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When can I drive a car without insurance?

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Things to remember...

  • To drive legally in most states, you must have valid auto insurance and be able to provide proof at all times
  • Failure to have at least the state minimum liability insurance could result in expensive consequences
  • If you are struggling to pay for your car insurance, you can compare rates with other insurance companies and find a new policy that works for your budget

It is illegal to drive a car without valid insurance. The only exception applies to residents of New Hampshire. Even in that case, having auto insurance is essential for financial protection if you ever get into an accident.

Continue reading to learn more about auto insurance laws as well as tips on how to find affordable coverage.

Use our price comparison tool to compare auto insurance rates!

Car Insurance Laws

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The minimum auto insurance coverage required always depends on which state you live in. Be sure to check your state’s exact minimum limits.

If you are moving to a different state, find out what their requirements are.

It’s likely that you will need to cancel your current policy before moving and purchase new coverage to reflect the laws of the state you’ll be residing in.

As you are getting quotes on insurance coverage or looking over your current policy, it’s important to know what all those insurance coverage terms actually mean. Reading over your policy may feel like reading an entirely different language.

Liability, Uninsured Motorist, and PIP are the most common types of insurance that states require every driver to have.

Liability Coverage

Liability covers damages and bodily injury that you cause. This is required in all states (besides New Hampshire) and protects both other drivers and yourself financially.

Liability will not cover injury to yourself or passengers, and won’t cover the cost to repair your own vehicle. It will be the at-fault driver’s responsibility to cover all costs, whether or not they have the minimum insurance.

You may see liability listed as, for example, 25/50/15. This is a shortened way of letting you know what your liability limits are. They are “limits” because that amount is what your insurance will cover towards damages you cause, per accident.

Anything over the limit will need to be covered out-of-pocket.

Going back to the above example of 25/50/15, this is what those numbers mean if you cause an accident:

  • $25,000 Bodily Injury for One Person – The insurance will cover hospital bills for injuries inflicted on the other driver.
  • $50,000 Bodily Injury for One or More Persons – This is the amount the insurance will cover for injuries of the driver and all their passengers.
  • $15,000 Property Damage – This amount will cover the cost to repair the other driver’s vehicle. It will also go towards any damage caused to buildings, sidewalks, street signs, etc.

Keep in mind that even though your state has a minimum limit required, it may not be enough to cover damages if you ever need to actually use the insurance.

You might want to consider adding more than the minimum for peace of mind. This could pay off in the long-run. If you cause an accident and the cost exceeds your liability limits, you will have a lot of expenses to cover.

Uninsured Motorist & PIP

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Along with Liability, many states also require Uninsured Motorist coverage. Though car insurance is required, 12.6 percent of drivers in America still drive without it.

You may not be protected if an uninsured driver hits you even though it’s their financial responsibility to cover it. Your insurance cannot cover the repairs to your vehicle if you only have liability coverage.

In these cases, you have the right to sue the other driver for the funds to cover it. There is no guarantee that this will actually get you the money or allow you to have your car fixed. You could potentially be left without a drivable car for months if the hit is bad enough.

Uninsured motorist will help you in when the other driver does not have liability insurance. Even without the at-fault driver’s insurance, your insurance company will cover the repair costs and hospital bills up to the limit on your policy.

That means you won’t have to wait for a lawsuit to go through; you will be able to have most repairs paid for right away.

Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, is also required in some states. Even if not required in your state, it’s good coverage to have on hand in case you or your passengers are left with serious injuries after a crash.

PIP will cover expenses toward your medical bills, income replacement for having to miss work, and in extreme cases, funeral expenses.

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Consequences of Driving Without Insurance

Driving without valid car insurance, as well as proof of insurance, can mean expensive fines and other consequences. These consequences include:

  • Ticket from law enforcement
  • Penalties from the state DMV
  • Losing the ability to register your vehicle until coverage is confirmed
  • Suspended license, as well as suspended vehicle registration
  • Vehicle may be impounded until all fees are paid and insurance coverage is purchased
  • You may see an insurance rate increase for a lapse in coverage

Getting Affordable Coverage

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If you are an uninsured driver, be sure to purchase a policy right away. If you are uninsured because you can’t afford coverage, it may be a lot cheaper than you think. Having liability-only insurance doesn’t need to be expensive.

If it has been too expensive for you, there are some things you can do to lower the cost.

– Choose a Higher Deductible

If you are leasing or financing your vehicle, you are typically required to have full coverage. This means that you also have coverage for collision and comprehensive damages. Collision and comprehensive come with a deductible anywhere from $250 to $1000.

Switch to a higher deductible so that your monthly rates are lower.

– Liability Only Insurance

If you own your vehicle and currently have collision coverage, you might want to consider dropping it from your policy if your vehicle is older and lower in value. It’s possible that what you’re paying for insurance is far more than your vehicle is worth.

Use your best judgment and decide whether or not you truly need it. Collision and comprehensive can really start to add up if your vehicle isn’t worth fixing in a big accident.

– Get Quotes From Different Insurance Companies

Some insurance companies have higher rates than others. Compare rates with other insurance companies to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.

You may be surprised to find that you can get amazing rates from a great insurance company you can trust.

Insurance quotes are free and take minutes to complete.

– Discounts

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Many insurance companies offer discounts that may apply to you. Though the available discounts vary by company, some of the common ones include:

  • Good driver discounts for having a clean driving record
  • Discounts for students with a “B” average
  • Having theft prevention tools installed on your car
  • Price cut for having more than one vehicle covered in your policy
  • You can get a discount for taking a defensive driving course

Never drive without auto insurance. It leaves both you and other drivers potentially unprotected from a financial struggle. It can also mean fines and penalties that will cost you far more than insurance in the long-run.

If you’re worried about affording coverage, compare with other companies and find rates that will work for you and your family.

Use our free online tool to start comparing rates today!

FREE Auto Insurance Comparison

Compare quotes from the top auto insurance companies and save!

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