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Top 25 Reasons Not To Drive Without Car Insurance, What are the Actual Long Term Costs to You, Fines & Penalties, and to Other Drivers Which Have Insurance?

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Driving without insurance is more of an issue than you may think. Why? It is a growing problem every single day. More and more drivers are giving up because of tough economic times and foregoing car insurance.

In this article I am going outline the top 25 reasons you do not want to drive without car insurance. At the end I hope to come up with some ideas to help those who need auto insurance.

If you want to skip right to my ideas they are at the bottom of the page starting with “conclusion”.

Contents show

Here are the Costs of Driving With no Insurance

RankHeadache of Driving Without InsuranceCost to the Driver
1You'll get a ticket$50 - $500
2Your license is suspended$250 - $1,000
3In some states, your vehicle is impounded$500 - $1,500
4Loss of registering a vehicle$500 - $1,500
5You could get a prison sentence$1,000 - $5,000+
6Financial consequences of other bills such as car repair, hospital bills, accident bill, etc.$5,000 - $10,000+

Reasons why not to drive without insurance

1. Driving Illegally – Let’s be legal and have peace of mind!

If you are driving without insurance you are not legal. Not only that you are taking a chance since police officers can scan your plates and find out if you have insurance or not.

Chart showing uninsured motorist claims year by year

The economy has hit everyone and trying to save a buck or two by not driving with adequate coverage will wind up costing you more in the end.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about your blood pressure going through the roof the next time a cop pulls behind you.

2. Vehicle Accident? If the accident is not your fault your still gonna pay!

Did you know if you are in an auto accident and the other vehicle rear-ends your vehicle you are going to been fined and penalized for not having insurance? This depends on the state.

In fact, one of the purpose of insurance is to have coverage in the event of unforeseen accidents. In other words, there are plenty of drivers on the roads going through road rage, reckless driving, texting and driving, and the odds you may have accident are high.

Average Premium Increase After an Automobile Accident & Costs

StatePercentage Increase Avg. Yearly Premium
New Jersey76%$1,905
North Carolina52%$1,060

So, next time someone rear-ends you don’t think since it is their fault you are free from any obligation if you have no insurance.

3. About $11 Billion – That is what insured drivers pay!

According to a report from the USA today in 2009 insured motorists make up for the uninsured motorists by a whopping $11 billion. You might be saying “Well I haven’t caused an accident and I get a ticket when caught without car insurance!”

chart showing insurance before and after an accident in 4 states.

The cost of the tickets do not even come close to making up for uninsured motorist accidents and claims insurance companies paid out.

If you check here the amount of revenue generate from ticking uninsured motorist as of April 2013 was $860.5 million. The $11 billion is from 2009 I would have to assume it may be approaching $12 billion which leaves around $11 billion left over for insured motorists to pay.

4. Uninsured Motorist Coverage? Some states require it since you don’t carry it!

Since some are driving without insurance various states decided to make it mandatory to have uninsured motorist protection or (UM).

graph showing auto insurance rates before and after accident in five states

Even the National Association of Insurance Commissioners has written a white paper, in 2006, explaining the problem with motorist driving without insurance. What have states done to combat the problem?

They have made it mandatory for insured drivers to carry UM in the event of an accident with a uninsured motorist.

5. Lucky Sucker – If you don’t have the financial resources to pay I understand.

Today if you work a minimum wage job full time and your a 24 y/o male about 1/5 of your paycheck would go to car insurance.

You are making a judgment call which makes sense if you can’t afford it. You would rather eat than make an insurance payment. In some states it is more difficult to catch an uninsured motorist then others and you are making a wise economic decision.

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The lucky part is if there is an accident there wouldn’t be a lawyer who would go after you to recover any assets since you may not have any. Since I am writing this maybe I am the dumb one?

6. Two Ton Weapon? Are you one of 30+ million driving a weapon?

Sure, you heard it right. A two ton weapon which is being driven on the roads, highways, and Interstates reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour?

I would definitely say that would be pretty serious if in an accident at that speed. Lucky for me I don’t drive much, but now that I am thinking about raising my uninsured motorist protection it may be worth the extra 15 bucks just in case.

I am not able to control other drivers and a two ton weapon could come my way some day?

7. A One Way Ticket? – To screwing up your life

If you get caught driving without insurance and you cause an accident you basically have a one way ticket to screwing up your life.

You are going to lose your license, your registration, and you might have a judgment against you. Do you know when you will get your license back if you have a judgment against you? Not until the damages are paid by you.

