out-of-state drivers visiting Disney World!

Orlando by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 20.4%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 10 / 20 / 10
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 15.4%

#9: Riverside, CA (tied)

Riverside brings us back to California, where a relatively high number of uninsured drivers paired with lenient liability requirements makes the state rank frequently for being under-insured. Compared to other California cities, however, Riverside has a lower likelihood of getting into an accident, which is just 28.2% (compared to a whopping 82% in Los Angeles).

Riverside by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 16.6%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 15 / 30 / 5
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 28.2%

#9: Jacksonville, FL (tied)

Rounding out our list is Jacksonville, Florida, which at 8.4%, actually has quite a low likelihood of accidents compared to our other least insured cities on this list. Florida’s other statistics, however, gave the city enough reason to tie for 9th place, with low liability requirements and a fifth of the population driving uninsured throughout the state.

Jacksonville by the numbers

  • Uninsured motorists: 20.4%
  • Automobile financial responsibility: 10 / 20 / 10
  • Accident likelihood compared to national average: 8.4%

Methodology

The Zebra pulled three data points to analyze the top 50 MSAs (by population) in the U.S. related to auto insurance coverage. As noted, we used state data as necessary.

Least Insured Cities inpost graphic list

 

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