Don’t Go Off-road: Driving an Uninsured Car is Illegal

India has one of the heaviest road traffic in the world. A large section of the country’s population uses roads to travel every day, which makes it important to ensure road safety. A car accident does not come with a warning. It suddenly occurs leaving you with car damages, financial liabilities or/and accidental injuries. The only thing that you can do is to get the best car insurance in India for your vehicle and keep renewing it without fail.

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Car Insurance and Its Types

Car insurance is a safety net that protects your car from any third party liabilities and any own damages resulting out of unforeseen situations, such as accidents, manmade calamities, theft, natural disaster and theft. It is also designed to cover accidental death or disability of the owner-driver of the four wheeler.

Before you buy the best car insurance in India, you must be clear about the various types of four wheeler insurance available in India. You can buy two types of car insurance for your vehicle - third party insurance or comprehensive insurance.

Third party insurance, as the name suggests, covers only the third party liabilities of the car owner that resulted out of causing accidental death, bodily injuries or damages to the property of third parties. For example, if your car skids and you end up ramming the vehicle in someone’s boundary wall, your insurer will pay for the victim’s damages on your behalf.

Comprehensive car insurance, on the other hand, covers third party liabilities along with theft loss and damages suffered by the car due to fire, accidents, manmade disasters and natural calamities. Further, this type of insurance also provides the owner-driver of the vehicle with personal accident cover. For example, the damages caused to your car after it skids in the rain and collides with a tree.

Third Party Insurance Is Mandatory in India

If you have a car at home, you must be aware that your car needs to be insured under a four wheeler insurance policy as per the motor laws of the country. According to the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, every four wheeler plying on public roads of India needs to compulsorily have a valid car insurance policy with at least third party cover.

In other words, you should have a valid car insurance policy, which will cover all your third party liabilities. Thus, you can choose to buy either the minimum required third party insurance or the all-inclusive comprehensive car insurance as both cover third party legal liabilities.

Whether you buy comprehensive or third party insurance, the policy will be mostly valid for a tenure of one year. As soon as the policy nears its expiry date, you will be required to renew your car insurance policy to maintain the coverage on your vehicle. Any delay or lapse in the renewal of car insurance policy can lead to a break-in-policy and expose you to the world of uncertainties without any safety. Besides, driving a car without a valid motor insurance policy is illegal in India.

Driving a Car Without Insurance is Illegal

In India, driving a car without a valid car insurance policy is illegal. As stated earlier, it is mandatory to have car insurance for every four wheeler plying on the public roads under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988. Any activity that breaks the law of the country is illegal or is referred to as a crime. So if you drive a car without a valid third party insurance cover, you are violating India’s motor laws and committing a crime. Thus, driving an uninsured car is illegal in India.

What Happens if You Drive an Uninsured Car?

There could be several reasons for driving an uninsured vehicle. You may have forgotten the expiry date of your previous car insurance and may not remember to renew it on time. You may be tight on the budget and have been intentionally delaying the renewal of the policy. Or you may have not renewed your car insurance due to sheer procrastination.

However, if you don’t renew your car insurance on time, you may end up facing the following consequences:

  • Pay Fine for Driving an Uninsured Car

    If you break the motor laws of India, you will be liable to pay a fine, penalty or face punishment as per the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. In 2019, the Act was amended to the Motor Vehicles Act, 2019 that imposed harsher penalties and punishments for those violating the motor laws.

    As per the Motor Vehicle Act 2019, if a person is caught driving an uninsured car for the first time, he/ she will be liable to pay a penalty of Rs 2,000 or/ and face imprisonment for a period of three months. If the same person is caught driving without valid car insurance for the second time, he/ she will have to pay a fine of Rs 4,000 or/ and spend a jail term for up to three months.

  • No More Third Party Liability Cover

    When your car hits a third party or damages his/ her property, you incur third party liabilities. Whether you have valid car insurance or not, you will be legally required to pay compensation to third parties if the accident resulted in causing bodily injuries, death or damages to their properties. The compensation may vary from a couple of lakhs to crores of rupees. So, if you don’t want to get bankrupt, remember to renew your car insurance policy on time.

  • Pay for Own Car Damages From Your Pocket

    When your car meets with an accident, you are not only at the risk of incurring third party liabilities but your car may also get severely damaged. In the absence of car insurance, your financial liability will double up as you will have to pay for third party liabilities as well as for the repair of your car. This can be avoided if you timely renew your car insurance policy.

  • Be Ready for Legal Complications

    In case of a major car accident, you may end up facing legal complications. The third party victim may decide to drag you to court and your vehicle may also get confiscated. Either of these situations may result in incurring certain legal expenses, which may increase your financial liability. However, these expenses will be covered by your motor insurance company if you have a valid car insurance policy.

  • Part Ways With Your No Claim Bonus

    If your car insurance is not renewed within 90 days of the policy expiry date, you will lose your accumulated No Claim Bonus (NCB). The NCB can be used to reduce your car insurance renewal premium to half if you don’t make any claim consecutively for five years. However, all the previous efforts of driving your car responsibly and building your NCB will go waste if your policy lapses. Your NCB will restore to zero and you will again have to build it from scratch.

How to Pay Traffic Challan Issued for Driving an Uninsured Car?

In case you are caught driving a car without valid third party insurance, the traffic police official will immediately issue you a traffic challan. The challan has to be paid within the specified time period to avoid any further legal consequences. In India, you can pay a traffic challan both offline or online. Take a look at the following steps to pay your traffic challan online and offline:

Steps to Pay a Traffic Challan Offline:

  • Visit the nearest traffic police station
  • Remember to carry the challan issued by the traffic police
  • Check the fine amount that you need to pay with the police official at the station
  • Pay the fine amount in full
  • Your traffic challan will be cleared

Steps to Pay a Traffic Challan Online:

  • Visit the official website of your state’s transport department
  • Go to the option of paying the traffic challan online
  • Enter your car number or notice/ challan number and search for details
  • Provide any other information required
  • Pay the fine amount online using a debit/ credit card or digital wallet
  • On successful payment, you will receive a confirmation receipt

Tips to Avoid Getting Penalized for Driving an Uninsured Car

Here are a few tips to avoiding getting fined for driving a four wheeler without a valid car insurance policy:

  • Buy the best car insurance in India as soon as you purchase a new car
  • Make sure to renew your car insurance policy before the expiry date. Set up a reminder for policy renewal if you are likely to forget it
  • Switch your motor insurer before expiry date if you don’t want to continue with the existing insurer
  • Keep a hard copy of your car insurance along with other essential documents, such as your car’s Registration Certificate, your driving licence and car pollution check certificate, inside your vehicle
  • Save a soft copy of the car insurance policy and other documents on your mobile phone as well as on your email
  • Avoid driving your car if its insurance policy has expired

In a Nutshell

Accidents have become a major threat today given the increasing number of vehicles on the road. No wonder India’s Road, Transport & Highways Ministry has enforced stricter motor laws to prevent accidents and ensure that the accident victims are appropriately compensated. Just remember that it is illegal to drive a vehicle without valid car insurance. Hence, keep renewing the best car insurance in India with a minimum of third party insurance cover to avoid attracting any legal penalties or punishments.

Written By: PolicyBazaar - Updated: 14 July 2021
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