What Happens After a Car Accident When You Have No Auto Insurance?

Depending on your state, different consequences may follow if you're in an accident and don't have auto insurance. You could face jail time, pay a fine, lose your license or even have your vehicle impounded. Understanding your state's laws and having the required auto insurance is important.

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Last Updated: 9/24/2022
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It's important to note that the penalties for driving without car insurance vary from state to state. However, in most states, it is still illegal to drive without insurance.

If you drive without insurance, you could face serious consequences such as getting fined, having your license suspended, having your vehicle impounded or going to jail. You can be sued if you are at fault in an accident.

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Key Takeaways

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If you cause a car accident and are the at-fault driver, you will be financially responsible for any damage you cause if you don't have insurance.

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Driving without insurance has different penalties depending on where you live, who caused the accident and how much damage was done.

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Insurance companies will not offer coverage to someone in an accident, regardless of whether or not they were at fault.

What if You Have No Insurance After a Car Accident?

In most states, not having auto insurance is a criminal offense. Getting into a car accident without insurance can lead to many penalties and fines.

The consequences can be long-term, as an accident can stay on your record for several years and affect your insurance rates. Learn more about the penalties of having no auto insurance after an accident below.

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    Face Fines

    You may be fined for not having car insurance, and penalty amounts vary from state to state. In some states, the fine is just a few dollars, while some have penalties in the hundreds.

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    Lose or Suspend Driver’s License

    The state may suspend or revoke your driver's license if you don’t carry car insurance. You may have to pay a fine and attend a driver’s education program to reinstate your license.

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    Serve Jail Time

    In some states, you may spend time in jail if you don’t have car insurance. The amount of time you spend in prison will vary from state to state.

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    File an FR-44 or SR-22

    You may be required to file an FR-44 or SR-22. An FR-44 or SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that proves you have the minimum car insurance required by your state. You will need an FR-44 or SR-22 from an insurance company licensed in your state.

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    Have Your Vehicle Impounded

    Your vehicle may be impounded if you are caught without car insurance. This means your car will be towed away, and you will have to pay to get it back. In some cases, your vehicle could be auctioned off if you fail to pay the impound fees.

The severity of the penalties depends on if you are at fault and where the accident occurred. If you are at fault, you may face significant drawbacks. If not at fault, you may be able to avoid some penalties. Insurance company adjusters typically decide who is at fault in an accident based on police reports, evidence and interviews.

What Happens if You Get Into an Accident & You’re at Fault?

You can face several penalties when you are at fault in an accident and have no insurance. Being at fault means you caused the incident, typically due to negligence. Not only does being at fault result in potential legal consequences, but you will also have to pay for damages and injuries out of pocket and risk being sued.

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Pay for Damages Out of Pocket

If you're ever at fault in an accident and don’t have minimum or full coverage insurance, you'll likely have to pay damages out of your own pocket.

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Pay for Medical Expenses Out of Pocket

If you don't have PIP insurance, you will have to pay for your medical expenses out of pocket. Expenses include injury-related costs, such as hospital bills, doctor's visits and medication. Even if the other party has insurance, there is a likelihood that you will have to shoulder some costs.

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Be Sued for Damages & Injuries

Being sued for damages and injuries can be costly. In no-fault states, you will not be sued for smaller accidents, but you may be held liable if the damages surpass a certain amount, especially if the other party does not have uninsured motorist insurance.

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Increased Future Rates

Getting into an accident often results in increased auto insurance rates. If you’re involved in an accident and have no car insurance, chances are, your rates will be higher compared to peers. Knowing how car insurance works can help you avoid increased rates.

What Happens if You Get Into an Accident & You’re Not at Fault?

If you get into an accident with no insurance but are not at fault, you may end up with lighter consequences but still face penalties. Some states may limit your financial recovery due to not having insurance, which means you may not get enough to cover all your damages even if the other party has insurance.

However, remember that the penalties for not having auto insurance depend on your state. It’s important to know your options and familiarize yourself with the laws in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a few frequently asked questions about being in an accident without car insurance.

About the Author


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Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.