The thought of making one less monthly payment can be pretty tempting for a confident driver. But while it may seem like a good money-saving strategy by not purchasing auto insurance, the costly, long term repercussions will make it hard to justify the minor benefits you may enjoy now.
Before you hit the open road without insurance, you may want to consider just how big of a gamble you’re making.
They are Called Car “Accidents” for a Reason
How many times have you taken your eyes off the road to change the radio station or read a passing billboard only to quickly hit the brakes a few inches from the car in front of you? Ever see a fellow driver speed through a red light or miss a stop sign? Even the most talented of drivers can’t predict the randomness of driving conditions. While you may have that perfect driving record now, with just one small fender bender or side swipe you could be looking at medical bills, damage costs and significant fees and penalties. You may end up accountable for thousands, whether or not the accident was even your fault.
A Little Money Now Saves a Lot Later
Even if you are lucky enough to avoid a car accident, one speeding or parking citation on your uninsured vehicle could cost you much more than you’re saving without it, and in many states, they may suspend your license and registration as well.
Almost every single state requires a minimum amount of liability insurance, while some also require other types of coverage such as personal injury protection. Some states even allow uninsured motorists on the road, which also causes insurance rates to be higher to accommodate the higher risks. But no matter what laws your state may enforce, minimal insurance payments can protect you from monumental costs should an incident happen.
A New Trend Crossing the Nation
Uninsured drivers are costly to everyone on the road, which is why more and more states are cracking down and raising their penalties for driving without insurance. Mandatory insurance is becoming more standard across the country, as new insurance laws have been introduced just this past year in states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee.
While the resulting fees and penalties in any state make car insurance a worthy investment, some states will make you pay much more than others.
States with Highest Fines
Anyone driving uninsured in Delaware should pull over immediately. With a first offense fine of up to $2,000, they take the top spot for harshest fines without a previous offense. And even if you get insured the very next day, you’re still looking at 6 months without a license.
While the ranges of their fines may vary, both West Virginia and Massachusetts will penalize their uninsured drivers up to $5,000, no matter how many offenses they have previously. They also won’t give you your license back as soon as you’re covered.
Hawaii provides cited drivers with the choice of community service for a first or second time offense, but it requires 75- 275 hours of your time to equate to their substantial fines. In New Jersey, you might end up doing community service in addition to your fine, and you won’t have a license to get you there. Between a maximum $5,000 fine, 30 days of community service and a 2-year license suspension, a second offense here is as bad as it can get for drivers.
While Maine may present one of the lower fines for a first offense at $150 (up to $500), a second offense within 5 years could cost you up to $2,500, along with a loss of license. New York offers a similar range, no matter how many times you’re caught uninsured, while tacking on a $750 civil penalty and one of the longest license suspensions of any state as well.
Kentucky, Minnesota and Texas will each require you to pay at least $200-1,000 for your first offense and a couple thousand dollars for subsequent offenses. However, Texas will additionally continue to fine you annually for three years. You’ll also have to make a trip to get your impounded car.
|State||2nd offense fine|
|Delaware||$3,000 – $4,000|
|Kentucky||$1,500 – $2,500|
|Maine||$1,500 – $2,500|
|Massachusetts||$500 – $5,000|
|Minnesota||$200 – $3,000|
|New Jersey||$5,000 maximum|
|New York||$150 – $1,500 + $750 civil penalty|
|Texas||$350 – $1,000 + $250 annual fine for 3 years|
|West Virginia||$200 – $5,000|
States with Longest Jail Time
In some states, you’re lucky if paying a fine and losing your license is the only price you’ll pay. By sparing yourself those monthly insurance payments, you’re actually risking jail time. This sentence could be as high as 1 full year if you’re in Georgia, Michigan, West Virginia or Massachusetts. For uninsured drivers in Nebraska, Maryland and Wyoming, your fate isn’t much better facing up to 6 months behind bars.
|State||Potential Jail Time|
|West Virginia||1 year|
Get Insured to Feel Reassured
No matter what your reason may be for driving uninsured, it’s not worth the penalties and fees you may face down the road. Car accidents can be frustrating enough, providing their own immense emotional distress depending on the severity. Protect yourself from any additional devastation by making sure you’re covered before one occurs.
Whatever insurance regulations your state may have, it’s always a good idea to compare car insurance rates to get the best deal for you and your family’s situation. Both new and experienced drivers may benefit differently, so see what’s offered in your area to find the ideal policy for you.