NEW ORLEANS – Drivers using their phones are driving auto insurance rate hikes in Louisiana and across the country.

Insurance rates are going up due to distracted driving, low gas prices and high prices for auto repairs. Louisiana has specific issues keeping the state’s rate as one of the highest in the country.

According to the Louisiana Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, 40 percent of drivers in the state only have the bare minimum policy. Another 13 percent do not have insurance at all.

When they get into accidents, he said, those drivers are quick to sue, leading to the higher rates.

“It’s a dilemma that’s long plagued our state,” Donelon said.

Donelon said the rate increases across the country is being driven by distracted drivers.

“It’s killing motorists in record numbers,” Donelon told Eyewitness News Friday. “The record for highway deaths was set last year. It has been going down since the 60’s.”

In Louisiana, there is a law in place called “No Pay, No Play” that prohibits uninsured drivers from receiving certain benefits and rights, including the right to recover damages if they are injured by an insured driver.

One theory behind “No Pay, No Play” laws is that drivers who refuse to get auto insurance should not be allowed to benefit from someone else’s compliance while denying that benefit to another driver.

But, Donelon said there is possibly some good news. He says the litigation issue has been “baked in” to rates in Louisiana, but other factors like distracted driving, gas prices and repair costs appear to be peaking.