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Hawaii has some of the harshest penalties in the nation for driving in the state without insurance. This is particularly true for second and subsequent offenses. Anyone thinking of saving money by going without car insurance should think again. In the long run, the consequences for driving without insurance far outweigh the modest savings you might have by skipping car insurance. To be protected financially and legally in this state, it’s important to understand Hawaii car insurance requirements.
Minimum insurance required in Hawaii
If you own a motor vehicle in Hawaii, state law requires that you maintain certain levels of third party liability insurance. Additionally, Hawaiian drivers must have proof of insurance in the form of a state motor vehicle identification card. An auto liability insurance policy protects drivers from the financial consequences that may arise if you cause injury or property damage to another driver or his or her passengers in an accident.
Hawaii’s minimum auto liability insurance limits are:
- $20,000 for bodily injury to or death of a single person in a single accident;
- $40,000 for bodily injury to or death of two or more persons in a single accident;
- $10,000 for damage or destruction of property of others in a single accident.
These limits are on the low end in comparison with other states, and you should carefully review your insurance needs with a licensed agent to see if higher limits are best for your situation.
Penalties for driving without insurance in Hawaii
There are a series of financial and other penalties that come into play in Hawaii if you are ticketed for driving without insurance. These fines and other consequences increase in severity with subsequent infractions or when an accident is also involved.
Hawaii law provides for a fine of $500 for a first infraction of driving without auto insurance. Things get more serious from there. Subsequent infractions that occur within five years of a previous violation can cost a minimum of $5,000. Judges have some discretion in these situations and can impose community service sentences in place of monetary fines.
License suspension and automobile impoundment
Fines are only the beginning of a violator’s troubles. Hawaii law also allows courts to impose additional penalties including a license suspension. A suspension can be for a minimum period of three months with a first infraction and up to a year in the event of subsequent driving without insurance citations.
In addition to suspension of driving privileges, Hawaii law permits the suspension of a vehicle registration as well. This means that no one, not even a licensed driver, can use the vehicle. As an additional enforcement tool, a court can order that the car be impounded and all costs paid by the violator.
Hawaii is particularly severe in imposing penalties upon repeat offenders. Hawaiian courts have a great deal of leeway in adding to penalties originally imposed for the first offense. State law does permit the imposition of jail time if a driver is convicted for driving without insurance more than one time in a five year period. The period of incarceration can be up to 30 days. While the financial gain of not having insurance may be marginal, the consequences associated with this risk make it highly inadvisable.
If you are convicted of driving without car insurance in Hawaii, you are required to obtain an SR-22 insurance certification with the state. An SR-22 is formal evidence that you now maintain the level of liability insurance required by the state. The SR-22 may need to remain on file with Hawaii’s Licensing Division for up to three years, depending upon a court’s disposition. This may be the case even after a license suspension has been lifted.
Getting into an accident without insurance
One of the greatest risks of driving without insurance in Hawaii is the possibility of an accident for which you will be completely financially responsible. The fines and penalties above for driving without car insurance will all be applicable and, depending upon the severity of the accident, you run the risk of additional fines, license suspension and jail time.
The most significant consequence for getting in an accident without insurance may be the personal responsibility you will have for the injury to or death of another driver. Without insurance in these circumstances, court judgments can easily exceed the ability of an individual to pay and can lead to bankruptcy and other life changing results.
Frequently asked questions
What if you provide false insurance information?
In light of the significant fines and other penalties, you do not want to be caught driving without insurance in Hawaii. costly in its own right. But you can make matters far worse, and subject yourself to greater penalties, by falsifying insurance records or statements to an officer. Similarly, if you provide false information to your insurance company, you risk policy cancellation or the denial of a claim.
How much is car insurance in Hawaii?
Hawaii is one of the five least expensive states in the country to buy car insurance. However, premiums will vary, sometimes significantly, between different drivers depending on the variables companies consider such as specific ZIP code or driving histories. It is generally advised to obtain quotes from several good car insurance companies and compare.
Is Hawaii a “no-fault” state?
Hawaii is a “no-fault” state meaning that your auto insurance company pays your costs related to your own injuries and those of your passengers caused in an auto accident. This obligation is not impacted by fault. There are subsequent steps that carriers can and do take, to seek reimbursement of these amounts from drivers ultimately determined to be at fault.
Should I report all accidents to my car insurance company?
Yes, even if you consider an accident to be very minor and intend not to make a formal claim, you should at least put your car insurance company on notice of the accident. If you don’t, and the other party later claims to have suffered an injury, you run the risk of a claim denial based on a failure to promptly notify.