Can I get my car out of impound without insurance?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®

UPDATED: Aug 8, 2017

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Here's what you need to know...

The odds that you’ll have an accident while driving your car are 1 in 366. While these odds don’t seem too serious, there’s a much greater likelihood that you’ll get pulled over while driving.

According to data reported by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the odds that you’ll be pulled over in any given year are 1 in 11.5.

Once you’re stopped, your chances of being ticketed for an infraction are 1 in 1.8.

Obeying the rules of the road is a good way to avoid becoming a statistic. If you drive the speed limit, stop at stop signs, and signal before you turn, you’re not automatically in the clear.

You’re expected to comply with driving laws and also with auto insurance laws when you’re licensed and own a vehicle. If you don’t have auto insurance on your car, there’s a high chance that you could lose it.

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Why are you required to carry auto insurance on a car?


You don’t legally have to buy individual disability insurance, renter’s insurance, or life insurance in any state.

Federal law does say that you have to have medical insurance, but that’s set by the Federal government and not state officials. Auto insurance is one of the only forms of insurance that’s mandatory most states.

Auto insurance is required for many reasons. Perhaps the biggest reason that auto insurance is required is that you can injure others while you’re driving a car.

If you do hurt someone, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have money put aside to pay the costs on your own. By requiring auto insurance, you’ll be able to pay when you’re liable for damages.

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What type of auto insurance is compulsory?

The state will never tell a car owner that they have to buy property insurance on their car. It’s the legal owner’s decision as to whether or not they want that extra protection that helps pay for comprehensive or collision losses.

If the car is financed, you will be under a contract that says you’re expected to keep full coverage, though.

It’s not typical for the state to require you to buy first-party coverage. What is usually required is third-party coverage. This coverage will pay for someone else’s damages when you’re the one who caused them.

If you could be sued for damages, then the liability coverage will help to protect your finances.

Here are the two mandatory types of coverage:

  • Bodily Injury Liability – pays for medical bills and other expenses incurred by others
  • Property Damage Liability – pays for repairs needed on damaged property after an auto-related accident

You Must Have Insurance to Register Your Car


When you’re buying a car, you need to buy auto insurance. As soon as you’re the registered vehicle, you’ll have to be able to prove that you have compulsory auto insurance in your name.

This proof is required to register your car so that you can get your tags.

After the car is registered, the insurance must stay active continuously.

What happens if you don’t have auto insurance continuously?

Failing to keep coverage on the car after you get your registration is against the law. Some penalties can be assessed.

One of the first things that happen is your registration is suspended. If you’re pulled over, you could be cited, ordered to appear in court, or even worse — your car could be impounded.

Can police see if you have auto insurance?


Not only can the DMV see your insurance status, but police officers can also see it. Technology has made life easier, and it’s also made it possible to report and access information in real time.

Now, there are electronic reporting systems in place that insurers report to and that all authorized state officials have access to.

When you’re driving around, an officer can enter your license plate number into their onboard computer to see if your insurance is active. Having a lapse for just a day or two can hurt your reputation.

While officers can see your insurance status, they can’t pull you over just because of your insurance lapse.

What happens during a traffic stop if you don’t have insurance?

If you were speeding or there’s another valid reason for the officer to stop you, not having insurance will definitely work against you.

Make sure you’re honest with the officer, or you could rack up more charges. If they ask for proof of insurance, don’t hand over an expired document.

You will get cited and there’s a possibility that the officer won’t let you drive off in the car. If this happens, the car will either be towed or impounded.

If the car isn’t impounded, you’ll still have to appear in court to plead and ask the judge for a reduced fine.

In some states, you must be placed under arrest for driving uninsured. When this happens, the car is impounded to a police lot.

How do you get your car out of the impound lot?


Getting your car out of the impound lot isn’t as easy as going to a towing company and asking to have it released. You have to complete steps before the car will be released.

Here are the steps that you must follow:

  • See if the car must be impounded for a mandatory period of time
  • Get the release for it signed off
  • Get your ID and your vehicle ownership papers
  • Buy auto insurance and bring proof
  • Bring enough money to pay fees for towing and storage

You can’t get your car out of the lot if you still don’t have insurance. If you haven’t bought a policy yet, it’s time to go shopping.

Start from the comforts of your own home. Use our online quoting system to compare rates now!

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