4/24/2012 11:43 AM ET|
Drive uninsured for $500 -- legally
There are some places where, if you have a clean driving record, you can pay an annual fee instead of buying insurance. Is it worth considering?
In practice, every state requires drivers to have auto insurance, and scofflaws are punished with big fines and black marks on their driving records.
In theory, though, there are exceptions. New Hampshire doesn't require car insurance, but it does require that you be able to immediately cover the cost of any damages you cause. Of course, unless you're rich enough to write a check, the only way to do that is through car insurance.
Then there are Virginia and South Carolina, where you can pay the state about $500 to legally drive without auto insurance.
If a police officer pulls you over and you don't have insurance, you show proof that you've paid the annual uninsured motorist fee, and you won't be ticketed for driving without insurance or face all of the fines and court costs that usually accompany such a crime. You may still get ticketed for the original offense that caused the officer to pull you over, but you won't get cited for not having insurance.
You're also still liable for the damage you cause.
Pay your money and take your chances
The $550 uninsured motorist fee, as it's called in South Carolina, doesn't buy the user any insurance, and the driver is still liable for damages if he or she is at fault in an accident.
"You have to pay it every year. It's just not the smartest way to go," says Beth Parks, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles. It's enough money that "you can insure a vehicle for less than that," says Parks. "It doesn't really give them much of anything."
Then why would anyone buy it?
Doug Barry, a personal injury attorney in Virginia, says the $500 fee for Virginia's uninsured motor vehicle registration might be cheaper for someone who doesn't have any assets to lose but wants to drive legally.
"Once you pay the fee, you're good to go, other than being liable," Barry says. Uninsured drivers in Virginia who cause an accident -- whether or not these drivers have paid the UMV fee -- are liable for damages, but it may be impossible to get money out of them if they don't own much, Barry says.
Or it may be that someone who pays the fee to drive legally without insurance thinks that the monthly insurance premium isn't worth the cost. "People never think they'll get in an accident, I guess," says Melanie Stokes, a spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. "Why pay this monthly fee if you never use it?"
Few takers in either state
Of 5.4 million drivers who were licensed this past fiscal year in Virginia, 2,425 paid the voluntary fee.
Virginia's UMV fee has been around since 1958. The state also requires drivers caught without insurance, or who have paid the UMV fee, to carry an SR-22 certificate for three years once they rejoin the world of the insured.
In South Carolina, 41 people have paid the uninsured motorist fee since it started in 1999, Parks says. Drivers who don't pay the fee or have insurance can be fined $200 if they let their insurance lapse. They can also be charged up to $200 more at $5 per day for every day it remains lapsed, she says.
South Carolina has a list of requirements to become a legal uninsured driver, the first being that every driver in the household must have a driver's license for three or more years before anyone in the household can qualify to become legally uninsured.
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Im 41 years old from NY and I also reside South Carolina part time. I currently pay over $2000 every 6 months to keep the cars I have registered in NY insured and I have never had an accident and ive been driving since I turned 16. wasted money because ive never had an accident.
I own a home in Walterboro, SC as well and there I chose to opt out of paying car insurance and I do pay the $500 fee for not having car insurance and I personally love it. again I have never had an accident and due to the work I do im in NY and SC around the same amount of time every year.
In NY im paying over $4000 a year for insurance I have never used and iVE BEEN LEGALLY DRIVING SINCE i WAS 16. I get thats its a safety measure incase something happens they are there to cover your expenses but for those of us who have never had an accident whats in it for us?
I read this article and Im not understanding how there trying to make it seem like only the rich benfit from opting not to pay a rediculouse amount of money per year for car insurance when it has nothing to do with anyones financial status.
Bottom line is no matter who you are or your financial status if your a safe driver it makes sense to opt out of paying a car insurance company thousands for a service you will never use. In fact I think car insurance should give back atleast 40% of the fees they collect from individuals who never use the service there paying for.
If you have a clean driving record you can get basic insurance for about $30 a month come on what kind of idiot would pay $500 for nothing
Because if you don't buy health insurance that's your decision you are hurting no one but yourself because you pay out of pocket.
If you don't have car insurance and injure/maim/kill people in an accident you caused, they are the ones to suffer if you can't compensate them and their families.
No one should be forced to carry car insurance.
This is just another case of big insurance corporations paying politicians to pass laws that put money in their pockets.
Insurance companies income is guaranteed because they can hold Americans hostage with laws that require you to have their product or you can't drive. It is unfair, it is a racket, and it should be repealed.
For those who don't want to risk being hit by someone without insurance, that's what uninsured motorist is for on their policies.
I have insurance and a safe driving record. But I don't agree with being made to carry it. I think the Insurance companies are out of control, and have too much power in American government.
Musician42 - You are incorrect in your statement concerning not having a Constitutional Right to drive. The FACT is that the SCOTUS has ruled that you DO have the Constitutional Right to FREE TRAVEL and use of the Public Highways. The requirement of a DL and Insurance converts that RIGHT into a privilege which the SCOTUS has ALSO ruled CANNOT happen...
"The right of the citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, either by carriage or by automobile, is not a mere privilege which a city may prohibit or permit at will, but a common law right which he has under the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Thompson v. Smith, 154 SE 579.
"The right to travel is a well-established common right that does not owe its existence to the federal government. It is recognized by the courts as a natural right." Schactman v. Dulles 96 App DC 287, 225 F2d 938, at 941.
In Hertado v. California, 110 US 516, the U.S Supreme Court states very plainly: "The state cannot diminish rights of the people."
You need to check your facts before you make a statement as you have here. It does NOT take away the "Personal Responsibility" issue... That is a different issue entirely! Insurance is a way to help curb the cost, if you have it. It is smart to have it and everyone , if they are involved in an accident hopes they do. However, to say it is by driving without insurance is akin to "threaten the lives & well being of Americans" you are delusional!
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