Laura Berry is a former State Farm insurance producer and insurance expert.

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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. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, mainly in the insuranc...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Oct 21, 2021

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Important facts to know...

  • Auto insurance is required by law in almost every state
  • If you are caught driving without insurance, or even just without proof, you could be fined or face license suspension
  • You probably will not be arrested if it is your first offense for not having car insurance

If you own or drive a car, you know how expensive it can be. Car payments, gas, maintenance, tolls – the list goes on and on. If you are looking to reduce costs and save money, one expense many people look at cutting is their car insurance. The fact is that car insurance is required by law — you must have it no matter what.

Is that a good idea? Can you get into trouble with the police and maybe even face jail time?

A better option to save money would be to comparison shop for car insurance to get the best rate. Try our free rate tool above to get started.

Why do you have to have insurance?

There are several reasons why the government requires you to have car insurance:

  • To make sure that you can pay for any damage or injury resulting from an accident
  • To make sure that your car loan is paid if you wreck your car
  • To make sure that you can pay for the medical care that you may need from an accident

Car insurance laws vary based on where you live. There is no federal law about car insurance that applies in all fifty states. Each state makes its laws about car insurance. On top of that, if you are financing your vehicle, there can be insurance requirements from your lien holder.

California is a good example of the typical car insurance requirements. In California, the government sets specific requirements for car insurance:

  • $15,000 for the death or injury of any one person. If one person is injured in the accident, your coverage pays up to $15,000.
  • A total of $30,000 for the death or injury of more than one person in any one accident. If two or more people are injured, the coverage pays up to $30,000. The coverage will not pay more. The injured people share the money.
  • $5,000 for damage to the property of other people.

Most states have similar minimum requirements. In some states, if your driving record is so bad that no company will sell you an insurance policy, you can buy insurance from the state or pay an uninsured drivers’ fee.

Whether your insurance company would consider you a high-risk driver or a safe driver, there are much more things to consider when it comes to being uninsured. Active insurance is essential if you operate a motor vehicle. Whether it’s a traffic crash, coverage for vehicle repairs, you need adequate insurance to ensure you are covered for medical costs, hospital bills, and other things you may endure as the result of an accident.

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How much will car insurance cost?

Because almost all car insurance is sold by private insurance companies, its cost will depend upon how risky a driver you are.

The insurance companies determine your risk and the cost based on your age, sex, and driving history.

If you are a young man with a ticket on your driving record, you will pay a lot more than a senior citizen with a clean record. For example, in Atlanta, Georgia:

  • A 19-year-old single male with a speeding ticket will pay from $1,400 to $10,000 a year for car insurance.
  • A 65-year old married couple with a clean record will pay from $300 to $3,200 a year for car insurance.

It also depends on the coverage types that vehicle owners may need. Minimum coverages will include liability coverage, personal injury protection, and others.

Automobile insurance is also not without the advantage of discounts. Many insurance companies offer a driving course discount, which you can inquire about that and more discounts by reaching out to an insurance agent.

What are the penalties for not having car insurance?

Each state sets the penalties if you are caught without car insurance. The penalties are different in each state; they can include:

  • a ticket and/or fine
  • suspension/revocation of your vehicle registration or driver’s license
  • arrest and jail for repeat offenders

For example, in Virginia, uninsured drivers face a $500 fine and suspension of driver’s license and vehicle registration.

If you live in Montana, however, you could be arrested and jailed for up to six months if you’ve been caught three or more times driving without insurance.

Something as simple as a traffic violation could reveal to a police officer that you have an insurance lapse. All they have to do is run your license plate, and you could be facing hefty fines, fines in jail, a 90-day license suspension, or even longer.


If you are looking to save money and reduce the costs of owning and operating your car, there are many good ways to reduce expenses. For example, you could reduce the number of miles you drive or buy a cheaper grade of fuel.

However, you should not drop your car insurance. Driving without insurance is illegal; if you are caught, you could be fined and have your driver’s license and vehicle registration suspended. Depending on your state laws, you could even be arrested by a law enforcement officer or face jail sentences.

Getting into an accident without insurance puts an incredible amount of financial responsibility on someone, and there isn’t a sole risk that uninsured drivers face. If you are insured, you still need to be able to provide proof of insurance, so make sure to store that insurance card somewhere safe in your vehicle!

Compare car insurance quotes today and see how much you could save.