Not only is it legally required to have an active car insurance policy in order to drive your vehicle, but having an expired insurance policy can lead to costly tickets and worse. While it can depend on which state you’re in, the consequences of driving with expired insurance can include an expensive ticket, license suspension, a lack of financial protection in the event of an accident, or a denial of insurance coverage.
The actual dollar amount in penalties for an expired insurance policy varies widely based on many factors:
- Number of offenses
- Length of time insurance has been expired
- Length of time taken to pay fine
In Georgia, for example, the vehicle owner/lessee is fined $25 for any lapse of coverage while the vehicle is actively registered. However, that fine goes up to $160 in addition to the $25 fine if the lapse of coverage fine is not paid within 30 days.
Most states charge hundreds of dollars for the first offense. In Arizona, the first offense results in a $500 fine, second offense is $750, and third is $1,000. It should also be noted that in both Georgia and Arizona, these fines come with a suspended license as well.
Drivers cannot legally drive with a suspended license. Nearly every state will suspend your driver’s license without proof of insurance, with the exception of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, and New Mexico.
Some states will suspend your license definitely, meaning the suspension will end on a definite date. For example, in Missouri a driver’s 1st suspension is for 0 days, the 2nd suspension in two years results in a 90 day suspension, and the 3rd and subsequent suspension is for 1 year.
Some, however, apply indefinite suspensions, which means that your license will remain suspended until you take some action, such as paying for a traffic ticket. In Georgia, they have the right to refuse to renew or reinstate vehicle registration if fines have not been paid.
It’s rarely free to reinstate a suspended license. In Florida, the reinstatement fee for a suspended license is $45. In some situations, such as if your suspension is due to a false or fraudulent insurance claim, you may be charged an additional $180 for reinstatement. If you are charged with driving during suspension in Florida, your first conviction may be a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum of 60 days in jail.
Lack of Financial Protection in an Accident
If you are involved in an accident that was deemed not your fault, you may still be on the hook for the damages. Missouri law, for example, says that if you fail to carry auto insurance and you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, you will not be able to collect non-economic damages, even if someone else was 100 percent at fault.
In Louisiana, on the other hand, their No Pay, No Play statute says that victims of another driver’s negligence are prevented from collecting the first $15,000 of bodily injury damages and the first $25,000 of property damages if they’re uninsured or at the time of the accident.
Denial of Insurance Coverage
With expired insurance, if you are involved in an at-fault crash it would likely result in you being designated as a high-risk driver in the eyes of an insurance company — even if it’s your first offense. In this case, premiums can become higher if you’re reapplying for coverage. Rates can go back down over time, but it can take six months or more for your policy premiums to decrease.
It’s Not Worth It
The cost of letting your insurance expire is nearly always more than the cost of your policy — much more. The above reasons don’t even mention the domino effect that a suspended license can have on your ability to get to and from work, meaning it could affect your income. There is also a lot of time that goes into the process of reapplying for coverage, paying fines, and reinstating your license. What does it all add up to? Don’t let your insurance expire!
Our insurance experts at Freeway Insurance can help! Get a free car insurance quote today online, over the phone or at one of our offices near you.