Top Insurance Providers When You have to File a SR-22

RankInsurance CompanyFiling Fee
1Acceptance$20 - $40
2Allstate$15 - $25
3Direct Auto$20 - $50
4Esurance$15 - $25
5GEICO$15 - $25
6State Farm$15 - $25
7Progressive$15 - $25
8SafeAuto$20 - $40
9The General$15 - $25
10Titan$20 - $40

Then you may have to carry SR-22 insurance and worse many insurers may not even insure you. Then you have to go to a company which insures high risk drivers which will cost thousands more over the next three to five years.

8. A Day In Court? – No car insurance lands you a day in court!

If you get caught driving without insurance you get to spend a day in court. How much fun?

Not only do you get to listen to the Judge, if you are working you miss a day of work, your vehicle could be impounded depending on the state, then you get to pay fines and penalties.

chart showing typical court fees in six different states which include driving without insurance.

In some states you will be required to file an SR-22 which means you may pay more for insurance. I don’t know about you, but the only ones which like court are attorneys since they get paid so well.

9. A BMW 325I – Getting priorities straight

This is from a friend of mine who had a BMW 325I and didn’t have insurance. He said he didn’t need it since the likelihood of getting caught was slim plus he didn’t want to make the car insurance payment.

flow chart showing when to buy comprehensive insurance and when not to.

I said “Hey a good thing to do is sell the BMW and get a Honda Accord. You would have extra cash in your pocket-book and you could afford the insurance payments”. A few months later he was asking for rides since he was caught driving without insurance and his licensed was suspended.

10. Catching The Bus – If caught get used to public transportation

If you are reading this and never had your license suspended you may not realize how much of a privilege driving is. The same friend (BMW driver) who lost his license had to take the bus all the time since everyone’s schedule is different.

I got first hand experience of knowing how much of hassle it can be since a friend of mine was asking me to drive him all over the place. Not only was it a nuisance for him, but for me too.

11. Fine and Penalties – The cost of being uninsured

Once you are caught driving without insurance you can pay hefty fines and penalties depending on the state. In some states the fines and penalties can reach $5,000.

It is unlikely you would pay such a high amount on the first offense so let’s cut it in half to $2,500. You decided not to drive with insurance for three years and the yearly premium was $1,000 over three years equals $3,000.

Wow, sounds like you saved yourself $500 bucks? Right? Not exactly, the $500 will be quickly absorbed by an increase in premiums through SR-22 filings since some states will make sure you have the document (SR-22) to get a license.

If you don’t have to file an SR-22 you are going to pay a lot more than $500 in premiums since you decided to operate a motor vehicle without proper coverage.

Table of Penalties by State

StateFine amountRegistration suspensionLicense suspension
AlabamaUp to $500YesNo
Alaska$500 to $1,000NoYes
Arkansas$500 YesNo
California$100 to $200 Impound CarNo
Connecticut$100 to $1,000YesYes
Delaware$1,500 to $2,000 YesYes
Georgia$200 to $1,000YesYes
Idaho$500 to $1,000NoYes
Illinois Up to $1,000YesYes
IndianaUp to $1,000NoYes
Iowa$250Impound CarNo
Kansas$300 to $1,000YesYes
Kentucky$500 to $1,000YesYes
Louisiana$175Impound CarNo
Maine$100 to $500YesYes
MarylandUp to $1,000YesConfiscate Plates
Massachusetts $500NoYes
Minnesota$200 to $1,000YesYes
Montana$250 to $500NoNo
NebraskaUp to $1,000YesYes
Nevada$600 to $1,000 YesYes
New HampshireN/AYesYes
New Jersey$300 to $1,000NoYes
New MexicoUp to $300YesNo
New York$150 to $1,500YesYes
North Carolina Up to $1,000 YesYes
North Dakota$150 YesYes
Ohio $100NoYes
Oklahoma$250Impound CarYes
Oregon$130 to $1,000YesYes
Rhode Island$100 to $500YesYes
South Carolina$445YesYes
South Dakota $500NoYes
Tennessee$125 YesYes
Texas$175 to $350 NoNo
Vermont$47 to $622NoNo
Wash. D.C.$500YesNo
West Virginia$200 to $5,000 YesYes

12. Lawyer Fees – If you are gonna fight you might need one?

If you willingly decide to drive your vehicle without insurance I am not sure why you would fight it. In some cases, a family member may have forgotten to make a payment so your insurance lapsed and the cops busted you.

graph showing a monthly rate increase with one minor traffic violation.

