DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado drivers are struggling with the fastest rising insurance rates in the nation. The consequences of more expensive premiums are rippling through the market, leaving many drivers vulnerable in even the simplest of crashes.

A new study by The Zebra shows Colorado has the highest year-over-year increase in U.S. car insurance rates. Nationally, car insurance premiums increased by 23-percent since 2011, with an average annual cost of $1,470. In Colorado, rates went up 80-percent in that same time, with an average annual cost of $1,682.

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There are several factors that play into those rate increases, including more people moving to Colorado, more cars on the road and therefore more crashes. Colorado has had record breaking hailstorms year-after-year, and more impaired drivers since the legalization of marijuana. Then add in the factors that drivers everywhere are facing, more distracted driving, and the higher cost of car repairs due to technology.

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“That’s a time, we see an increase in uninsured motorists, and even though it’s illegal, people are making that choice,” said Carole Walker, the Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. “And at least anecdotally, we’re hearing that people are going without uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.”

That is where the real problem lies. As drivers look at ways to trim their insurance bills they’re cutting some of the optional coverage that really protects them in a volatile market like this.

“You can protect yourself with the right insurance coverage,” Walker explained.

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Faith Trujillo was with her fiancé and two kids, on their way to her kids’ birthday party. She was merging onto I-70, during slow and go traffic when the truck behind her hit her SUV twice, pushing her into the concrete median.

“I approached the driver and I said, ‘I’m going to need your information.’ And he said, ‘I have nothing to provide to you,’” Trujillo told CBS4.

She said the driver gave her his name, and a phone number, and the name of an insurance agency with which he didn’t have a current policy. He then left the accident scene before the police arrived.

(credit Faith Trujillo)

Colorado law says that drivers in a crash have to provide their name, address and vehicle registration number at the scene. They are not required to show their driver’s license unless their asked for it. And the law does not require that they show proof of insurance. Colorado drivers are required by law to carry insurance, but you don’t have to provide proof of it at an accident scene.

“We’re left with the responsibility of his damage now,” Trujillo said.

The driver who his Trujillo does not have insurance, so she will rely on her own insurance to cover the cost of repairs. She’ll have to pay a $500 deductible, an expense she was not expecting.

“I’m fortunate. We’re all healthy. We weren’t injured, and my insurance will take care of it.”

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