Driving without insurance: what you need to know

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If you’re driving a car without insurance, or considering driving uninsured to save money, this post is for you. The consequences of driving without insurance outweigh any financial savings. When you have a lapse in coverage (meaning, you don’t have insurance for a period of time), you’ll be penalized by paying more for insurance later, no matter your insurance provider. It’s better to keep your coverage—even if it’s state minimum—than to not have coverage at all. Here’s what you need to know.

In most states, yes. You’re legally required to show proof of insurance when you’re pulled over. Some states allow surety bonds or cash deposits to the DMV as proof of financial responsibility, rather than buying typical car insurance. However, these bonds and deposits are costly, typically ranging over $10,000. In Ohio, you’ll need $30,000 to fulfill this type of financial responsibility.¹ In Arizona, it’ll cost you $40,000.²

The only state that doesn’t require any type of insurance is New Hampshire—as long as you don’t cause an accident. If you cause an accident, you’re legally required to carry insurance for a minimum of three years.³

What happens if you drive without insurance? Is there a penalty?

Yes. If you cause or are involved in an accident, or are pulled over by the police, you’re required to show proof of insurance or financial responsibility. In the majority of states, you can get a fine for driving without insurance.

The minimum no insurance ticket in Georgia is $25. If you’re in Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Dakota, or West Virginia, the maximum fine for driving without insurance is a whopping $5,000.

Other penalties for driving without insurance could include:

  • Getting your license suspended
  • Having your vehicle impounded
  • An SR-22 for a minimum of 3 years

In Michigan, you could face up to 1 year in prison for driving without insurance.

What coverage do I need?

If you’re in a state that requires proof of insurance, you need Liability coverage as part of your insurance policy. Liability coverage is used when you cause (or are at fault) for an accident and you’re responsible for the property damage and medical bills of everyone involved in the accident.

You’ll be given different options for how much Liability coverage you can have. These are called limits, and you're choosing the maximum amount we’ll pay in an accident. Higher limits mean we pay more after an accident, so you’ll have a higher insurance premium (how much you pay to have insurance). Lower limits mean we pay a lower amount, so you'll have a lower insurance premium.

Here’s the thing about limits. If you cause an accident and the costs go beyond your Liability limits, you’re responsible for paying the extra costs. For example, if your limit is $50,000 and the accident cost is $75,000, you’ll owe the extra 25K. If you go for a higher limit, it’s less likely you'll have to pay anything out of pocket.

Root makes it easy to get the minimum requirements for your state. We’ll tell you what coverage you’re required to have before you buy your policy. Plus, we help you see how your coverage impacts your rate. If you want more than Liability coverage, we have it. Check out all of our coverage options.

Root bases your rate primarily on how you drive, not who you are. That means you save up to 52% on car insurance.

Do you need car insurance in order to avoid a fine?

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  1. Ohio's Minimum Coverage Requirements for Auto Insurance
  2. ADOT Driver Services
  3. New Hampshire Department of Safety Division of Motor Vehicles
  4. State of Georgia Department of Revenue
  5. The Zebra: What are the Consequences of Driving Without Insurance?
  6. ValuePenguin: What Happens if You are Caught Driving Without Car Insurance?
  7. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services

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