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The consequences of driving when you don’t have car insurance depend on the state you live in. If you are an at-fault driver involved in an accident without car insurance, you might be facing hefty penalties like a license suspension, fines, or even jail time.

This article will explain state car insurance requirements and what could happen if you’re caught driving without insurance. We also provide brief recommendations for what we think are two of the best car insurance companies.

If you own a car, you most likely need to purchase a policy if you don't have car insurance, and the best way to find the cheapest price is to compare quotes. Getting car insurance quotes from multiple insurers is the only way to contextualize other options and offers. Enter your zip code into the quote comparison tool or call (844) 246-8209 to get started.

 

In this article:

If You Don’t Have Car Insurance, What Are The Consequences?

If you are caught on the roads when you don't have car insurance you could face penalties that include a suspended license, fines, and even jail time. First offense fines for driving without auto insurance range from $50 to $2,000 depending on the state.

If you own a car but don't drive it, you should still make sure it is insured. Lapses in coverage will lead to increased auto insurance rates and penalties down the road. Penalties for driving when you don't have car insurance are noted on your driving records and make it even more expensive to buy auto insurance.

Car Accidents Without Insurance

The consequences of getting into an accident without insurance can be severe. If you’re involved in an accident and don’t have insurance, this detail will almost certainly be discovered. In addition to the legal penalties mentioned above, you will also be vulnerable to a legal suit in event of an accident. The other driver may take you to civil court to recuperate property damage and medical bills for bodily injury.

As for your own car, driving without insurance means you have no guarantee that your repair bills will be covered. If you get into an accident and the other driver is at fault, their insurance will pay for your damages. However, if you do not have insurance, you may not be able to seek legal redress.

If you are in an accident with another driver that does not have insurance or has too little coverage, you may want to consider uninsured motorist coverage. 

No Pay, No Play Laws

The states listed below have what are called “no pay no play” laws. This means that if you don’t have insurance, you have no legal standing to demand compensation for an accident even if the other driver is at fault.

 

Without car insurance, it is unlikely that you will be able to purchase or lease a vehicle in the first place. Even if you are able to buy a vehicle without insurance, you will not be able to register it and get state plates.


Can You Go To Jail If You Don't Have Car Insurance?

If you are caught driving without insurance, you can face jail time depending on the state. In most states, you will not face jail time for a first offense, but in some, you could. These include:

 

What Is Required For Car Insurance?

With the exceptions of Virginia and New Hampshire, every state has a basic car insurance requirement. Even if you live in one of these states, you should still carry insurance to protect yourself from a lawsuit in the event of a collision.

The way most state requirements work is that all registered vehicles must be covered by a minimum amount of insurance. The minimum requirements are different in each state, but most require some amount of liability coverage. Liability auto insurance pays for damages to the other driver’s vehicle if you cause an accident.

Some states will only find out if you don’t have car insurance when you are pulled over and fail to produce proof. In other states, registered vehicles are automatically audited for insurance coverage. If you don’t own insurance and are the subject of such an audit, you will likely be fined.

Auto insurance may be required to purchase a car, and proof of insurance is often required to register any motor vehicle.


Do I Need Car Insurance?

If you have a car you plan to drive on a public road and you don't have car insurance already, you need a policy. How much car insurance you need depends on your situation.

To meet state requirements, you will need liability insurance. You may also need uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection. Check state guidelines to see your minimum requirements. Your auto insurance provider is also certain to know your state’s laws.

Even if you live in Virginia or New Hampshire – states where auto insurance is not mandatory – you will probably want auto insurance. If you get into a car accident and are found to be at fault, you could be sued for the other driver’s property damage and medical expenses.

In no state are you required to purchase comprehensive or collision insurance. However, just because it isn’t legally mandated doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. You want to make sure that your vehicle is protected. Vehicle repair bills can be steep, and a quality insurance policy is one way to ensure that you can afford to have your car fixed.

If you know you are able to pay out of pocket for repair costs, then you don’t need comprehensive insurance. If you need your car to be operable for your job and don’t have thousands of dollars saved for an expensive repair bill, you should consider full coverage. Think about what would happen if you didn’t have car insurance and suddenly faced a $10,000 repair bill. Body repairs after a major accident can easily reach this high.

If your car is leased, chances are your lender will stipulate you have a full coverage auto insurance policy. Failing to obtain and maintain such policies could lead to your car being repossessed.


Can You Get Car insurance If You Don't Own A Car?

If you do not have a car, you probably don’t have car insurance or need it. But, if you have a driver’s license and live with someone else who owns a car, you need to be listed on their car insurance policy. This does not mean you have to purchase your own policy. Be aware that your inclusion on someone else’s policy will likely cause their rates to rise.

If you don’t plan to use your housemate’s car, you can ask their insurance company to list you as an excluded driver. Not all companies in the auto insurance industry will offer such an option, however.

Non-Owner's Car Insurance

You might consider a non-owner's car insurance policy if you regularly borrow other people’s cars (whose policies you aren’t listed on) or you participate in a ridesharing service. Generally, non-owner car insurance policies provide limited liability coverage for any vehicle you might drive in an at-fault accident to another party. It does not cover damage to the car you’re borrowing, nor does it cover your own injuries in an accident you cause.


Our Recommendations If You Don't Have Car Insurance

If you own a car and don't have car insurance, you should shop around for policies. The auto insurance marketplace can be large and confusing. The first thing you should do is gain an idea of how much you should expect to pay in premiums.

Since demographic factors play such a big role in premium costs, everyone’s car insurance quotes are different. Discover your own quotes and save money by using our quote comparison tool or by calling (844) 246-8209.

 

#1 Geico: Best Overall

We rate Geico 4.5 out of 5.0 stars because of its low premiums and high customer satisfaction scores. As the second-largest insurance corporation in the U.S, Geico boasts an AM Best financial strength rating of A++. Because of its relatively low volume of complaints and long industry record, Geico has a Better Business Bureau rating of A+.

If you don't have car insurance and are considering making a purchase, read our Geico review.


#2 Progressive: Best For High-Risk Drivers

Progressive has been around since 1937 and holds an AM Best financial strength rating of A+, earning it 4.5 stars out of 5.0.  

We think Progressive car insurance is a particularly good option for high-risk drivers. But high-risk drivers aren’t the only people who can find low rates with Progressive. 

If you find a good quote from Progressive, the company is a solid option likely to fulfill covered claims. Read our Progressive insurance review for more. 

Consider comparing our top two recommended providers in Geico vs. Progressive review.


#3 State Farm: Best For Students

State Farm is one of the largest auto insurers in the country, offering competitive rates and comprehensive coverage plans in 48 states. State Farm's usage-based program Drive Safe & Save™ and student discounts help parents of young drivers save up to 30 percent on insurance premiums. 

Based on its high customer satisfaction rates, we think that State Farm is a top-notch insurance company. Read our State Farm insurance review to learn if this company fits your needs. 


FAQ: Don't Have Car Insurance

What happens if you don't have car insurance and get pulled over?

If you are pulled over and don't have car insurance, the penalties for not showing proof of coverage depends on the state you live in. Generally, for the first offense, you are fined by the cop. However, continually driving without insurance can result in more serious consequences, like jail time or a license suspension.

A costly ticket at a routine traffic stop is not the only expense you can incur for driving without insurance. Any future providers can penalize you and raise your premiums as well. 

Is driving when you don't have car insurance a felony?

While driving a car without insurance is against the law in almost every state, it is not a felony. That being said, it's risky to be on the roads without coverage.


Methodology

In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.

  • Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
  • Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
  • Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
  • Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
  • Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
  • Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.

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