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Driving Without Car Insurance (Don’t Risk It!)

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StatsDetails
Percentage of
Uninsured Motorists (2015)
13%
Highest Percentage
of Uninsured Motorists (2015)
Florida (26.7%)
Lowest Percentage
of Uninsured Motorists (2015)
Maine (4.5%)
Average Annual
Premiums (2016)
Liability: $566.51
Collision: $342.40
Comprehensive: $153.32
Combined: $1062.23

Now and then, you may find yourself contemplating the purpose of an auto insurance policy. Some of us might even take this contemplation a step further and decide to let our policy lapse.

We know auto insurance is an expense without any clear, immediate benefits — unless you’re a reckless driver —  in which case you would likely dislike auto insurance because of your high premiums.

But if you let your policy lapse or stop paying premiums, it would be illegal to drive in most states. Not to mention that it can be financially devastating if you are involved in an accident without coverage.

You could even lose your personal assets if the injured party decides to bring a lawsuit against you.

Let’s dig a little deeper into why it’s not a good idea to drive without car insurance.

Table of Contents

Financial Responsibility Laws

Financial responsibility laws require automobile owners to carry either liability insurance or bond or cash deposits to pay off the damages in the event of an accident.

These laws are in place in almost all states to protect everyone from crashes while driving — so whenever there’s any injury to drivers, passengers, or pedestrians, the medical or property damage expenses can be covered.

– Minimum Coverage Requirements by State

A few states don’t require motorists to carry insurance coverage but require them to show financial responsibility in some form, such as a surety bond or certificate of self-insurance.

But, in practice, buying auto insurance coverage is the most viable option. Except for New Hampshire, all states mandate the coverage limits for auto owners.

What type of coverage are motorists required to buy?

The type of coverage motorists must buy depends on the tort law followed by a state. In states that follow the traditional fault system, motorists are required to buy, at minimum, liability coverage.

In a tort or at-fault system, motorists who cause an accident have to settle the damages. This is why liability coverage is mandatory — it helps to pay for third-party damages.

Liability coverage limits in these states vary but are usually stated in this form: 25/50/25. This stands for bodily injury and property damage liability coverage requirements and, when translated, means $25,000 for personal injury expenses of one person with an upper limit of $50,000 per accident and $25,000 for property damage expenses.

Remember that liability coverage only pays for the expenses incurred to cover the injuries and damages of the third party.

In no-fault states, liability for an accident isn’t the responsibility of the at-fault driver and each party in an accident turns to their insurer for reimbursements. In such a scenario, auto owners have to buy Personal Injury Protection as well, which is used to cover their damages in an accident.

As an auto owner, you have the freedom to buy only the minimum limits stated by law and drive legally without exorbitant premiums. However, most often the mandated limits aren’t enough to cover expenses in a major accident. That’s why it’s recommended to buy higher coverage limits.

You also have the option to buy collision and comprehensive insurance to cover the damages to your car in an accident. But it’s not mandatory.

Here is a list of coverage requirements in all the states from the Insurance Information Institute:

StateInsurance requiredMinimum liability limits
ALBI & PD Liab25/50/25
AKBI & PD Liab50/100/25
AZBI & PD Liab15/30/10
ARBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
CABI & PD Liab15/30/5
COBI & PD Liab25/50/15
CTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
DEBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/10
DCBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/10
FLPD Liab, PIP10/20/10
GABI & PD Liab25/50/25
HIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
IDBI & PD Liab25/50/15
ILBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/20
INBI & PD Liab25/50/25
IABI & PD Liab20/40/15
KSBI & PD Liab, PIP25/50/25
KYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
LABI & PD Liab15/30/25
MEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM, Medpay50/100/25
MDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/15
MABI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/5
MIBI & PD Liab, PIP20/40/10
MNBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM30/60/10
MSBI & PD Liab25/50/25
MOBI & PD Liab, UM25/50/25
MTBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NEBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
NVBI & PD Liab25/50/20
NHFR only25/50/25
NJBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM15/30/5
NMBI & PD Liab25/50/10
NYBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/10
NCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM30/60/25
NDBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/25
OHBI & PD Liab25/50/25
OKBI & PD Liab25/50/25
ORBI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM25/50/20
PABI & PD Liab, PIP15/30/5
RIBI & PD Liab25/50/25
SCBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
SDBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
TNBI & PD Liab25/50/15
TXBI & PD Liab, PIP30/60/25
UTBI & PD Liab, PIP25/65/15
VTBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/10
VABI & PD Liab (9), UM, UIM25/50/20
WABI & PD Liab25/50/10
WVBI & PD Liab, UM, UIM25/50/25
WIBI & PD Liab, UM, Medpay25/50/10
WYBI & PD Liab25/50/20

Some states require motorists to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which can be useful when you’re hit by a motorist who’s uninsured or isn’t adequately insured.

