Margaret Huntley Last Updated On: July 19, 2023

Home / Blog / Auto Insurance / Can You Reclaim Your Impounded Car Without Insurance? Find Out Here

Car Impounded, No Insurance: Here’s What You Should Know

car out of impound without insurance

Suppose you’ve found yourself in a sticky situation: your car has been impounded and you don’t have car insurance to get it out. What should you do? Can you get your vehicle out without proof of insurance?

Don’t let the questions pile up; read on and discover your options.

Free Car Insurance Comparison - Save up to 30%

No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.

No Signup required

Why Was My Car Impounded?

The good news is your car won’t be impounded for any old reason. Officers impound vehicles for serious driving offenses, like a DUI.  Here are some reasons why your vehicle may be impounded:
  • Illegal Parking: If you needed to re-energize with a coffee and parked illegally or at a stop that blocks traffic, your car could be impounded.
  • Driving Without Insurance: If you live in a state that requires you to carry car insurance (all except for New Hampshire) and you get busted for driving without insurance, it’s grounds to have your car towed away to the impound lot.
  • Driving Without Vehicle Registration: If your vehicle isn’t registered with your state’s DMV and you’re caught, the officer reserves the right to impound your car.
  • Driving Without a License: Want a surefire way to get your vehicle impounded? Drive without a valid license.
  • Driving Under the Influence: If you drive while under the influence and are pulled over, not only will your car be impounded but you’ll face a slew of other problems. For instance, you could lose your license and you could be hit with some heavy fines.
  • Reckless Driving: If you wish to live like The Fast and The Furious and an officer catches you driving over the limit or recklessly, they could take your car to the impound yard. 
  • Evading the Police: Evading the police while in a vehicle doesn’t make a great first impression, and in fact, it tends to result in your car being impounded. 
  • Getting Arrested: If your traffic offense is severe enough that you’re arrested, who will drive your car? Your vehicle would likely be impounded even if you had someone who could take it home.
However, it’s worth noting that every state and every driving infraction differs. These are justifiable grounds to impound your vehicle, but it’s not a guarantee as it depends on where you live, the violation, and the arresting officer’s discretion.

How to Get Your Car Out of Impound

So your car has been towed away to the impound lot. Now what? 
  • Locate Your Car: This step is only sometimes applicable. If your vehicle is impounded while you’re not present, you’ll have to call the local police department or parking authority for more information. However, if your car is towed to impound while you’re present, the officer will give you a ticket with the impound lot information.
  • Call the Impound Lot: Once you know which impound yard has your vehicle, call them to confirm they have it on site.
  • Gather Pertinent Paperwork: Collect all the necessary paperwork before you retrieve your car. Every state requires different paperwork, so when you’re on the phone with the impound lot, ask what they need to see, such as:
    • Proof of insurance
    • Drivers license
    • Vehicle registration or title
    • Proof of ownership
  • Go to the Impound Lot and Pay Fees: Once you have your documentation and money, you can head to impound to present all the documents, pay your fees, and reclaim your vehicle. Your impound fees depend on how long your car is on the lot; typically, yards charge by 12-hour increments, so get your vehicle out ASAP, or you’ll be on the hook for a hefty fee. Here are some of the costs you could have to pay:
    • Towing expenses
    • Impound storage fees and release fee
    • Boot fee (if applicable)
An important thing to note is that impound yards in most states will hold your car for up to 30 days.

Free Car Insurance Comparison - Save up to 30%

No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.

No Signup required

What Happens If You Don’t Claim Your Impounded Vehicle?

If you can’t get your vehicle within the designated time frame, it’s a tricky situation. 

Well, someone has to pay the impound fees. If it’s not you, the impound lot will recoup the cost by auctioning off your vehicle (if it’s valuable enough) or scrapping it to cover your fees.

Also, remember that if you’ve got money owing on the car, you still have to pay the remaining balance on the loan/lease/finance regardless if you don’t pick up your vehicle from the impound lot.

