What Happens if an At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

Is an at-fault driver legally responsible to pay for damage in an accident? What if they don't have insurance?
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

Reviewer: Jeffrey Green Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
Reviewer: Jeffrey Green
Reviewed by Jeffrey Green

Jeff Green has held a variety of sales and management roles at life insurance companies, Wall street firms, and distribution organizations over his 40-year career.  He was previously Finra 7,24,66 registered and held life insurance licenses in multiple states. He is a graduate of Stony Brook University.

Two men conferring next to car accident. What happens if an at-fault driver doesn't have insurance.

When you get into an accident and the other driver is considered to be at fault, it might seem simple that they’d be responsible for the damage. But things might not actually be so black and white. Also, what happens if an at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance at all?

Luckily an independent insurance agent can not only answer these questions for you, but also help you get set up with the right car insurance. Here’s how they’d help you get protected against accidents with other drivers who are at fault and don't have insurance.

Is an At-Fault Driver Legally Responsible to Pay for the Damage in an Accident?

According to insurance expert, Jeffery Green, it depends on whether the accident occurs in a "no-fault" state and the type of damage. In the twelve no-fault states, each driver’s insurance company pays for their medical bills, health insurance deductibles, lost wages, and other expenses. Other types of damage to the vehicle and property are the responsibility of the at-fault driver. 

In "fault" states, the at-fault party is responsible for all damage. Damage would be covered under their car insurance policy. An independent insurance agent can help you determine if you live in a fault state or not.

What Kind of Coverage Do I Need to Protect My Vehicle?

Green added that all states require a minimum of liability coverage and property damage coverage, but collision coverage, which reimburses for vehicle damage no matter who’s at fault, is optional. If you don’t have collision coverage and you’re at fault in an accident, you’ll have to pay for any damage to your vehicle. An independent insurance agent can get you set up with all the car insurance coverages you need to be protected in every scenario.

What if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

If the other driver doesn’t have car insurance at all and they’re at fault for the accident, you’d have to collect reimbursement from them personally. However, there is an optional coverage you can add to your own auto insurance to protect you from these incidents, called uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage pays for the following situations

  • Injuries to the policyholder and their passengers caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver
  • Damages to property caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver

An independent insurance agent can further explain the benefits of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and help you add it to your existing auto insurance.


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How Common Are Uninsured Drivers on the Road?

You may not think having uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is necessary, but the amount of uninsured drivers on the road may be disturbing. Here’s a look at some recent stats for states with the highest and lowest percentages of uninsured drivers.

Top ten highest states by estimated percentage of uninsured motorists


RankStatePercent uninsured
1 Florida 26.7%
2 Mississippi 23.7%
3 New Mexico 20.8%
4 Michigan 20.3%
5 Tennessee 20%
6 Alabama 18.4%
7 Washington 17.4%
8 Indiana 16.7%
9 Arkansas 16.6%
10 DC 15.6%
11 Alaska 15.4%

Top ten lowest states by estimated percentage of uninsured motorists


RankStatePercent uninsured
1 New Jersey 3.1%
2 Massachusetts 3.5%
3 New York 4.1%
4 Maine 4.9%
5 Wyoming 5.8%
6 Pennsylvania 6.0%
7 New Hampshire 6.1%
8 Connecticut 6.3%
9 Utah 6.5%
10 South Dakota 7.4%

Recently, Mississippi ranked highest for percentage uninsured drivers, with 29.4% of motorists not having insurance, or nearly one-third. Michigan was second-highest, with 25.5% of motorists being uninsured. Contrastingly, New Jersey ranked lowest overall for uninsured drivers, with only 3.1% of motorists lacking coverage.

With every state having at least a small percentage of uninsured drivers, it’s extra important to get yourself equipped with all the coverage you need to be protected on the road.

What Other Type of Coverage Should I Consider?

Collisions and other car accidents aren’t the only threats to you and your vehicle. Another important type of car insurance to consider adding is called comprehensive, or other than collision, coverage.

Comprehensive car insurance covers the following risks

  • Storm damage from floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.
  • Collisions with large animals like deer
  • Riot or vandalism damage
  • Fire damage
  • Theft of the vehicle or parts of the vehicle
  • Damage from fallen trees, ice, or objects
  • Windshield damage or breakage

An independent insurance agent can help you decide if adding comprehensive or other than collision coverage to your car insurance policy is a good idea for you.

Where Can I Get Car Insurance?

Car insurance is available from many insurance companies across the country. Finding the best company for you is easy with the help of an independent insurance agent. Until then, here’s a look at some of the top car insurance companies in the US overall.

Best Car Insurance Companies Star Rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
5 star rating
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Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting drivers against accidents with uninsured motorists and all other incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in car insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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stats - https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-uninsured-motorists