– Online Verification Systems for Car Insurance

Most states have some form of verification system to check whether motorists carry car insurance coverage and some even verify auto insurance coverage regularly to identify uninsured motorists.

Though you may think that you won’t get caught if you let your policy lapse unless stopped by a law enforcement officer, many states now send notices to motorists if they can’t verify coverage against a vehicle registration.

The following states have laws that require verification of car insurance since 2002:

  • South Carolina – 2002
  • Oklahoma and Wyoming – 2006
  • Louisiana – 2008
  • Montana and Nevada – 2009
  • West Virginia – 2010
  • Alabama – 2011
  • Idaho, Mississippi, and Utah – 2012
  • Connecticut and Tennessee – 2015

To tackle the problems with large database systems, the Insurance Industry Committee on Motor Vehicle Administration (IICMVA) offers access to a service system for easy retrieval of insurance coverage information.

Law enforcement or state DMVs can use an online portal to get real-time details about coverage and vehicle information while the insurance companies maintain their own database.

– SR-22 Requirements

SR-22 insurance or certificate of financial responsibility is an insurer’s guarantee that a motorist is carrying adequate insurance coverage as required by law. Your auto insurance carrier is required to file the certificate with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

Who needs an SR-22?

If you’re caught driving without car insurance, you might be asked to get SR-22 insurance. There are also other situations in which you can be asked for SR-22 insurance, such as:

  • A DUI or DWI offense or any other serious violation
  • Causing an accident without car insurance coverage
  • Repeat traffic law violations
  • License suspensions or revocation

Most states require motorists to maintain an SR-22 on file for three years on the first offense to ensure that you maintain financial responsibility in the near future.

You can also watch this video to understand how SR-22 works:

– Low-Cost Car Insurance Programs

Though auto insurance policies protect us from the possibility of a significant future expenditure as a result of an accident, it does come with a price tag — which isn’t affordable for everyone. If you’re unable to pay the premiums, you can look at the low-cost auto insurance programs in your state.

California is one of the states offering affordable insurance for motorists. California’s Low Cost Automobile Insurance Program was established to help eligible, low-income auto owners with coverage to meet the financial responsibility requirements.

New Jersey also offers the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP), or Dollar-A-Day policy, which provides limited coverage to motorists who are eligible for Medicaid with hospitalization.

These New Jersey motorists can get medical coverage after accidents — up to $250,000 for emergency treatment and $10,000 death benefit — by paying only $365 per year.

State legislators design low-cost insurance programs to make it easier for motorists to get coverage. Research similar programs in your state if you feel you can’t afford the premiums for full coverage.

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Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

There can be many consequences for not carrying insurance or for letting your policy lapse, one of which is fines and license suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

However, that’s not the only consequence you will face for not having auto insurance. Others are:

  • Your insurance rates would be raised because you’d be considered a “risky driver”
  • If you have financed your car, it will likely be repossessed by your lender
  • If you get involved in an accident, you will have to pay for everything out-of-pocket ( you may have to sell your personal assets to meet the expenses)
  • You wouldn’t be eligible for car insurance discounts are offered to loyal continuous customers

– How Law Enforcement Deals with Uninsured Drivers

The penalty for not carrying insurance varies from state to state. Some states even suspend your license and require you to serve time in the prison.

The severity of your penalty depends on the number of times you have been caught driving without an auto insurance policy. In most states, your driver’s license would be suspended and you would be unable to drive without showing sufficient proof of insurance.

Let’s look at how each state penalizes motorists driving without insurance.

