In most Georgia and most other states, it is the law for drivers to carry auto insurance.
Car insurance serves as a valuable form of protection for both drivers and others on the road. For example, it might help the driver repair their car in case it sustains damage in an accident. It might even help them compensate other drivers when they are the ones at-fault in an accident. Therefore, getting coverage should be everyone’s priority.
However, merely enrolling in a policy is just the start. Once you get it, you have to keep it. Keeping your coverage active takes vigilance. If you let your policy lapse, you can face penalties from both your insurer and the authorities.
The Negative Side Effects of Going Without Car Insurance
Let’s say you drive without a car insurance policy. The second you get behind the wheel, your risk level will skyrocket. This risk level is how much harm you might cause to yourself and others without the policy. Think about it. Without a policy, you might be unable to afford damage or injuries arising from an incident. In essence, you become much more of a danger and a financial risk to the local authorities and your insurer.
Your risk level often increases when you don’t carry insurance because of a rather simple reason. Those who have not carried insurance before are not likely have it in the future. Your insurer might therefore view you as more likely to let your insurance policy lapse.
As your risk level increases, your insurer will likely assume it will take more money to insure you. That is, they will expect that you have a higher likelihood of filing a claim should an accident occur. As a result, they might refuse to issue a policy to you, or charge you a higher price for any coverage you enroll in.
It is a good idea for drivers to carry insurance as long as they have a driver’s license and operate a vehicle. You will likely need liability coverage to follow state law. You might also need comprehensive, collision, uninsured/underinsured coverage or other protection.
Penalties of Uninsured Driving
Since failing to carry insurance will likely mean you break the law, you might face penalties. Almost all states recognize how important it is for all drivers to carry insurance. Therefore, they might punish drivers who fail to carry the coverage required by law. Some of these penalties might include
- Tickets or fines
- A license suspension or other revocation of your driving privileges
- Probation or jail time (in rare cases)
- The institution of an SR-22 penalty
- Vehicle impoundment
Each of these penalties will require you to work with the authorities to settle the charges. However, the SR-22 penalty will likely require you to work with your auto insurer as well. SR-22s are fairly unique in the world of driving penalties.
The SR-22 is a form that verifies for your state’s DMV that you have active car insurance. It will contain your policy information. It’s a common way that some states force drivers caught without insurance to get coverage. If you have to get an SR-22, you must enroll in car insurance to process the form.
Not only that, you must keep your policy active for the penalty to remain in effect. If you let the policy lapse, you might face other punishment, and the SR-22 penalty period will likely start over. The good news is that the SR-22 is not usually permanent. You likely will only need to carry it for a couple of years.
Preventing Uninsured Driving
To avoid penalties for uninsured driving, the answer is simple. Don’t drive without car insurance. There are multiple ways you can make sure you hit the road with coverage.
- Ensure your insurance agent includes your state’s coverage requirements on your policy. Augment or increase your policy limits as needed to suit your needs.
- Pay your policy premium on time and in-full. Often, many policyholders enroll in automatic payments. Their premiums deduct from their bank accounts regularly and electronically. Therefore, they have a very low risk of missing a payment.
- Remember your policy’s expiration date. Make sure you re-enroll in coverage that immediately starts as soon as your old policy ends. Some insurers offer automatic re-enrollment if you keep the same coverage year-to-year. If you choose to select a new policy for the next term, do so well in advance of your current policy’s expiration date.
- If you move, buy a new car or experience another change involving your vehicle, tell your insurer. They might need to update your policy to adequately reflect these changes.
- Never attempt to withhold driving charges or claims from your insurer. Dishonesty might lead to a termination of your policy.
If you ever catch wind of problems with your coverage, immediately call your agent. They can likely help you make changes, as needed, to keep your policy in place and working. That way, you won’t have to worry about ever seeing your coverage lapse. The conscientious customer is likely more reliable in the eyes of their insurer.