What happens if you have a car accident without insurance?

After an accident without car insurance, you may face fines, a license suspension, and a lawsuit. If you aren't at fault for an accident without car insurance, expect no damage compensation.

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Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 19, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Driving without car insurance can damage more than just your driving record
  • Getting caught driving without insurance will cost you a substantial amount of money
  • If you compare quotes online, you will be able to find an insurance plan that works for you

There is a reason that car insurance, or proof of financial responsibility, is required in all 50 states.

When an accident occurs, someone has to pay for the damages caused by that accident. If you don’t have the proper insurance, then the person you hit either has to find a way to pay for the damages or must attempt so sue you for the costs.

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The money isn’t the only thing that you have to worry about if you’re caught in an accident without insurance. Many states have steep fines for those who drive without car insurance.

Having an accident without car insurance is pretty bad, but you can also get in trouble if you are pulled over and you can’t provide proof of insurance as well.

If you choose to drive a car, then you are taking responsibility for all of your actions while you are behind the wheel. If you cause an accident, then you will have to take financial responsibility for those actions.

Just remember, having a car accident without car insurance can cost you a lot more than money!

Some of the Penalties You May Face


As you can imagine, since every state has its own insurance requirements, each state also has its own penalties when you have an accident without car insurance. What’s more, these penalties apply even if you are pulled over and can’t provide proof of insurance.

Not every state can require you to show proof of insurance on demand.

States like Florida cannot ask for your insurance card unless you actually have an accident. In general, most states don’t allow police officers to pull you over specifically to ask for proof of insurance; there has to be an underlying reason for getting pulled over.

It is difficult to say specifically what you can expect to happen if you are in an accident without car insurance because laws vary from state to state.

However, at the very least, you can expect to get a ticket from the officer on the scene. At most, you can be arrested on the spot!

States are becoming more strict in terms of driving without insurance. That is because over 1.5 million drivers in the U.S. drive without auto insurance. When you cause an accident without car insurance, then the driver you hit has to deal with trying to recoup their own costs for damages.

If they have underinsured/uninsured car insurance, then their own insurance company will pick up the tab.

However, that person has to pay more in insurance costs because they have filed a claim with their insurance company. That person can then sue you for those costs, if you live in a tort state, in an effort to prevent their insurance rates from increasing.

There can be jail time associated with driving without insurance or causing an accident without car insurance. Typically, this isn’t the first course of action a state will take, but it is always a possibility.

Here is a real life situation that happened to a man in Florida; let’s call him J.D. to protect his identity: J.D. got sick and couldn’t work. Eventually, his disability ran out and money started getting low so he stopped paying his car insurance. He received his notice to provide proof of insurance and ignored it.

He received a notice that his tags and registrations were suspended and he ignored those too. He continued driving.

A month after his tags and registration were suspended, he was pulled over for speeding. He received a speeding ticket as well as a ticket for driving with a suspended tag and driving on a suspended car registration. His total fines were $400. He kept driving.

A couple of months later, he was pulled over again, this time for driving with suspended registration.

Because he didn’t turn in his tags or provide proof of insurance, his license was suspended. He received another ticket.

A month or two later, he was running an errand and was pulled over. He was arrested for driving on a suspended license as well as the other issues. At this point, he had well over $1,000 in fines, not including the fees he incurred for his impounded vehicle.

It took a few months for Florida to act on this situation, but once they did, J.D. went to jail. He spent 3 months in jail, and this will be on his record for the rest of his life.

Some states act faster than others and most eventually catch up with you. The $1,000 in fines that J.D. paid were more than his car insurance premiums would have been had he kept his insurance instead of letting it lapse.

It is important to understand that driving without car insurance is a crime. When you do it, you are breaking the law.

The point here is that having an accident without car insurance or driving without car insurance is the same thing in terms of penalties and fines. However, you could face jail time.

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What to Do If You Have an Accident Without Car Insurance

The bottom line is that, if the accident has already occurred, you are going to have to pay those fines and work with the people you had the accident with to repay some of the costs, if you were at fault.

If you didn’t cause the accident, many states have laws in place that prevent you from receiving compensation for your damages and injuries if you don’t have auto insurance.

This may not seem fair, but these states are trying to create situations where it simply doesn’t make sense for you to drive without car insurance. Some people think that they drive too safely to cause an accident; however, you simply cannot account for other drivers.

Once you receive your ticket, you need to get some car insurance quotes and purchase insurance.

You will be required to show proof of insurance in court or have your tags and registration suspended, and possibly your driver’s license.

Don’t Face an Accident Without Car Insurance

If you think you can’t afford car insurance, consider some of the costs associated with not buying car insurance:

  • Can you afford to lose your car, your driver’s license and pay fines whenever you are caught?
  • What about the cost of an auto accident out-of-pocket?

If you, like most people, can’t afford these costs, then it’s time to buy car insurance. Enter your zip code now for free online car insurance quotes from multiple companies today!

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