If you’ve ever thought about skipping car insurance for your vehicle, you’re not alone. According to a study by the Insurance Research Council, 13 percent of drivers go without car insurance nationwide. With the high cost of insurance policies, the impulse to go without is understandable.
However, driving without insurance can have serious consequences. A single incident could cost you thousands in repairs, damages, and medical bills. You could end up facing legal charges, too.
The need for car insurance
There’s no getting around it — car insurance is expensive. The average policy costs drivers $1,323 per year, according to The Zebra. When you’re struggling to afford rent, student loan payments, and groceries, coming up with an extra $100 or so a month can feel impossible.
Matt Danielson, a partner at the Motorcycle Law Group, explains that the financial burden can be much harder for some people.
“[People go without insurance] because they do not want to pay for it,” said Danielson. “Especially those with bad driving records. Their premiums can be sky-high.”
But before skipping insurance to save money, it’s essential that you understand why it exists in the first place.
The Association for Safe International Road Travel reports that road crashes cost drivers in the United States $230.6 billion a year (or $820 per person), on average. Over 2 million people are injured or disabled from car accidents each year.
Why are those numbers important? Car insurance is designed to protect people from losing money or going without medical care as a result of an accident. It provides a critical safety net that provides coverage for you, your passengers, the person in the other vehicle, and any property damaged in an accident.
5 huge consequences of driving without insurance
1. You’ll get in trouble with the law
Forty-eight states require all drivers to have car insurance; only New Hampshire and Virginia do not. But that doesn’t mean residents in those states can stop worrying about the consequences of driving without insurance.
In New Hampshire, the law doesn’t require you to carry insurance. However, you must be able to prove that you have enough money to meet the New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Responsibility Requirements if you cause an accident. If you don’t fulfill those requirements, the government might suspend you from driving.
“In Virginia, you can drive without insurance if you pay the state $500 per year,” said Danielson. “I would advise you to use that money to purchase insurance [instead].” The $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee doesn’t provide any coverage; it only allows you to drive legally at your own risk.
In other states, the legal ramifications of driving without insurance can vary, but you’ll likely receive a ticket or fine if the police catch you. Depending on the state, the fines can be in the thousands.
2. You could lose your license
If you’re pulled over and don’t have car insurance (or meet the alternative requirements), your license could be temporarily suspended.
Without it, you won’t be able to drive yourself to work or take your kids to school. Instead, you’ll have to rely on carpooling or rideshare services until the suspension is over.
If you’re caught driving without insurance more than once, you could lose your license entirely. That means you’ll have to pass a new driving test — just like the one you took to get your license as a teenager — after a waiting period before you can legally drive your car.
3. Your car could be impounded
If you’re caught driving without insurance coverage, your car could be impounded in some states. A tow truck will take your car to a storage lot and you’ll have to pay a fee to get it out, along with towing and storage charges.
You might even have to wait a few days before you can get the car out of the lot, causing fees to rack up in the meantime.
4. You’re on your own for repairs and bills
If you’re at fault in an accident and damage another person’s vehicle, you’re responsible for covering their repairs out of your own pocket. Keep in mind that those repairs can be in the thousands. For example, fixing a bent frame can cost $10,000 or more, depending on the make and model of the car, reported Insurance.com.
On top of paying for repairs for the other person’s car, you’ll also have to pay for your own vehicle’s damages. You could end up having to replace the car entirely if the damages are extensive, adding thousands to your expenses.
5. You could be sued
Potentially worst of all, you risk a costly lawsuit by driving without car insurance.
“The financial consequences [of driving without insurance] are being personally liable if you injure someone or destroy their property,” said Danielson.
If someone is injured, experiencing emotional distress, or becomes disabled and cannot work due to the accident, a lawsuit could bankrupt you.
According to the National Safety Council, the average comprehensive cost for a disabling injury — accounting for lost wages, medical expenses, and the impact on quality of life — is a staggering $1.1 million per affected person.
If you have insurance, your insurer will help cover your legal fees and the medical bills and damages of the other person. Without insurance, you’ll have to come up with the money on your own.
Finding a cheaper policy
When it comes to insurance, the consequences of driving without it are so severe that Danielson believes that not getting a policy shouldn’t be an option.
“Don’t do it,” he said. “Don’t even think about doing it. Make sure that you are covered so that if someone hurts you and they don’t have any insurance, or they don’t have enough insurance, you are still covered.”
If you’re motivated to get car insurance but need an affordable policy, these tips can help you get the best price.
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