What happens if you get into an accident without insurance?

Driving without insurance is illegal in most states. If you're caught driving without insurance, you will most likely face a fine, and you could even lose your license and registration.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

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...

Full Bio →

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...

Full Bio →

Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right coverage choices.

Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider.

Our insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Getting into an accident can be frightening – but getting into an accident without car insurance can be even worse.

What happens if you get into an accident without insurance? Today, we’re explaining everything you need to know about encountering this worst-case scenario.

Do you need insurance to drive? First, driving without insurance is illegal in most states. If you are caught driving without insurance, then you will most likely face at least a fine. In certain states, you could lose your license and registration, have your vehicle impounded, or even go to jail.

Someone needs to take the liability for any car accident, which is why car insurance is mandatory

Those are the penalties for getting caught just driving without auto insurance. So what happens if you cause an accident without insurance?

If You Caused the Accident, You Must Pay All Damages Out of Pocket

Let’s assume you’re an uninsured driver and you got into an accident without insurance. You were speeding, you ran a red light, or something happened and you even failed to signal. Perhaps you were on your phone. Regardless of what happened, you’re considered at-fault for the accident.

In this situation, you will need to pay for all damage to your motor vehicle out of your own pocket. You could also be sued by other people for any losses and injuries you caused to them.

If your actions injured a pedestrian, for example, then you might have to pay for that person’s medical bills and lost wages. If you caused bodily injury to the other driver and passengers, then they could sue you for vehicle damage repairs, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.

Depending on the extent of damage and injuries, this could add up to hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars. If you collide at high speed with a minivan filled with a family, for example, then you could be on the hook for considerable medical bills.

Typically, your car insurance would cover all of these things. People buy car insurance because it covers their personal liability: when you cause an accident, you’re liable for all the damages you caused. Those damages are your fault, and you are required to pay for them. That’s why you pay for auto insurance: the car insurance company has agreed to take on your liability, and you’re paying them to absorb that risk

When you don’t have a car insurance policy, of course, that liability rests entirely on you. You are now personally liable for the accident and all resulting damages. You are personally required to pay for those damages.

Compare over 200 auto insurance companies at once!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

If You Live a No-Fault State, You Might Not Be Required to Pay Certain Medical Expenses

Most states in America are at-fault states. In these states, the at-fault driver’s insurance company covers all of the expenses related to the auto accident.

Twelve states in America, however, are considered no-fault states, including Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

In these states, drivers make claims through their own insurance for minor injuries regardless of fault. Even if you blatantly caused the crash, the other driver will make a claim through his personal insurance to cover his own medical bills.

In no-fault states, the other driver may not be able to sue you for medical costs unless the injuries are severe or the total reaches a significant amount.

This can significantly lower your liability after an auto accident. However, you will still be required to pay for any property damage repair costs and certain other expenses (assuming you’re the at-fault driver).

Each state has its own rules governing what happens when an uninsured driver causes an accident.

What happens if I’m in a state with no car insurance requirements?

Two states in America have no specific car insurance requirements: New Hampshire and Virginia.

Technically, driving without car insurance in these states isn’t illegal. However, the at-fault driver is still financially responsible for any property damage or injuries caused.

If you were the at-fault driver in the accident and you don’t have automobile insurance, then you’ll pay out of pocket for any damage or injuries you caused.

If the other driver was at-fault, then you can file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company to cover your vehicle damage and injuries, among additional costs.

What happens if someone else caused the accident and I have no insurance?

Let’s say someone else caused the accident and you have no insurance policy. In this case, rules vary between states.

In most states, the situation is treated like a normal accident. The at-fault driver is liable for all damages from the accident. Even if you don’t have insurance, you can sue the at-fault driver for car repair damages, medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other costs. There are no restrictions on what the uninsured driver can and cannot claim.

Some states, however, have “no pay, no play” laws. Under these laws, uninsured motorists cannot claim certain damages after an accident, even if the other driver was at fault. You did not “pay” for car insurance, so you cannot “play” for compensation after an accident.

In “no pay, no play” states, uninsured drivers cannot sue for damages that cannot be quantified by a dollar amount. That means you cannot sue for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental suffering. Even in these states, however, the uninsured driver can still sue for quantifiable things like vehicle damage, medical bills, and lost wages.

Additionally, “no pay, no play” states may require drivers to pay a large deductible before they can sue the other driver for property damage costs. Drivers in Louisiana, for example, must pay $25,000 towards repairs themselves before suing the other driver for property damage costs.

States with “no pay, no play” laws include Alaska, California, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Oregon.

Compare over 200 auto insurance companies at once!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Getting Into an Accident with No Insurance Will Cause Insurance Premiums to Rise

Any time you get into an accident with no insurance policy, you can expect car insurance premiums to rise.

Driving without insurance coverage is risky behavior. When a car insurance company sees that you were caught driving without automobile insurance coverage, they may double your premiums. If an insurance company sees you caused an accident while driving without insurance, they might raise premiums even higher.

Some people drive without insurance all the time. Others just accidentally let their car insurance lapse. Unfortunately, car insurance companies may charge the same high premiums to both drivers.

Typically, safe drivers drive with insurance. Insurance companies like to insure safe drivers. Unsafe, risky drivers drive without insurance. In the eyes of the insurance company, someone who drove without insurance in the past is more likely to make a claim in the future. They’ve exhibited risky behavior in the past, and they’re more likely to exhibit risky behavior in the future.

Final Word

Driving without insurance is illegal in most states. Getting into an accident without insurance, however, can be financially devastating.

As the at-fault driver, you may be personally liable for any damages and medical expenses incurred in the accident. Even if you’re not at fault, you may run into problems with “no pay, no play” laws, which prevent uninsured drivers from suing insured drivers for certain damages after an accident regardless of fault.

Consider speaking with an attorney who specializes in car accident claims. Or, compare car insurance premiums today and get back on the road with insurance as quickly as possible.

Free Auto Insurance Comparison

Compare over 200 auto insurance companies at once!

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption