As tempting as it may be to drive with no car insurance, it’s never a good idea.
The repercussions of getting caught driving uninsured can be severe and long-lasting. While every state is a bit different, a charge of this magnitude can make it nearly impossible to secure cheap car insurance in the future.
Let’s dive into what can happen if you’re caught driving with no car insurance, and what your liability is if you get into a car accident when you’re uninsured.
We’ll also cover some ways to find cheap car insurance if you’re currently driving without it.
What happens if you drive uninsured?
Let’s be clear about something: driving with no car insurance is illegal in most states. This doesn’t mean not being able to prove you have auto insurance when you get pulled over, which is a less serious offense. Rather, this is about driving with no coverage whatsoever.
The penalties for driving uninsured vary by state, but typically you can face any combination of the following:
If you’re caught driving without insurance, you’re all but guaranteed a fine. Between the fine itself and the associated fees and surcharges, you can easily be on the hook for anywhere from $150 to $1000 or more for your first offense.
State laws vary, but don’t expect to be let off with just a warning for a driving offense of this magnitude.
In addition to getting a ticket, getting caught driving uninsured can result in a driver’s license suspension.
Again, the rules vary by state. Some states may revoke your license until you can provide proof of insurance, others may revoke it for a set period of time in accordance with local laws.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the cost to reinstate your license could be significant — perhaps even surpassing what you would have paid as an annual insurance premium.
Denial of insurance coverage
When you apply for car insurance, the companies typically ask you a series of questions about your driving history and past coverage. A lapse in coverage can be a red flag — and a conviction for driving without insurance altogether can make it incredibly difficult for you to secure a new policy.
Even if it was the first offense on an otherwise perfect driving record, it’s a big first offense. Insurance companies may consider you higher risk, making it tricky to find cheap car insurance.
If you get into an accident while driving without car insurance, the damage and financial implications can be significant. Between car repair and medical expenses, you can easily be on the hook for thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars.
An accident causing serious injuries can even surpass $1 million. For many people, an accident like this could mean bankruptcy.
Fines for driving without insurance by state
The fines for driving with no car insurance are different depending on state laws, but in most cases they are severe even for your first offense. While a few states have minimum monetary penalties of just $25 or $50, most range from hundreds to thousands.
What happens if you get into an accident while uninsured?
If driving with no car insurance isn’t risky enough, it gets even worse if you get into an accident.
When you are at fault: If you’re involved in an at-fault accident while driving uninsured, you’ll probably be deemed a high-risk driver by insurance providers.
In addition to a fine and likely license suspension, you may be sued by the other person’s insurance company. If there are injuries, you may be held liable for any medical bills—which can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more.
You may be issued an SR22 requirement following the accident. This is not a type of insurance or a substitute for insurance, but rather a form stating that you carry the minimum insurance coverages required by the state.
There’s a possibility that authorities will seize your vehicle, which can cost a pretty penny to have returned to you. Prison time may also be possible, depending on the circumstances of the accident.
No matter the situation, the uninsured, at-fault accident will remain on your driving record for quite some time. This will impact your insurance rates and certainly make it difficult for you to find cheap car insurance.
When you are not at fault: If you’re not at fault, the situation is typically less clear. Rules are different based on what state you’re in. Some states have “no pay no play” policies, which prevent uninsured drivers from collecting certain types of damages from negligent insured drivers.
While this might sound unfair on the surface, it makes sense. Those who don’t purchase insurance should not be allowed to receive benefits from those who do.
How to find cheap car insurance if you’re uninsured
If you’re currently driving uninsured, it should be obvious by this point that it’s a good idea to secure insurance coverage as soon as possible. Finding cheap car insurance can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’ve been caught without insurance before. It isn’t impossible, though.
Whether you have a bad record or not, it’s always a good idea to shop the rates of various insurance providers. It’s unlikely that you’ll find cheap car insurance at the first provider you approach, so you’ll want to explore your options.
Use the Jerry app to find savings
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All it takes is answering a few questions. Jerry is one of the most reliable ways to find affordable insurance, even if your record is less than stellar.
Annual savings with Jerry can be significant, ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars. For example, the drivers in California saved an average of $1060 with Jerry. And Nevada drivers saved an average of $7872!
Frequently asked questions
The issue of driving without car insurance can raise some questions. Let’s look at a few of the most common ones.
Is it illegal to drive without car insurance?
It is not legal to drive in any state without demonstrating financial responsibility for any damage that could happen in case of an incident or accident. All but two states — New Hampshire and Virginia — explicitly require valid car insurance. Driving without it is illegal.
If you do drive without insurance or proof of responsibility, you open yourself up to fines, license suspension, car impounding, and significant financial burden.
Can your vehicle be towed if you don’t have insurance?
If you are caught driving without insurance, you will receive a fine — even if it’s your first offense. Whether your car is impounded and towed is at the discretion of the officer who stops you.
While having your vehicle towed if you’re driving with no car insurance isn’t a certainty, it’s definitely a possibility.
Can your license be suspended if you don’t have car insurance?
Absolutely. You’re certain to receive a fine if you’re pulled over while driving a motor vehicle without insurance — but it’s also possible that the authorities could suspend your driver’s license.
State rules vary in this regard. In some cases, you may be able to get your license back once you show proof of insurance coverage; in other cases, there may be a set period of time for the suspension.