What happens if you total a car without auto insurance?

If you total your car without auto insurance, you can void paying for your totaled car entirely out of pocket by investing in a basic auto insurance policy now. 49 states require auto insurance by law, but 12.3% of drivers are uninsured.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Apr 23, 2022

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Uninsured Drivers in the U.S. Overview
Uninsured Drivers FactsDataSource
Ratio of uninsured drivers in the U.S.1 in 8Insurance Information Institute
Percentage of uninsured drivers in the U.S.12.3%Insurance Information Institute
Number of states that require auto insurance49National Association of Insurance Commissioners
State with most uninsured driversFlorida: 26.7%Insurance Information Institute
State with fewest uninsured driversMaine: 4.5%Insurance Information Institute
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Car accidents are incredibly stressful. But what happens if you total a car without insurance? Driving without auto insurance is illegal in 49 states. There are many dangers of letting your auto insurance lapse, one being if you’re at fault for totaling a car and don’t have insurance, you’re responsible for 100 percent of your accident-related expenses.

To make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to find auto insurance coverage right away. Start comparison shopping now by entering your ZIP code into our FREE tool above before learning more about what happens if you total a car without insurance.

Who do I contact if a car was totaled with no insurance?

Even though driving without insurance is illegal in most states, there are still thousands of uninsured drivers on the road. The following table shows the estimated percentage of uninsured drivers by state. It also shows each state’s rank compared to the rest of the country.

How common are uninsured drivers in your state?

Percentage of Uninsured Drivers in the U.S. by State
StatesPercentage of Uninsured DriversRank
New Mexico20.80%3
Washington D.C.15.60%10
Rhode Island15.20%13
New Jersey14.90%14
West Virginia10.10%32
New Hampshire9.90%35
South Carolina9.40%37
South Dakota7.70%42
North Dakota6.80%45
North Carolina6.50%48
New York6.10%50
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Are you one of these uninsured drivers and wondering what to do if you total your car without insurance? First, contact emergency services if you or anyone else involved in the accident requires medical care.

Next, call the police department so they can create a police report for the accident. Stay at the scene of the accident until they’re completely finished filing the report.

Do not falsely claim to anyone that you have insurance if you don’t. Be honest.

Finally, you’ll have to contact a tow truck service to remove the vehicle from the street. You should only leave the scene after everything has been recorded and taken care of. Expect that you may be fined or penalized for driving without insurance, depending on your state.

In most states, driving without insurance is a misdemeanor crime. A serious accident could result in jail time.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, auto liability insurance is required in Washington D.C. and every U.S. state except New Hampshire. In New Hampshire, you can legally drive without auto insurance only if you can prove you comply with alternative financial responsibility requirements.

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What to do with a totaled car and no insurance?

What happens if you get into an accident without insurance? Your brain can’t help but worry: My car was totaled by another person and I have no insurance, what happens once the police show up and file a report?

If you’re not at fault, think of this as a lucky break and get yourself auto insurance right away to prevent future financial distress.

However, know you may still be penalized or fined for driving without insurance. If you are deemed at fault for the accident, your responsibilities to the other driver depend on which state you are in.

If you’re in a no-fault state, then everyone fends for themselves. You pay for your own damages no matter who is at fault or what your insurance situation is. In an at-fault state, whoever caused the accident pays for all damages.

With the car totaled, no collision insurance means no financial protection from an insurance company. All expenses have to be paid directly by you.

If anyone else’s vehicle or person was damaged in the accident, you’ll be financially responsible for those expenses. You will have to pay even if the repairs cost more than the car value. Insurance could have provided some level of financial security if you had a policy. To prevent what happens when you total your car without insurance, the Insurance Information Institute recommends purchasing at least a basic auto insurance policy.

Find your state in the following table to learn your minimum requirements for auto insurance.

Minimum Liability Auto Insurance Requirements by State
StatesMinimum Liability Coverage Requirements
Washington D.C.25/50/10
New Hampshire25/50/25
New Jersy15/30/5
New Mexico25/50/10
New York25/50/10
North Carolina30/60/25
North Dakota25/50/25
Rhode Island25/50/25
South Carolina25/50/25
South Dakota25/50/25
West Virginia25/50/25
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Investing in insurance now will help you save in the future. Instead of worrying about what to do when you total a car without insurance, do yourself a favor and start shopping for a personal auto insurance policy right now.

What happens if you total your car without insurance?

If yours was the only totaled car, no insurance means you’re responsible for paying for the repairs and any potential medical expenses out of your own pocket.

What do you do if your car is totaled without insurance and you’re not at fault? Contact the other party’s insurance provider; they should cover repairs for your vehicle. However, you may still be penalized by the state for driving without insurance.  Think of it as a fortunate wakeup call and find a cheap auto insurance policy to prevent this from happening again.

