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Is It Illegal To Not Have Car Insurance?

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Is It Illegal To Not Have Car Insurance?

Is It Illegal To Not Have Car Insurance?


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Car insurance is one of the biggest costs associated with car ownership, and it’s often something that you can’t avoid.Most states require you to have a minimum amount of bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage, thus protecting you against legal claims if you cause damage to another person or vehicle. In some cases, you also need additional cover for personal injuries, medical payments, and uninsured/underinsured coverage. Failure to meet these requirements could lead to sizeable fines, license suspension, and even jail time.So, let’s take a closer look at how these laws work and how they can differ across the United States.

Is It Illegal To Not Have Car Insurance?


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All states require you to provide proof of financial responsibility so that you can pay for property and personal damages in the event of an accident. In most states, this proof is car insurance. The majority of states have a requirement for three basic coverage options:

  • Bodily injury per person: Covers the cost of medical expenses from another driver or pedestrian.
  • Bodily injury per accident: The total amount covered by bodily injury in a single accident.
  • Property damage liability per accident: Covers damage to other property, such as another vehicle.

If you have the basic cover and wreck your car by driving into a wall or tree, your insurance company won’t pay. However, if you cause bodily injury to another person or their property, the insurance company will step in. As a result, this requirement ensures that drivers are financially responsible and makes the roads safe for everyone.Where minimum insurance is not mandated, state law usually requires the driver to place a bond with the DMV or put down a deposit, with that money being used to cover costs resulting from an accident.For instance, California has a minimum state requirement, but drivers also have the option of putting down a $35,000 deposit. This jumps to $40,000 in Florida and $55,000 in Montana.

What is a No-Fault State?

In an at-fault state, the driver who causes the accident is responsible for the costs incurred by the other party. This is where bodily injury and property damage liability insurance come in—the at-fault driver makes a claim and the other driver is covered accordingly.But some states adopt “no-fault” laws regarding bodily injury. In such cases, both drivers cover their own respective injuries, but the at-fault driver covers the property damage cost. There are 12 states where these laws apply:

  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

What is the Minimum Required Car Insurance?

Take a look at the table below for a list of the minimum auto insurance requirements across the United States. You’ll notice that some states require additional coverage options. Keep reading to learn more about these options.

StateBodily Injury Per PersonBodily Injury Per Accident Property Damage Per PersonOther 
Alaska $50,000$100,000$25,000No Requirements
Alabama $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Arkansas$25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Arizona$25,000$50,000$15,000No Requirements
California$15,000$30,000$5,000No Requirements
Colorado $25,000$50,000$15,000No Requirements
Connecticut $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM
Delaware $25,000$50,000$10,000PIP
Florida N/AN/A$10,000*PIP
Georgia $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Hawaii $20,000$40,000$10,000PIP
Idaho$25,000$50,000$15,000No Requirements
Iowa$20,000$40,000$15,000No Requirements
Indiana $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM
Kansas $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM + PIP
Kentucky $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Louisiana $15,000$30,000$25,000No Requirements
Massachusetts $20,000$40,000$5,000UM + PIP
Maryland $30,000$60,000$15,000UM
Maine $50,000$100,000$25,000UM/UIM + MedPay
Michigan $50,000$100,000$10,000PIP
Minnesota $30,000$60,000$10,000UM/UIM + PIP
Mississippi$25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Montana $25,000$50,000$20,000No Requirements
North Carolina $30,000$60,000$25,000UM/UIM
North Dakota $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM + PIP
Nebraska $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM
New Hampshire N/A**N/A**N/A**N/A**
New Jersey $25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM + PIP
New Mexico $25,000$50,000$10,000No Requirements
Nevada $25,000$50,000$20,000No Requirements
New York $25,000$50,000$10,000UM + PIP
Ohio$25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Oklahoma $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Oregon $25,000$50,000$20,000UM/UIM + PIP
Pennsylvania $15,000$30,000$5,000PIP
Rhode Island $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
South Carolina $25,000$50,000$25,000UM
South Dakota$25,000$50,000$25,000UM/UIM
Tennessee $25,000$50,000$25,000No Requirements
Texas $30,000$60,000$25,000No Requirements
Virginia $30,000$60,000$20,000No Requirements
Vermont $25,000$50,000$10,000UM
Washington D.C.$25,000$50,000$10,000UM
Washington$25,000$50,000$10,000No Requirements
West Virginia $25,000$50,000$25,000UM
Wyoming $25,000$50,000$20,000No Requirements

