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No Car Insurance? What Can Happen?

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

What can happen if you drive without car insurance?

It may feel like a victimless crime. After all, car insurance is usually purchased to protect the driver. So if you, as the driver, opt out of purchasing insurance, you're making your own choice not to have that extra back-up layer of protection in case you're in a car accident or dispute. Right?


Unlike other types of insurance that may be optional, car insurance is often required. All states at least require that drivers carry some form of liability insurance. This isn't just for your benefit; it also benefits the other drivers on the road whom you may meet, literally, by accident.

So what can happen if you don't have any form of car insurance? While the laws on this issue vary by state, here are some common penalties:

  • Getting your driver's license or vehicle registration suspended. That's right, you don't have to commit a moving violation to get your driver's license suspended. Some states abide by this strict penalty to deter people from driving without insurance.
  • Receiving a traffic ticket. If your reason for not having a driver's license is due to oversight of an expiration date or because you were unaware of certain laws, you may just get a ticket in some cases. Sometimes, the ticket may even be dismissed if you can prove within a certain timeframe that you've since purchased car insurance.
  • Difficulty in the future. If you're caught driving without car insurance, you're likely to be found guilty of violating state financial responsibility laws. This can potentially come back to bite you: When insurance companies run background checks (or, actually, when any company runs a background check), this will likely show up. In terms of car insurance, it could raise your premiums or even be a reason to deny you affordable insurance.
  • Paying out-of-pocket. This may seem like something that you knew you'd be getting yourself into when you made the decision to drive without car insurance. But costs add up very quickly. On top of fines from traffic tickets, you could be paying very hefty amounts of money if you're found liable. This can include property damage, hospital bills, and other things including the price of a replacement vehicle.

While getting caught without car insurance usually doesn't end up on your criminal record, there are still dire (and potentially expensive) consequences. It's best for you to purchase the most affordable insurance you can in order to avoid an even more unpleasant experience than the car accident itself.

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