There are only two states that do not require you to have car insurance. Unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, you are required by law to have auto insurance coverage. Even with the two state exceptions, you must either show that you are able to pay for damages or pay an uninsured motorist fee.
The penalties for failing to have an auto insurance provider are severe and while they vary from state to state, just about all result in a combination of hefty fines (upwards of $500+), license or registration suspensions (60-90 days), and community service hours. If you have a second or third offense, you may be facing imprisonment.
Most states take car insurance very seriously and the repercussions mentioned above occur when drivers are caught operating a vehicle without insurance. This does not even include the ramifications after an accident.
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So, What Happens in an Accident?
Chances are if you don’t have car insurance in a state that requires it, it’s probably because you can’t afford it. Still, if you are in a car accident, there are some actions you can take:
- Involve the Police
We know this might not be the course of action you first want to take, but it is important. A written report can help protect you, especially if the insured driver chooses to sue you for damages if you’re at-fault. If the collision was the other driver’s fault, you’ll want written proof of the incident so that you will be covered under the other driver’s policy.
- Contact an Attorney
If possible your best option may be to prepare for legal action, as you will likely be sued either by the driver or by their insurer (if they have uninsured motorist coverage and have to foot the bill for your expenses).
- Own Up
Admit you don’t have the required auto insurance. Lying or withholding information will only create more problems for you. Understand that you will likely face regular state penalties in addition to accident expenses. Sometimes, if you can’t pay the other driver’s expenses right away, you can negotiate a payment plan. Also, don’t forget to check your state laws so that you are aware of your rights and what the likely consequences will be. If your state is one of the 12 with No-Fault Laws, then you’ll be required to pay your portion of damages out of pocket, regardless of which driver is at-fault.
What Should I Do Now?
Get car insurance coverage as soon as possible. If you can’t afford auto insurance, and your state requires it, then you probably shouldn’t be driving at all. It’s not worth the risk of collision or the repercussions.
It won’t be easy to find affordable car insurance after failing to have it. A gap in coverage often causes rates to rise steeply. However, it’s still worth obtaining quotes so that you can discover all of your options and make a decision from there. Some companies sell car insurance specifically for high-risk drivers, so if finding coverage from other companies is too much of a hassle, it may be worth looking for one that matches your specific needs.
In most states, driving without car insurance has major legal ramifications. Getting into an accident without auto insurance causes even more of a headache. Avoid both of these by simply getting coverage today.
Photo credit (in-line): Wikimedia