What happens if you total your car with no insurance? [Expert Guide]

1 in 8 drivers is uninsured. If you're uninsured and total your car, you're out of luck. And if you caused the accident, you could be liable for the other person's damages and injuries.

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Mathew B. Sims is Editor-in-Chief and has authored, edited, and contributed to several books. He has been working in the insurance industry ensuring content is accurate for consumers who are searching for the best policies and rates...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
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UPDATED: Jun 3, 2020

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Things to remember...

  • Totaling your car with no insurance means that you are responsible for your accident-related expenses
  • If the car accident involves another driver or someone else’s property, you could be sued
  • You may lose your driver’s license and get fined if you are caught driving without car insurance
  • In order to avoid being fined and sued, you should use a comparison tool to find a valid insurance policy

What do you do with a totaled car and no insurance?

Driving without insurance is illegal in most states. This means that you must have at least a state minimum insurance policy in order to drive legally or proof of financial responsibility, which you can get at your local DMV if you meet the requirements.

If you do not have insurance or proof of financial responsibility and get into a car accident, you may be responsible for paying 100 percent of your accident-related expenses.

If your car’s been totaled with no insurance— or if you’re worried about this happening— you need to get coverage on your car. No matter what your situation, the best way to save money is to shop around. Enter your ZIP code above to get multiple quotes for insurers in your area if you’re currently uninsured.

A Single-Car Accident That Totals Your Car Without Insurance

In addition to severe financial losses, you could have your driver’s license suspended, be put in jail, and face other fines from the court system and your local DMV. In order to avoid massive financial consequences and other severe legal and civil penalties, you should purchase an affordable policy.

If you get into a car accident and total your car without insurance, the best-case scenario is that you only damaged your car and caused injury to yourself.

In this scenario, all you have to do is call the tow truck and/or an ambulance if you are severely hurt. Your car repairs and your medical bills are your responsibility.

However, you don’t have to pay for anyone else’s accident-related expenses because no other people or property were involved.

A Car Accident Without Insurance That Involves Another Car

If you get into a car accident without insurance and you did something to cause the accident, you are going to be the party responsible for paying the damages, and this is in addition to any penalties you may face for simply driving without insurance.

  • Stay at the scene of the accident.
  • Do not state that you have insurance when you don’t.
  • Wait for the police to take a report.

You should only leave the accident scene after everything has been completed.

What happens if you wreck a financed car without insurance?

What happens if you total a financed car without insurance? Unfortunately, you’ll have to pay back the balance of your loan out-of-pocket. There’s no way to get out of paying for your car, and you’ll still be out of a car.

You can see why it’s so important to have coverage. You’ll also likely be violating the terms of your loan if you don’t carry full coverage. If you caused the accident, you may even have to pay for any damages and medical bills that the occupants of the other car may have suffered.

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Hazards of Driving Without Insurance

Some drivers, due to not knowing the laws or financial hardship, opt to cancel their insurance coverage or let it lapse due to nonpayment. If you are one of these drivers, you could be in for a shock.

What are the consequences of not having insurance in your state?

Each state has their own penalties if you are caught driving without insurance.

If you are caught driving without insurance in Michigan, you could face jail time of up to 12 months and be forced to pay a fine between $200 and $500.

Your license may also be suspended for 30 days or until you provide your local DMV with proof that you have acquired an insurance policy.

What happens if you get into a car accident without insurance?

If you get into a car accident without insurance in Michigan, you cannot:

  • Sue for pain and suffering, even if you didn’t cause the accident.
  • Get reimbursement for the damages to your car or your personal injuries that occurred at the time of the accident.
  • Avoid being sued by the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company if you are the driver that caused the accident.

If you get into a car accident without insurance and are at fault, you’ll end up paying out-of-pocket.

There are a lot of uninsured drivers on the roads. The Insurance Information Institute (III) reports that one in eight drivers is going around uninsured. You can search the states you’re driving in below.

