Can an Uninsured Driver Make a Claim?

If you aren’t at fault in an accident, and the at-fault driver has insurance, you can make a claim with that driver’s insurance company even if you’re uninsured.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessa Claeys
Suppose you’re not at fault for an accident and the other driver has insurance. In that case, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s provider for vehicle damages and medical bills resulting from the crash—even if you don’t have your own insurance policy. That’s typically where your rights end, though.
Getting in an auto accident carries enough stress even if you’re not at fault. But if you’re in an accident while driving without
car insurance
, things quickly become even more complicated. While you can still file a claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company, depending on the state you’re in, you could be looking at anything from fines to jail time for driving uninsured.
To help ease your stress, we’ve put together this guide to walk you through the rights you have to make a claim following a car accident even if you don’t have coverage of your own. Plus, we’ll discuss the penalties you could face and what you can do to protect yourself from uninsured drivers on the road going forward.
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Can an uninsured driver file a car insurance claim?

Yes. Even if you don’t have car insurance coverage, if you weren’t at fault for an accident, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You’ll be able to collect money to pay for both property damage and medical bills associated with the crash. If the at-fault driver is also uninsured, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to collect economic damages, such as the cost of vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and lost wages.
Whether the at-fault driver is insured or not, most states do not allow uninsured drivers to file a personal injury suit for non-economic damages. This “No Pay, No Play” rule means there is no legal recourse for an uninsured driver to collect damages for pain and suffering, diminished earning capacity, and other long-term effects of a major car crash.

What are the penalties for driving without car insurance?

In all honesty, whether or not you can file an insurance claim should be the least of your concerns if you don’t have car insurance. Since most state laws require drivers to carry at least minimum
liability coverage
, driving without insurance is illegal in almost every state. The penalties vary by state but typically include any combination of the following:
  • Fines from $150 to $1,000 or more
  • License suspension or revocation
  • High-risk driver
    classification, which can result in denial of coverage in the future
  • SR-22
    requirement
If you cause an accident while driving without insurance—especially if it results in serious injuries or fatalities—you could face prison time and tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Law enforcement may seize your vehicle, as well. 
Key Takeaway Even if you’re not at fault, you’ll still have a lot to pay for if you’re in an accident with no car insurance.

What to do after an at-fault accident with an uninsured driver

Whether or not you and the other driver are insured, your first order of business following a car accident is to make sure everyone is okay and call 911 if anyone is seriously injured. If possible, move all vehicles to a safe place out of the way of traffic. Once these two all-important tasks are accomplished, it’s time to set about gathering evidence and exchanging information. 
Document the crash with as many pictures as possible, and exchange license and contact information with the other driver. If you’re the one who’s not insured, make sure the other driver has your driver’s license number, address, and phone number, and be sure to obtain their insurance information. If the other driver is uninsured, be sure you obtain all their contact and license information and share yours with them. Also, pass along your insurance information. 
Depending on the severity of the crash and whether injuries are involved you may be required to report the accident to local authorities and/or your state’s department of motor vehicles. 
Once all the on-scene drama is handled, it’s time to consider your options:
  • If you’re not insured and the other driver is at fault, you can
    file a claim
    with their provider to collect economic damages. 
  • If you’re not insured and you’re at fault, the other driver can sue you for both economic and non-economic damages. Plus, you’ll need to prepare yourself to face the legal consequences of driving without insurance.
  • If you’re insured and you’re at fault, you have a decision to make. You can file a claim with your own insurance company on your
    collision coverage
    policy if you have one. You can also make use of any
    personal injury protection (PIP)
    or m
    edical payments (MedPay)
    coverage you may have on your policy. If your damages are minimal or equal to your deductible, though, you may also choose not to file a claim.
  • If you’re insured and you’re not at fault, you can sue the uninsured driver for both economic and non-economic damages. You can also file a claim with your own insurance provider depending on the type of coverage you carry. Ideally, your auto insurance policy will include a specific type of insurance designed specifically for these types of situations called
    uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
    .
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How to get uninsured motorist coverage

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage offers protection for you and your passengers if you’re in a car accident with an uninsured driver. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage does the same thing to help pick up the slack if you’re in an accident with a driver who’s not carrying adequate liability insurance to cover your damages. 
If you’re in an accident where an uninsured or underinsured driver is at fault, filing an uninsured motorist claim is a quick and sure way to get financial assistance for everything from vehicle repairs to medical bills and even lost wages and funeral expenses. UM/UIM coverage can also help cover expenses after a hit-and-run.
Several states require uninsured motorist insurance as part of the minimum car insurance requirements, but this type of coverage is available even in most states that don’t require it. In places where it’s optional, you’ll be asked to opt in or out of this coverage via a coverage selection form when you sign up for your policy. If you’ve previously opted out, adding this coverage to your current policy is as simple as calling your insurance agent.
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FAQs

Yes. If the uninsured driver is not at fault, they can file an injury claim and/or a property damage claim against the negligent driver’s insurance policy. If the at-fault driver is also uninsured, they can file a personal lawsuit to collect economic damages from the at-fault driver.
Yes. If you’re not at fault in a car accident, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
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