Penalties for Driving Without Car Insurance in Arizona

Jaguar XKE driving through the Petrified forest National Park, Arizona
Martyn Goddard/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Like most other states, Arizona requires its drivers to have car insurance. It even goes as far as to require that all car owners have insurance with at least:

  • $10,000 in property damage coverage
  • $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for every person who will be in or driving the car
  • $30,000 in coverage per accident when that accident causes injuries more than one person

Not everybody wants to work with an insurance agency or company, though.

If you hate the idea of buying from an insurance agent, you can go the “self-insurance” route and purchase a bond of a minimum of $40,000.

You need to present proof of one or the other when you register a new vehicle at the DMV. You are not allowed to legally drive a vehicle until proof of insurance has been provided.

But what do you do if get into an accident or get caught driving and you don't have insurance?

Accidents

Because Arizona is a “fault” state, what happens is going to depend upon who caused the accident. If the accident is the other person's fault, you will most likely be fine. The other driver will notify her insurance company—you don't need to provide any information of your own.

If you caused the accident, though, there is going to be trouble. The amount of trouble is going to depend upon the accident, the situation, and how you handle it. The important thing is to be honest.

Lying about insurance or refusing to provide your (lack of) insurance information will just make the problem worse. Tell the other driver that you do not have insurance. Hopefully, he will have uninsured motorist coverage (coverage that protects in case of this exact situation). If he does not, you will most likely be sued for damages and to recoup any money that the person had to pay out of pocket for repairs to their car.

This can take years to get resolved, but you should probably start saving up now.

Getting Caught Driving

Let's say you get pulled over. The police officer asks for your proof of insurance and you do not have it. What happens next?

This is going to depend on why you don’t have insurance. If you simply never bought it, you can count on a worse punishment than if you made a mistake and forgot to renew your policy (especially if the policy is very recently expired). Either way, you are not going to be legally allowed back behind the wheel until you are able to provide proof of current insurance.

It is important to know that in Arizona, insurance companies keep in constant contact with the Motor Vehicle Division. This means that even a missed payment can result in the suspension of your license plates and your registration. This can also happen if you make a mistake on your insurance or MVD forms or even if it takes a while for the information you sent in to arrive and get processed.

It also takes time for the MVD to inform you when your registration and plates are suspended, so it is possible to be pulled over and not know that your insurance is not current (as far as the state is concerned, anyway).

This is why it is important to always have proof of current insurance on hand when you get pulled over.

Car insurance is one of those things that we all hate paying for but that we are glad to have when disaster strikes. Make sure yours is current and properly submitted!