Can My Car Be Impounded for Driving Without Insurance?

Yes and no. As a Magic 8 ball would say, the answer is: “Cannot predict now.” 

Almost every state requires you to carry valid car insurance. But where it gets hazy is the situation. It depends on the state you call home, the offense, and the officer’s discretion. The only guarantee is that the on-site officer will give you a ticket for not having insurance. Outside of this, it’s up to the attending officer whether they impound your vehicle.

Do I Need Car Insurance to Get My Car Out of Impound?

Because every state except New Hampshire requires you to carry insurance, you will need to take out car insurance—even if it’s just state minimums—if you want to drive your car off the lot. 

This rule may differ for New Hampshire residents.

Do you need insurance to get your vehicle out of impound? The rule of thumb is don’t count on getting your car out of impound without insurance. But that doesn’t mean this happens 100% of the time. So when you’re on the phone with the impound lot personnel, ask whether you need proof of insurance to reclaim your car. 

If they say no, consider yourself lucky!

Can I Purchase Insurance While My Car Is Impounded?

You sure can! If you’re ready to get back behind the wheel of your car and legally drive it, you’ll need to get car insurance. Even though you’re under a time crunch (because who wants to pay exorbitant impound fees), don’t impulse buy! Be sure to shop around to find the best rate possible. 

You can save yourself time (and money) by getting access to an impounded car insurance online quote here to streamline getting auto insurance and get your car back on the road. 

Here’s the paperwork you’ll need to have handy when you start shopping for car insurance:  

  • VIN Number (Vehicle Information Number)
  • Personal Information: If you have multiple people on your insurance policy, you’ll need every driver’s driving license, date of birth, driving history and insurance history.
  • Address: An address for your primary residence.
  • Lienholder Information: If necessary.

Having your information ready to go can help you get accurate quotes fast.

Free Car Insurance Comparison - Save up to 30%

No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.

No Signup required

Will My Insurance Rates Change After an Impound?

Your insurance rates won’t change because your car was impounded. But your rates may be affected depending on the reason for the police impounding your car.

A DUI offense can cause your rates to skyrocket, or you could lose car insurance altogether. Getting arrested for a non-vehicle related crime might have little to no impact on your car insurance. 

Of course, the best way to keep your car insurance premiums down are to drive safely and maintain a clean driving record.

Will Insurance Pay My Impound Fees?

Not exactly. You’ll need full coverage or comprehensive car insurance for your policy to pay out for towing, impounding, and other related charges.

How to Get Your Car Out of Impound for Free

It is possible to get your fees waived, but it’s not a guarantee. 

You’ll pay the full freight if you’re responsible for having your car impounded (such as a DUI). However, if there is any doubt surrounding the reasons for your car being impounded (e.g., stolen car, an error leading to your car being towed, or even if you’re involved in an accident), you can fight the charges. 

For example, many cities will waive the fees if your car was stolen, but you have to prove to the city that your car was mistakenly towed to get the fees dropped. But, if you have full coverage insurance, your policy may cover the impound and towing fees.

Who Pays for Any Impound-Related Damages?

If your vehicle suffers a towing mishap en route to the impound lot, don’t worry: you won’t have to foot the bill. The towing company is at fault and will pay to fix the associated damages. You can also claim it on your insurance if you have full coverage!

What Happens If You Cannot Afford to Pay Impound Fees

If money is an issue, call your local police station and speak to the supervisor to explain your situation. Many states and cities can reduce impound charges for low-income individuals. You can also have the fee reduced if this is your first time with a vehicle in impound. 

The point is to ask first. But more importantly, be kind and respectful to the officer because it’s up to them to reduce your fees—rudeness will get you nowhere.

The final option to help you pay your fees is asking the impound if they offer payment plans and whether you’re eligible.

