Driving Without Car Insurance: What Happens? (2024)

Exact figures are hard to come by, but it’s commonly estimated that approximately 2% of drivers in Canada are behind the wheel without car insurance. Joining this not-so-exclusive club is a terrible idea.

Not only will you face legal consequences, such as fines and possibly even jail time, but you’ll also face insurance consequences. And if you cause a car accident that results in property damage or injuries when you’re driving without car insurance, the financial fallout can be devastating.

Each province requires a minimum amount of car insurance, including third-party liability and accident benefits. And if you get caught driving without car insurance, chances are you are going to feel some financial pain.

Consequences of Driving Without Insurance

Driving without insurance can land you in legal hot water. Here are some of the consequences you could face:

  • Fines. If you get caught driving without car insurance, at the very least, you can expect a fine that can run anywhere from $500 to $5,000 for a first offence, depending on your province.
  • Licence suspension. Your licence could be suspended and may not be reinstated until you get car insurance, especially with subsequent offences.
  • Vehicle impoundment. In some provinces your vehicle could be impounded if you get caught driving without insurance.
  • Jail time. Yes, driving without insurance can land you in jail. Most provinces won’t impose jail time for first time offenders, but it’s possible. And if you can’t pay your fines, expect to spend some time behind bars.

If you don’t learn your lesson the first time around, the legal consequences can get more severe. Second and subsequent offences will typically result in stiffer penalties, including steep fines and an increased likelihood of facing jail time.

Driving without car insurance can also hit your wallet hard. Here are a few insurance consequences you might face:

  • Higher auto insurance rates. If you drive without insurance, your insurer may deem you a higher risk to insure, which means you’ll be paying higher rates.
  • Car repair bills. If you cause a car accident without insurance, you won’t have coverage for car repair bills for your own vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle, which means you could be personally on the hook to pay for major bills, especially if the accident results in atotalled car. And if you damage someone else’s property, like a fence, you’ll be paying for that, too.
  • Medical expenses. If you cause an accident that results in injuries, you could be held liable for the medical bills. If you don’t have the cash to pay up, you could be sued, putting your assets, savings and home at risk.

Provincial Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

While driving without insurance is not a criminal offence, it is a violation of each province’s motor vehicle legislation and the consequences can be severe if you’re pulled over and can’t produce any proof of insurance. Here’s how the provinces compare:

British Columbia: While you won’t receive any demerit points for driving without insurance, you will face a $598 fine for the charge. If you’re later found guilty of driving without insurance, the court can fine you anywhere between $300 and $2,000 and you can have your licence revoked for a period of time. Jail time is rare, especially for a first offence, but repeat offenders might not be so lucky.

Alberta: The minimum fine is $2,875 for a first offence and the maximum is $10,000. If you’re unable to pay the fine, you could face between 45 days and six months in jail. If you’re caught a second time within five years of your first offence, you’ll face a minimum fine of $5,000 and a maximum of $20,000. If you can’t pay that, expect 60 days to six months in jail.

Saskatchewan: Driving without insurance can land you a minimum $580 fine. (Fun fact: It’s easier for cops to know if you’re uninsured due to the prevalence of Automated License Plate Readers in the province.) For second and subsequent offences, your car could be seized for seven days.

Manitoba: Drivers caught without insurance can be dealt a one-two punch. First, you’re slapped with a $672 fine—and if your car is unregistered, that’s another $298.

Ontario: The consequences for drivers caught without insurance are severe: Fines for a first conviction range from $5,000 to $25,000, a second conviction could cost you between $10,000 and $50,000 and any third or subsequent convictions could set you back a whopping $50,000. Under the Provincial Offences Act, there’s also a 25% surcharge for driving without insurance. It gets worse: Your car could also be impounded for up to three months and your licence could be suspended for up to one year.

Quebec: Drivers in La Belle Province will typically have a combination of public and private insurance coverage. But if you’re caught without the minimum civil liability insurance, you could be fined up to $2,800. And if you cause an accident, your licence will be suspended automatically.

New Brunswick: According to the Motor Vehicle Act, if you’re caught driving without insurance a judge can impose a minimum $1,000 fine. What’s more, you won’t be able to renew your licence without proof of insurance. And if you’re caught a second time within two years, the police can impound your vehicle for an unspecified period of time.

Nova Scotia: If you’re found guilty of not having car insurance, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driving privileges. Before you can legally drive again, you must provide proof of car insurance, pay the reinstatement fee and settle all fines. The fine for a first offence is $1,250, consisting of a $1,000 penalty, $100 court cost and $150 victim surcharge. Penalties for repeat offences can go as high as $5,850.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Driving without insurance can result in the cancellation of your car’s registration, vehicle impoundment, a $2,600 fine and/or six demerit points. A second or third offence carries a $3,900 fine and six demerit points.

Prince Edward Island: While the insurance premiums in PEI may be lower than in other provinces, fines for driving without insurance can set you back $675 or more for first convictions. If you’re caught driving with a suspended licence, expect to lose your car to the impound lot.

