Do You Need Car Insurance to Drive?

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She works as an associate editor and writer for for over a year and enjoys creating content that offers expert advice on car insurance topics.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs...

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Reviewed byLeslie Kasperowicz
Former Farmers Insurance CSR

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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In the United States, there are a staggering 1.5 million people that drive without any type of car insurance coverage. Given such a high number, driving without insurance must be legal, right? Wrong! Every state in the United States has minimum auto insurance laws. Most states require at least some type of liability insurance to protect other drivers on the road. In other words, yes, in the United States, you need car insurance to drive.

For a better idea of issues pertaining to needing to buy car insurance, take a look at the Q+A section below:

Do You Need to Have Auto Insurance to Drive a Car?

Why are there laws requiring car insurance?

Driving without car insurance can put both you and other drivers on the road in financial trouble. Without insurance, you are vulnerable to a whole set of problems – both financially and legally. If you are involved in an accident and do not have insurance, you have no way to cover medical costs and damages for yourself or anyone else that you harmed.

Is it illegal to drive without insurance in every state?

At least some form of auto insurance is required in all 50 states. State laws differ, however, when determining how much minimum coverage is needed. Check your state laws to get a better idea of how much insurance is needed.

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Do I need to be insured or does the car need to be insured?

Again, it varies from state to state. Each state has different laws in regards to if only the car needs to be insured or if both the vehicle and the driver need to be insured. Some states require you to be insured in order to apply for a license or to renew your current driver’s license. Some states not only require the driver to be insured when driving their car but also other people’s cars as well. In most states, however, in order to register a car, you must show proof of insurance.

Can I drive someone else’s car if I don’t have insurance but they do?

If you do not own a car and do not carry any type of insurance policy, then you will need to make sure that the auto insurance of those that let you borrow their car will cover you. For example, if someone in your family has a car that you use occasionally, then you will probably be required to be on that person’s insurance policy in order to be covered when driving their car.

If you are borrowing your friend’s car (or someone else’s not from your household), you should check with their insurance provider to make sure that you will be covered when driving their car (even though you are not listed on their policy).

If someone borrows my car, are they covered under my insurance policy?

In general, auto insurance coverage pays for the vehicle, not the driver. That being said, you should still check with your insurance carrier just to make sure. Often times there are exclusions for some drivers that would disallow coverage. When in doubt, you better check. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. (Also, if the driver who you let borrow your car gets a ticket or another type of traffic violation when driving, the ticket will be charged to them, not you.)

Read more about this situation here.

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Are there any fines for driving without insurance?

If you are pulled over or get into an accident without insurance (god forbid), there will definitely be some type of fine you will have to pay. It will all depend on your state’s laws and how lenient your judge is, but most likely, you will have to pay a hefty fine. Usually, driving without insurance fines range anywhere from $500 to $5000. Always make sure you have insurance when driving. You don’t want your $75 speeding ticket to turn into an $800 speeding + driving without insurance ticket.

If I am caught without car insurance, can I lose my license?

If it is your first offense, you will most likely just get a fine. However, if you have been caught before you most likely will have your license (and maybe vehicle registration) suspended for a very long time. Jail time is also not out of the question.

The Final Word On Needing Car Insurance To Drive

The above information should be enough to convince you that driving without insurance is not such a good idea. Not only is it illegal, but it can also put you in a substantial financial risk. In the United States, car insurance is needed to drive. If you are in the market for auto insurance, please get in touch with your local insurance agent or shop around to compare rates. The internet makes auto insurance shopping extremely easy – there is no logical reason why any driver should be without insurance. To start finding quotes, try entering your zip code in the box at the top of this page. Insurance agents will then get in touch with you and start competing for your business.

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