While proof of financial responsibility is required to drive in every state, many drivers still get behind the wheel without meeting minimum liability insurance requirements. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute estimated that nearly 13% of drivers didn’t have insurance in 2019, meaning uninsured motorists are more common than many people realize! With so many people failing to follow state insurance laws, it’s important to be prepared. If you’ve ever wondered what to do if an uninsured driver hits you, you’re not alone. We’ll walk you through different ways you can be proactive to protect your future self and discuss your options if you’re involved in a crash with an uninsured motorist.
Which Types of Insurance Coverage Help Protect You from Uninsured Drivers?
One of the best ways to safeguard yourself from uninsured drivers is to make sure you have the right auto insurance coverage in place before an accident.
If you’re involved in a car crash, collision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle, regardless of who is at fault. Collision coverage can even help you out financially if you’re the victim of a hit and run, which is a possibility if the other driver is uninsured and afraid of the potential consequences. However, you should note there are limits to how much collision coverage can protect you after an accident with an uninsured driver. Collision coverage will not pay for your medical expenses if you’re injured in a crash caused by an uninsured motorist, making it important to not rely solely on collision coverage to provide financial aid in this situation.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver or the driver can’t be identified (hit and run), uninsured motorist coverage will help pay for your medical bills. Depending on which state you call home, uninsured motorist coverage might actually be mandatory, and it could also help cover some of the damages to your car. In some locations, uninsured motorist coverage might also help pay for your medical expenses if the at-fault party does have liability insurance, but not enough to cover the total cost of your medical bills.
No-Fault States: Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage
If you live in a no-fault state, your own insurance coverage pays for medical expenses stemming from an accident. No-fault states typically require personal injury protection (PIP), which is often called “no-fault insurance.” PIP coverage can help pay for medical expenses, lost wages, service replacement (like childcare while you’re recovering), and funeral expenses. For those who want extra protection, medical payments auto coverage is not usually required, but it can also help pay for medical, hospital, and funeral expenses after a covered accident.
What Happens if You Get Hit by Someone Without Insurance?
If you’re involved in a car accident, make sure you follow the appropriate steps (check for injuries, call 911 if necessary, etc.) after collecting yourself. If you find out the other driver doesn’t have insurance, most of the actions you take at the scene should be similar to after any other crash, but there might be a few exceptions. Here’s what to do:
- Get a police report: No matter how large or small the accident, or the insurance status of the drivers, it’s always a good idea to get a police report. This important document will have all kinds of details from the accident scene, and it can make filing a claim easier.
- Swap information: Even if the other driver doesn’t have insurance, get their contact information and registration information. If there are witnesses at the scene, try to get their contact information as well. Their statements could be very valuable when you go to file a claim.
- Document the scene: Take photos of the vehicles, the accident site, noticeable injuries, and anything else you believe could benefit you when talking to your insurer later.
- Don’t get guilted & don’t take a quick payout: Driving without insurance is illegal, and the other driver almost certainly knows that. If they attempt to talk you out of calling the police because they’re worried they could get in trouble, don’t fall for it. If they attempt to offer some form of quick settlement, don’t accept it. It’s better to notify the authorities and find out how serious any damages or injuries are first.
- Contact your insurance companies: You should always report any accident to your car insurance company as soon as possible. Most insurance policies give you a certain time requirement to report any accidents to your insurer. Once you report the accident, a knowledgeable agent can walk you through what to do if the other driver is uninsured. It’s also a good idea to talk to your health insurance company if you suffered any injuries.
What If You’re in an Accident Without Insurance?
If you’re involved in an accident and you don’t have insurance, you could be in serious trouble. If you are found to be at-fault for the crash, you could be forced to pay for the other driver’s medical expenses and property damage out of your own pocket. You’ll also be stuck paying for your own medical bills and to repair or replace your own vehicle.
Even if the other driver is at-fault for the crash, some states have “No Pay, No Play” laws which mean you might be limited on the damages you can collect if you don’t have a policy yourself. If you live in a no-fault state, you might escape paying for the other driver’s medical expenses if they’re minor. However, if they suffer severe injuries, they might be able to file a lawsuit to recoup damages, which you would then have to pay out of your own pocket.
How Serious are the Consequences for Driving Without Insurance?
While the potential punishments vary from state to state, driving without insurance is never a good idea. Even if you think you’ll save a little bit of money by not paying a premium, just one minor accident or traffic stop could put you in a difficult financial spot or legal position. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you could possibly:
- Face jail time
- Be forced to pay steep fines & penalties from tickets and fees
- Have your license suspended
- Have your registration suspended
- See your car impounded
- Be forced to pay higher insurance premiums in the future
- Be required to pay for damages and medical expenses in any accident you cause