Yukon. If you’re convicted of driving without insurance, you could face a fine of between $400 and $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days, according to the Motor Vehicles Act. Besides a fine, your car will be impounded for 30 days for a first offence. If you’re caught a second time, subsequent convictions will set you back between $750 and $2,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 90 days, and your car will spend 60 days in the impound lot. With a third (or more) conviction, your vehicle registration is voided and you’ll have to wait 240 days before you can re-register your car.

Northwest Territories: Driving without insurance anywhere in NWT will cost you a $1,700 fine, plus a $255 surcharge, according to the Department of Infrastructure. The fine and surcharge is the same for subsequent offences. What’s more, your car may be seized, removed and put into storage at your expense.

Nunavut: The fine for driving a car without valid insurance in Iqaluit is $750, according to the city’s Traffic Safety By-Law. Police can also seize your vehicle for a minimum of 24 hours, but you’ll need to provide proof of insurance before you get it back, plus settle the towing and impound fees.

What Happens if I Get into an Accident Without Insurance?

If you cause an accident and don’t have car insurance, you may have to pay for the damage out of your pocket. You could also get sued if you don’t pay.

Police will likely charge you with driving without car insurance. You could face a hefty fine, license suspension, vehicle impoundment and even jail time, depending on your province.

Once you buy car insurance, you will probably pay much higher rates for coverage. These are all reasons why maintaining car insurance coverage is critical to your finances.

How to Get Car Insurance If You’re Uninsured

Rest assured, you should be able to find a car insurance policy. You will pay more for coverage and some insurers may decline to cover you, but it’s possible to get car insurance if you’ve been driving without it.

Compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies, ask about discounts and compare quotes for the same level of coverage. Some insurance companies even specialize in higher risk drivers. By getting quotes from at least three insurance companies you can get a sense of what a good deal is.

Tips to Avoid Penalties for Driving Without Insurance

Driving without car insurance isn’t a wise decision. Here are some ways to make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

Pay your car insurance bill on time

You may lose coverage if you don’t pay your bills by the due date. Some insurance companies have a grace period so check with your insurer if you’re late on payment. Make the payment promptly to avoid losing your coverage.

Be careful when changing car insurance companies

It can be wise toswitch car insurance companiesif you find a better rate, but make sure you go about things the right way.

One possible mistake when changing companies is not taking into account an insurance gap. Make sure your new policy is scheduled to take effect as soon as your old policy ends.

Let your insurer know if you no longer want coverage

If you’re changing companies, make sure to notify your current insurer. Stopping payments can lead to late fees and having your record show that you stopped paying.

Driving Without Insurance FAQ

How do police know if a car is uninsured?

If you get involved in a car accident or get pulled over by the police, it doesn’t take a seasoned detective to find out if you lack car insurance. Here a few ways the police know if a car is uninsured:

  • You don’t have active insurance registered on the Insurance Validation Program (IVP) database. The Insurance Bureau of Canada maintains this database on behalf of the insurance industry. Law enforcement in Ontario and Newfoundland can run your car’s plates to check if there is value insurance attached to your car’s vehicle identification number or VIN.
  • Automated license plate readers (ALPR). Some provinces, such as Ontario and Saskatchewan, allow for the use of cameras mounted on police cars that are capable of reading thousands of licence plates in an hour. Police typically look for plates associated with stolen vehicles, drivers with suspended licences or missing people.
  • The officer asks for your proof of insurance. Cops don’t necessarily need to rely on technology. They can use this old school method: Ask you for proof of insurance. This is typically a paper (colloquially known as your pink slip) or digital document stored on a mobile app that has your information along with your insurance policy number and the effective dates.

What happens if you let your car insurance lapse?

If you let your car insurance lapse, you don’t have coverage to protect you if you get into an accident, your car gets stolen or your vehicle gets damaged.

If you get caught driving without insurance, police could charge you and you could face a fine, licence suspension and possible jail time, depending on your province.

It’s also a red flag to car insurance companies when you try to buy coverage again. Insurers view drivers who let their car insurance lapse as a bigger risk than other motorists. That means you will likely pay more for auto insurance the next time you buy it.

How long does driving without insurance stay on my record?

While your bank account may feel the pinch when paying for car insurance, the financial consequences are much more painful if you get caught driving without it. Besides the initial fallout of fines, the charge of driving without insurance will stay on your record for at least three years, which can cause your premiums to skyrocket. And if you fail to pay your fine, your licence may be suspended, which will also go on your record.

Driving Without Car Insurance: What Happens? (2024)


Driving Without Car Insurance: What Happens? ›

If you are caught driving without insurance, you can face fines, license suspension, registration suspension and even jail time. Be sure to find an insurance policy right away if you own a car and are currently uninsured. Coverage can be expensive, but a lapse in coverage can be more expensive in the long run.