StateFirst OffenseSecond Offense
AlabamaFine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement feeFine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension
AlaskaLicense suspension for 90 daysLicense suspension for one year
ArizonaFine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three monthsFine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months
ArkansasFine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundmentFine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment
CaliforniaFine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundmentFine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment
ColoradoFine: $500 minimum fine; 4 points against your license; license suspension until you can show proof to the DMV that you are insured. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service$1,000 minimum fine and license suspension for 4 months; 4 points against your license. Courts may add up to 40 hours community service
ConnecticutFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement feeFine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee
DelawareFine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six monthsFine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months
FloridaSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatementSuspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement
GeorgiaSuspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes dueWithin five years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due
HawaiiFine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six monthsFine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months
IdahoFine: $75; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.Fine: $1000 maximum fine within five years and/or no more than six months in jail; license suspension until financial proof. No reinstatement fee.
IllinoisFine: minimum of $500; License plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proofFine: minimum of $1,000; License plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof
IndianaLicense/registration suspension for 90 days to one yearWithin three years: license/registration suspension for one year
IowaFine: $500 if in accident; Otherwise, fine: $250; community service in lieu of fine. Possible citation/warning if pulled over plus removal of plates and registration possible when pulled over without insurance and reissued upon payment of fine or completed community service, proof of insurance, and $15 fee; possible impoundment when pulled overN/A
KansasFine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100
KentuckyFine: $500 to $1000 fine and/or sentenced up to 90 days in jail; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shownWithin five years: 180 days in jail and/or $1000 to $2500; license plates and registration revoked for one year or until proof of insurance is shown
LouisianaFine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 daysN/A
MaineFine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insuranceN/A
MarylandLose license plates and vehicle registration privileges; pay uninsured motorist penalty fees for each lapse of insurance — $150 for the first 30 days, $7 for each day thereafter; Pay a restoration fee of up to $25 for a vehicle's registrationN/A
MassachusettsFine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or lessWithin six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year
MichiganFine: $200 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less; license suspension for 30 days or until proof of insurance; $25 service fee to Secretary of StateN/A
MinnesotaFine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 monthsN/A
MississippiFine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insuranceN/A
MissouriFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement feeFour points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee
MontanaFine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 daysFine: $350 and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days — within 5 years; license and registration revoked until proof of insurance and payment of reinstatement fees within 90 days
NebraskaLicense and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years
NevadaFine: $250 to $1,000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, an SR-22 (proof of financial responsiblity) if lapsed more than 90 days; reinstatement fee: $250Fine: $500 to $1000 depending on length of lapse; registration suspension — until payment of reinstatement fee and, depending on circumstances, SR-22 (proof of financial responsibility) if lapsed more than 90 days; Reinstatement fee: $500
New HampshireNot a mandatory insurance state. Proof of insurance may be required as the result of a conviction, crash involvement, or administrative action. If you are required to file proof of insurance and vehicles are registered in your name, you will be required to file an Owner’s SR-22 Certificate of Insurance.N/A
New JerseyFine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per yearFine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service
New MexicoFine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspensionN/A
New YorkFine: up to $1500 if involved in accident plus $750 civil penalty; license and registration suspension – revoked for one year; suspension of license if without
insurance for 90 days; suspension lasts as long as registration suspension; Suspension of registration: equal to time without insurance or pays $8/day up to thirty days for which financial security was not in effect, $10/day from the thirty-first to the sixtieth day $12/day from the sixtieth to the ninetieth day and proof of security is provided. Or for the same time as the vehicle was operated without insurance.
N/A
North CarolinaFine: $50; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate feeFine: $100 within three years; registration suspension until proof of financial responsibility but 30-day suspension if in car accident or knowingly driving without insurance; $50 restoration fee plus license plate fee
North DakotaFine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; Proof of insurance must be provided for one year; license with a
notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50, and the fee to remove
this notation is $50.
Fine: up to $1500 and/or 30 days in prison; 14 points against license plus suspension; license plates impounded until proof of insurance (provided for one year) plus $20 reinstatement fee; license with a notation requiring that person keep proof of liability insurance on file with the department. The fee for this license is $50 and the fee to remove this notation is $50.
OhioLicense/plates/registration suspension until requirements are met and $100 reinstatement fee is paid; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three to five years; If involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)License/plates/registration suspension for one year; $300 reinstatement fee; maintain special high-risk coverage on file with the BMV for three or five years; if involved in accident without insurance: all above penalties and a security suspension for two plus years and an indefinite judgment suspension (until all damages are satisfied)
OklahomaFine: $250; jail time up to 30 days; license suspension with $275 reinstatement fee. Police can seize license plates and assign temporary plates and liability insurance — in effect for 10 days and can also impound the vehicle. The cost of the temporary coverage is added to the administrative fee and any fines paid for plates to be returned. If car impounded, owner must also pay towing and storage fees.N/A
OregonFine: $130-$1000 ($260 is the presumptive fine); If involved in accident — at least a one year license suspension; proof of financial responsibility required for three yearsN/A
PennsylvaniaRegistration suspended for three months (unless lapse was for less than 31 days and vehicle not operated during that time); $88 restoration fee plus proof of insurance required to get it back; $500 civil penalty fee is optional in lieu of registration suspension plus $88 restoration fee — can only use this option once within a 12-month periodN/A
Rhode IslandFine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50
South CarolinaFine: $100-$200 or 30-day imprisonment; failure to surrender registration and plates when insurance lapses; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement feeFine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee
South DakotaFine: $100 and/or 30 days imprisonment; license suspension for 30 days to one year; filing proof of insurance (SR-22) with the state for three years from date of conviction. Failure to file proof will result in suspension of vehicle registration, license plates, and driver license.N/A
TennesseePay $25 coverage failure fee within 30 days of notice; if not paid, then an additional $100 coverage failure fee with suspension or revocation of registration plus reinstatement fee of no more than $25N/A
TexasFine: $175 to $350 fine; plus, pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements)Fine: $350 to $1000; pay up to a $250 surcharge every year for three years (may be reduced with certain requirements); suspend the driver's license and vehicle registrations of the person unless the person files and maintains evidence of financial responsibility with the department until the second anniversary of the date of the subsequent conviction; Impoundment: for 180 days and
cannot apply for release of car without evidence of financial responsibility and impoundment fee of $15/day.
UtahFine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement feeFine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee
VermontFine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insuranceN/A
VirginiaFine: may pay $500 Uninsured Motorists Vehicle fee to drive without insurance at your own risk. If this fee is not paid in lieu of insurance, all driving and vehicle registration privileges will be suspended until a $500 statutory fee is paid, proof of insurance is filed for three years, and a reinstatement fee (if applicable) is paidN/A
WashingtonFine: Up to $250 or moreN/A
West VirginiaFine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty feeFine: $200-$5000 fine and/or 15 days to one year in jail — within five years; license suspended for 90 days and registration revoked until proof of insurance
WisconsinFine: up to $500N/A
WyomingFine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jailN/A

