Understanding Hawaii's no-Fault insurance system and options for uninsured accidents
Discover how Hawaii's car insurance laws protect you in an accident and explore additional coverage options to ensure you're fully prepared on the road.
The sun is shining, and the ocean breeze is blowing through your hair as you drive along a picturesque coastal road in Hawaii. Suddenly, out of nowhere, another vehicle swerves into your lane and collides with your car. You’re seriously injured, and your car is totaled. Thankfully, all the parties involved have car insurance.
Or do they?
In this article, we’ll explain Hawaii’s car insurance requirements, including what steps to take if you’re involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver.
Does Hawaii have a fault-based insurance system?
Hawaii is one of a handful of states that operates under a no-fault insurance system.
Under Hawaii’s no-fault insurance system, your auto insurance company pays the bills for your injuries and your passengers’ injuries up to your Personal Injury Protection limit, regardless of who is at fault. You cannot be sued unless there are serious injuries that exceed the personal injury protection limit.
Hawaii’s no-fault insurance applies to injuries, not property, which means the at-fault driver in a car accident is responsible for paying for damages to any vehicles or property.
Minimum car insurance requirements in Hawaii
Under Hawaii law, every driver in the state is required to carry a minimum amount of car insurance coverage. The minimum requirements are as follows:
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP): PIP coverage pays for medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages for you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the car accident. You must carry a minimum of $10,000 per person.
- Liability insurance: Liability insurance coverage pays for the damages that you cause to others in an accident. In Hawaii, you must carry the following minimum liability insurance:
- $20,000 for injuries or death to another person
- $40,000 for injuries or death to all persons per accident
- $10,000 for damage to another person’s property
When you purchase a new car, it’s easy to forget to add the new car to your existing auto insurance policy. Fortunately, in Hawaii, most car insurance policies have a grace period during which your existing policy will cover your new car. This grace period typically lasts between 2 and 30 days, depending on the policy.
Optional insurance coverage in Hawaii
In addition to the mandatory minimums, there are other optional coverages available to drivers in Hawaii. Some of the most common include:
- Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for losses other than those caused by a collision (theft, falling objects, fire, etc.)
- Collision coverage provides coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident with another vehicle or an object.
- MedPay provides coverage for medical expenses incurred by you and your passengers, regardless of who is at fault.
- Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving an uninsured driver.
- Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage sustained by you or the passengers in your vehicle as a result of an accident involving a driver who has insufficient insurance to cover the damages.
- Rental Reimbursement Coverage: If your vehicle is being repaired after an accident, this coverage can help pay for the cost of a rental car.
What are the penalties for being uninsured in Hawaii?
Driving without insurance in Hawaii is a serious offense, and the penalties can be severe. If you're caught driving without the required minimum coverage, you may face:
|Up to one year
|Required to file an SR-22 form with the Hawaii Department of Transportation for three years
|Your vehicle may be impounded
The most severe consequence of driving without insurance, however, is that uninsured drivers who cause an accident are personally liable for all of the damages that result.
Even if you don’t have any money in your bank account, the other driver can obtain a court order that allows them to garnish your future wages and sell your assets (including, in some cases, your house and vehicles).
Legal options if I'm involved in a car accident with a driver who doesn't have insurance
If you're involved in an accident with an uninsured driver in Hawaii, you have a few options to recover compensation for your damages:
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) Coverage: If you have UM/UIM coverage, your insurance company will step in to cover your damages up to your policy limits.
- Collision or comprehensive coverage: If you have collision or comprehensive coverage, your insurance company may pay for the damage to your vehicle.
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payments (MedPay) Coverage: These coverages can help pay for your medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
- Legal action: If your injuries are severe or permanent, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the uninsured driver to recover compensation for your damages. However, this can be challenging if the uninsured driver has limited assets, which is often the case with uninsured drivers.
FAQs about auto insurance in Hawaii
The types of car insurance that follow the car in Hawaii are collision, comprehensive, and property damage liability. On the other hand, PIP coverage follows the driver.
Rental car companies in Hawaii are required to provide the same minimum insurance coverage as private vehicles. However, additional coverage may be available for purchase through the rental agency.
Most car insurance policies provide coverage for accidents that occur anywhere in the United States and Canada. However, it's important to check your specific policy for any limitations or exclusions.
Yes, you have the right to choose the repair shop that fixes your vehicle after an accident. However, your insurance company may have a list of preferred repair shops, and using one of these shops may expedite the claims process.
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Hawaii is two years, meaning you have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, or your lawsuit will be forever barred.
Understanding Hawaii's car insurance requirements is crucial for protecting yourself and your assets in the event of a motor vehicle accident. Make sure you have the necessary coverage, and consider adding optional coverages for additional protection.
If you've been injured in an accident, consider reaching out to an experienced personal injury attorney in Hawaii to explore your legal options and ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.