What Happens If You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance?

a driver cruises off into the sunset

Have you ever wondered is it illegal to drive without insurance or proof of financial responsibility? It absolutely is! Not all states are created equal when it comes to car insurance laws, but no matter where you live, driving without auto insurance or proof of financial responsibility is against the law. And if you’re caught driving without insurance, you’ll almost always be facing serious penalties that can hurt your bank account and make your life much more difficult. 

What happens if you get caught driving without insurance?

Getting caught driving without car insurance can hold some hefty consequences. While New Hampshire and Virginia don’t require a traditional insurance policy, you still must be able to show you can pay for an at-fault accident. Penalties for driving without insurance vary by state, but can include:

  • Your driver’s license and vehicle registration could be suspended: This would mean you couldn’t legally drive until the suspension is lifted. If this happened, how would you get to work or visit friends? How quickly would Uber and Lyft rides add up? Reinstatement fees vary from place to place, so you should consult your state’s DMV for a more accurate estimate.
  • You could have to pay for a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation: This would be in addition to the ticket costs for the reason you were initially pulled over.
  • You could spend time in jail, have your license plate confiscated, or your vehicle impounded: The exact consequences depend on where you live, if it’s a repeat offense, or if you cause a wreck, reports the Consumer Federation of America.
  • You could be required to certify your insurance with an SR22: This would mean you might have to submit proof to the state that you’ve met certain insurance requirements. While there’s no single set cost associated with an SR-22 certification:
    • There is often a fee associated with the SR-22 filing.
    • You’ll be seen as a high-risk driver and likely experience an increase in your car insurance premium.
    • In some states, you will be ineligible for a payment plan, meaning you’ll have to pay your premium in full.
    • You may find that your insurance company will not renew your insurance if it does not write SR-22 policies.
    • You may not be accepted by all insurance companies.

In most states, insurers are required to notify the state’s DMV if a driver’s liability coverage lapses or is canceled for any reason. In such situations, the driver is typically given a short window (usually 10-20 days) to address the issue or face penalties. This means you don’t even have to get caught driving a vehicle uninsured to get in some level of trouble.

About Car Accidents and Uninsured Drivers

We discussed what happens to drivers who are caught driving without coverage, but what happens after a car accident when one of the drivers is uninsured? Here’s what you need to know broken down by each scenario.

What if you get into a car accident without insurance?

On top of the costs and legal penalties we mentioned above, you must also consider car accident expenses if you’re involved in a wreck as an uninsured driver. Could you pay out of pocket for damages you cause to others in an auto accident? If you drive uninsured and cause bodily injury or property damage to another person, you would be liable for those bills.

Not to mention you’ll have no auto insurance coverage for your own injuries or property damage. Without insurance, your finances could suffer a serious blow because the cost of a car accident is much higher than many people realize.

What happens if I don’t have auto insurance and someone else causes the accident?

Generally, the at-fault party and/or his or her insurer will be responsible for paying the damages caused. However, depending on the state you live in, there could be limits on your right to sue or recover from the at-fault driver. Some states, like Louisiana, have “no pay, no play” laws, meaning uninsured drivers are prohibited from collecting certain damages from an insured at-fault driver. So, even if you plan to drive carefully and never cause a crash, you’re still potentially putting yourself at great risk.

What happens if an uninsured driver hits you?

After a car accident, make sure you follow the appropriate steps (check for injuries, call 911 if necessary, etc.) after collecting yourself. If you find out an uninsured driver hit you, most of the actions you take at the scene should be similar to those after any other crash, but there might be a few exceptions. Here’s what to do:

  • Swap information, document the scene, and get a police report. No matter how large or small the accident, or the insurance status of the drivers, it’s always a good idea to collect as much evidence and information as possible. Get the other driver’s registration info and contact info, take photos of the scene, talk to witnesses, and get a police report, if available.
  • Don’t get guilted, and don’t take a quick payout: Driving without insurance is illegal, and the other driver almost certainly knows that. If they attempt to talk you out of calling the police because they’re worried they could get in trouble, don’t fall for it. If they attempt to offer some form of quick settlement, don’t accept it. It’s better to notify the authorities and find out how serious any damages or injuries are first.
  • Contact your insurance companies: You should always report any accident to your car insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance policies give you a certain time requirement to report any accidents to your insurer. Once you report the accident, a knowledgeable agent can walk you through what to do if the other driver is uninsured. It’s also a good idea to talk to your health insurance company if you suffered any injuries.

Which types of insurance coverage protect you from uninsured drivers?

One of the best ways to safeguard yourself from uninsured drivers is to make sure you have the right auto insurance coverage in place before an accident. These types of coverage can help protect you from people who are driving uninsured. 

Collision Coverage

If you’re involved in a car crash, collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault. Collision coverage can even help you out financially if you’re the victim of a hit and run, which is a possibility if the other driver is uninsured and afraid of the potential consequences. Please note, collision coverage doesn’t help pay for your medical expenses if an uninsured motorist crashes into your vehicle.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver or the driver can’t be identified (hit and run), uninsured motorist coverage will help pay for your medical bills. Depending on which state you call home, uninsured motorist coverage might actually be mandatory, and it could also help cover some of the damages to your car. In some locations, uninsured motorist coverage might also help pay for your medical expenses if the at-fault party does have liability insurance, but not enough to cover the total cost of your medical bills.

No-Fault States: Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage

If you live in a no-fault state, your own insurance coverage pays for medical expenses stemming from an accident. No-fault states typically require personal injury protection (PIP), which is often called “no-fault insurance.” PIP coverage can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, service replacement (like childcare while you’re recovering), and funeral expenses. For those who want extra protection, medical payments auto coverage is not usually required, but it can also help pay for medical, hospital, and funeral expenses after a covered accident.

Get covered with Direct Auto!

The best way to avoid the legal penalties and numerous fines for not having car insurance is by driving insured. If you have any additional questions, we’re happy to help! Give us a call, visit our website, or stop by a nearby location for a free quote today.

Related Articles to Explore

  • Your Distracted Driving Guide

    Here's how you can prevent accidents due to distracted driving.

    View Article