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What Happens After a Car Accident Without Insurance?

car accident without insurance


Getting into a car accident without insurance is a lot more common than you think.

According to 2011 data .[1] compiled by researchers at the Insurance Research Council, one in seven drivers on the road does NOT have car insurance.

Auto accidents are bad enough in their own right, throw a lack of insurance into the mix and they can present a huge problem. Whether you or the other party is lacking insurance it’s important to know how to navigate these scenarios and how to protect yourself.

In this article, we’ll hit on the following

What happens if you get an in an accident without insurance?
What happens if you get in an accident with an uninsured driver?
How do “no-fault” laws affect your accident?
What are the most common penalties for uninsured accidents?

So let’s begin….

What happens if you get in a Car accident Without Insurance?

Specifically, what happens in these situations depends on who is at fault, and whether or not you live in a “no-fault” state (more on this below).

Most states have laws on the books that require all drivers to have motor vehicle insurance (there are exceptions [2]).

It's possible that you’ve gotten distracted and let yours lapse -- and then, at the most inopportune moment, you get into a crash.

If you, for example, rear-end someone at a light and do not have insurance you are open to considerable liability. Below are some things to keep and mind and that are likely to happen in this scenario:

  • Be honest, not being forthcoming about your insurance situation will not help things
  • The other drive will likely file an uninsured motorist (UIM) claim through their own insurance company
  • Their insurer will settle the claim and then sue you for the cost of the claim, this process is called “subrogation”

What happens if you get in an accident with an uninsured driver?

Many people who drive without car insurance do so because they cannot afford or qualify for it.

If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver you can take legal action against that person or file an uninsured motorist claim through your own insurance carrier.

In many cases, the latter is the best course of action because you get compensated for your damages and let your insurance company fight it out with the other party.

Additionally, filing a lawsuit sometimes makes sense, but an uninsured driver is unlikely to have many assets or resources -- so bare that in mind.

Sometimes uninsured drivers will try to offer you some cash to make the problem go away immediately. This is almost never a good idea to accept. As always protect yourself by following good documentation practices, be sure to get a police report and get in touch with your insurance company in a timely manner.

How do No Fault Laws Affect Your Car accident?

No-fault insurance means that your auto insurer will cover some (or all) of your medical bills if you get into an accident, regardless of who was at fault and whether or not the other party is insured.

There are currently 12 states that fall into this no-fault category [3]. These are:

  • D.C.
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Utah

The implication here is relatively straightforward.

-In no-fault states you turn to your own insurer for reimbursement and if you don’t have a policy you must pay out of pocket.

-In “tort” states, car insurance companies pay for damages based on who is at fault. So, if the other party doesn’t have insurance the outcome ends up kind of the same. Get reimbursed by your carrier and move on.

One thing to note in all of this is that your ability to make a personal injury claim against another driver for his/her negligence is not dependant on whether you have car insurance yourself. You can still make this claim against the driver perceived to be at fault.

What Are the Most Common Penalties for a Car Accident Without Insurance?

States have different laws and requirements when it comes to carrying auto insurance and failing to meet these standards also has some unique consequences. Below are the most common penalties:

  • Having your driver’s license revoked or suspended.
  • Having your vehicle registration suspended temporarily
  • Getting a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation. This is probably on top of whatever ticket you incur from the original reason you were pulled over.
  • Substantial fines. Start down this path and you’ll be amazed the number of fines you can accrue.
  • Increased future insurance premiums -- hard to predict but certainly possible.

Summary

Regardless of whether you get in a car accident without insurance or you hit by an an uninsured driver, knowing what your options are and what to do in this type of situation is important. Just remember these basic points:

-If you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver don’t panic, you have options. The primary one being getting reimbursed from your carrier.

-Operating a vehicle without insurance leaves you exposed to substantial risk (even if you live in a no-fault state).

-If you cannot afford to insure your car, you probably shouldn’t be driving it -- the risk is not worth it.

-Penalties for uninsured driving can be hefty and have lasting implications.


If ever in doubt you can always consult get a free car accident review.



Sources:

[1]- Insurance Research

[2]- Insurance Information Institute-Uninsured Motorists

[3]-Insurance Information Institute:No Fault Insurance


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