What Happens If You Get Into a Car Accident Without Insurance?

Last Updated on May 16, 2021

Getting into a car accident is frightening. Getting into a car accident without insurance is even more frightening.

What happens if you get into a car accident without insurance? What kind of penalties or fines can you expect to pay? Today, we’re explaining what happens if you get into a car accident without insurance.

Prepare to Pay for All Vehicle Damages and Other Expenses Out of Pocket

what happens if you get into an accident without insuranceDriving without car insurance is illegal in all states except New Hampshire. If you are involved in an accident and you don’t have insurance, then you will need to pay all damages out of pocket.

Insurance typically covers damage to your own vehicle. If you don’t have insurance, however, then you’ll need to cover your vehicle’s own damages.

Insurance also covers damage you inflict on other people and property. If you caused the accident, then your insurance will typically cover the medical expenses and property damage of other people involved in the collision. If you don’t have insurance, then you may be required to pay for these damages out of pocket.

In addition to paying out of pocket for damages, you may be required to pay additional penalties for driving illegally without insurance. you might face fines, loss of your driver’s license, or even jail time, depending on your state’s laws.

What Happens If I’m Not At-Fault for the Accident?

Here’s another unique situation you may encounter: you’re involved in a car accident. You don’t have insurance but you are not-at-fault. What happens now? If you’re not at fault for the accident, will you face any penalties – even though you were driving illegally without insurance?

The answer is complicated. Some states have something called a “no pay, no play” law. In these states, uninsured drivers are forbidden from suing for damages that can’t be quantified by a dollar amount. Such damages include pain and suffering, emotional distress, and similar damages.

Some states with a “no pay, no play” law also require drivers to pay a large deductible towards repairs before they can sue for quantifiable property damage costs. If you’re involved in a not-at-fault collision in Louisiana and you don’t have insurance, for example, then you’ll be required to pay a deductible of $25,000.

All of the following states have “no pay, no play” laws that make it difficult for uninsured drivers to claim damages after a not-at-fault accident:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • New Jersey
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon

Other states do not have “no pay, no play” laws. In these states, you might be able to claim damage from the other driver’s car insurance company. However, you might also be forced to pay fines, fees, and penalties.

What Happens If You Have Insurance, But Can’t Find Proof?

Sometimes, you forget to bring your proof of insurance card with you. In other cases, it’s simply missing – even though you’re legitimately insured.

What happens if you have car insurance but can’t prove it at the scene of the accident?

Some states allow you to show proof of insurance on your phone. Alternatively, you may be able to call your insurance company and get them to send insurance information directly to your email.

If you do not have insurance at the time of the incident but are later able to prove you have insurance, then you may be able to get your fines and penalties dismissed.

Other Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance

Penalties vary widely between states for drivers who are caught without insurance. You can get caught without insurance even if you’re not involved in an accident. Whether you’re in an accident or pulled over, here are some of the other penalties for driving without car insurance:

Here Are the Latest Penalties for Driving Without Insurance, by State:

StateFine AmountJail Time?License Suspended?Registration Suspended?Plates Confiscated?Car Impounded?Points Added?SR-22 Needed After?
Alabama$500 - $1000NoNoYesNoNoNoNo
Alaska$50090 daysYesNoNoNoNoYes (if you were in an accident)
Arizona$500 minimumNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
Arkansas$500 minimumNoNoYesNoNoNoNo
California$100 - $500NoNoNoNoYesNoNo
Colorado$500 minimumCommunity ServiceYesNoNoNoFour pointsNo
Connecticut$35 - $1,00090 daysYesYesNoNoNoNo
Delaware$1,500 - $4,000 NoYesYesYesNoNoNo
D.C.Up to $50090 daysNoYesYesNoNoNo
Florida$150 - $500NoYesYesYesNoNoYes
Georgia$85 - $1,0001 yearYesYesNoNoNoYes
Illinois$500 - $1,000NoYesYesNoNoNoNo
IndianaUp to $1,000NoYesNoNoNoNoYes
Kansas$300 - $1,0006 monthsYesYesNoNoNoNo
Kentucky$500 - $1,00090 daysYesYesNoNoNoNo
Louisiana$17530 daysNoNoYesYesNoNo
Maine$100 - $500NoYesYesNoNoNoYes
MarylandUp to $1,0006 monthsNoYesYesNoFive pointsNo
Massachusetts$5001 yearYesNoNoNoNoNo
Michigan$200 - $5001 yearYesNoNoNoNoNo
Minnesota$200 - $1,00090 daysYesYesNoYesNoNo
Missouri$30015 daysYesYesNoNoFour pointsNo
Montana$250 - $50010 daysNoNoNoNoNoNo
NebraskaUp to $1,0006 monthsYesYesNoNoNoYes
Nevada$600 - $1,000 NoYesYesYesYesNoYes
New HampshireNone (insurance not required in NH)NoYes Yes NoNoNoYes
New Jersey$300 - $1,000Community ServiceYesNoNoNoNoNo
New MexicoUp to $300NoNoYesYesNoNoNo
New York$150 - $1,50015 daysYes YesNoYesNoNo
North CarolinaUp to $1,000 NoYesYesYesNoThree pointsNo
North Dakota$150 minimumNoYesYesNoNoNoYes
OklahomaUp to $25030 daysYesNoYesYesNoNo
Oregon$130 - $1,000NoYesYesNoYesNoYes
Rhode Island$100 - $500NoYesYesNoNoNoYes
South Carolina$445NoYesYesYesNoNoYes
South Dakota$50030 daysYesNoNoNoNoYes
Texas$175 - $350 NoNoNoNoNoNoYes
Vermont$47 - $622NoNoNoNoNoTwo pointsNo
WashingtonUp to $250NoYesNoNoNoNoNo
West Virginia$200 - $5,000 15 days - 1 yearYesYesNoNoNoNo
WisconsinUp to $500NoYes Yes NoNoNoNo
WyomingUp to $7506 monthsYesYesNoNoNoNo

Getting caught driving without insurance could label you as a high-risk driver in the eyes of your insurance company. As a high-risk driver, you might pay substantially higher rates for car insurance in the future.

Conclusion: Getting Into an Accident Without Insurance Is a Costly Mistake

Getting in an accident without insurance is a costly mistake. It could cost you thousands of dollars out of pocket. You could be on the hook for significant medical expenses. The other driver involved in the accident might sue you for damages. Your assets could be seized. You might be forced to declare bankruptcy.

To prevent all of these things from happening to you, make sure your car is insured at all times. It’s illegal to drive without insurance – and the penalties for getting into a car accident without insurance are severe.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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