To anticipate spending too much money on medical expenses and car repair, purchasing insurance coverage is a good idea. In the event of accident, other people can be in danger too. If you are at fault, other people who are involved in the accident may file lawsuits against you. This particular circumstance will direct auto insurance company to handle all the necessary requirements, for example providing a lawyer, paying court fees, etc.
Insurance company eliminates the hassles, so you will be able to do your everyday activities without worrying about the issues too much. Another reason is that driving without insurance is basically against the law, and there will be penalties for that. Please put in mind that penalties vary between states. The difference can only be in terms of specific details, as instructed by the DMV of your state. All states have the same penalties, but there are differences in the amount of fines, procedures to reinstate insurance, etc. Some of the most common penalties are briefly outlined below.
Driving Ban & Suspended Registration
If you are caught driving without valid insurance, you will be banned from driving and your vehicle’s registration will also be suspended. There is a very simple rule: if the car has no insurance, the vehicle has no plate as well. Commonly you have to turn in the vehicle’s plates to the local DMV. In certain states, such as in New York, car insurance must be provided by a licensed company, meaning your insurer has to be listed or licensed by New York State Department of Financial Services.
Every state has a local insurance department where you can obtain a list of licensed insurers. Please make sure you only purchase coverage from the listed car insurance companies to get valid proof of insurance. In New York, insurance coverage provided by any insurer from any other state will not be considered valid. It makes sense since every state has different details in traffic regulations. If you are driving without insurance, the New York State will suspend your vehicle’s registration until certain time period.
If registration suspension exceeds 90 days, your driver license will be suspended too, meaning you cannot drive any vehicle anymore until your driver license is reinstated. In New York, you have to pay a fee of $25 – $50 to reinstate the driver license. It is better to turn in your plates to the New York DMV before your insurance coverage ends; you will then get a receipt to proof that you already turned the plates in. This rule also applies even if your car is in the storage or parked at public road.
Car Gets Towed
Excluding New Hampshire, all states in the United States penalize uninsured drivers. However, each state implements different set of rules concerning the fines and other penalties. If you commit any traffic offense, your car will be pulled over and the officer will ask you to produce driver license, vehicle titles, and proof of insurance. You will be fined based on the offense. In most states, if you fail to produce proof of insurance, your car will be towed away and impounded.
Because you were driving the car when it was pulled over, you will be responsible for paying the storage fees and fines to get the car back. Depending on the state where you live, the total amount can be thousands of dollars. Considering you have to also purchase insurance before you can repossess the car, it is safe to say you will spend more money in addition to the fines and storage fees. Usually, you will need at least liability coverage to take the car back. However, if your driver license is suspended due to traffic offenses such as DUI (Driving under Influence) or other violations, you may have to take someone with a valid driver license.
You can bring the original insurance document, the copy of it, or simply fax it depending on the DMV. Please also make sure that you bring enough money to pay all the charges. Instead of paying thousands of dollars, it is best to purchase insurance coverage which is probably way less expensive. You can use online car insurance calculator to estimate the price of insurance policies from almost every insurer.
Once again, depending on the state where you live, proof of insurance can be in different forms. One of the most common is SR-22 document, which basically shows you have the least minimum liability requirement to be considered legal for driving. There are some situations where SR-22 is obligatory such as when you are caught for driving under influence, at fault in the event of accident, you commit too many traffic offenses, or having non-valid driver license.
If you are required to obtain an SR-22 document, you will have to maintain the minimum insurance requirement of the state in which the document is issued and keep the document for usually 3 years, even if you move to other states. If in any case your insurance lapses or is cancelled, your vehicle registration and driver license will be suspended again. SR-22 requirements can be different from state to state, but you can ask your local DMV or insurance company for more details.
Besides SR-22 document and insurance card issued by your insurer, there are two more valid proofs of insurance that you can use. In some states, the preferred form is electronic database sent by your insurer to the DMV. Even if your insurance company uses this procedure, you must always keep the insurance card with you as backup. It is worth mentioning that some people choose not to be insured, yet they use a different form of responsibility, which is a large amount of deposit. Surprisingly, many states allow people to use this form indeed.
There are two possible methods you can use if you choose not to purchase insurance policy from any company. First, you have to make large deposit but the amount varies depending on the state; it is usually from $25,000 to $100,000. Another way is to purchase or secure a bond with a surety company. The surety bond company should be an authorized one in your state. If you prefer to use one of those methods, please make sure to keep the certificate of bond or deposit with you.
The car is indeed yours after you purchase it, but you are not allowed to drive it on the road unless you also buy insurance coverage for it. The car should be covered by at least liability insurance before it can get to roadway. When you are pulled over due to any reason, the police officer will ask for insurance card or any other valid proof of insurance.
If you cannot produce it, you will receive a ticket in addition to the actual reason why you were pulled over in the first place. For example, if you are being stopped for speeding or driving in the wrong lane, and you are currently not insured, the tickets you receive will include all those offenses. Again, depending on the states, you will probably be able to dismiss the ‘driving without insurance’ ticket.
The other violations have been committed, and there is no way to dismiss the tickets. If you can produce the proof of insurance within the time period indicated on the ticket, this specific offense can be dismissed. This is possible only if you were actually insured at the traffic stop, yet for whatever reason you did not bring insurance card or any other proof of insurance. Based on this, even the best car insurance companies in the world will not be able to save you from the fines.
In case where you were not insured at all at the traffic stop, you have to deal with an exceptionally high fine. In Ontario, for example, the minimum fine for this offense is $5,000. According to NAIC (National Association of Insurance Commissioners), the exact amount varies by state, but it typically starts from $5,000 to $10,000. There is also a 25% surcharge added to the actual fee. Driving without insurance doesn’t make any sense, since you can get cheap auto insurance easily from many companies.
Jail time is usually for repeat offenses only. Uninsured driver will be put in jail for a maximum of 30 days depending on the situation. To make things worse, you still have to appear in court and pay the fines based on the offenses you committed. You will therefore are penalized with both penalties. Based on a study conducted by IRC (Insurance Research Council) in 2011, one out of seven drivers in United States is uninsured.
The main reason is that insurance policies are expensive, which is not a good excuse after all. If you do a little online research, you will find numerous websites providing car insurance estimate services for you free of charge. The websites usually access some of the most reputable insurers in the state and perform the estimation based on the personal data you provide such as age, car model, address, mileage, etc.
Such estimation will not be 100% accurate, but you can at least predict the actual amount you need to pay. If you won’t use independent estimator, you can ask for car insurance quotes from almost every company in the state. Those companies nowadays provide the quotes for free, and you can get it without buying their policies.
What happens if the other driver has no car insurance?
No Pay No Play
This is a relatively new penalty, and it is currently only implemented in 8 states across United States including Oregon, North Dakota, Alaska, Iowa, California, Michigan, Louisiana, and New Jersey. The law basically states that uninsured drivers are not allowed to receive compensations from insured drivers regardless who are at fault in the event of accidents. In Montana, for example, uninsured drivers are allowed to file a lawsuit against their insured counterparts to obtain compensation for non-economic damages.
With ‘no pay, no play’ law, uninsured drivers are prohibited from doing so because they basically are not providing the same benefits to others. In the simplest way, uninsured drivers are considered cheating on those who are insured. Those who do not have insurance will not be allowed to collect compensation for non-economic damages from other drivers who actually have insurance policies.
This can be a good idea, since there are cheap auto insurance quotes all over the market, and some people simply don’t want to purchase it even if it is against the law. The only way that uninsured drivers can file a lawsuit is when they pay large deductible (usually around $10,000). Only after that they can sue for property damage.