The high cost of driving uninsured in Nevada
Nevada is a fault-based insurance state. Find out what this means and how it impacts your car accident claim.
According to the Nevada Department of Transportation, fatal car crashes have increased over the past ten years. This is particularly problematic given that approximately 10 percent of Nevada’s drivers are uninsured.
In this article, we’ll look at auto insurance laws in Nevada, including the minimum requirements, penalties for being uninsured, and what happens when you or a loved one is injured or even killed in a car accident with an uninsured motorist.
Does Nevada have a fault-based insurance system?
Nevada operates under a “fault” or “tort” car insurance system. In a fault-based insurance system, the party responsible for the accident is responsible for the resulting damages. This is different from a no-fault insurance system, where your insurance company covers your damages regardless of who caused the accident.
Under a fault-based insurance system, car accident victims have three options for recovering damages:
- File an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer,
- File a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver, or
- File an insurance claim with your own insurer.
If you file a claim with your own insurance company, your insurer will seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This process is called subrogation. Some people prefer to file a claim with their own insurer instead of dealing with an unfamiliar insurance company.
What are the minimum car insurance requirements in Nevada?
Under Nevada Revised Statutes Section 485.185, drivers are required to have liability insurance with minimum coverage limits of:
- $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person in any one accident
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident.
- $20,000 for injury to or destruction of property of others in any one accident.
The basic coverage, often referred to as “25/50/20” coverage, is intended to pay for the other party’s medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage if you cause an accident. However, it won’t cover your own expenses and damages.
Learn more about liability insurance, including what it does and does not cover.
Optional insurance coverage in Nevada
While Nevada requires drivers to purchase minimum liability insurance, residents may want to consider additional coverage for greater protection.
Optional insurance coverage includes:
- Collision coverage: Pays for damage to your vehicle in an accident that you caused.
- Comprehensive coverage: Pays for damage to your vehicle not caused by a collision, such as vandalism or natural disasters.
- Medical payments coverage: Covers you and your passengers’ medical expenses regardless of who is at fault for the crash.
- Uninsured/Underinsured motorist coverage: Protects you if you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver or a driver whose insurance doesn’t cover all your damages.
According to the National Safety Council, the average cost of a car accident involving a minor injury in 2021 was $40,000. The average cost of a disability injury was $155,000.
What are the penalties for being uninsured in Nevada?
Operating a vehicle without insurance is a serious offense. Penalties may include a fine of $250 to $1,000, license suspension, and the requirement that you submit proof of insurance for up to three years.
However, the gravest consequence of driving uninsured is potentially being held personally liable for all the costs associated with an accident you cause. In the case of an accident involving injuries, this could be financially devastating.
Legal options following an accident with an uninsured driver
If you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured driver in Nevada, you have a couple of options for recovery.
First, you can use your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (assuming you have it).
Second, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Unfortunately, collecting damages in these situations often proves difficult, as uninsured drivers typically don’t have the necessary funds or assets to satisfy a judgment.
Learn more about civil judgments, including how to recover compensation from a person who is unable or unwilling to satisfy a judgment against them.
How does car insurance work when a friend or family member borrows my vehicle?
In Nevada, liability insurance typically follows the vehicle, not the driver. This means if a friend or family member borrows your car and causes an accident, YOUR insurance will likely be the primary coverage. However, their insurance might provide secondary coverage if your policy limits are exceeded.
FAQs about car insurance in Nevada
Unlike some states, Nevada does not require PIP coverage, which pays for medical expenses regardless of fault.
Most leasing or financing companies require comprehensive and collision coverage to protect their investment in the vehicle.
A DUI conviction often leads to higher insurance premiums and you might be required to file an SR-22 form, demonstrating future financial responsibility.
Under Nevada law, you must report any accident resulting in bodily injury, death, or property damage over $750 to the Nevada DMV within 10 days.
The Nevada statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years, meaning you typically have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit, or you’ll be forever barred from filing a lawsuit based on the accident.
Understanding Nevada's car insurance requirements can save you time, money, and stress in the event of an accident. Always consider your personal circumstances and risk tolerance when selecting your coverage, and consult a personal injury attorney if you need help recovering damages after an accident.