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Imagine you are driving down the highway on your way to a family reunion when out of nowhere a car swerves into your lane and sends both vehicles flying across the asphalt and into a neighboring field.
Luckily, no one is severely injured, but when you ask the other driver who their insurance carrier is, they reply, “I don’t have insurance!”
At this point, your stomach drops and you feel like you are going to have a heart attack as you picture the thousands of dollars in costly repair bills you are likely to end up paying for yourself!
What do you do if this nightmare of a production casts you as the lead role? Read our guide to help figure out how to pick up the pieces after having had to deal with one of these unscrupulous drivers.
By law, all drivers are required to carry adequate insurance coverage.
According to an article published on AutoInsurance.org, all drivers are required to carry the state minimum amount of insurance before accessing public roads, streets, and highways.
In a perfect world, one need not worry whether the person driving the broken-down, “hoopty” car in the lane adjacent to them has been paying their insurance bill.
However, we do not live in this Utopian fantasy world and are required to contend with this reality nearly every time we get behind the wheel.
According to statistical data, nearly 15 percent of all American drivers in 2014 did not have insurance coverage on their vehicle.
Even more astonishing, in some states like Oklahoma and Florida, almost one in four motorists are not covered by an auto insurance policy.
A quarter of the drivers you see on the road every day are without insurance, which could create represent a massive economic punch to the gut if you wind up in an accident with them.
Penalty for Not Carrying Insurance
State First Offense Second Offense Alabama Fine: Up to $500; registration suspension with $200 reinstatement fee Fine: Up to $1,000 and/or six-month license suspension; $400 reinstatement fee with four-month registration suspension Alaska License suspension for 90 days License suspension for one year Arizona Fine: $500 (or more); license/registration/license plate suspension for three months Fine: $750 (or more within 36 months); license/registration/license plate suspension for six months Arkansas Fine: $50 to $250; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee; court may order impoundment Fine: $250 to $500 fine — minimum fine mandatory; suspended registration/no plates until proof of coverage plus $20 reinstatement fee. Court may order impoundment California Fine: $100-$200 plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment Fine: $200-$500 within three years plus penalty assessments. Court may order impoundment Colorado Fine: $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 Connecticut Fine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for one month (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee Fine: $100-$1000; suspended registration/license for six months (show proof of insurance) with $175 reinstatement fee Delaware Fine: $1500 minimum fine; license/privilege suspension for six months Fine: $3000 minimum fine within three years; license/privilege suspension for six months Florida Suspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $150 fee for first reinstatement Suspension of license and registration until reinstatement fee is paid and non-cancelable coverage is secured; $250 fee for second reinstatement Georgia Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due Within a 5 years: Suspended registration with $25 lapse fee and $60 reinstatement fee. Pay any other registration fees and vehicle ad valorem taxes due Hawaii Fine: $500 fine or community service granted by judge. Either license suspension for three months or a required nonrefundable insurance policy in force for six months Fine: $1500 minimum fine within five years; either license suspension for one year or a required non-refundable insurance policy in force for six months Idaho Fine: $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. Illinois License plate suspension until $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof License plate suspension for four months; $100 reinstatement fee and insurance proof Indiana License/registration suspension for 90 days to one year Within three years: license/registration suspension for one year Iowa Fine: $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 over N/A Kansas Fine: $300 to $1000 and/or confinement in jail up to six months; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $100 Fine: $800 to $2500 within three years; license/registration suspension; reinstatement fee: $300 if revoked within previous year, otherwise $100 Kentucky Fine: $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 shown Within 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 Louisiana Fine: $500 to $1000; If in car accident, fine plus registration revoked and driving privileges suspended for 180 days N/A Maine Fine: $100 to $500; suspension of license and registration until proof of insurance N/A Maryland Lose 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 registration N/A Massachusetts Fine: $500 to $5000 fine and/or imprisonment for one year or less Within six years: License/driving privileges suspended for one year Michigan Fine: $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 State N/A Minnesota Fine: $200 to $1000 (or community service) and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days; License and registration revoked for no more than 12 months N/A Mississippi Fine: $1000; driving privileges suspended for one year or until proof of insurance N/A Missouri Four points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended until proof of insurance with $20 reinstatement fee Four points against driving record; driver may be