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the costs of driving uninsured

Financial strain and the temptation of making one less monthly payment lead millions to drive without car insurance. But saving a little in the short term can cost a driver quite a bit of money in the long run. We'll explain.

Car accidents: reason #1 to avoid driving uninsured

Even a seemingly minor car accident can leave an uninsured driver in significant debt when a car insurance policy could have helped. The uninsured driver may be accountable for thousands in repair bills, expenses, medical bills, and liability costs.

Insurance history: reason #2 to avoid driving uninsured

A driver's prior insurance history is a pricing factor. So when a formerly uninsured driver does apply for a new policy, the gap in insurance coverage can drive up the premium or, worse, deem the driver uninsurable. The longer a driver went without coverage, the more the driver may have to pay.

The financial risks of driving uninsured

In 2011, the Insurance Research Council found that 1 in 7 U.S. drivers was uninsured.

The post-accident process is rarely inexpensive. Car insurance exists to provide significant financial assistance in case of an accident, and for the 1 in 7 drivers who forego it, the results can be catastrophic.

One way to look at car insurance is that you're paying a manageable amount now so you won't have to pay an unmanageable amount later. Many drivers go uninsured because they don't think they can afford the monthly premium payments on a policy. But some of these drivers don't consider whether they can afford the unpredictable costs of an accident.

After a crash, medical and car repair costs can easily run into the thousands. Drivers found responsible for an accident in an at-fault state may be sued for their assets if they don't have adequate coverage.

In the long run, car insurance can save drivers a lot of money and concern.

The legal risk of driving uninsured

There are a few ways that driving uninsured can lead to a loss of driving privileges.

If a motorist can't provide proper proof of insurance during a routine traffic check, the driver may face charges including the suspension or loss of their drivers license.

Drivers without an active insurance policy find it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain new license plates and tags wherever car insurance is mandatory.

Many states also require insurers to report motorists who have canceled or let their car insurance lapse. After getting a report, the state's DMV will contact drivers listed as uninsured. Motorists who are unable to provide proof of car insurance may have their plates and registration suspended.

No pay/no play car insurance laws

What is no pay/no play? In several states, including Alabama, California, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Oregon, uninsured drivers lose their legal right to sue for certain damages like pain and suffering or lost wages.

Some no pay/no play states will make uninsured drivers pay a hefty deductible before they can sue for property damages or bodily harm. So that's just another reason uninsured drivers should consider a new insurance policy before hitting the road.

Getting car insurance

If you plan on driving and you don't currently have coverage, get a free online quote from Esurance or give us a call at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262). We'll help you find an affordable policy that fits.

Related links

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage?
Learn how this coverage protects you against uninsured drivers.

Myth: a lapse in car insurance coverage won't affect your rate
Letting your car insurance lapse may seem like a quick fix to help you save money. But doing so can cost you more money down the road — even if you don't plan to drive. Find out how.

How the economy affects uninsured drivers (PDF)
In this 2011 report, the Insurance Research Council explains the economy's impact on the rise of uninsured drivers. Head to page 2 to see how many drivers go uninsured in your state.