When can you drive a car without insurance?

You can’t drive a car without insurance. Auto insurance - or proof you have the financial assets to cover an accident without insurance - is required in every state. There are a few instances when you can drive a car without insurance, including when buying a new car. Even then, you will be required to find insurance coverage within a specified amount of time. Start shopping for coverage here with our free quote comparison tool below.

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently a professional writer.

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business. Brad is licensed in all P&C lines.

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Reviewed by Brad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 30, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • In almost every state, insurance is required to be in compliance with the law
  • In rare circumstances, you may be able to drive without insurance for a brief time
  • When you drive a friend’s car, you are under their insurance, not yours

Carrying car insurance on your vehicle is mandatory in every state except two: Virginia and New Hampshire. In Virginia, you are required to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

In New Hampshire, the requirements are even lower, with the only requirement being that you have to prove your social and financial responsibility in some way.

What some people don’t know, however, is that the state of New Hampshire requires that you pay for all of the personal property damages and bodily injury that you cause in an accident.

Also, it is important to note that the state of New Hampshire requires citizens to show that they have the financial assets to cover an accident or injury in the event of an accident that is their fault.

So with limited exceptions, it’s not only smart but financially necessary to carry insurance on your vehicle or if you find yourself driving regularly.

Make sure you have the right coverage for the best cost. Enter your zip code into our FREE comparison tool above!

Mandatory Insurance Requirement


In every state besides Virginia and New Hampshire, there is a mandatory insurance requirement. The state requires a specific amount of liability, bodily injury, and property damage coverage for every motorist at all times.

It is important that you understand the standards for your particular state to avoid paying fees and penalties for not carrying the correct minimum coverage.

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Are there times when I can drive without insurance?

Despite the fact that all states except two require you to carry insurance at all times, there are some specific instances when you are allowed to drive without insurance. These cases are rare, however, and should only be used in extreme circumstances.

Medical emergencies or life-or-death situations

In rare cases when there is a life-threatening situation, the law may not hold someone responsible for trying to do the right thing. However, this exception is an unwritten law and may not be honored. If possible during emergency, dial 911.

Driving to work within an extremely short distance for a set period

A judge may grant a teenager or other person who has to work for family survival and does not currently carry insurance a temporary right to drive a short distance to work and back only without carrying car insurance. Make sure you are legally driving by making preparations ahead of time.

When driving a friend’s car who carries insurance

The law states that insurance follows the car, so your friend’s insurance would be active in the situation where you are driving a friend’s car.

However, keep in mind that, if you find out later they were not insured, or underinsured, you may still be out money from your pocket if there is an accident which is not covered by your friend’s insurance.


There are some limited circumstances when you can drive a car without insurance. But you should note that these cases are extremely rare, happen very seldom, include very specific situations, and are also open to scrutiny by a judge or other officials or you could face a penalty.

The only other way you can drive without insurance is to live in the state of New Hampshire or Virginia, but they have stipulations that require you to take full responsibility in other ways.

Consider Add-Ons


With any insurance, you always want to consider the amount of premium you will pay and weigh the risk of an accident against this. However, in some cases, you may even want to add more coverages, if you feel the standard coverage is not enough in your particular situation.

For example, if you carry other people in the car with you daily to work, your risk of liability is greater because more people are involved. In such cases, you may want to increase your liability and personal injury limits to include this.

Additionally, you may want to add roadside assistance plans or car rental services to your coverage if you think it will increase your sense of security while on the road.

Searching for the Best Insurance Plan

Since you are going to have to carry insurance in most cases in almost every state in the U.S., you need to shop and compare companies, policies, and exclusions to find the best deal for your money.

Here are a few tips to help you find the best policy for your situation:

  • Make sure you honor the state minimums for liability and personal injury
  • Carry extra liability and personal injury if you drive more often or if there are other risk factors
  • Increase your collision and property damage amounts if you have an expensive car or one that would be hard to replace
  • Ask questions about exclusions and exceptions.
  • Find out if you qualify for special discounts.

Just like anything else, you want your money to be used wisely, and you don’t want surprises when it comes to your auto insurance plan. That’s why it’s wise to shop first, ask questions, and compare policies. Get started by entering your zip code in our comparison tool below!

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