Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jun 14, 2018

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In a nutshell...

  • Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires auto insurance or proof of financial responsibility
  • Some states let you forgo car insurance if you can prove you have the financial means to cover an accident
  • Other states allow you to pay an extra fee to register your car without insurance
  • You are responsible for damage or injuries if you cause an accident while driving uninsured
  • You can find car insurance for cheaper than you might realize

Car insurance might seem like a waste of money, particularly if you’ve had it for many years and have never made a claim. It’s money you have to spend each month without getting anything tangible in return.

The problem is, in 48 of 50 states, it’s a crime to drive without car insurance or proof of financial responsibility.

If you’re tempted to risk it, know that you aren’t alone. The Insurance Information Institute reports that over 12 percent of drivers lack insurance.

People skip out on car insurance for a variety of reasons:

  • Some simply cannot afford it
  • Some find it too expensive
  • Others feel it doesn’t offer a good value for what they pay

Regardless of your reason, if you want to get away with having no car insurance, there are a few things you need to know.

Compare car insurance premiums right here to find the best rate for the insurance coverage you need.

No Car Insurance in New Hampshire and Virginia

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New Hampshire and Virginia are the only two states that don’t require car insurance or proof of financial responsibility. When you get pulled over in New Hampshire, you do not have to show proof of insurance.

You won’t receive a citation for violating financial responsibility laws. In Virginia, you can pay an uninsured motorist fee to drive legally without insurance. All other states have financial responsibility laws on the books.

This doesn’t mean either state absolves you from financial responsibility in an accident.

You still have to pay for damages and injuries to the other person or persons if you have an accident and are at fault.

You could be on the hook for a lot of money if you have an accident and aren’t insured. So even though it’s legal, it probably isn’t smart to drive uninsured in either New Hampshire or Virginia.

Driving uninsured can result in financial disaster if you cause an accident in which property damage or personal injury results.

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Proof of Financial Responsibility

It’s a misnomer that car insurance is required in all states with financial responsibility laws. In many states, car insurance isn’t specifically required. You have other options for proving financial responsibility.

In some states, you can put down a cash deposit or pledge security to the DMV. This action satisfies the financial responsibility law. It also covers you if you have an accident.

Other states allow for documentation proving you have liquid assets to cover an accident. You can forgo car insurance if you have this proof.

If your reason for wanting to avoid car insurance is the cost, these provisions won’t likely help you. The deposit or security amount is often much more expensive than buying insurance.

Not to mention, you’d need to be rich to have enough liquid assets to forgo car insurance in states that allow it.

Registration Without Insurance

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Not only can you get a ticket for driving uninsured, but in most states, you have to show proof of insurance to renew your vehicle’s registration each year.

If you can’t renew your registration, you’ll be forced to drive with an expired tag. This expired tag makes you a magnet for police and increases your chances of getting pulled over.

For an extra fee, you can renew your registration without proof of insurance in some states. In Virginia, for instance, you can pay $500 for a certificate of uninsured registration.

This uninsured motorist fee, as mentioned above, lets you renew your tags and drive your vehicle without insurance.

It doesn’t absolve you from financial responsibility laws, though, but it allows you to update your tags if your insurance has temporarily lapsed. You can even show this certificate if you get pulled over and the officer asks for proof of insurance.

If you cause an accident, you’re still responsible for any damage or injuries.

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If You Cause an Accident While Driving Uninsured

You might think the worst thing that can happen while driving uninsured is that you get a ticket. But getting into an accident without insurance carries worse and more expensive consequences.

After an accident, the other driver and passengers can file claims for their damages or injuries. Most states have liability laws that specify the dollar amount up to which the at-fault driver can be held responsible.

This amount can vary from a low of $75,000 in states like New Hampshire to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Without insurance, you are responsible for paying these costs out of pocket.

If you don’t pay them or are unable to, then you can have your wages garnished or assets seized to satisfy what you owe.

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Finding Inexpensive Car Insurance

Maybe high premiums are tempting you to risk driving without car insurance. But it’s unwise to risk significant financial liability. You’re better off shopping around and finding the best-priced car insurance available.

Several factors influence how much you pay for car insurance. These factors include the following:

  • Your driving history, including accidents and moving violations
  • Your age and years of driving experience
  • Your zip code
  • The make, model, and year of your car
  • Your credit score

Car insurance companies vary in how they consider these factors. Some place the most emphasis on your age and driving record. Others are more lenient with imperfect driving histories and weigh the value of your car more heavily.

Some companies charge you more for having bad credit. Others place little to no emphasis on your credit history.

For these reasons, the cheapest insurance company for your friend might not be the least expensive for you. Your friend’s driver profile might be much different from yours.

You can find the least expensive insurance by shopping around and getting lots of quotes.

The two easiest ways to do this are to work with an insurance broker or use comparison sites online. Either option allows you to submit one application and receive quotes from many companies.

It’s difficult to get away with having no car insurance. Even if you can do it, it probably isn’t worth it. Instead, shop around until you find the least expensive policy available. Enter your zip code below to shop for free.