– Driving Someone Else’s Car Without Insurance

There is an inherent risk involved in driving someone else’s car because some coverage options follow the car while others follow the driver. Even if a policy follows the driver, motorists can’t drive anyone’s vehicle and expect to be reimbursed when they’re involved in an accident.

What would help avoid confusion in this matter is to read the inclusions and exclusions in your policy document.

Liability Coverage: In principle, liability coverage follows the driver, but only if you drive an eligible vehicle. Liability coverage would protect the insured even when the car is owned by someone else. However, you wouldn’t be covered by a policy on your friend’s or neighbor’s car if you aren’t insured on their policy.

The coverage may not follow a motorist if they are driving a vehicle not mentioned in their auto insurance policy.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage: Since comprehensive and collision insurance covers damages to a car, it usually follows the car. These options pay for any repair or replacement cost for the insured car when it gets damaged from causes listed in the insurance policy.

But if you’re driving a vehicle covered by comprehensive and collision coverage, you may not be covered in the accident if you aren’t listed as the covered driver in the policy.

Family members are often covered, but if someone is driving the car without the owner’s permission, the insurance wouldn’t cover them.

Many insurance policies wouldn’t cover a car or motorist not specifically mentioned in the car insurance policy.

– Rise in Auto Insurance Premiums After Lapse in Coverage

A lapse in coverage is defined as any period without the minimum required auto insurance on your registered car. There can be many reasons for a lapse in coverage, such as policy cancellation, non-payment of premiums, or intentionally letting your policy lapse.

A lapse in coverage can raise your auto premium rates because it’s illegal to drive without insurance for even a day.

To get an idea of how much rates rise after a lapse, we have analyzed rate changes in three states for the same driver profile across different insurance providers. These states are South Carolina, Florida, and California.

StateCoverageGeico Monthly PremiumsGeico 6-Month PremiumsGeico Annual PremiumsRate IncreaseLiberty Mutual
Monthly Premiums
Liberty Mutual
6-Month Premiums
Liberty Mutual
Annual Premiums
Rate IncreaseProgressive
Monthly Premiums
Progressive
6-Month Premiums
Progressive
Annual Premiums
Rate IncreaseFarmers
Monthly Premiums
Farmers
6-Month Premiums
Farmers
Annual Premiums
Rate IncreaseNationwide
Monthly Premiums
Nationwide
6-Month Premiums
Nationwide
Annual
Rate Increase
SCNo Lapse$154.82$928.90$1,857.80$253.42$1,520.52$3,041.04$89.17$535.00$1,070.00Not Available in SC$135.21$811.25$1,622.50
SCAfter Lapse$160.00$960.00$1,920.003.35%No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
$150.50$903.00$1,806.0068.79%No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
CANo Lapse$121.70$730.18$1,460.36$116.00$696.00$1,392.00$147.00$882.00$1,764.00$162.47$974.82$1,949.64$108.53$651.19$1,302.38
CAAfter Lapse$131.15$786.88$1,573.767.77%$135.00$810.00$1,620.0016.38%$150.17$901.00$1,802.002.15%$181.80$1,090.80$2,181.6011.90%$122.75$736.52$1,473.0413.10%
FLNo Lapse$141.12$846.70$1,693.40$312.00$1,872.00$3,744.00$167.17$1,003.00$2,006.00$426.60$2,559.60$5,119.20Not Available in FL
FLAfter Lapse$317.30$1,903.80$3,807.60124.85%No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
No Quote
Offered
$269.67$1,618.00$3,236.0061.32%$456.00$2,736.00$5,472.006.89%

You can see that rates rise considerably in Florida after a lapse in coverage, but the rates are higher from the base level in the other two states, as well.

– Car Accident Without Insurance Coverage

Driving without car insurance attracts significant penalties in most states where it’s mandatory to maintain the minimum coverage.

If you get involved in an accident without insurance, you will end up paying for the damages you cause, as well as the higher penalties from getting caught without insurance.

Let’s look at the consequences of not carrying insurance in three scenarios.

– What are the consequences if you live in a no-fault state?