*Only property damage liability and PIP are required in Florida.**New Hampshire doesn’t have any state minimum requirements

What Are the Additional Insurance Coverage Options?

As noted above, some states require additional coverage options, usually to provide more protection for other drivers. Many of these are also optional in other states:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM/UIM): Although driving without insurance is illegal in most states, there are still many uninsured drivers on the road. This type of coverage steps in to make up the deficit when the policyholder gets into a car accident with an uninsured driver. It also makes up for the shortfall when the driver doesn’t have enough insurance.
  • Personal Injury Protection Coverage (PIP): Better known as “PIP”, this insurance coverage is often required in no-fault states and will pay for the policyholder’s medical bills, rehab, lost wages, and other such expenses.
  • Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay): As with PIP, this coverage option covers some of the medical costs of an accident. However, it is generally not as comprehensive.

Other optional extras include comprehensive coverage and collision insurance. Combined, these coverage options are known as “full coverage”. They provide cover for theft, vandalism, animal collisions, weather damage, and other damage caused to an insured motor vehicle. Roadside assistance is also available and will provide towing and/or repair services following a breakdown.

Can I get less cover?

In some cases, it is possible to get less cover than the above requirements and still abide by state law.In California, for instance, low-income drivers can get cheaper insurance under the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan (CAARP), which reduces the requirements to:

  • $10,000 for bodily injury per person
  • $20,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $3,000 for property damage per accident

Check with your state authorities or insurance companies for more information.

What Are the Penalties for Not Having Car Insurance?

The penalties for not having insurance vary by state, and you can expect more severe punishments if it is not a first offense. In California, a first offense carries a penalty of between $100 and $200, plus assessment fees that can take the total cost up to $400. This increases to a total of between $520 and $1,300 (fines plus assessment fees) for a second offense.In New York state, you could be hit with fines of up to $1,500 each time, and a court may also impound your vehicle and even impose a prison sentence of up to 15 days.Most insurance companies will charge you more when you eventually apply for auto insurance, as your record will show an insurance lapse, thus making you a high-risk driver. Noncompliance fees and reinstatement fees may also apply in some states.Take a look at the table below for a list of first-offense penalty costs:

StatePenalty for First Offense
Alaska $500
Alabama $500
Colorado $500
Connecticut $100
Delaware $1,500
Florida $150
Georgia $85
Hawaii $500
Idaho $75
Indiana $250
Kansas $300
Kentucky $500
Louisiana $500
Massachusetts $500
Maryland $1,000
Maine $100
Michigan $200
Minnesota $200
Montana $250
North Carolina $50
North Dakota $150
Nebraska $100
New Hampshire $125
New Jersey $300
New Mexico $300
Nevada $250
New York $150
Oklahoma $250
Oregon $260
Pennsylvania $300
Rhode Island $100
South Carolina $550
South Dakota$100
Tennessee $25
Texas $175
Virginia $500
Vermont $250
West Virginia $200
Wyoming $250

What Should I Do If I Don’t Have Insurance?

Apply for car insurance before getting behind the wheel again. Contact multiple different insurance companies to run comparisons and see which insurance provider offers you the best policy at the cheapest price.The insurer will make sure you meet the state minimum requirements, after which you can consider whether you need any optional extras, including comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and roadside assistance.Once you have a car insurance policy, be sure to keep a copy along with your registration so you can present proof if you’re ever stopped by a law enforcement officer.

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