What happens if you have a car accident without car insurance?

Liability car insurance is required by state law. In 2017, 13% of motorists (or 1 in 7 drivers) were uninsured, according to Michael Dietry, assistant vice president of personal line products and services at Dairyland Insurance

What happens if you’re in an accident and don’t have Car Insurance?

If you drive uninsured and are in a Car accident, in addition to being subject to a lawsuit, you may incur fines, suspension of your driver’s license or Car registration, and increased premiums once you get car insurance .

Each state has its own minimum liability insurance requirements. If you have Car Insurance and cause the accident, your Insurance will cover damages to the other vehicle and its driver and passengers. If you don’t have Insurance and cause the accident, the driver and passengers may sue you to recover damages.

However, in “no-fault” states “every driver [has] to file a claim with their own Insurance company after an accident, regardless of who was at fault” according to the Insurance Information Institute. No-fault states include: Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania,Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Utah, and Puerto Rico. 

If someone else causes the accident, some states limit the rights of uninsured motorists to sue.

Penalties for not having Car Insurance

If you are pulled over or in a traffic accident and do not have Car Insurance, depending on your state, you will be fined, face suspicion of your driver’s license and Car registration, and may be required to get SR-22 Insurance.

Although it is commonly referred to as SR-22 insurance, it is not actually Insurance. SR-22 is a form certification typically required for high-risk drivers that states they’re carrying the minimum Insurance coverage required by law. The car insurance provider files it with the state’s DMV, declaring that the driver has minimum coverage.

Most states require SR-22 certification for three years. Allstate noted that if your Insurance lapses or expires within the three-year time frame, your Car Insurance provider is required to notify the state.

Driving without Insurance will increase your premiums once you get coverage

Even if you have Insurance, having a Car accident can increase your premiums. Being uninsured and in a Car accident means that when you finally get Car Insurance, your premiums will be higher than the average drivers because you will be viewed as high-risk.

You will need SR-22 certification and Car Insurance.

How long will accidents impact my driving record?

Every state handles this differently, but typically three years is the average time an accident stays on your driving record. For example, the New York DMV keeps “accidents and most traffic convictions are only displayed until the end of the year in which the accident or conviction occurred, plus 3 additional years.” However, “vehicular homicide may be displayed permanently.”

You should check with your local department of motor vehicles (DMV), because some states have longer times on your driving record if the accident was due to driving under the influence (DUI/DWI), while others don’t.

Business Insider may receive a commission from Media Alpha when you click on Auto Insurance quotes, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Disclosure: This post may highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team. Read our editorial standards.