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
Driving 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:
- North Dakota
- New Jersey
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:
- License suspension
- Vehicle impoundment
- Court fees and fines
- Higher insurance fees in the future
- SR-22 Proof of Financial Responsibility certificate (required for high-risk drivers)
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.