What happens if I get caught driving without insurance?

By Allstate

Last updated: January 2024

Driving without insurance is against the law in most states. Depending on your state's laws, you may face the following consequences, according to the Consumer Federation of America:

  • Fines
  • Driver's license and vehicle registration suspension (driving privileges revoked)
  • License or registration reinstatement fees
  • Jail time
  • Get your vehicle towed or impounded
  • Community service
  • Higher auto insurance rates that meets your state's requirements (and file an SR-22 with your state)

If you cause a car accident and do not have auto insurance, you may be responsible for paying the associated medical costs and repair bills — yours and the other driver's — out of your own pocket. For this reason, each state has financial responsibility laws that require drivers to prove they could help cover the costs of a car accident.

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Financial responsibility laws

Most states require drivers to have certain types and amounts of car insurance to comply with financial responsibility laws. State laws mandate which coverages drivers must carry on their policies, and the laws specify minimum coverage limits on each type of required coverage. Showing proof of insurance during traffic stops or when you're renewing your vehicle registration is a way for states to help enforce compliance with financial responsibility laws.

Required car insurance coverages

Drivers in 48 states and the District of Columbia are required to have bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability coverage. Other types of coverage that may be required, depending on your state's laws, are:

Additional coverages, such as collision coverage or comprehensive coverage, are not required by state law, but they may be required by your lender if you're leasing or financing your car.

States with financial responsibility laws that don't require car insurance coverage.

If you live in New Hampshire or Virginia, you're not required by law to have car insurance. However, you may have to comply with financial responsibility laws in other ways.

In Virginia, for example, drivers without car insurance must pay a $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee at the time of registration each year. Uninsured drivers in Virginia are personally responsible for paying medical bills or property repairs after a car accident.

In New Hampshire, uninsured drivers who are found at fault for a car accident are required to get insurance coverage for at least three years after the accident.

Drivers who do buy car insurance coverage in New Hampshire and Virginia must have state-mandated coverages and meet minimum coverage limits on their policies, as defined by state law.

What documents should I keep in my car?

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, you should always keep the following documents with you in the car:

Do I need more than my state's minimum insurance requirements?

States set minimum car insurance coverage limits to help protect drivers financially in case of costly car accidents. It's a good idea to think of your state's requirements as a starting point. You may want to consider raising your coverage limits for increased protection. You also may be able to add optional coverages to your policy, depending on your situation.