Twelve states and Puerto Rico follow the no-fault auto insurance system, which enables auto owners to turn to their own insurance company for reimbursements in the event of an accident irrespective of fault.

By definition, no-fault laws limit the scope of lawsuits against the at-fault party, as each party gets compensation from their insurer.

Only when the expenses exceed the thresholds stated in the law or when there are significant injuries can the at-fault party can be sued. For minor accidents, you will not be required to pay any expenses out-of-pocket.

But if you’re sued because you don’t have insurance, you would have to pay all the damages out-of-pocket. And, if the expenses are significant, you will have to use your personal assets to make up for the loss.

– What about the law in tort states?

States that follow the traditional tort law or the fault system first determine liability or fault in an accident. Whoever is at fault must cover the expenses and damages suffered by the other party.

If you’re involved in a major accident in a tort state, you will have to pay all medical expenses and property damages out-of-pocket as an at-fault party.

The injured party may decide to sue you to cover other expenses, such as lost wages, pain and suffering, rehabilitation cost, etc. In the absence of an auto policy, you will have to defend yourself in the court or hire a lawyer, which will cost more.

– What if the accident was caused by the other party?

When you’re involved in an accident caused by the other party, you can claim third-party damages from the insurance company of the at-fault driver. However, there are some limits to what you can recover if you don’t have insurance coverage.

Many states have enacted a rule known as “No Pay, No Play.” Under this rule, uninsured motorists who suffer damages as a result of an accident aren’t allowed to make claims for pain and suffering or non-economic damages.

Since uninsured motorists are incapable of offering full compensation in accidents caused by them, they shouldn’t be allowed to receive similar compensation in third-party claims.

StateNo Pay, No Play Law
IndianaUninsured motorists can't receive non-economic damages
MissouriUninsured motorists can't receive non-economic damages unless the at-fault driver was drunk or convicted of 2nd degree assault or involuntary manslaughter
MichiganUninsured motorists who are equally or more than 50 percent responsible for the accident can't receive non-economic damages
CaliforniaDrunk and uninsured drivers can't file lawsuits
LouisianaUninsured motorists have to pay the first $15,000 in medical expenses and $25,000 in property damages out-of-pocket before filing a lawsuit
New JerseyDrunk and uninsured drivers can't file lawsuits
AlaskaUninsured motorists can only sue when the at-fault party was drunk, caused the accident intentionally or fled the scene
North DakotaUninsured motorists are barred from suing if they have a prior violation under the financial responsibility laws
OregonUninsured motorists can only sue when the at-fault party was drunk or caused the accident intentionally or recklessly
KansasUninsured motorists can't receive non-economic damages
IowaMotorists can't collect non-economic damages if the accident happened while committing a crime

Impact of No Pay, No Play law

California and Michigan were the first states to pass the No Pay, No Play law.

In  2012, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) conducted an analysis to measure the impact of this law on the percentage of uninsured motorists. As anticipated, implementation of the law led to a drop in the number of uninsured motorists.

  • Though modestly, the percentage of uninsured motorists was affected in states when the law was brought into practice.
  • The IRC also developed a model to estimate the non-economic damages paid to uninsured motorists in third-party liability claims for states without the law. These payments could be scrapped if the states adopted the law.
  • Research findings indicate not only a drop in the number of uninsured motorists but a possible reduction in auto insurance costs.

Uninsured Motorists Stats

Uninsured motorists are a nuisance for every state because auto insurance rates are calculated after taking into consideration the percentage of motorists in the state who don’t have insurance. If the percentage is high, it usually leads to an increase in rates.

Uninsured motorists make it expensive for auto owners to drive, as they have to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage or pay higher premiums on their policy.

– Percent of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists

In 2015, around 13 percent of motorists were driving without insurance as per a study conducted by the Insurance Research Council. Florida has the highest percentage of uninsured motorists, while Maine has the lowest percentage.

RankStatePercent Uninsured
1Florida26.70%
2Mississippi23.7%
3New Mexico20.8%
4Michigan20.3%
5Tennessee20%
6Alabama18.4%
7Washington17.4%
8Indiana16.7%
9Arkansas16.6%
10D.C.15.6%

Here’s a list of states with the lowest percentage of uninsured motorists:

RankStatePercent Uninsured
1Maine4.50%
2New York6.1%
3Massachusetts6.2%
4North Carolina6.5%
5Vermont6.8%
6Nebraska6.8%
7North Dakota6.8%
8Kansas7.2%
9Pennsylvania7.6%
10South Dakota7.7%

– Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Claim Payouts Countrywide

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) protects auto owners from motorists who aren’t adequately insured or uninsured. When you’re hit by someone without insurance, you can claim reimbursement for damages under the UM/UIM option.

Let’s look at the incurred claims for UM/UIM coverage.

