What happens if I forget to get insurance for my car?

If you forget to renew your car insurance, you could face fines and jail time. If you get into an accident without insurance, you will have to pay for the damages out of pocket.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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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® Joel Ohman

UPDATED: May 28, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • If you forgot to call your insurer before getting back on the road, remedy the situation immediately and call them
  • You could face fines if you’re caught driving uninsured
  • If you are in an accident and have no insurance, you will be in a very bad financial situation

Do you think that it’s not really a big deal if you forget to notify your auto insurance company when you decide to put your vehicle back onto the road and start driving it again without any current auto insurance coverage?

Well, imagine this scenario:

A friend came to me for insurance advice the other day. His sheepish delivery implied he knew the answer to his question even before he asked it. “What happens if I forgot to phone my insurance company when I put my car back on the road?”

“You mean you drove without insurance? You didn’t get into an accident, did you?” I demanded.

“No, no, I didn’t get into an accident.”

“Lucky for you. Now you only have to worry about huge fines and possibly jail time for driving uninsured. If you had gotten into a bad accident, the whole situation could be much, much more serious.”

Make sure you are properly covered with car insurance before you drive! Enter your zip code in the tool above to compare car insurance quotes.

Forgetting to Phone the Car Insurance Company is No Excuse

My friend had been storing his car in his driveway for over a year after the vehicle had been rendered useless by a transmission repair he couldn’t afford to make.

He canceled his car insurance policy but kept the car up on blocks on his property, counting on the fact that he’d eventually find enough money to get it fixed.

He finally did, but, as we see here, he did not go through the proper channels to get his car insured before he got behind the wheel again.

The penalties for driving uninsured differ from state to state. In Missouri, where we live, my friend can be looking at major inconvenience if he gets in an accident or gets pulled over.

If he is unable to give the police officer proof of insurance, the first violation will most likely result in four points added to his driving record. If he gets a total of eight points within 18 months, his license will be suspended for a year.

In other states, fines can range from $500 to $3,000 per violation.

Getting his car impounded is another very real threat that my friend faces if he drives without insurance.

There are states that do not require car insurance, per se, but my friend would find himself in hot water even if he resided in those locales.

In the absence of insurance, the states of Tennessee and New Hampshire require proof of financial responsibility for those operating a motor vehicle.

This means that drivers must provide a guarantee that they can afford to pay for damages (equal to the amount covered by the minimum required car insurance levels) in the event of a car accident.

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Driving Uninsured can be a Costly Mistake

Since my friend could not even afford to repair his own car’s transmission for over a year, it is a foregone conclusion that there is no way he’d be able to cover the damages if he got in an accident with another car (or multiple cars) while driving uninsured.

If he is found liable for the medical expenses and car repairs for the other driver(s) or passenger(s), the amount owed could get unmanageable in a hurry.

If he himself were injured, the cost of his own medical care, combined with his inability to work, would exacerbate the gravity of the situation.

All of this could have been remedied if he had remembered to phone his insurance company when he put his car back on the road.

But since we can’t go back in time, the best thing to do is proceed as quickly and effectively as possible in order to secure car insurance.

Find the Best Car Insurance Policy Fast

I told my friend to phone his insurance company pronto or, better yet, to find an even better rate on his insurance policy.

If he is caught driving uninsured, it will cost him with every hiked-up premium he must pay because he has been proven a risk to the insurance company.

He can minimize the damage by getting himself insured as soon as possible.

By looking at the offerings from other companies instead of reverting to his former insurance provider, he can save himself a good chunk of change. It’s a wise idea to compare quotes every six months in search of the best deal.

Not only can a person’s situation change, but so can the requirements and benefits of the insurance company.

By comparing car insurance quotes online, my friend can find the most cost-effective policy that will shield him from the dangers of driving uninsured. You can, too.

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