What Happens If You Get In A Car Accident But Your Insurance Had Expired?

Keeping up with tasks like renewing your insurance can be a burden. So it's not uncommon for people to forget to renew their auto insurance. In most states, driving without insurance is illegal, and if your policy expired before you remembered to renew it, you are technically driving without insurance. So what happens if you get in a crash while you're driving with expired insurance? Here's a look.

1. Expect a Ticket

Separately from whatever happens with the other driver, you can expect the police to issue you a ticket for driving without insurance. The fine associated with such a ticket can be pretty substantial. You'll want to hire an auto accident attorney to represent you in traffic court so you can get the charge reduced and hopefully your fine reduced. This is a bit more complicated than showing up for a speeding ticket, which most courts will easily reduce to a parking violation. Judges are sticklers for holding insurance, so without a lawyer there to represent you, your chances of getting the charges reduced are slim.

2. Contact Your Previous Insurance Company

In most cases, your insurance company will not cover any damage that happened when your insurance policy was expired. But there are occasional exceptions to this rule. Your policy may have included a stipulation that you could request back coverage for a non-renewed policy before a certain amount of time has passed. Or if you have been a loyal customer of the same insurance company for many years, they might make a one-time exception and backdate your policy so you can get the accident covered. When asking about your options, be patient and kind. Keep in mind that if your insurer does anything for you, they are doing you a huge favor; thank them profusely.

3. Expect a Lawsuit

If the accident was the fault of the other driver, then you're very lucky. Their insurance policy will likely cover the damage to your vehicle and any other expenses you have as a result of the accident.

When you need to worry is if the accident is determined to be your fault or partially your fault. Under normal circumstances, your insurance company would be obligated to pay the expenses for both you and the other driver. Since you don't have insurance, those costs get passed to you, personally. And car accident costs can be substantial. You may find you owe $20,000 for the totaled car and another $50,000 for medical bills -- not to mention the money you must spend repairing your own vehicle.

You will often find out what these expenses are in the form of a lawsuit filed against you by the other driver's lawyer. But don't wait to get the papers to seek legal representation yourself. As soon as you're in a crash without insurance, hire a lawyer. They can negotiate with the other party for you, ensuring that you don't overpay. They can also try to convince the other driver's insurance company that the other driver is partially at fault, which will reduce the amount you personally owe.

4. Expect to Have a Harder Time Finding Insurance 

After the whole ordeal is settled, you will need to get car insurance again, and that can be tough when you have an uninsured driver ticket on your record. Expect to pay more for your insurance from this point onward. If your lawyer is able to get the charge reduced to a parking ticket or speeding ticket, the incident should not affect you so much.

With the information above at close hand, you should have an easier time handling the tough aftermath of having been in a car accident without insurance.