Getting pulled over while driving can be anxiety-inducing for drivers without insurance. In 48 out of 50 states, it’s illegal to drive without a minimum amount of liability insurance, so you’re breaking a law if you drive without it. While repercussions vary by state, the penalties for driving without insurance can threaten your financial health and more. Learn why insurance is so important and why you don’t want to get caught driving while uninsured.
Can You Drive Without Insurance?
Unless you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, it’s illegal to drive without carrying insurance. While these two states don’t technically require auto insurance, drivers need to provide evidence of financial responsibility that proves they’re liable for damages in the event of an accident. New Hampshire and Virginia’s policies are as follows:
- New Hampshire: If you live in New Hampshire, you need to prove that you can afford to pay for any damages if you’re in an accident. There’s no set amount you need to prove you’re financially responsible. However, minimum insurance policies usually follow the 25/50/25 limit, so the amount you need to be considered fiscally responsible is probably within that range. The 25/50/25 number is short for $25,000 worth of bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 worth of bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 worth of property damage coverage per accident. The state government sometimes requires drivers to carry insurance after a major accident or DUI.
- Virginia: Residents of Virginia can choose to pay an annual fee of $500 in place of official insurance. Most residents opt for minimum insurance instead of paying the fee, as it’s almost the same price. In addition, paying the fee allows you to drive legally, but it doesn’t protect you if you need to pay for damages.
The Consequences of Getting Pulled Over without Insurance
Since you need insurance to drive legally, there are penalties for getting caught without it, including:
- Fines: In most states, if you get pulled over without insurance and it’s your first offense, you’ll have to pay a fine. For example, California fines uninsured drivers around $500 if they get pulled over.
- A license suspension: Some states will suspend your license if you’re pulled over without insurance, and your license can be permanently revoked if you’re a repeat offender. States like Florida will suspend your license and registration and make you pay hefty fees to get them reinstated.
- An impounded vehicle: The officer that pulls you over can have your vehicle towed if you’re uninsured. You’ll have to pay for the towing services along with any additional fees, and you might not get your vehicle back until you provide proof of insurance.
- Possible ail time: Drivers with multiple offenses on their records are more likely to face jail time than first-time offenders, but most states reserve the right to jail you for a lack of insurance.
- An SR-22 form: If you have a history of driving without insurance, some states will require you to obtain SR-22 insurance before you can legally drive again. The SR-22 is a form that proves to the state that you’re legally insured.
- Higher premiums: Getting cited for driving without insurance can move you to the high-risk driver category. As a result, your car insurance premiums will likely increase the next time you shop for insurance. Depending on your carrier, you could be facing premiums in the four-digit range.
How to Get Affordable Insurance
Now that you know the importance of insurance, you’re probably wondering where you can find an affordable policy. To secure the best deal, experts recommend comparing quotes from at least three different insurance providers while researching your options. Don’t neglect the discounts either! Ask your insurer which discounts you’re eligible for. You may be able to snag a discount for bundling your policy, maintaining a clean record, driving a safe vehicle, insuring multiple vehicles under one policy, being a homeowner, getting good grades, and more.
The General has affordable insurance for every driver and budget. Get a quote in under two minutes, see how much you can save, and have your insurance at the ready the next time you get pulled over.