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: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Driving without insurance is illegal in most states
  • It’s important to provide proof of insurance when asked
  • There are multiple ways to show proof of insurance when in an accident
  • Coverage is available to protect you against others who don’t have car insurance

Insurance is a requirement when driving in the United States. If you’re involved in a car accident without insurance, it’s important to know what’s going to happen.

There might be ways to show that you have insurance.

If you don’t have insurance, then you need to learn about the various penalties that you could incur. Compare car insurance options by using our free rate tool above.

Is insurance required?

48 out of 50 states have compulsory insurance in place.

  • In New Hampshire, it’s possible to be without insurance if you are able to provide proof that you have sufficient funds in place to deal with an accident.
  • In Virginia, it’s possible to register an uninsured car, though there is a significant fee that needs to be paid.

If you don’t live in New Hampshire or Virginia, you have to have a car insurance policy. There are state minimums that must be followed for bodily injury and property damage liability. Some states might also require personal injury protection (PIP).

It’s possible to increase your coverage above and beyond the state minimums, though you cannot go below.

If you are unable to provide proof of insurance at any time, whether it is at the scene of an accident or after being pulled over for a traffic violation, you could experience problems. Penalties include:

  • Fines
  • Jail time
  • Points on license
  • Revocation of driving privileges
  • SR-22 Certificate

These penalties will vary based on the state you are in as well as the severity of what has happened.

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How to Deal with an Accident When You Don’t Have Insurance

If you are involved in an accident, you will be asked to show proof of insurance. Failure to present insurance could result in various fines. However, if you have insurance but don’t have the card on you physically, there might be options available to you.

Many insurance companies have a mobile app. This is something you can download to your smartphone. Upon logging in, you could show a law enforcement officer that you do in fact have a policy.

It’s also possible to screenshot an insurance card in many states, allowing you to keep it in the photo gallery of your mobile device.

If you have no means of showing proof of insurance but you do have a policy, it might require a trip to the DMV with your insurance paperwork. A fine might be charged to you as well because of your failure to show proof of insurance when it was requested.

If you don’t have insurance and you are in a car accident, it will be your financial responsibility in its entirety.

How to Deal with an Accident if the Other Person Doesn’t Have Insurance

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According to the Insurance Information Institute, approximately one out of eight drivers on the road don’t have car insurance (or sufficient insurance). This poses a problem if you get into a car accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance.

While your insurance company will take care of some damage based on your coverage, much of it will depend on the other person having insurance. This is particularly true if they were at fault for the accident.

You don’t want to have to pay for someone else’s mistake so insurance companies offer additional coverage to you in the form of uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages.

These coverage options allow you to have the needed coverage in place if the other person doesn’t have what’s needed for insurance.

The cost of adding this coverage to your policy is generally not a lot of money. When you get quotes online, you can look to see what the premium would increase to when selecting the coverage.

It’s worth adding the coverage so you have peace of mind if and when you get into an accident.

Compare car insurance quotes using our free rate tool below. You may be surprised by how much you could save.