Nearly every state in the U.S. requires you to have auto insurance if your vehicle is registered. While the consequences of not having auto insurance vary from one state to another, they are generally more expensive than premiums for car insurance.
What are the possible consequences of driving without insurance? These could include fines, impounding your vehicle, suspension or loss of your license, and even jail time. Let’s look closer at what happens to you if your car is stolen or you are caught driving without insurance.
Are you required to have insurance in order to drive?
In 49 states and the District of Columbia, a minimum amount of auto insurance is required by law. It is mandatory in New Hampshire under certain circumstances. There are severe penalties for an accident that occurs without insurance.
Although the mandatory amounts differ from state-to-state, the requirements for all states include the following:
- Bodily injury liability:This includes medical expenses for injuries sustained by people in other vehicles. It can range from $10,000 to $50,000 per person, and $20,000 to $100,000 per accident depending on the state.
- Property damage liability:This policy covers the damage to the vehicle of the other driver and personal property that was damaged in an accident, such as fences or light posts. This covers anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000.
Some states also have other requirements, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, medpay or personal injury protection (PIP). These two coverages cover your medical expenses in the event you are injured in an accident. They are optional in some states but mandatory in others.
What are the possible consequences of driving without insurance
The consequences of driving without insurance vary depending on many factors. These include the state in which you were at the time, whether it is your first offense or repeat. It is also important to note whether you were pulled over for routine traffic stops or if you are found without auto insurance after an accident.
What happens if you are pulled over by the police without insurance?
If you are pulled over in most states and have not had auto insurance for a while, you will be fined. In California, for example, you will pay suspend your driver’s license and registration and require significant fees to have them reinstated.
California is one of the states where the law enforcement officer pulling you over can immediately take your vehicle to court if necessary. The towing and other costs associated with the vehicle’s seizure would be your responsibility. You might not be able get it back until you provide proof of auto insurance.
Even though it is unlikely that this will happen for a first offense most states reserve the right not to send you to jail for driving without insurance.
Your rates for auto insurance will increase significantly if you are cited for driving without it. You will not be eligible for discounts on your driving record and could see an increase in annual premiums up to four-digits.
What happens if you are not covered for an accident?
You could face serious consequences if you cause an accident without having auto insurance. All the above penalties will apply and you could be subject to suspension of your license and having your vehicle impounded. You are also more likely to need to file an SR-22 form with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
There may be injuries and property damage as a result of the accident, and you may be liable for it all, especially if the other driver doesn’t carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. You are responsible for paying all costs if you are at fault in an accident.
You may be facing bankruptcy or financial difficulties if you cannot pay the bill. This could lead to financial ruin that will affect your entire life.
What can you do if you don’t have car insurance?
If you have been driving without auto insurance, it is possible to purchase a policy that will cover you to the extent of your state’s regulations and beyond. The lowest premium may not be available to you if your driving record isn’t in compliance with insurance. You can still find affordable coverage if your search is done carefully.
Start by looking at major auto insurances like Progressive and Geico. They offer competitive rates and can be bought online or through agents. You might also consider regional insurers offering coverage in your area that may be more open to your faults and offer reasonable coverage. If necessary, you can also evaluate insurers like The General and Acceptance Insurance which offer coverage for high-risk drivers.
Questions frequently asked
Is it a crime to drive without insurance?
Driving without insurance is a misdemeanor in all 50 states and Washington D.C. This does not mean there aren’t severe penalties, such as jail time, if you are a repeat offenders.
Is it possible to suspend my driving privileges for driving without insurance?
If you are caught driving with no insurance, this is a common penalty.
What should I do if I don’t have enough money to buy insurance?
If you drive a motor vehicle, it is your responsibility to get insurance. You may find lower-priced options by shopping around, especially if you are eligible for discounts. Some states, like New Jersey and California, offer affordable auto insurance for those who can’t afford it.
What are the minimum insurance requirements in my state?
The Insurance Information Institute publishes a chart that lists the minimum auto insurance requirements for each state and the District of Columbia. You can check this to see what the minimum liability requirements are for where you live and if there is any additional type of insurance coverage you are required to have.