Can you go to jail for driving without insurance in Texas? ›

While jail is not a penalty for no insurance in Texas, you face hefty fines. You also become subject to financial responsibility laws. If you're charged with failing to file proof of financial responsibility, then you could face jail time.

Can police pull you over for no insurance in Illinois? ›

A police officer will likely ask for proof of insurance coverage if you're pulled over for a traffic violation or involved in a car accident. The state's Electronic Liability Insurance Verification program. Illinois verifies each vehicle's liability policy at least twice each year through a third-party vendor.

What is the penalty for driving without insurance in Florida? ›

If you are caught driving without insurance, your license can be suspended for up to three years, until you pay $150 and show proof of insurance to get back your license. If this occurs a second time within three years, you'll be charged $250. If it happens three times within three years, the fee goes up to $500.

How long can you go without car insurance before being penalized in PA? ›

Otherwise, a lapse of insurance coverage results in the suspension of your vehicle registration privilege for three months, unless the lapse of insurance was for a period of less than 31 days and the owner or registrant proves to PennDOT that the vehicle was not operated during this short lapse in coverage.

What happens if you get pulled over without insurance in Texas? ›

You're required to carry car insurance while driving in Texas. If you don't have auto insurance, you could get a fine of up to $1,000, your vehicle impounded for up to 180 days and your driving privileges suspended for up to two years.

How much is a ticket for not having insurance in Texas? ›

Penalties for driving without insurance in Texas
Penalty typeFirst offenseSubsequent offenses
FinesUp to $350Up to $1,000
Driver's license surcharge$250 a year for three yearsAdditional $250 a year for three years
Mar 12, 2024

What do police see when they run your plates in Texas? ›

The police are legally allowed to run your plates without you knowing about it. Here is what cops see when they run your plates: vehicle information, driver's information, and the criminal history of the driver.

How much is a no insurance ticket in IL? ›

The first offense of driving without insurance in Illinois is considered a petty offense, and drivers may be fined at least $500 but no more than $1,000. For a driver convicted of uninsured driving three times or more, the fine may increase to $1,000.

What happens if someone hits you and they don t have insurance in Illinois? ›

Depending on the circ*mstances of the accident, you can financially recover from an accident with an uninsured motorist in two main ways: You may file an insurance claim against your own insurer if you have uninsured motorist coverage, or you may sue the other driver if he or she is liable.

Will Florida suspend my license for not having insurance? ›

Penalties. You must maintain required insurance coverage throughout the registration period or your driving privilege and license plate may be suspended for up to three years. There are no provisions for a temporary or hardship driver license for insurance-related suspensions.

What happens if the person at fault in an accident has no insurance in FL? ›

Florida's No-Fault Law

When an at-fault driver does not have car insurance, you may need to file a lawsuit in order to recover your losses. A personal injury lawyer can do this on your behalf. The courts in Florida will follow the comparative fault rule, as per Florida Statute 768.81, to determine liability.

Who has the cheapest car insurance in Florida? ›

State Farm offers the cheapest car insurance rates in Florida. On average, you can expect the rates from the company to be $650 per year for minimum liability policies and $1,813 per year for full coverage plans.

Can you go to jail for not having car insurance in PA? ›

No, you cannot go to jail for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania, but you can face other serious consequences, such as suspension of license and registration. Driving without insurance in Pennsylvania is illegal and can have a serious impact on your car insurance rates moving forward.

What happens if you get into an accident without insurance in PA? ›

Without the safety net of insurance, an uninsured driver is on the hook completely on his or her own. If you cause an accident while driving uninsured, you will be completely liable for ANY and ALL damages, medical bills, lost wages, and more. This can easily trump the size of the initial ticket.

Is there a grace period for insurance in PA? ›

The Pennsylvania new-car insurance grace period is 7 to 30 days in most cases. The new-car grace period is how long insured drivers are allowed to drive a newly purchased vehicle before adding it to an existing car insurance policy.

What happens if I don't have car insurance Texas? ›

The state of Texas does not take driving without insurance lightly. If you are caught driving without insurance, penalties for first-time offenders include: Fines from $175 to $350. License renewal surcharge of $250 per year for 3 years.

How do I get out of a no proof of insurance ticket in Texas? ›

If you received a citation for Failure to Maintain Financial Responsibility (No Insurance), you may request that the ticket be dismissed if you can submit valid proof of insurance within 20 business days from date of offense.

Can you go to jail for expired registration in Texas? ›

This means that if you live in Texas, but your vehicle isn't registered in Texas, you are driving it illegally and could possibly face arrest. If your car was registered but expired, you are also driving it illegally. You either failed to pay the fees and necessary filing or failed to renew it.

Do insurance companies go after uninsured drivers Texas? ›

Further, while your insurance company has the right to go after the uninsured driver through subrogation, the insurer will only be seeking reimbursem*nt for the claim money it paid you through your coverage. They will not go after the uninsured driver to ensure you have the compensation you need to stay above water.

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