Do You Need Car Insurance to Drive?

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.

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.

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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  Comments: 9

  1. Alice Dickenson


    If someone had done a self-induced accident it will therefore not be credited and recognised by the insurance. What if they don’t have any proof? I know some people who does that and got away with it and it amazes me.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Alice,
      That is definitely insurance fraud and is illegal. Insurance fraud comes with pretty steep penalties, including hefty fines and/or jail time. If the people did it and got away with it, it’s like committing any crime and getting away with it. You are right in the sense that there is no proof in those circumstances, and the insurance company is trusting that what they said happened really happened. But committing a crime has severe consequences, so obviously they should never do that again. Claims adjusters are pretty good at spotting fraud, so they would be keen on a pattern of these claims happening.

  2. Rusureuwant2know


    “Why are there laws requiring car insurance?”
    In my state, they mandated it so people who’d been charged with DUI could get insurance. Think “obamacare” for automobiles. I’m not kidding – that’s how this got started. So we now pay higher prices because they have to provide insurance for drunk drivers. It’s a hard-to-find historical fact, but I don’t forget because I was carrying comp for vandalism. They robbed me of what I needed for coverage to make all of us pay for more affordable insurance for irresponsible drivers who don’t belong on the road at all. You drink and drive, you should loose the right to drive for life. People should have been furious over making us pay through the nose. So many people go through life and never have an accident – and we’re out $80,000 for a lifetime of insurance – so people who drive drunk can get insurance.


  3. New Hampshire doesn’t require car insurance.


  4. Driving without auto insurance is actually something I have wondered about before, and now I know that at least some form of auto insurance is required in all 50 states so not having any insurance is actually illegal. Since you mentioned that I must show some proof of insurance to register my car, I will mind bringing some insurance statements next time I drive. I will also keep in mind that I need to make sure that the auto insurance of the person I’m borrowing the car from covers me before I drive so that I can be safe in case any accidents occur, and if it does not, I’ll ask them to get one from an insurance company.


  5. My boyfriend has Alabama (Alfa) liability insurance on each of his 3 vehicles. His 28 year old grandson (no job, spent 2 yrs. in prison-drugs, no driver’s license-too many tickets, DUI, non payment of remaining tickets! Etc.; doesn’t live with us!!! Grandson wants to borrow his grandfather’s truck & I keep telling him – “NO, do not let him drive any of your vehicles. If he has a wreck, and injures or kills someone, God Forbid, YOU could lose everything YOU have, the farm, house, money because if they find out about your grandson they could sue YOU!!”
    I WILL NOT LET HIM USE MINE!!!! Am I legally correct in saying that regarding the insurance???? I know his grandson has no business driving w/out a license but this is a small town(which I am not from here) and EVERYONE turns their Heads!!!!! I just say my prayers every night!!

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Dee,
      Yes, you are absolutely correct. If he drives a vehicle with someone’s permission, and then gets into an accident, the liabilities for that accident would fall on the person’s policy that he drove the car. So if it’s his grandparent’s policy, it would fall on the grandparents. And you’re right, if it’s a severe accident, then your grandparents would be responsible for any amount above their policy limits. They might be willing to take that risk, but that is on them, not you. As long as you don’t let him drive your vehicle, then you should be fine.


  6. Hi, I would like to know if it is possible to get a car insure with a Canada’s plates to circulate a month in California, USA. I have a International permise driver from Mexico?
    Thanks a lot.

    • Andrew@4AutoInsuranceQuote


      Hi Elizabeth,
      Yes, it’s possible to do this. You should double check with the Department of Motor Vehicles in the first state you’ll be visiting to make sure your international drivers license from Mexico will work in the US. If that part is fine, then you can get insurance on it. If the car is currently insured in Canada, then you should check with your insurance company to see if it’s already covered in the US. US car insurance covers vehicles in Canada, so the reverse could be true. If it’s not currently insured, then you’ll need to purchase a policy in the US.

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