RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
And the recession could push up the number of uninsured motorists. An insurance industry group says that as unemployment rises, so could the number of people who let their policies lapse. NPR's Jeff Brady reports.
JEFF BRADY: The correlation between unemployment and driving without insurance seems logical, but now David Corum with the Insurance Research Council can put numbers on this phenomenon.
Mr. DAVID CORUM (Vice President, Insurance Research Council): If the unemployment rate goes up by one percentage point, we would anticipate that the percentage of people who are uninsured would go up by three-quarters of one percentage point.
BRADY: IRC researchers looked back at their data over two decades and found both statistics track each other very closely. And since the unemployment rate is expected to go up through 2010, Corum can predict a rise in uninsured drives.
Mr. CORUM: We are anticipating that the percentage of people who go uninsured will increase from 13.8 percent in 2007 to a little over 16 percent in 2010.
BRADY: If you can predict a rise in uninsured drivers, then maybe it can be prevented. Consumer advocates suggest help for low-income drivers, especially in parts of the country, like rural areas, where public transit isn't always a viable option. California launched a low-cost auto insurance program a few years back: A family of four earning less than $53,000 a year can get a bare-bones policy for under $400. Jeff Brady, NPR News.