Percentage of Uninsured Drivers by State
New Mexico20.80%3
Rhode Island15.20%13
New Jersey14.90%14
West Virginia10.10%32
New Hampshire9.90%35
South Carolina9.40%37
South Dakota7.70%42
North Dakota6.80%45
North Carolina6.50%48
New York6.10%50
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But, if you get into a car accident without insurance and are not at fault, you might end up getting a super lucky wake-up call, along with citations and fees for driving uninsured.

Car Accidents in No-Fault vs. Tort States

When it comes to car accidents and insurance, states are either “no-fault” or “tort/traditional”. If you live in a state with no-fault laws, each driver is expected to file a claim with his or her insurance company.

If the claim is approved, the driver’s insurance company pays for the car accident-related expenses.

If you live in a tort state, once your insurance company receives your claim, they investigate the accident to determine which driver caused the accident.

If you are determined to be the cause of the accident, your insurance company pays for the other driver’s expenses. If the other driver is determined to be the cause of the accident, the other driver’s auto insurance company pays for your expenses.

While this may sound simple, 10 states currently have pay to play rules. If you get into a car accident without insurance, you cannot claim damages because you do not pay for insurance.

To avoid these scenarios, you should find an affordable liability insurance policy by using a comparison tool.

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What Happens After a Car Accident That is Your Fault

Normally, after you leave the scene of an accident and get to a safe location, you would call your insurance company, but since you do not have insurance, you are simply forced to wait and figure out how you will pay for your car repairs and medical bills.

The other driver will file a claim with his or her insurance company. Since you don’t have insurance, the claim will be processed under the driver’s uninsured and underinsured motorists’ coverage.

However, this does not absolve you of financial responsibility.

Once the insurance company determines the other driver’s injuries and the necessary repairs to his or her vehicle, the insurance company can sue you for that amount.

This means that you will have to go to court or agree to a settlement. In both instances, you can probably work out a payment plan with the insurance company in order to pay off the accident-related debt.

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Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve got a few more FAQs below. Read on for more about what to do if your car is totaled.

Can you keep a car if it’s totaled?

If you decide you still want to keep your car after the insurer decides it’s totaled, they’ll still pay out your claim. But, they’ll deduct the value they could have gotten from a scrapyard.

What if you’re in a car accident with no license or insurance?

The penalties for driving without a license fall into one of two categories: willfully violations and correctable offenses.

A correctable offense can be fixed later by the presentation of evidence. An example of this would be if you just forgot to take your license with you that day. In that case, you can have the violation dismissed by the traffic court later by proving that you have it.

Willful violations, however, are different because they show you were knowingly driving on a revoked or suspended license. Penalties for this include getting a citation, paying fines, and even being arrested.

What happens if you get hit by someone without insurance?

There are a lot of uninsured drivers out there. If you happen to get hit by one, your coverage may cover you. If you have full coverage, you should be okay. This video from Allstate talks a little bit about uninsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured and underinsured coverage is important to have — and is required in some states — so that you won’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket.

Do you still have to pay your insurance if your car is totaled?

If your car is totaled by your insurance company, you shouldn’t have to continue paying premiums since you can’t drive your car anymore. You should still contact your auto insurer to see if you may be eligible for a refund for paying ahead of time or what your next step should be.

Can someone drive your car if they’re not on your insurance?

Most of the time, someone who borrows your car with permission and causes an accident will still be covered under your policy. However, if they’re an excluded driver, that will not be the case. You’ll want to double-check before allowing anyone else to get behind the wheel.

What if you’re in a car accident on private property with no insurance?

What can happen if you’re involved in an auto accident on private property while uninsured? In most cases, you should follow the same process as if it happened elsewhere. Make sure you file a police report.

If the accident occurred because of some negligence on the part of the owner of the property, they might be liable for damages.

What to Do if You Don’t Have a Current Insurance Policy

If you do not have a current insurance policy it is in your best interest to locate a new policy and purchase it before you drive again.

Thankfully, this can be accomplished quickly with the use of an auto insurance comparison tool.

Once you enter your information, the program will find all the available policies for you so that you can quickly buy an auto insurance policy.

If you’re currently uninsured and need coverage soon, you can get free quotes from multiple insurers by entering your ZIP code below.

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