Different states have different thresholds for totaling a car based on costs for repair. CarMD reported that in 2019, the most expensive states for car repairs included Washington D.C., Connecticut, California, Georgia, and New Jersey. If you’re in one of these states, get yourself a basic auto insurance policy ASAP.

What can you do with a car that is totaled and there is no gap insurance?

Gap insurance is designed for drivers who are financing vehicles that may have depreciated in value. If your car is totaled in an accident, gap insurance can help pay the difference between what the car is actually worth and the amount still owed on the loan.

For example, let’s say your financed vehicle has been totaled and the insurance company deems your car’s total value at $10,000 but you still owe $15,000 on your car loan. Gap insurance can help cover the $5,000 you still owe.

The following video from LawFull explores gap insurance in more detail, check it out.

If you owe more on your financed vehicle than it’s currently worth, don’t put yourself at risk of having your car totaled with no gap insurance to protect you.

What happens when you total a financed car without insurance?

Totaled car, still making payments, and no insurance? Are you wondering what happens if you total a car without gap insurance? You may not like the answer.

Without gap insurance, you’ll still have to pay off what you owe for the vehicle, even if it’s beyond repair and you end up losing it.

You’re legally obligated to pay off your loan for your car, even with no gap insurance. Not at fault for the accident? It doesn’t matter. You still have to pay back all you owe.

Are you wanting to get insurance for financed vehicles? Was your car totaled when you still owed on the loan? No insurance? It’s a bad situation to be in. Take a look at what happened to one Arizona driver, as reported by ABC15 Arizona News.

Financing a car after a total loss is incredibly stressful both emotionally and on your wallet. Protect yourself now with a comprehensive auto insurance policy to prevent feeling that extra pain and stress later on.

What happens if you total a leased car without insurance?

Now let’s talk about a totaled leased car. No insurance on a leased car is incredibly rare. Most dealerships require you to purchase full coverage insurance before you can lease a vehicle. The dealership could repossess the car if they find out you’re driving without insurance.

Many dealerships also require you to purchase gap insurance on a leased vehicle. However, if you totaled a leased car with no gap insurance, you must still make your scheduled lease payments. Just like with a loan, if you owe more on your lease than the vehicle is worth, you’re responsible for paying the difference.

Do you still have to pay insurance if your car is totaled?

What happens when insurance totals your car? If your insurance company deems your vehicle totaled and no longer drivable, you’re not required to keep paying for insurance for that vehicle.

If you’re asking yourself, “Do I have to accept the insurer’s offer on a totaled vehicle?” The answer is no, you can dispute the total and try to negotiate a different cost with your insurance company.

Frequently Asked Questions: What happens if you total a car without insurance?

Now that you know how quickly expenses can add up if you total a vehicle without insurance, you should strongly consider comparison shopping for an auto insurance policy that at the very least meets your state’s minimum standards.

If you have any more questions about what happens when you total a car without insurance, check out our frequently asked questions below. If you think of something we missed, let us know in the comments below.

#1 – How do I handle a Progressive Insurance total loss complaint?

You can file complaints about your service from Progressive insurance by contacting their grievances and consumer affairs department.

#2 – What happens if I have an accident without insurance in California?

If you get into an accident in California and do not have proper auto insurance, beyond paying for damages, you may also face fines and civil penalties. The DMV may also revoke your license for up to four years.

#3 – How long can I go without car insurance?

You should try to find coverage for your car right away. If you get into an accident, you’ll be financially responsible for any and all damages to your own vehicle and self. Prevent this from happening by protecting yourself with a personal auto insurance policy today.

#4 – What happens if you total a financed car without collision insurance?

If you totaled a financed car without insurance, you’ll be responsible for paying for all damages out of pocket. You will also still be required to finish paying off your loan on the vehicle, even if the car itself is no longer drivable.

#5 – What do I do with a totaled rental car, no insurance?

It’s often illegal to drive a rental car without some kind of insurance. However, if you total a rental car with no insurance and are at fault for the accident, you’ll be responsible for paying for all damages to the vehicle and any liability expenses.

If you’re not at fault for the accident, the rental company will work with the other driver’s insurance company to pay for the damages, if they have insurance.

#6 – How to get a new car after a total loss?

If your car’s been totaled, you still owe on your loan and you don’t have insurance, then the costs for a new car after a total loss will have to come out of your own pocket. If you have insurance, promptly make your claim and inquire about options to replacement your vehicle.

Protect yourself from totaling a car without insurance to protect you. Start comparison shopping right now by entering your ZIP code into our FREE tool below.

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