supervised; suspended for 90 days with $200 reinstatement fee Montana Fine: $250 to $500 fine and/or imprisonment for no more than 10 days Fine: $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 Nebraska License and registration suspension; reinstatement fee of $50 for each; proof of insurance to remain on file for three years Nevada Fine: $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: $250 Fine: $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 Hampshire Not 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 Jersey Fine: $300 to $1000; license suspension for one year; pay surcharges for three years in the amount of $250 per year Fine: up to $5000; two-year license suspension; 14-day, mandatory jail term, and an additional mandatory 30 days of community service New Mexico Fine: up to $300 and/or imprisoned for 90 days; license suspension N/A New York Fine: 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 Carolina Fine: $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 fee Fine: $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 Dakota Fine: 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. Ohio License/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) Oklahoma Fine: $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 Oregon Fine: $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 years N/A Pennsylvania Registration 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 period N/A Rhode Island Fine: $100 to $500; license and registration suspension up to three months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50 Fine: $500; license and registration suspension up to six months; reinstatement fee: $30 to $50 South Carolina Fine: $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 fee Fine: $200 and/or 30-day imprisonment — within 10 years; license/registration suspended until proof of insurance plus $200 reinstatement fee South Dakota Fine: $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 Tennessee Pay $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 $25 N/A Texas Fine: $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. Utah Fine: $400; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee Fine: $1000 — with three years; license suspension until proof of insurance (maintained for three years) and $100 reinstatement fee Vermont Fine: up to $500; license suspended until proof of insurance N/A Virginia Fine: 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 paid N/A Washington Fine: Up to $250 or more N/A West Virginia Fine: $200 to $5000; license suspended for 30 days with reinstatement fees, unless there's proof of insurance and $200 penalty fee Fine: $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 Wisconsin Fine: up to $500 N/A Wyoming Fine: up to $750 fine and up to six months in jail N/A
View sources for penalties here.
The penalty for driving without insurance varies by state. Knowing that so many motorists either cannot afford or simply choose not to pay for insurance is an extremely daunting fact.
State law prohibits drivers from using any motor vehicle on public roads and highways without being properly covered by an insurance policy, but because the punishments for being caught driving without insurance are so minor.
Many drivers will continue operating their vehicle uninsured in order to save money. It is actually cheaper to not pay for insurance and be fined repeatedly than it is to just pay for it!
Some states, such as Pennsylvania and Alabama are making attempts to curtail these infractions by making driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, and driving while uninsured criminal offenses that can result in jail time for the violator.
How do I report someone that does not have auto 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
Who picks up the tab when involved in an accident with an uninsured driver?
Now, let’s move on to why you are really here; namely who is going to pay for the damages an uninsured driver has done to your vehicle and property?
Unfortunately for many drivers that have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, they often end up having to pay for the damages out of their own pocket.
One method available to attempt and gain back some of the money that was lost due to the negligence of these careless individuals is filing a tort claim in civil court.
Tort law is extremely complicated and you will most likely need to hire an attorney.
A driver is able to seek arrears for damages to their vehicle, recoup medical expenses, and even pain and suffering. Finally, they are also able to force the driver to pay for any legal fees they have accrued during the course of the civil proceedings.
Although this can be a lengthy process and unfortunately, if the judge finds in your favor, there is still a good chance that you are never going to get your money back or will be required to wait a lengthy period toin order to recoup your losses.
The court can force access to the assets of the guilty party and may even garnish their wages to help get the money to pay you back.
However, if the person has no assets and does not have a job, you are going to be waiting a long time before receiving money. It might better not sue an insolvent driver.
Full Coverage Protects You
Your best bet is to just pay for full coverage insurance due to the massive number of uninsured drivers on the road today. If you feel it is too expensive, just imagine how much more it will cost if caught up in an accident with an uninsured motorist?
By utilizing the internet to compare and contrast various insurance providers, you should be able to find a full-coverage policy that is within your monthly budget. It is well worth spending those extra dollars in order to be protected.
Make sure you have the right policy to protect you, your family, and vehicle. Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool to get started!