Learn the consequences of driving uninsured in Louisiana
This article offers an in-depth exploration of Louisiana's auto insurance laws, addressing the state's minimum insurance requirements, the repercussions of driving without adequate insurance, and ways to recover damages following an accident with an uninsured motorist.
Louisiana has almost 3.5 million drivers, according to the United States Department of Transportation. Unfortunately, 12 percent of those drivers are uninsured.
In this article, we’ll explain Louisiana's minimum insurance requirements, the penalties for driving without auto insurance, and how to recover damages if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver.
Louisiana’s minimum auto insurance requirements
Like the vast majority of states, Louisiana requires its drivers to carry liability insurance on any vehicle they own and operate.
More specifically, Louisiana Revised Statute Section 32:900(B)(2) require drivers to carry the following minimum liability insurance:
- $15,000 for bodily injury to one person
- $30,000 for bodily injury to more than one person in a single accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Learn more about auto liability insurance, including how liability insurance works, whether you should purchase more than the minimum amount required, and whether your insurance policy will cover you if you travel to another state.
Penalties for driving without the required liability insurance in Louisiana
Louisiana has an obvious interest in making sure that all of its drivers are insured. Under Louisiana Revised Statute Section 32:863, driving without insurance can result in the following penalties:
- Fines between $500 and $1,000
- Suspension of your license plates and registration
- Vehicle impoundment
- Towing, storing or wreckage costs
In addition to the penalties above, Louisiana law prohibits uninsured motorists from collecting the first $25,000 in property damage and the first $15,000 in personal injuries, regardless of who caused the accident. This law is referred to as the “No Pay, No Play” law.
Consider the following example:
Emily has insurance, while Jack is uninsured. Emily mistakenly runs a red light and collides with Jack's car, causing damage to both vehicles and injuring Jack.
The costs associated with this accident are as follows:
- The damage to Jack's car is estimated to be $30,000.
- Emily's car suffers $20,000 in damage.
- Jack incurs $20,000 in medical bills due to his injuries.
Since Emily caused the accident, her insurance would typically cover the damages and medical bills incurred by Jack. However, Louisiana's "No Pay, No Play" law comes into play because Jack is uninsured.
Under Louisiana’s law, Jack is barred from collecting the first $25,000 in property damage and the first $15,000 in personal injury. Therefore, despite Emily being at fault, Jack would not be able to recover the full amount of his losses from Emily's insurance. Instead, he would only be eligible to collect $5,000 for his car damage ($30,000 - $25,000) and $5,000 for his personal injuries ($20,000 - $15,000), for a total of $10,000, leaving him to cover the remaining $35,000 out-of-pocket.
Emily's insurance would cover her vehicle's damage as per her policy's terms and conditions.
Finally, although the penalties for driving without insurance can be severe, the penalties are not the most significant consequence of driving without liability insurance. If you’re at fault for an accident and lack sufficient insurance, you will be personally liable for the damages. Even if you don’t have the money in your bank account, the injured driver can get a court order to garnish your wages or even sell your assets.
Optional insurance coverage
The minimum liability insurance required may not be enough to cover a catastrophic car accident, leaving you personally liable for the amount of damages that exceed your policy limits. For this reason, many people choose to purchase additional liability insurance.
Along with additional liability insurance, drivers in Louisiana can purchase the following optional coverage:
- Comprehensive coverage provides coverage for losses other than those caused by a collision (vandalism, falling objects, fire, etc.)
- Collision coverage provides coverage for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident with another vehicle or an object (such as a fence)
- Personal injury protection (PIP) provides coverage regardless of who’s at fault (what’s covered depends on the specific policy)
- 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.
If you finance your vehicle, your bank or other lender may require you to carry comprehensive and collision insurance until the vehicle is fully paid. Be sure to check the terms of your finance agreement.
Does my insurance provide coverage if my friend or family member borrows my car?
In Louisiana, liability insurance follows the vehicle. This means that if you let someone borrow your car and they cause an accident, your liability insurance will pay for the damages to the other driver and their passengers up to the policy limits. The exception is if the person who borrowed your vehicle did not have permission to do so.
If the damages exceed your policy limits, the insurance of the person who borrowed your vehicle may act as secondary coverage. In other words, their insurance may cover the difference between your policy limits and the amount of damages sustained.
Collision and comprehensive coverage also typically follow the vehicle in Louisiana. On the other hand, PIP and MedPay coverage typically follows the driver.
Can my insurer cancel my auto insurance?
The first thing to recognize is that your auto insurance company can cancel your insurance freely within 60 days of you purchasing the insurance. After the 60-day period, your insurer cannot cancel your insurance unless:
- You fail to pay your premium
- You file a fraudulent claim
- Your license is suspended
If the insurer cancels your policy for nonpayment, the insurer must first provide you with a 10-day notice.
How to recover damages after a car accident in Louisiana
Louisiana has a fault-based insurance system (sometimes called a “tort-based insurance system”). This means that the person responsible for causing a car crash is also responsible for paying the damages.
If you’re involved in an accident that’s not your fault, you have 3 options for recovering damages:
- File an insurance claim with your own insurance company (your insurance company will turn around and pursue reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company),
- File a third-party insurance claim directly with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or
- File a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.
Unfortunately, if the driver who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance, your only option is to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver for any amount that exceeds your uninsured motorist coverage.
Navigating the aftermath of an automobile accident can be overwhelming, particularly if you’ve suffered physical injuries. It can be beneficial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney, even if you’re not completely sure you need one. The majority of initial consultations come at no cost and carry no commitment.