Since the average cost per hour for an attorney is $250 and $500 in big cities the bill can add up real quick. Next time think about automatic bill pay to be sure you don’t drive without insurance.

13. Technology – It’s catching up real fast!

Did you know in the State of Alabama a new law has been in affect since the 1st of this year to catch uninsured motorists?

It is a new online verification system to verify drivers at every point such as getting a license or traffic stop.

graph showing monthly rate increase after two or more minor traffic violations.

Also, the system is going to do random checks on drivers throughout the state. More states are beginning to implement quick measures to find uninsured motorists.

14. Your the Biggest Complaint – More people are reporting uninsured motorists

Did you know you can walk into any state insurance commissioner office and ask “What is the biggest complaint by insured drivers?” The answer is uninsured motorists.man saying "this is unacceptable".

Unfortunately since uninsured motorists are the biggest complaint, states are taking measures to combat the situation which means the state spends more money which costs everyone else money therefore the states will raise taxes.

So inevitability you will pay too since you have to pay taxes! And don’t think if you live in the state of Florida you don’t pay taxes? They will raise your property tax bill!

15. Lower Your Cell Phone Bill – What really happens?

The cost of going without insurance will not outweigh the benefits if you carry it. Some of the benefits I have mentioned above. In some states the financial burden can be devastating.

Everyone need’s food and water, but do you really need to be able to text a thousand times a day on your smart-phone?

By the way, did you know top cell carriers offer roadside assistance? See below:

Sprint$2.99 Per Month
Verizon Wireless$3.00 Per Month
AT&T$4.00 Per Month

What about cutting back on the cable bill? I would be willing to say if you could cut your cell phone and cable bill in half you could afford car insurance.

16. Get Liability Only – Even if you have an expensive vehicle

It is better to have the state minimum coverage than to have no insurance at all. When you are shopping for auto insurance tell the insurer you want liability only so you are legal to drive.

I have found many drivers are quoted on insurance which included comprehensive, collision, and a some add-ons. It was expensive so they decided to forge insurance altogether. Not a smart move.

Below are the average insurance rates for liability only in the State of Massachusetts.

Both single drivers, male and female, driving a 2012 Honda Civic with typical driving usage and ten years of driving experience.

Insurance CompanySingle Male w/ one traffic violationSingle Female w/ one traffic violation
Progressive$888.50 per year$872.00 per year
State Farm$899.00$837.00

Just remember you are only required to have the state minimum coverage. In some states it may be more than liability coverage, however, you can shop for the minimum and have peace of mind knowing you won’t have to pay fines or penalties for driving without cover.

17. Permanent Record

Did you know in some states, such as Georgia, driving without insurance is a misdemeanor and will be on your record permanently?

It will be available to anyone who needs to view your criminal record including employers who may do background checks.

If you have a commercial driving license it will be suspended in some states and you may not have the opportunity to get your commercial license back.

If you relied on a commercial license for employment those days will be long gone in some states.

18. Don’t Believe the Hype!

According to Business Insider millions are bribing their way out of car insurance?

Don't believe the hypeDid you know if you live in the state of Virginia you can pay $500 and forgo insurance?

Some states require you to deposit money with the State Treasurer’s Office or get a surety bond. It doesn’t mean they are bribing their way out of insurance.

You can do it if you live in the state of Virginia with $500 just make sure to read the fine print when you make your payment to the state.

19. Car Insurance Is More Than The Law

What is the purpose of car insurance? Sure it is required by state law, but what about you, your family, and others on the road?

Auto insurance is about safe-guarding your assets and the property of others. What if you were going to get into an accident and you, the passengers, and others are hurt bad enough for lengthy hospital stays?

Car insurance is more than about obeying the law, it is your family. There may be a person which is reading this which doesn’t have a family? Of course there is, but what about when you do?

20. Each State Is Different

Did you know in the state of California if you are caught driving without insurance while in an accident your license could be suspended for four (4) years?

In fact, in some states if you cannot provide proof of insurance the police officer can impound your car on the spot.

When you are not driving with at least the state minimum coverage there could be a day which turns into a really bad one. In the states where your vehicle is impounded and you can prove you have insurance you have to pay the fee to get it back!

21. The Odds Are Against You

It is like anything else in life the more you do anything wrong the chances are higher of getting caught.

graph showing the odds of getting caught driving without insurance from 1 to 200 driving times.

Note: As illustrated by the graph you odds of getting caught “driving without insurance” with one drive is nil or less than one percent. The odds of getting caught with 200 drives is 90 percent.

