WHAT HAPPENS IF SOMEONE CAUSES AN ACCIDENT AND HAS NO INSURANCE?
Tennessee requires all drivers to carry car insurance, and with good reason. The potential penalties for driving without insurance were examined in an earlier blog post. However, the Insurance Information Institute reports that in 2012, more than 20 percent of Tennessee drivers did not have any insurance. If drivers don't have any insurance but decide to drive anyway, and are then involved in an accident that is their fault, they may be faced with even bigger problems than fines and penalties.
If a person causes an accident while uninsured, the driver and passenger of the other car may come after that person to recoup any expenses and damages. If the other driver has uninsured motorist coverage and is able to collect from his or her insurance policy, the insurance carrier may sue the at-fault driver to recover the amount paid to its insured. Considering that a 2012 study by the Insurance Research Council found that the average cost of a car accident claim is more than $18,000, this may cause an enormous strain on the driver's finances.
In order to fulfill any settlements or judgments against them, at-fault drivers may be required to submit detailed information about any assets they have, including their home and their bank accounts. They will also have to come up with money to fix their own car if it was damaged, and they will be on the hook for much more expensive premiums for insurance coverage going forward.
If the uninsured driver who is at fault is sued, the driver may be able to negotiate a possible settlement or set up a reasonable payment plan with the plaintiff. However, it likely would have just been cheaper for the driver to pay for monthly insurance premiums than to deal with the consequences of causing an accident while uninsured.