What happens if you have a car accident without insurance?

Despite the fact that driving without insurance is illegal in almost all states, approximately 12.6% of motorists in the United States are uninsured, according to the latest report from the Insurance Research Council (IRC). Whether you are uninsured by choice, due to a lapse in coverage or non-payment of premiums, there are consequences – legal and financial – to driving uninsured. This is especially true if you have a car accident and are an uninsured driver.

Penalties are dictated by state law, the driver’s record, and the manner in which the accident occurred, and may include:

If you are involved in an accident and do not have car insurance, your legal and financial obligations, if any, will depend on whether or not you were responsible for the accident and the state in which you live.

If you live in a state that requires auto insurance and you are at fault

Each state has its own laws governing auto insurance, but generally there are two systems that states will follow: no-fault and tort (or liable).

  • In a no fault state, drivers are required to pay for damage to their vehicle – and in some cases medical expenses – regardless of the cause of the accident. Motorists in these states must purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. If you do not have insurance, you will have to pay these costs yourself.

However, there are certain circumstances in which you can be sued by the other driver, such as for pain and suffering, which are generally excluded from PIP coverage. No-fault states typically dictate the grounds for these pain and suffering claims by setting thresholds that must be met — financially or based on injury severity — before the other driver can sue.

  • In tort (or at fault), the other driver can sue you for damages, period, whether for medical bills, car repairs, or pain and suffering. If you don’t have the funds to satisfy the settlement, a judge can potentially use all the assets you own or seize future income to do so.

If you live in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Kentucky, you have the option of choosing between no-fault or liability insurance, although your right to sue for damages is more limited than in a traditional tort state.

If you live in a state that requires auto insurance and you are not at fault

Your ability to recover damages from the driver at fault when you are uninsured depends on where you live. In the United States, 11 states have passed so-called “No pay, no play” insurance laws that limit or prevent uninsured drivers from claiming damages. Some states prevent uninsured drivers from recovering damages, while others limit claims to medical expenses, lost earnings, and vehicle repairs. The “No pay, no play” states are:

Whether you live in a “No Pay, No Play” state or not, you should check with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to see what, if any, you can recover if you are uninsured and that you are not responsible for an accident. .

If you live in a state that does not require car insurance and you are at fault

There are only two states in the United States that do not require drivers to carry car insurance: New Hampshire and Virginia. If you are a resident of New Hampshire and choose not to purchase insurance, you will be held personally liable for all damages, including bodily injury and property damage, resulting from an accident caused by you – and you may need to provide proof of sufficient funds. The legal consequences of non-payment of damages may include the loss of your driver’s license. You may also be required to purchase and show proof of insurance for three years after the date of the accident.

In Virginia, drivers have the option of paying an uninsured motor vehicle expense of $500 when registering a vehicle and at each registration renewal. Insurance coverage is not provided in exchange for fees. The driver is always personally liable for the payment of bodily injury and property damage in the event of an accident he causes. If you falsely register a vehicle as insured, you may be subject to license and registration suspensions, a $600 non-compliance fee and a $145 reinstatement fee. You may also be required to provide proof of insurance via an SR-22 form for three years after conviction.

If you live in a state that does not require car insurance and you are not at fault

Drivers in New Hampshire and Virginia who are uninsured may be able to recover damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company by filing a third-party claim or personal injury lawsuit. Contact a personal injury attorney, your state’s insurance department, or an insurance representative to find out what options are available to you.

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage can pay for damage caused by an at-fault driver without insurance or, in many cases, a getaway driver. Coverage varies by airline and your state of residence, but generally pays medical expenses for you and your passengers in the event of injury in the crash. It may also include property damage coverage for repairs to your vehicle. Coverage for uninsured motorists is mandatory in 20 states and optional in others.

Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage can pay for damage caused by an at-fault driver whose liability insurance coverage limits do not cover the full amount. It is legally required in some states and optional in others. It includes coverage for bodily injury to you and your passengers and, depending on where you live, property damage coverage to repair your automobile.


According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the cost of insurance can be a significant factor in why people are uninsured, especially for those with a speeding ticket, accident or DUI on their record. or who have a bad credit history. Although drivers with less than perfect driving records face higher average annual insurance rates, they can still save money on car insurance.

Cheapest fares for drivers with an accident on their record

For drivers with an accident on their record, State Farm offers an average rate of $1,516 per year.

Cheapest rates for drivers with a DUI on their record

State Farm can be a favorable option for drivers with a DUI. According to our study, his average annual rate for this category is $1,711.

Cheapest fares for drivers with a speeding ticket on their record

With an average annual rate of $1,409, State Farm is the cheapest insurance company in our ranking for drivers with a speeding ticket.

Cheapest rates for drivers with low credit

Geico offers an average rate of $1,810 per year for drivers with bad credit history.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurance companies can use a person’s credit report to determine their rates in all states except California, Hawaii and Massachusetts. Insurers look at how a person manages their debt, including factors such as on-time payment, collections and bankruptcies (if applicable), and credit history, among other factors.

“The reason for such widespread adoption of insurance scores for underwriting and pricing is that most studies have found a strong relationship between insurance scores and losses,” III notes.

Keep in mind that auto insurance rates are also determined by a number of factors beyond your driving record, including where you live, your age and gender, and the type of vehicle you drive. drive.

Learn more

For more information on car insurance, see the following guides:

Other ratings from 360 reviews

For more information on other types of insurance, see the following guides:

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Please note that the information provided on this website is for general information purposes only and does not constitute and is not intended to constitute legal advice.

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