Incurred Claims201520142013
Bodily Injury289,899275,000271,429
Property Damage393,261367,122353,439

– Car Insurance for Undocumented Immigrants

Due to the lack of legal status or residency, undocumented immigrants might choose to drive without car insurance, thinking insurance companies wouldn’t offer them coverage.

However, driving without car insurance can be risky and quite expensive if you’re an undocumented immigrant.

You would be surprised to know that the District of Columbia and 13 states grant driving rights to undocumented immigrants.

  • From these 13 states, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Maryland issue driver’s licenses to those without a Social Security Number or lawful status if specific documents are shown.
  • Undocumented immigrants can get a limited license in D.C.
  • Washington and New Mexico accept any proof of residence or tax identification number to issue a driver’s license.
  • Delaware, Nevada, Utah, and Vermont offer a driver’s privilege car.
  • New York’s law for undocumented immigrants was passed in June 2019.

These states allow undocumented immigrants to show foreign documents such as passports to establish identity so they can be granted the right to drive.

States can help ensure safety by issuing driving privileges to these immigrants, as they would be able to buy insurance.

Under no circumstances should you drive a car without insurance as an undocumented immigrant, as you risk the chance of deportation along with penalties.

Expenditure on Car Insurance

Quite understandably, the expenditure on auto insurance doesn’t come with any immediate absolute benefits apart from allowing you to drive legally. That’s why many motorists let their policies lapse or stop paying premiums: they were never involved in an accident during the policy period.

You can’t predict when or if you will be involved in an accident, but if you hit someone without insurance coverage, the whole episode will drain you financially as well as mentally.

If you can’t afford high insurance premiums, you can consider buying coverage to meet the minimum requirement or research any low-cost insurance programs in your state.

– Average Expenditure on Car Insurance

You can choose different car insurance options to control your auto premium rates. The more options you add, the more your premiums will rise. If you increase the limits on your policy, your premiums will increase further.

If you have financed your car, your lender may require you to buy collision and comprehensive coverage to protect it from any damages.

You can look at the average expenditure on car insurance over the period from 2012 – 2016 through data provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

YearAverage ExpenditurePercentage Change
2012$812.402.2%
2013$838.613.2%
2014$865.463.2%
2015$889.092.7%
2016$935.805.3%

These average numbers are based on data from all consumers across the country. Your premiums can vary significantly from these numbers depending on your personal factors and other considerations.

– Car Insurance Rates by Personal Factors

Car insurance rates are impacted by many factors, some of which are listed below. You can control some of these personal factors, like improving your driving record or credit history to get better rates.

  • Zipcode
  • Marital status
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Driving record
  • Credit history
  • Type of policy
  • Coverage level
  • Car’s make and model

Age and gender influence rates significantly when you’re new to driving, which is why younger males pay a lot more than their female counterparts. But these factors gradually have less influence on your rates after you turn 25.

In a few states, such as California, Hawaii, Maryland, and, Massachusetts, auto insurance companies aren’t allowed to use credit scores for the calculation of insurance rates.

The easiest way to control your car insurance cost is to choose a policy coverage level within your budget. While you can reduce your costs for now by choosing lower policy limits, it might not be enough to cover the medical expenses or property damages in the event of a major accident.

– Top 10 Most Expensive and Least Expensive States for Auto Insurance

As rates depend a lot on where you live, there are some states which charge significantly higher premiums from motorists than others. If you live in one of the most expensive states for auto insurance, you will have to shell out a lot of money.

You can see below the average auto insurance expenditure in the most expensive and least expensive states.

RankMost Expensive StatesAnnual PremiumsRankLeast Expensive StatesAnnual Premiums
1New Jersey $1,309.291Idaho $$599.77
2Louisiana $1,302.112Iowa $628.1
3New York $1,301.643North Dakota $639.1
4Michigan $1,270.704South Dakota $648.01
5Florida $1,259.555Maine $650.38
6D.C.$1,246.806Wyoming $677.53
7Rhode Island $1,193.587Wisconsin $688.32
8Delaware $1,159.868Vermont $691.56
9Massachusetts $1,096.539Indiana $692.29
10Connecticut $1,086.1710North Carolina $699.91

The cost of insurance can be a deterrent, but if you have a registered vehicle you must buy it. Even if you don’t use your vehicle and it’s parked in a garage, you have to maintain insurance coverage.

Only when you cancel your registration and surrender your license plates can you can cancel your insurance. Otherwise, it’s illegal.

Frequently Asked Questions

– Can I drive a car off the lot without insurance?

Most state will require to see your car insurance.

– Will the dealer ask to see your coverage if you pay cash for the car?

Having third-party coverage and possibly no-fault coverage is required in the state, but you might assume that it’s the DMV’s responsibility to ask for proof and not the dealer’s. This is where your assumptions could lead to serious issues with the dealer and with the DMV.

In most states, the dealer will fill out the application to transfer ownership to the buyer. This means that the bill of sale will be submitted to the motor vehicle agency along with the application for tags in the buyer’s name.

