Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Mar 2, 2022

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Key Takeaways

  • As with all car accidents, you should follow the general protocol even if the accident involves an insured driver driving an uninsured car
  • Driving an uninsured vehicle can result in fines for the person who owns the vehicle
  • Consider purchasing comprehensive, uninsured motorist, and underinsured motorist car insurance to provide the maximum level of coverage for yourself and your vehicle

You may have many questions about what happens after you get into a car accident. For example, will an insured driver driving an uninsured car need to pay damages? Also, what happens if you get into an accident when driving an uninsured car with your insurance?

When someone borrows another person’s car, both people are at risk. But the car owner is assuming a higher financial risk by not insuring their vehicle. The car’s owner may be liable for damages to yours, meaning they may be required to pay settlement expenses to you or your car insurance company.

Learn more about what happens when a driver with car insurance uses an uninsured car. Also, learn about the types of coverages you may need to cover any gaps between damages you suffer and the settlement with the other driver.

What should you do if you get into an accident with an insured driver driving an uninsured car?

As with all car accidents, you should follow a general protocol. The protocol helps you protect your financial interests and comply with your car insurance company. Here are some basic steps to take after an accident:

  • Check for injuries. You, the other driver, or one of your passengers may be injured after the crash.
  • Move your vehicle to safety, if possible. If you have not suffered injuries and can drive your car, move it to the side of the road and away from oncoming traffic. Set up road flares and reflective signs to warn other drivers.
  • Call the police. You may need to call the authorities, regardless of the severity of the crash. Police officers will create an official report that you can share with your auto insurance company.
  • Collect the other driver’s information. While remaining calm, gather the other driver’s name, phone number, and insurance information. Only avoid talking to the other driver and stay in your car if it is clear they are confrontational.
  • Document the scene. Take photos of the damage with your smartphone and log details like the other driver’s license plate.
  • Contact your insurance company. Regardless of who’s at fault for the accident, you need to contact your car insurance agent or representative to let them know about the incident. Your insurance company can handle any claim and work out a just settlement if the other driver is at fault.

Additionally, stay at the scene until the police arrive and clear the area, even after a minor fender bender. Also, do not admit fault because doing so may result in you or your insurance company being held liable during the claims process or in a lawsuit.

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What happens after an accident with an insured driver driving an uninsured car?

After you talk to your auto insurance company, the investigation will begin. If you didn’t already find out from the other driver that they were driving an uninsured car, your claims adjuster will later.

In most cases, car insurance companies will first contact the person who owned the car that the at-fault driver was using at the time of the accident.

Most car insurance policies follow the car and not the driver. (Non-owner auto insurance policies do the opposite.) The car owner is liable for damages if the person who borrowed their vehicle caused the accident. Also, the car owner will need to pay fines for not insuring their car no matter who caused the accident.

An at-fault driver who drives an uninsured car will also be liable for damages. If the other driver caused the accident, your car insurance company might get a settlement from the other person’s liability insurance. However, in some states, the amount might only cover your deductible.

Beyond receiving a car insurance settlement, you might want to sue the other driver to recoup some of your financial losses. But in most cases, it is best to work with your car insurance company, especially if you have comprehensive car insurance, plus uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

What type of coverage do you need?

Do you need comprehensive or uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage?  That depends on a few factors, whether your state requires or allows it. But first, let’s look at the differences between these three types of car insurance.

Comprehensive, Uninsured Motorist, and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Your comprehensive car insurance coverage pays for damages to your car in an accident regardless of who’s at fault. It is not a requirement in any state, but some states mandate uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for damages you suffer after getting into an accident with an insured driver. Uninsured motorist property damage coverage pays to repair damages to your car. Uninsured personal injury coverage helps you cover medical bills and lost wages, among other things.

Underinsured motorist coverage helps fill the gaps between the damages you suffer in a car accident with another motorist. The other driver will have insurance, but their level of coverage is low enough that any claim you make against them will not pay for all the damage.

Where Uninsured Motorist Coverage Is Required

Only 18 states and the District of Columbia require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage. That and underinsured motorist coverage are available in all states.

These states mandate uninsured motorist car insurance:

  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Of those states mandating uninsured motorist car insurance coverage, 13 states also require drivers to carry underinsured motorist coverage. For example, South Carolina car insurance laws only require you to have uninsured motorist car insurance.

Weighing the Costs

Beyond state requirements, you must weigh the extra costs of paying for comprehensive and uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage against the costs of not having it. How likely is it that you’ll get into an accident, and how likely is it that the other driver will lack sufficient coverage?

According to information the Insurance Information Institute compiled, around 12.6% of drivers were uninsured motorists. Massachusetts had the lowest rate (3.5%), and Mississippi had the highest uninsured motorist rate (29.4%). The study does not account for underinsured motorists, however.

Is there more you need to know about an insured driver driving an uninsured car?

You may be wondering; how long can you drive without insurance after buying a car? In 49 states plus the District of Columbia, it is illegal to drive without car insurance, and in New Hampshire, you need to prove financial responsibility.

In most cases, you may have a 10- or 30-day grace period to add a car to your existing car insurance policy, but most car dealers will not allow you to purchase a vehicle without first having insurance.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance? Also, what happens to an uninsured driver driving an insured car in an accident?

Penalties for uninsured drivers differ among the states. But in most cases, you will pay fines for a first offense, and you will have a suspended driver’s license, and subsequent offenses can carry steeper fines and jail time.

Additionally, an uninsured driver who gets into an accident is at a disadvantage when seeking financial settlements. If the other driver is at fault, the uninsured motorist might not get a payout from the other driver’s car insurance company. Also, it will be difficult for the uninsured to win a settlement in civil court.

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An Insured Driver Driving an Uninsured Car: The Bottom Line

Based on the available data, you may have a low risk of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver, but it helps to have the right coverage just in case. If you even get into an accident with an uninsured car, it helps if you already have comprehensive and underinsured motorist coverage.

Either way, make sure that you have the proper coverage in your state and only drive insured cars. An accident leaves the car owner liable for damages, and it might be challenging to win a financial settlement without the proper car insurance coverage.

In short, driving an uninsured car is a bad idea. So, if you ever wondered, “Can I drive an uninsured car with my own car insurance?” it is best to avoid doing that. As you will face a penalty for driving without insurance, you can face penalties for not properly insuring your car.