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Not everything is bigger in Texas.

Although the Lone Star State is populated by almost 7 million more people than Florida, a recent study released by the Insurance Research Council revealed the number of uninsured motorists in the Sunshine State is twice as large.

California led all states with 4.1 million uninsured motorists, and Florida was second with 3.2 million. Texas' 1.6 million uninsured motorists rounded out the top 3.

A high number of uninsured motorists within a geographical area is one of many factors that can lead to higher insurance premiums for all drivers in that area, along with a person's driving record, age and frequency with which they use their car.

"It's hard to know how many people on the road don't have insurance until something bad happens," said Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute, which seeks to improve public understanding of insurance.

The IRC's estimates are based on the number of insurance claims made by individuals who were injured by insured and uninsured drivers.

Patty Seeright has been an insurance agent for 12 years and presently works at Cathy Boyd's Insurance Agency in Haines City.

She said insurance rates seem to be higher across the board throughout Central Florida.

"There are probably a lot of people driving around without insurance or with minimum coverage because prices are very high," Seeright said.

The IRC study — "Uninsured Motorists, 2014 edition" — was released in August and also revealed there were 29.7 million uninsured motorists nationwide in 2012, which is down slightly from its peak of 29.9 million in 2009.

"Responsible drivers who pay for insurance end up also paying for injuries caused by uninsured drivers," said Elizabeth Sprinkel, senior vice president of the IRC, in a statement. Florida is a "no-fault" insurance state, and vehicle owners are required to carry the minimum amounts of $10,000 for property damage liability and $10,000 for personal injury protection.

In addition to measuring the number of uninsured motorists, the study also estimated that $2.6 billion in uninsured motorist claims was paid in the U.S. in 2012.

That represents a 75 percent increase from 10 years ago, despite the modest drop in the total number of uninsured motorists since 2009.

A separate IRC study revealed Floridians are particularly litigious when it comes to auto insurance claims.

July's "Attorney Involvement in Auto Injury Claims" report found that 36 percent of PIP claimants in the U.S. were represented by lawyers in 2012.

In Florida, that number was a little more than 50 percent, which was the highest rate among the 12 no-fault states. Kansas had the lowest such rate with 12 percent.

"The attorney involvement trends undercut two of the envisioned benefits of no-fault auto injury systems: a less adversarial settlement process and more timely payments," Sprinkel said.

"The role of attorneys is implicated in many of the factors driving up the cost of auto insurance."

McChristian, who is based in Tampa, agrees.

"You really don't need an attorney to file an auto insurance claim," she said.

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Protect yourself with the right coverage. Call Prestige Insurance Group, Inc. at (305) 969-8776 for more information on Miami auto insurance.

(Article courtesy: John Ceballos via The Daytona Beach News-Journal)
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