If an insured driver wrecks an uninsured vehicle, the insured driver pays unless the accident occurs in a no-fault state. This doesnâ€™t mean that the uninsured driver gets off easy. The uninsured driver will be ticketed by police and could lose their license, depending on past driving records.
The information that follows gives more specific information about what happens when an uninsured driver is involved in an accident.
Why does the state where the accident takes place matter?
There are two types of laws that govern states when it comes to accidents. One is a no-fault system and the other is a tort system. If a car accident occurs in a no-fault state, it doesnâ€™t matter who was at fault in the accident, each partyâ€™s insurance covers the cost of their vehicle. This is where the problem comes into play with uninsured drivers.
In a no-fault state, an uninsured driver will not only be ticketed and face other possible charges, but the uninsured driver will also have no coverage. This applies even if the insured driver is the one at fault. All 50 states require that all drivers carry insurance or proof of ability to pay for an accident. If you drive with out coverage and cause an accident you will remain liable for the cost of injuries you cause.
In a state with a tort system, the person who is at fault in the accident pays through their insurance company. This means that if an uninsured driver is at fault, the other person is left with the bill and the right to sue the uninsured driver for payment. Because this happens quite often, many states have added a requirement to insurance coverage called uninsured/underinsured coverage. This allows for some coverage if an insured person is in an accident caused by an uninsured person.
One reason some states have accepted a no-fault status is to limit the amount of law suits that take place. With a no-fault system, each person pays for their own damages and the right to sue is taken away. Although some states do leave the door for a legitimate law suit open, there are 12 no-fault states. Florida, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
What are the consequences for driving without insurance?
The consequences for driving without insurance vary from state to state. The least that can happen to an individual is receiving a ticket for driving without insurance. The cost for this ticket can range from $150 to $500. Most states have an “intent to drive” citation. This leaves it up to law enforcement officers to decide if the uninsured driver has a high intent to drive and, if so, the license plate can be taken and the car impounded.
For example, if a law enforcement official finds that a driver is uninsured, he will assess the situation and decide if the driver has a high intent to drive again. If someone has a good driving record, no criminal history, and tells the officer that it is just a missed payment, the officer may just give a ticket. However, if someone has a history of driving without insurance or a criminal history, the officer may find the driver to have a high intent to drive again without insurance.
The determination of a police officer may be based on how aggressive the state is on uninsured drivers. Some states aggressively go after uninsured drivers in an attempt to keep insurance premiums and law suits low. However, some states do not have tough laws on uninsured driving, leaving insured drivers to pick up the tab through higher insurance premiums.
In many states if an uninsured driver is in an accident, they will be required to file an SR22 form. This form marks the driver as a high risk driver and requires the proof of the purchase of car insurance. Having to file a SR22 will result in increased, sometimes doubled or tripled, car insurance rates. It is very difficult to find affordable car insurance as a high risk driver.
To avoid these consequences, always be sure to drive with adequate insurance and never drive without coverage. The financial consequences of driving without insurance can be devastating and much higher than paying monthly car insurance premiums. To find an insurance company that can give you the required amount of coverage in your state, try using an online comparison tool. Seeing different options from top companies through our car insurance comparison tool can help you choose an insurance company that works for you. Enter your zip code to start now!