Is your car insurance expired and you don’t have the time or money to renew it? Are you thinking about taking your vehicle for a spin despite not having auto insurance? You should know there are consequences of being an uninsured motorist in Tampa Bay.
So many things can go wrong as you drive around. You can get pulled over and asked for licensing and insurance. You can accidentally hit a pedestrian or cause a car accident.
What happens if you get caught driving without insurance in Tampa Bay? Before you pull out of your driveway, beware of the consequences.
Auto Insurance in Tampa Bay
Before we get into the repercussions of being an uninsured motorist, it is essential to understand auto insurance laws. In Tampa Bay, drivers should carry minimum levels of insurance. These are as follows:
- At least $10,000 minimum coverage for personal injury protection
- At least $10,000 minimum coverage for property damage liability
You must carry this insurance to drive any vehicle with at least four wheels. PIP covers you and any passenger in your vehicle in the event of a crash. The coverage provided is up to the limits of your policy.
PDL protection covers property damage you or your family members cause to other people during a car accident. In addition to this mandatory insurance, you can also buy additional covers such as bodily injury liability which pays for severe or permanent injury and death resulting from a car accident you caused.
Tampa Bay No-Fault Policy
Florida is a no-fault state. Thus, drivers in Tampa Bay are required to carry no-fault coverage, usually known as personal injury protection (PIP). This insurance coverage pays for your medical bills and other expenses resulting from the accident regardless of who caused it.
Thus, whether or not you have insurance, if you cause an accident, the other driver’s PIP insurance will cover their medical expenses. However, this doesn’t mean that you can get away with driving without auto insurance.
Consequences of Being an Uninsured Motorist
The no-fault policy in Florida makes it one of the states with the highest number of uninsured motorists. At least 26.7% of motorists in the state drive without insurance. If you are one of these, take note of the following consequences that may befall you if you get caught or cause an accident.
License and Registration Suspension
Once your insurance lapses, your carrier notifies the DHSMV who in turn send you a suspension notice in the mail. You should provide proof of insurance before the date of suspension.
If you don’t provide proof, you risk getting your license and registration suspended for up to three years. After the lapse of the three years, you pay a reinstatement fee of $150 after you get insurance coverage again.
Note that once you get the notice of suspension, you have to prove that you had obtained a new coverage before your old one expired or was canceled. Thus, you cannot cheat the system by buying new insurance and presenting it as proof before the suspension date.
Penalties for Subsequent Offenses
Subsequent offenses of being an uninsured motorist come with worse consequences. For a second offense of being an uninsured motorist, your license and registration are suspended for three years. Additionally, you pay a reinstatement fee of $250 if the lapse of your cover occurs within three years of the first offense.
If you’re caught driving without insurance for the third time, your license and registration are suspended for three years, and you pay a reinstatement fee of $500.
Besides costing you money, driving without insurance can cost you your driving privileges. Imagine getting a license suspension of three years. Brutal right?
To avoid this, always renew your auto insurance coverage on time and avoid hitting the road if it is expired or canceled.
Consequences of Causing an Accident While Uninsured
The no-fault coverage required in Tampa Bay may save you if you cause an accident while uninsured. If the other driver has auto insurance, their PIP cover pays for the medical expenses incurred from the accident. Additional coverage such as BIL and PDL will also pay for bodily injury and property damage respectively.
However, this is good news to the other driver only. Since you don’t have insurance, there is no protection for you and your passengers. As a result, you risk the following:
1. Footing Medical Bills Out-of-Pocket
Since there is no coverage to pay for your medical bills, you’ll foot them out-of-pocket. This can set you back financially, especially if the accident results in costly medical care or permanent disability.
You’ll also have to pay for the medical expenses of other passengers in your vehicle. If you had auto insurance, your PIP cover would pay for your medical bills and those of other passengers in the car with you.
2. Potential Lawsuits
If any passengers in the car with you suffer lifelong injuries or property damage, they can sue you for damages. In this case, since you don’t have insurance, your carrier will not be responsible for any of the damages resulting from the accident.
Again, lawsuits can cause emotional and financial distress, especially if you aren’t capable of paying for the damages. Protect your financial future by buying auto insurance to cover for expenses and damages resulting from car accidents.
3. Problems Getting Auto Insurance in the Future
When you cause a car accident, your insurance company categorizes you as a high-risk driver. This means you may end up paying more premiums to hedge your insurer against the risk of paying off claims.
Now, if you cause an accident and are uninsured, you can ruin your insurance record for life. You are not only considered a high-risk driver but also an irresponsible one. No insurance company will want to cover you.
As a result, even after getting your license and registration suspended for three years, you may have a hard time finding an insurance company to offer you a policy. If you do, you’ll have to pay more premiums which will dent your pockets, especially if you’re trying to make savings.
Renew Your Auto Insurance in Tampa Bay Today
As you can see, the consequences of being an uninsured motorist in Tampa Bay are dire. Don’t wait for your policy to expire. Renew it today to continue enjoying the privileges of driving your car and making savings while at it.
Are you looking for an auto insurance company to work with? Contact us today for a free quote!