One of the benefits of buying a car from a dealership is that they handle the DMV paperwork for you.

As an authorized party that is able to process DMV paperwork, the dealer is obligated to collect certain paperwork to complete the application. Most of the time, the motor vehicle agency wants to see that you have insurance before the tags will be issued.

When the proof needs to accompany the application, the  dealer must see the proof before they will give you their keys.

– What kind of coverage do you need when you’re financing the car?

If you’re financing the car instead of buying it outright, the requirements are even more strict. Auto loan lenders will let you borrow money to pay for a car as long as the car is well-maintained.

You are given the money in a lump sum in exchange for monthly payments that include principal and interest. The car will be security on your loan if you decide not to pay.

Since the vehicle is used as collateral on your car loan, the finance company will verify that you have the right insurance on your car.

You can’t just carry liability insurance and drive off without any issues. Instead, you need to have full coverage insurance that will pay for physical damage coverage that will help you pay to repair the car after a loss.

If you already have a loan in place, the dealer might not have to get the actual insurance documents from you. When you secure a loan in the finance office, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked for the documented proof in the office.

No matter what’s required, you will have to sign a document saying that you have full coverage.

– Can you choose any deductible when you’re financing your car?

If you’re building a policy right before you leave the dealer, choose the right coverage from the start. It’s only reasonable to try and keep premiums low by selecting a high deductible.

Unfortunately, if you do that, you might not be in compliance with the terms set by the lender for the auto loan.

Lenders want to know that you can afford to pay your car note, maintain the vehicle, have it serviced, and fix repairs when the car is damaged.

Having insurance helps you fix the serious repairs, but if your deductible is too high, you might not be able to file a claim. This is why most companies only accept physical damage deductibles of $500 or less.

– Will your existing car insurance be enough to satisfy the dealer?

If you already own a car, you don’t have to worry about going out and shopping for a new policy right away. You will have some automatic coverage that will satisfy your lender’s requirements and your state’s requirements for a short period of time.

The extension won’t last forever, but it’s enough to give you time to shop around after you leave the lot.

In most cases, your automatic coverage will last for 14 to 30 days on the new car after the new car is purchased. This is if it’s an additional car rather than a replacement vehicle.

If it’s a replacement vehicle, the coverage extends to the rest of the insurance term. When you only have liability, you will have full coverage for only four days. You will have deductibles of $500 for both comprehensive and collision for the four-day period.

– What happens if you don’t have insurance when the sale is official?

If you don’t own a car or you don’t have insurance in your own name, you need to get insurance while you’re still in the finance office. The dealer will ask to see proof of insurance before you can leave with your keys in hand.

When you don’t have the coverage, you may not get to leave with the car until you get on the phone and purchase a policy.

You can buy auto insurance quickly if you use the world wide web. One of the fastest ways to get insurance when you’re in a pinch is to use an online rate comparison tool.

You can enter your personal information into the tool, provide the VIN, and select the coverage options that you want.

– Can you keep a car without insurance?

For various reasons, you may be wondering if you can keep a car without having insurance. As previously stated, if you intend on driving the car, you are most likely legally required to get insurance coverage on it in accordance with your state laws.

If you intend to keep your vehicle in storage and not drive it for several months, perhaps due to being in the military, taking an extended vacation, or even going to college, you may be tempted to cancel or not renew your insurance policy.

However, prior to taking this step, you should do some research. Some states, such as Pennsylvania and South Carolina require that you turn over your car registration and license plate if you give up your auto insurance.

– Can you get a car out of impound without insurance?

Impound lots are typically open 24 hours a day because there’s no telling when a car will be impounded. If you need to get your car back quickly, you should have a checklist of the items that you’ll need.

It’s usually the same from city to city, but in some situations, you’ll need sign-offs that others don’t need. Here are some must-have documents:

  • Proof that you own the vehicle (title or registration)
  • Photo identification proving your identity
  • Proof that you have car insurance on the vehicle
  • Accepted form of payment to pay the fees due

– Can a driver with a learner’s permit drive my car without insurance?

State law says that all personal vehicles need to be insured. The laws may vary from state to state, but almost everywhere you go insurance is mandatory and not optional.

There’s always exceptions to the rule and the exceptions are currently in New Hampshire and Virginia. Everywhere else, every car that has a valid registration needs valid auto insurance.

You can’t drive a car without your license unless you have a permit. You also can’t stroll into the DMV and expect to get a learner’s permit whenever you want. Anyone who wants to get a provisional license needs to meet age and training requirements.

When you reach the age of 15 or 16, you can probably start planning so that you can get your permit.

Then you’ll have to pass a written exam about the laws of the road and an eye exam with or without your glasses. After you’re eligible, you’ll have to sign a paper saying you understand your duties as a restricted driver and your permit will be issued.

Check out our article on Teen Driving and Graduated Licensing System.

– How do you sell a car without insurance?

