Driving without insurance is illegal in most states, but you may be wondering what happens if you get in a car accident without insurance. While the penalties for driving a car with no insurance can include a fine, loss of your driver’s license and vehicle registration, and jail time, depending on your state, the consequences of an accident when you don’t have auto insurance depends on whether you are at-fault or not.
Generally, if you cause an accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll be forced to pay for all the damage to your vehicle out of pocket. Furthermore, the other driver can also sue you for vehicle repairs, injuries, and potential lost wages. Ultimately, no matter who causes the crash, being involved in an uninsured accident can be a pain.
Below, we’ll cover everything you need to know about having an accident without insurance, including how to get cheap car insurance after a wreck.
At Fault Accident Without Insurance
Depending on the extent of the damage, paying for an at-fault car accident without insurance can be a financial disaster. You will obviously have to pay out-of-pocket to repair the damage to your own car. In addition to that, you can be sued by others involved in the wreck for damage and injuries that you caused them. If the injuries are serious, resulting in expensive medical bills, such lawsuits can lead to bankruptcy. Finally, your license may be suspended, your car towed and impounded, and you will definitely end up with higher car insurance rates when you do buy coverage in the future.
This is exactly why most states require drivers to buy auto insurance. In exchange for affordable premiums, insurance companies promise to cover and pay for repairs, damages, and injuries, up to your policy limit. This is also why experts highly recommend drivers purchase more coverage than the state’s minimum requirements.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the process is different in “no-fault” insurance states such as Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah. With no-fault insurance, drivers file claims through their own insurance companies regardless of who caused the collision. This often means that the involved parties are unable to sue each other for damaged property or medical costs.
Not At Fault Accident Without Insurance
Even if you didn’t cause the accident, not having insurance can limit what you’re able to recover from the other driver, and you may still face fines and other state penalties. For instance, some states have “no pay, no play” laws, which prevent uninsured drivers from suing for non-physical damages like pain and suffering.
In no pay, no play states, drivers may also have to pay a significant deductible toward repairs and injuries before they can recover any property damage costs from other parties. In Louisiana, this amount is $25,000, but each state has different laws.
States that have “no pay, no play” laws include Alaska, California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon.
Penalty For Driving Without Insurance
Even with a minor car accident, drivers can still face penalties from the state for driving without insurance. Penalties in various states range from fines to jail time, and may include having your license suspended and having your vehicle impounded. Here are a few examples of the consequences of driving with no insurance:
- In Texas, the first-time offender’s fine for driving without insurance is $175.
- In Minnesota, the law calls for a fee of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, and loss of license and registration.
- In New York, you can expect a $150 to $1,500 fine and/or up to 15 days in jail, plus a $750 civil penalty.
- In Pennsylvania, drivers will get a $300 fine as well as a three-month suspension of their driver’s license and registration.
By comparison, California’s penalties are relatively mild. First-time offenders will face a fine between $100 and $200, which then increases to $500 for any subsequent offense within three years. These amounts may seem low, but they come with additional fines and fees, which can make a $100 penalty closer to $450.
Car Insurance Rates After Accident With No Coverage
Most drivers who choose not to carry insurance do so either to save money or because they can’t afford to buy coverage at the moment. The problem is that a lapse in car insurance actually ends up costing drivers much more in the long run. And while causing an accident always results in insurance rates going up, an accident as an uninsured driver will cause your premiums to increase even more.
In California, the average rate for good drivers is just under $1,300 per year, while an at-fault crash with no proof of insurance will increase the cost of insurance to $2,100. Similarly, premiums go from $1,430 to $2,100 in Texas and $1,030 to $1,410 in Illinois.
Because accidents stay on your driving record for up to 3 years, depending on the state and insurance company, your rates may remain at this level for some time.
How To Get Cheap Car Insurance After An Accident
While it may be tough to get cheap car insurance after an accident, there are ways to lower your rates and keep your coverage affordable.
- Get a policy with an accident forgiveness clause. Some insurers offer accident forgiveness, under which they won’t increase your rate for a single accident if you have a clean driving record.
- Take a defensive driving class. Most companies will offer a discount after successful completion of traffic school or defensive driving courses.
- Increase your deductible. This is a much better alternative to no insurance at all, as you still have insurance, but you pay less for your policy and only pay a higher deductible in the event of a wreck.
- Adjust other coverage in your policy. You may be able to reduce your premiums by minimizing policy limits or options. Naturally, you’ll want to maintain more than the state minimum insurance coverage, but drivers have the ability to lower amounts temporarily.
- Shop around and compare insurance quotes. You may be able to find a cheaper rate with a different provider, and some companies may offer you special prices for switching from a competitor. If you haven’t completed a car insurance comparison recently, it may be time to get a few online quotes.
Accident Without Insurance
The bottom line is most states require car insurance, but even if yours doesn’t, owning a policy is still a great idea. Whether you’re a good driver with a clean history or not, accidents do happen. Statistics show that most drivers will be involved in one car accident every 18 years. Getting caught driving without insurance, even without an accident, can also be expensive and may land you in jail. As such, car insurance is an expense that will likely save you much more than it costs.
If you’re ready to buy auto insurance, start with an instant quote online. Before purchasing any coverage, make sure to compare the best companies and learn about their policies, prices, and customer service.