The Risks of Driving Without Insurance
If the police have ever pulled you over, they have likely asked for proof of auto insurance. However, if you didn’t have auto insurance, you might have found yourself in hot water.
Driving without auto insurance is against the law for most drivers in most states. Therefore, getting coverage should be part of every driver’s household budget. If you fail to get auto insurance, you run the risk of facing civil penalties, as well as personal safety risks.
The Penalties of Going without Car Insurance
First, let’s think about auto insurance in a general sense. Your policy means to protect you if you or your vehicle sustain damages in an accident. It can also help you if you compensate someone else who sustained injuries in an accident where you were at-fault. Without insurance, you might have to pay these costs out-of-pocket. That could easily put your finances in a lurch.
You will likely also face many lawful penalties as a result of not carrying coverage. These may include:
License suspensions of varying periods
Fines, including fees to reinstate your license
Jail time for serious or habitual offenders
Increased insurance prices when you attempt to enroll in coverage. Some insurers might even refuse to cover drivers who have a lapse in coverage.
One particular penalty for driving without insurance is the SR-22 certificate. SR-22s are forms that attach to your existing auto insurance policy. They verify for your state’s authorities that you have an active car policy. SR-22s usually stay on your record for a couple of years. Most SR-22 states require insurers to notify them if SR-22 carrier lets their policy lapse. A lapse in an active SR-22 policy will likely trigger further penalties.
So, if you are get an SR-22 penalty, immediately contact your car insurance agent. Your agent can help you make any policy adjustments required to file the SR-22. Keep in mind that some states do not have SR-22 penalties. However, if you move from an SR-22 state to a non-SR-22 state, your SR-22 will likely stay on your driving record.
The Insurance You Need
If you register your car in a given state, you will have to meet its minimum coverage requirements. For example, in Texas, you will need:
Bodily injury liability: $30,000 per person
Bodily injury liability: $60,000 per accident
Property damage liability: $25,000 per accident
Your liability coverage will protect you in case you cause damage to others. For example, you might be at-fault in an accident that injuries someone else. That person might have medical bills, lost time at work, and other financial hardships as a result. Your liability policy might help you pay for the legal costs, medical bills or vehicle damage that person sustains.
Nevertheless, most drivers need more coverage than just minimum liability protection. Usually, drivers invest in comprehensive and collision protection. These policy elements can help drivers pay for damage to their own vehicles. Other types of protection might include personal injury protection (PIP). It can help drivers afford their own medical bills in case of an accident. Contact your auto insurance agent to discuss more of your auto insurance needs.
Never drive without insurance, and don’t wait for an SR-22 or other penalty to come along to spur you to get coverage. If you consistently drive covered, you will likely be able to save on your policy costs. Insurers frequently offer more affordable rates to drivers who maintain continuous coverage.
Keep these tips in mind to help set up your car insurance:
Work with an independent insurance agent. Independent agents can often research the policy options of multiple insurance providers. They can often find you the most affordable coverage with benefits and discounts.
Choose appropriate coverage levels. Your vehicle and driving risks are unique. You will need to carry limits that reflect the value of your vehicle, as well as liabilities you pose to others. Your agent can help you determine coverage that’s adequate for your needs and that comes at a good value.
Set your deductible with care. The deductible is the money you will pay for a claim before your insurance covers some or all of the rest of the costs. Often, if you increase your deductible, your auto insurer will decrease your policy costs. Therefore, choose a deductible that’s as high as you can reasonably afford to pay out of pocket.
Ask about policy discounts. Many insurers offer discounts on their services for drivers who maintain continuous coverage. You also can usually qualify for a variety of other discounts. Ask your agent which types are available.
By selecting strong, affordable coverage, you can prevent the negative effects of driving without insurance. Remember, your policy is only as good as its costs. Therefore, you should make sure you can always afford your coverage. Talk to your agent about the best way to protect yourself with a comprehensive policy.