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It’s illegal to drive without insurance—so why do people still do it?

Auto insurance isn’t just required by law in most states; it’s something every smart driver should have—and at the right coverage amount, too. So how does almost 13 percent of the U.S. population drive around every day without owning an insurance policy?

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Why don’t people buy car insurance?

Below are some of the most common reasons people who need auto insurance decide not to buy it or buy too little—ultimately leaving them underinsured.

1. It’s expensive

When times are good for the middle class, budgets aren’t as tight. There’s an observable, direct relationship between the number of uninsured motorists and the strength of the U.S. economy. The prosperous economy of the mid-2000s caused a drop in the number of uninsured motorists. But since the 2008 recession, there has been a steady increase in the number of uninsured drivers.

Americans spend an average of $1,099 a year on auto insurance, according to The National Association of Insurance Commissioners. When you add that to the average annual cost of living, things like housing, food, and utilities begin to take priority over car insurance. This reshuffling of priorities leads many to risk the penalties of driving without insurance in order to save money.

But if you’re struggling to choose between buying car insurance and making rent, you’ll be happy to know that some state governments, like California, New Jersey, and Hawaii, offer their low-income-residents cheaper car insurance premiums.

Drivers should also keep in mind the state minimum insurance requirements and minimum liability insurance limits for their states. It’s better to be informed than to find yourself paying a $25 to $5,000 ticket, undergoing a license suspension, or even facing jail time.

New Hampshire is the only state which doesn’t require residents to have car insurance. But uninsured drivers should remember—your decision to save money by not buying insurance could cost you a hefty price if you get into an accident.

Insurify can help you find the best insurance premium for you and your car. Sign up for alerts for any discounts for which you qualify and make sure you meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements!

2. It takes too much time

The misconception that finding a good insurance premium is a long and taxing process is fueled by the lack of transparency within the car insurance industry online and over the phone.

Drivers find it uncomfortable to give away private information online or to an agent, and often get overwhelmed by the abundance of insurance premiums they see.

This frustration pushes consumers to choose policies quickly, without making sure their premium fits their profile and needs, just so they can be done with the process.

But the process doesn’t have to be that difficult. Quote comparison sites, like Insurify, allow drivers to customize and compare vehicle insurance policies and purchase a policy online in minutes via chat, email, or telephone.

3. Lack of trust

Drivers don’t buy insurance to be wowed; they purchase it to protect and secure their finances and assets. So when agents are busy trying to sell premiums that don’t necessarily fit their customers’ bill, customers may feel unheard and underserved. This lack of trust makes the process of buying insurance coverage unpleasant and unattractive.

Insurify helps customers make sure their needs are being met by only displaying results that fit into customers’ budgets and their specific needs.

4. Complicated jargon

Liability coverage, bodily injury, property damage, comprehensive, collision: sometimes the fine-print distinctions are as frustrating as a long line at the DMV. It’s enough to make you want to never get in a car again.

Many consumers simply don’t have confidence in a product they don’t understand. Insurance policies, whether for life, home, or auto, are intangible products with their own sets of riders, terms, and exceptions. Plans are even more confusing if there’s little contact between customers and agents.

When consumers are confused and feel like they’re not being helped or benefitting from the insurance, they don’t see the point in keeping the policy. After all, why spend money every month for something you’re not actively using?

But finding the right insurance, and staying insured, is a much better alternative to taking your chances and ending up in a situation where you’re liable for thousands of dollars of damage you can’t afford.

Through Insurify, you can compare car insurance policies that meet your needs without making you pay an inordinate amount of money for a plan you don’t need.

Click below to read through our comprehensive “Car Insurance 101” guides:

Car Insurance Calculator

How Much Car Insurance Do I Really Need?

Types of Car Insurance

What is Property and Casualty Insurance?

5. Invincibility complex

Nobody wants to think about getting into a car accident. But all motorists, not just high-risk drivers, need to prepare for the worst to protect themselves, their savings, and their assets.

There is an average of 5.25 million car accidents in the United States every year. One of those accidents could likely involve you and your motor vehicle. And if you or the other driver don’t carry insurance or have uninsured motorist coverage, such an accident could lead to serious debt.

Many drivers are unaware that they’re underinsured until it’s too late, and as a result, face piling debt from medical bills and repair costs. It’s essential to find an insurance provider that covers all of your needs before you need them.

In fact, if you get caught driving under the influence, driving recklessly, or driving without insurance, chances are you’ll lose your driving privileges and the state will require you to file an SR-22 or FR-44—proof of financial responsibility or proof of insurance. This hard to secure after the charges show up on your record, and insurance companies usually drive up the prices. Check out Insurify’s SR-22 guide to make sure you get back on the road for the right price.

What are the penalties for driving without insurance?

Driving without insurance could mean you’re actively violating car insurance laws in your state. While most states give out hefty fines to uninsured vehicles, fourteen states go a step further and hand out misdemeanor charges. Other states, like New York, may even hand out jail time.

Not to mention this all goes on your driving record—which would drive up your insurance rates in the future.

So, save yourself the time, money, and embarrassment, and compare auto insurance quotes with Insurify to make sure you’re covered!

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.

Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraEditorial Manager

Tanveen Vohra is an editorial manager at Insurify specializing in writing about property and casualty insurance. Through her work, she helps consumers better understand the components of their insurance policies so they can make smarter purchase decisions. She received a bachelor's degree from SUNY Buffalo. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.