How to Get Affordable Car Insurance

Having car insurance in place is a wise idea, regardless if you plan on having your car end up at the impound lot (not that anyone plans for that!). Having an idea of the rough costs for car insurance can help you budget accordingly. The average full coverage insurance cost is $2,014, while the minimum is just $622 a year.  If you’ve been dodging getting car insurance because you cannot afford it, there are ways to save on your insurance. Believe it or not, with all the car insurance policy choices and a wide variety of discounts, getting cheap auto insurance isn’t a dream; it’s a reality! 
  • State-Funded Programs: For Americans that can’t afford car insurance, certain states (California, New Jersey, and Hawaii) offer state-funded auto insurance for qualifying low-income residents.
  • Being Low-Income Doesn’t Affect Your Rates: When you call around for quotes, insurers will ask for your age, gender, driving history, usage, location, and other variables dependent on your state, like marital status and credit score. So even if you’re low-income, it won’t factor into how insurers generate your rates. Also, remember that every insurance company uses different factors to calculate rates, so by shopping around, you can save even more by finding the most affordable insurance policy.
  • Buy the Right Coverage: Don’t buy into a sales pitch and end up with more coverage than you truly need. If you can only afford minimum coverage (liability), go for it! Whereas, if you can afford a more well-rounded policy, grab full coverage, so you won’t have to pay for any damages to your car. Don’t forget you can also customize your policy by starting with liability and adding to it. Here’s a snapshot of the main coverage options:
    • Liability: If you caused the accident, your insurance would help pay for damages to the other person’s car repairs and medical expenses.
    • Comprehensive: If something happens to your car, like it’s stolen, vandalized, damaged due to weather, or an animal hits it, comprehensive will foot the repair bill.
    • Collision: Insurance will pay to repair your vehicle if you’re in an accident (minus the deductible) if you have collision coverage.
    • Full Coverage: You’ll get all the primary coverages with full coverage insurance: Liability, comprehensive, and collision.
    • Optional Coverages:
      • GAP
      • Rideshare
      • Accident Forgiveness
      • Roadside Assistance 
      • Bodily Injury
      • Non-Owner
      • High Risk
  • Jump Into Savings With Discounts: Don’t be shy; capitalize on every available discount! Here are some discount options:
    • Bundle: If you’ve got home and car insurance with two providers, bundle it with one for greater discounts.
    • Safe Driver: If you’ve got a squeaky clean driving record, you’ll get rewarded with a rate discount.
    • Veteran or Group Insurance: If you’re a veteran or part of a government/organization, you may be eligible for additional discounts.Young Driver: Save more on your young driver by seeing if they’re eligible for further discounts, such as:
      • Good Grades
      • Away Student
      • Defensive Driving Class
  • Drive the Right Car: If you want great rates, drive a car that your insurer deems is safe, reliable, and isn’t too expensive (e.g., sports or luxury cars) or frequently stolen.
  • Raise Your Deductible: If you pay more for the deductible, your premiums will shrink.
Affordable car insurance isn’t a pipe dream. A little research and shopping around can help you find great car insurance that doesn’t break the bank.

The Bottom Line: Impounded Car Insurance Can Help

Having to go through the rigamarole of getting your car out of the impound yard is stressful. But it doesn’t have to be if you ask the right questions, such as “do I need proof of insurance to get my car out of impound?”. 

So, if you ever find yourself down a car because it’s been impounded, follow these guidelines, and you may get lucky and save on impound fees or get away without needing to flash proof of insurance. 

In the meantime, save yourself some trouble by getting access to free car insurance quotes here. It doesn’t hurt to look, and you might just find yourself the perfect policy that fits into your budget. 

Free Car Insurance Comparison - Save up to 30%

No junk mail. No spam calls. Free quotes.

No Signup required

Margaret Huntley Margaret Huntley is a creative writing and philosophy student at Western University. She has been working as a freelance writer for over two years and has written about everything from insurance, to poker, to health and wellness for international businesses.

Stay Up-to-Date
Subscribe to our newsletter and receive alerts, offers, education, and updates in your inbox.