Driving without insurance has a devastating penalty that most uninsured drivers know nothing about – until it is too late
Driving without insurance in Michigan is much more costly than most uninsured drivers know. This is due to an extremely punitive penalty that the insurance industry put into our state’s auto No-Fault law.
What this law says is that if you’re driving without insurance (uninsured) and you’re involved in a car crash, then YOU can be held financially responsible for the medical bills and lost wages of everyone else who was injured in the accident – whether that’s the other drivers, their passengers, bicyclists or pedestrians.
Even worse: You have to pay for the person who was at-fault in causing the car accident – even if you, personally, are 100% innocent and did not cause or contribute to the crash in any way
Driving without insurance means an innocent person pays for the at-Fault driver who causes a car accident
To illustrate how devastating this law can be for people who choose to drive uninsured, consider the following common scenario:
- Suppose an uninsured, but otherwise completely innocent driver is rear-ended at a red light by drunk driver or a texting driver or a drugged driver (these days, you can take your pick) and he is pushed into the minivan in front of him, resulting in serious injuries to the occupants of all three vehicles.
- The innocent, uninsured driver is denied all Michigan auto No-Fault insurance benefits, and cannot bring a lawsuit or sue for his injuries, for his vehicle damage and is barred by law from suing the at-fault driver for his pain and suffering and any excess economic losses.
- The auto insurers covering the drunk/drugged/texting driver and the driver and occupants of the minivan can, however, turn around and sue the completely innocent though uninsured driver for reimbursement for all of the money they pay out in the form of No-Fault benefits, including for all medical care and treatment, lost wages and replacement services.
This law is quite literally adding insult to injury.
Our state’s extremely profitable auto insurance companies persist in continually jacking up their prices for insurance to the point that 20% of Michigan drivers can’t afford to buy car insurance (which the state requires them to purchase)
And then the insurance companies use the power and leverage they have in the legislature (bought with generous campaign contributions to beholden politicians) to punish these uninsured drivers further by forcing them to reimburse these same insurance companies for everything that they have spent for their own insured – the drunk/texting/drugged driver who caused the car accident to begin with.
Who does the driving without insurance penalty apply to?
The penalty applies to the owner, constructive owner and/or registrant of the uninsured car or truck. Generally speaking, an “owner” is thought of as the person who “holds the legal title to a motor vehicle” and a constructive owner is thought of as the person who has “the use of a motor vehicle … for a period that is greater than 30 days.” (MCL 500.3101(2)(l))
What exactly does the driving without insurance penalty say?
The penalty provides:
“An insurer obligated to pay personal protection insurance benefits for accidental bodily injury to a person arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of an uninsured motor vehicle as a motor vehicle may recover such benefits paid and appropriate loss adjustment costs incurred from the owner or registrant of the uninsured motor vehicle or from his or her estate.” (MCL 500.3177(1))
Are there other penalties for driving without insurance in Michigan?
There most certainly are!
As I noted in my blog post, “Top 9 risks of driving uninsured In Michigan” (where I also discussed the penalty of having to pay for other victims’ medical bills and lost wages), uninsured drivers face the following consequences:
- Uninsured drivers cannot sue for pain and suffering damages.
- Uninsured drivers must pay for all of their own medical bills.
- Uninsured drivers are not reimbursed for lost wages.
- Uninsured drivers must pay for all of their own vehicle damage.
- Uninsured drivers could be sentenced to jail for up to one year and ordered to pay a fine between $200 and $500.