The more you drive the higher the odds you can get into an accident. If you drive uninsured the higher the odds you will be caught then you have to deal with the law.

Even if you car is parked in the garage if you have a license plate most states require you to have insurance. If you don’t drive, take the plate back to department of motor vehicles then you don’t have to pay for car insurance.

22. If You Need A Job? You might not get it!

Did you know there are some jobs which require you to have an operating motor vehicle and license? I am not talking about driving a truck. Let’s say you want to be a manager at a pizzeria since the economy is tough.

Most of the pizzerias are going to require you to have a vehicle and you could be turned down for having a bad driving record. This one really tops the cake, what if you boss needed you to drive somewhere for your job?

You don’t have a license to drive since you were busted driving without insurance? Many people do not realize how many employers require you to have a clean driving record.

23. Your Activated For Three Years

If you haven’t had any driving violations you may not have heard of a SR-22 to file with the State and insurance firms? In some states if you are caught driving without proper documentation or coverage you will be required to file a SR-22.

There could be different names depending on the insurer and the state, but they are pretty much the same thing.

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When you are required to file an SR-22 more than likely it will be active for three years which is normally presented to the department of motor vehicles (DMV).

The premiums for SR-22 are higher and if you fail to make the payments the consequences are more serious.

Not only will you pay higher insurance premiums for three years once the time has lapsed you will continue to pay higher than normal car insurance premiums for several years since the insurers will consider you high risk.

24. Loss Of Protection & Privileges

If you are an uninsured motorist and involved in an “at-fault” accident which means it is your fault then you are liable for your own vehicle for any repairs or damages.

People who carry insurance may have a policy which covers their vehicles and damage to other vehicles and property. You lose this benefit if you are driving without insurance.

Not only do you lose the benefit of protection you lose the privilege of driving from one month to four years depending on the state and the nature of the accident. Many drivers forget driving is a privilege and not a right.

25. Last And Not Least

In a worse case scenario and passengers (either in your vehicle or the other drivers) are killed in a vehicle accident while you are uninsured you may face serious criminal and civil penalties depending on the nature of the accident.

If you are at-fault there are states, such as the state of Tennessee, which are passing bill to arrest anyone on the spot who has no insurance and causes a fatality.

Since this is a growing problem I would assume more states will pass bills to arrest drivers who do not have insurance and cause a fatal accident.


  • Since the consequences of driving without insurance are not good and the cost of insurance is high what are you to do? The best thing to do is to educate yourself a little bit. I am not talking about going to get an associates degree or become an agent or broker, but spend 15 minutes learning how car insurance companies determine your rate.

  • One of the factors to determine your rate is your credit score. California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have banned the use of credit scores to determine car insurance rates. There is a proposed bill by Congress to ban the use of credit scores nationwide. If passed this could help with your insurance rates.

  • More states are aware of individuals and families which may not have the financial resources to afford car insurance. The state of California and New Jersey have programs in place to help those in need of car insurance and reduce the amount of uninsured motorists.

  • There are programs such as “Drive Monitoring” and “Pay-As-You-Go” which insurers are offering so you are not paying the enormous rates caused by the habits of other drivers.

Since the year 2000 car insurance rates have increase by 30 percent with more car insurance companies. The reasons:

  • Rising Medical Costs

  • Rising Legal Fees & Court Costs

  • Rising Amount of Uninsured Motorists

  • Car Repairs Have Increased

What are you best options? If you live in New Jersey or California look into their cheap auto insurance programs.

Get Pay-As-You-Go or Driving Monitoring to avoid the “guilt by association” increase in auto insurance by those who are in the same group.

Be sure to review your policy and make sure there isn’t unnecessary coverage on the policy.

Lastly, make sure to drive safe as long as possible. Depending on the carrier if you drive safe for three years you should be eligible for discounts.

Other insurers may require five years. This is one reason you may need to shop around since the car insurance industry is competitive there may be a carrier which could offer you a substantially lower rate.

You may want to be a little proactive and take a defensive driver course to mitigate the cost of your premium. The cost of the course is definitely going to be lower than getting caught driving without insurance.

Greg Fowler

Greg Fowler

Managing Member of AutoInsureSavings LLC, Greg has been in the insurance industry for 12 years and enjoys rebuilding vehicles. His goal is to help drivers save on anything related to automobiles. Travel and enjoying the outdoors are some of his hobbies. The best way to reach him is at his Twitter or Facebook Profile.

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