Selling a car can be a time-consuming process. Not only do you need to settle on a fair price that will spark interest in serious car buyers, but you also need to make the time to meet with these prospective buyers so that they can inspect the car.

It can pose a serious problem if the car that you’re selling doesn’t have insurance.

Driving a car without insurance can be risky, but it’s also risky to sell a car to someone else when the car doesn’t have live coverage.

While it’s not recommended, there are a few ways that you can go about selling a car without buying insurance on it first.

Here’s what you need to know before you set up appointments or start negotiations.

– What are the dangers of selling a car without auto insurance?

You might think that you can save time and money selling your car without buying a basic policy, but there are pitfalls. You need to know the drawbacks before you affect your ability to sell your car quickly.

Not only might you face some serious fines, but you can also have an uninsured loss that will land you in court.

Here are the dangers:

  • Suspension of your registration can affect the buyer’s ability to transfer the registration in their name without paying extra fees
  • Vehicle impounded if your uninsured car is parked on public property with required fees and insurance before release
  • Citations for driving uninsured if you’re taking the vehicle to be serviced before someone comes to view it
  • An uninsured loss while the prospective buyer is test driving the car
  • Suspension of your driving privilege, which can also pose problems when you buy another vehicle
  • High-risk insurance rates in the future when you buy coverage for a new car

– Can you sell a car on the private market when it’s not insured?

If you’re willing to put a little effort into selling your car, you can get the most money when you sell your car on the private market.

When you are selling your car to a private party, it’s important to screen callers thoroughly and protect yourself as a seller by being as upfront as possible.

It’s possible to legally sell your car without insurance on it if you’ve already turned in your plates.

If you still have license plates and an active registration, it’s illegal to sell the car without coverage because you aren’t complying with state law.

– Don’t Allow Buyers to Test Drive an Uninsured Car

If you don’t have plates or insurance, make this clear in your listing. It’s best to have proof that you disclosed this to the buyer in writing so that you can protect your interests if the party gets into an accident after you make a transaction.

No matter how upfront you are, you shouldn’t allow the buyer to test drive the car or drive away from your property without first showing that they have their own insurance.

If the buyer has existing coverage, the liability coverage will automatically follow them while they test drive your car, but their coverage still won’t protect you as the seller if an injured party tries to sue you.

– Can you buy a car without insurance?

You don’t need insurance to buy a car, only to drive it. Therefore, in order to buy a car without insurance, simply go through the car buying process as usual, and sign the papers.

But, because dealers in most states will not let you leave the lot without presenting proof of insurance, you must leave the car at the dealership until you can get some.

Even states that don’t require you to get insurance through an insurance company will want you to place a deposit with your local government to cover you in case you’re in an accident.

– How to report someone without car insurance?

Whether you were involved in an accident or are simply doing your civic duty to report someone you know is driving without being properly insured, there are several options available to you.

You are able to report the driver to your local police, but that may not change anything.

The police, typically, have more urgent issues to deal with and unless there is an immediate threat to the safety of the public because of this driver, they may not be able to do anything at all.

A better idea would be to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles in the state that issued the license plate of the vehicle in question.

The DMV representative will be able to provide you with additional information to report the issue. They may even have access to a dynamic database that can check on the status of the driver’s insurance coverage.

These are normally updated every few hours, so the information is generally valid. If the DMV determines the driver is not presently insured, they may implement a procedure to suspend or even revoke the driving privileges.

– When can I drive a car without insurance?

The answer is never…at least not without penalties (see above).

– Can you get car insurance without a license?

You may have to have a license to drive a vehicle, but you don’t have to have a license to own one. If you’re planning to buy a vehicle that you can’t legally drive yourself, it’s important to research your options when it comes to insuring it.

While it is possible to find insurance on your car, it may take some time to find a company with lenient enough underwriting guidelines.

Most preferred carriers will only sell vehicle owners who have a license and auto insurance. However, standard and substandard companies in the industry with quality products still exist in the industry.

– What happens if you don’t own a car?

It’s not common, but there may come a time where you need insurance but you don’t have a license or a car. This usually happens when your license has been suspended and you need to file an SR-22 to get your license back.

Many times SR-22 filings are required after an uninsured accident, multiple no-insurance convictions, or a DUI convictions.

Auto insurance carriers must issue and submit your proof of financial responsibility to the DMV. Since you’re not licensed, you can’t be added to a friend or family member’s auto insurance policy. You will need a non-owner’s car insurance policy to get your license.

Not all companies issue these policies to people without a valid license, but many do.

If you can get a car without a license, you should be able to find insurance without a license too. Finding insurance might not be as easy.

After you find companies with flexible rules, you can compare premiums to find the best deals. Use an online rate comparison tool and you will get the instant quotes that you need to make a quick decision.

If you want to see how much auto insurance can cost, you can start comparison shopping today using our FREE online tool. Enter your zip code below to get started.

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