What Happens If Your Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Lapses?
Inflation has been straining the budgets of Americans all this year, Pennsylvania included. Food costs are up 11% this year, with items like eggs going up by 30%, turkey by 17%, and vegetables by 16%. There’s a lot of disagreement about whether the inflation will peak anytime soon, but one thing is clear: Pennsylvanians are seeing their bank accounts suffer, and many are having trouble making ends meet.
With things being as they are, some might be tempted to cancel their car insurance or allow it to lapse. After all, it’s a major expense, and if you don’t drive very much and drive very carefully, you’re unlikely to get in an accident, right?
Maybe. But there are a number of reasons why letting your Pennsylvania car insurance lapse is a bad idea.
Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Your Pennsylvania Car Insurance
First of all, you should know that much like just about anywhere else in the United States, car insurance is mandatory by law in the state of Pennsylvania. The minimum requirements for liability insurance coverage are:
- $5,000 in medical benefits
- $15,000 for bodily injury per person
- $30,000 for bodily injury per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
If you’re caught driving without insurance, you will most likely have to surrender your license, and you won’t get it back until you pay the appropriate fees: a $300 fine for driving without insurance, a $94 fee for restoring your car registration, and possibly even more for having your driving privileges returned. In addition, you’ll likely have your license suspended for 3 months. Further violations may result in your license being permanently revoked, not to mention even steeper financial penalties.
If you’re in a circumstance where your own license and registration has been suspended, but you have family members who need to drive the car, you can pay a $500 civil fee and an $88 fee to restore your registration. Your driving privileges will still be suspended, but others can drive the car. However, this can only be done once a year, and if you’re caught driving without insurance again in that time, you could lose your license permanently.
Beyond the legal penalties, there’s also the danger of liability. If you get in an accident and don’t have collision or comprehensive coverage, you’re going to be out the cost of the vehicle with no compensation from the insurance company. This can be disastrous if you’re already struggling financially and need your car to get to and from work.
Further, if you don’t have liability insurance and get in an accident, you’ll not only be responsible for your own medical bills in case of injury, but for anyone else injured in the accident as well — which could easily lead to a tremendous amount of debt and possibly even bankruptcy. In short, your attempt to save a few hundred dollars a year could end up costing you everything you have.
Finally, you should be aware that getting caught driving without insurance will make your insurance situation much, much worse. According to Kristine Lee at The Zebra, getting caught driving with a suspended license will raise your premiums by a whopping 72%. That’s on top of the increase you’re likely to incur for whatever got you pulled over in the first place.
What To Do Instead
From a legal, financial, and safety standpoint, canceling your Pennsylvania car insurance could easily end in disaster. So what should you do instead? Here are a few steps you can take to bring those premiums down a little.
- Shop around and compare rates. There are plenty of tools online for comparing car insurance quotes, and with a little bit of legwork it won’t be too hard to find the best cheap car insurance in Pennsylvania.
- If you have enough set aside to take care of repairs or replacement of your vehicle if something does happen — or if you’re willing to take on some risk — increase your deductible. You’ll pay more in the event of a claim, but your monthly rates will be lower.
- Consider bundling your car insurance with your home insurance. This will often bring the rates for both policies down.
- Increase the safety of your driving by taking a defensive driving course or installing safety technology on your vehicle.
- Older cars tend to cost less to repair and replace than the newer, more technology-intensive vehicles, so if you’re in the market for a car (or looking to make a trade), consider rolling with an older model, particularly one that has a strong reliability or safety rating.
- Don’t be afraid to ask your insurer about discounts. The average insurer has 50 or more discounts for various criteria, from good student and low mileage discounts to discounts for military veterans, teachers, and nurses. See what’s available!