Nashville homeowner Elaine Eisinger came home on her lunch break earlier this month to find an SUV had toppled her brick mailbox, trash bin and landscaping.
The first thing she did was check to make sure the driver was ok.
“She was apologetic,” Eisinger recalled. “She was actually pretty hysterical because some of the first words out of her mouth were, ‘I don’t have car insurance’ and ‘it’s not my vehicle.'”
The repair costs were just shy of meeting the deductible on Eisinger’s homeowner’s insurance policy, so she will have pay out of pocket. Out of the goodness of her heart, she didn’t ask the driver to cover the costs, but she is still frustrated.
“Be mindful of the situation that you could put, not only yourself but also others in danger by not carrying insurance,” Eisinger said. “To me, it’s just highly irresponsible. If you can’t afford insurance, you probably shouldn’t be driving.”
Twenty percent of motorists in Tennessee are driving without insurance, and that’s against the law. The state ranks number five in the nation for most uninsured drivers, according to a study by the Insurance Research Council.
Tennessee drivers are required to at least carry liability insurance. Last year the penalties went up for those who don’t. You could lose your vehicle registration and be subject to misdemeanor charges, not to mention what happens if you get in a wreck if you aren’t insured.
“If you’re driving without insurance and you cause an accident, then you are personally responsible and financially responsible for injuries, as well as any property damage that you cause,” explained Allstate Agent Steve Blume.
Blume said those costs can be astronomical if someone you hit is seriously injured and requires a hospital stay.
“You could literally be saddled with a burden that could last a lifetime based on you just being irresponsible,” Blume said.
Blume strongly recommends putting uninsured motorist coverage on your auto policy. It protects you if someone hits you and doesn’t have insurance coverage or enough coverage.
“Accidents happen – that’s why they’re called accidents,” Blume said. “No one intends to have an accident, but they do happen all the time and when it does, wouldn’t you like to know you didn’t have to worry about something?”
Eisinger wishes she didn’t have to worry about the cost of fixing her mailbox, but she’s looking at the positive.
“At the end of the day, it is just a mailbox. It could have been a lot worse. Thankfully no one was standing out there,” she said. “But it is frustrating being a single mom and a homeowner and working two jobs. Seven hundred and fifty dollars doesn’t come very easily.”
If you don’t have auto insurance because you’re worried about the cost of the premium, Blume recommends speaking with an insurance agent about increasing your deductible to lower your monthly payments.
If you get pulled over and don’t have insurance, police officers do have the authority to have your car towed.