Delaney Simchuk, Car Insurance Writer
Yes, it is illegal to drive around without insurance, or without proving financial responsibility, if you are driving your own vehicle. You can face serious penalties for driving without insurance or proof of financial responsibility, such as having your license suspended, large fines, or even jail time. However, if you are borrowing a vehicle, you will typically be covered under the owner’s auto policy and do not need insurance of your own.
More specifically, you are required to have your state’s minimum insurance coverage in order to own and drive a vehicle in almost every state. However, some states, such as New Hampshire and Virginia, allow drivers to legally drive without car insurance if other requirements are met.
Key Things to Know About Driving Without Insurance
- You still need insurance to drive a brand-new car. Even if you have just purchased your vehicle, you will likely have to show proof of insurance in order to drive off the lot. However, if you already have an existing policy, most major insurance companies offer a grace period when you purchase a new car. This grace period typically lasts seven to 30 days and extends your existing policy to your new car.
- Make sure you are not underinsured. In order to drive legally, you need to carry at least the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by your state. If you do not have enough coverage, you are driving illegally.
- If you drive without insurance, your state’s DMV may find out. A lapse in coverage may result in fines, license suspension or even jail time if you are caught driving without your state’s minimum coverage requirements. When switching policies, it is best to not cancel your existing policy until the new one is in effect.
- Some states do not require car insurance if other requirements are met. For example, in Virginia, you are not required to have car insurance if you pay a $500 uninsured motorist fee to the Virginia DMV each time you renew your registration. Similarly, if you can prove you have sufficient funds to cover the cost of damages in the event of an accident you are at fault for, you may not need car insurance in New Hampshire, either.
- When borrowing a car, you are covered by the owner’s policy. If you are borrowing a vehicle, you will almost always be covered by the owner’s policy since insurance policies generally follow the vehicle, not the policyholder. However, if you are borrowing the car long-term and want additional coverage, you should consider non-owner car insurance.
To learn more, check out WalletHub’s guide to the penalties for driving without insurance.
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