Can You Drive a Car Without Insurance?

Learn about the type of insurance you need and the consequences of driving without it with Savvy.

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, updated on February 15th, 2024       

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Car Insurance Banner - Rear view of young woman driving car, uncertain about driving without car insurance.

In Australia, it's illegal to drive without compulsory third party (CTP) insurance. Because of this, if you're a car owner, it’s essential to understand your obligations when it comes to insuring your vehicle on the road.

Savvy’s informative guide covers what types of insurance are available in Australia, the potential implications of driving uninsured, whether you can drive an unregistered vehicle and more, so learn more with us today.

What is CTP insurance and why do I need it for my car?

While certain types of car insurance are optional in Australia, all vehicles must have CTP insurance. Sometimes referred to as a Green Slip, this type of insurance provides coverage for personal injury or death caused by the driver of the insured vehicle to other road users and is a legal requirement to obtain vehicle registration in Australia. Depending on where you live, this may be included in your registration costs automatically.

What are the other types of car insurance?

CTP insurance is limited in scope, covering only your liability for injury or death to other people in a car accident. If you require more extensive coverage, there are several other types of car insurance offering different levels of cover that you can choose to purchase:

  • Third party property damage (TPPD): can cover damage caused by your vehicle to other people’s vehicles or property, but not damage to your own vehicle.
  • Third party fire and theft (TPFT): can cover damage to other people’s vehicles or property caused by your vehicle, as well as offer protection against fire and theft damage sustained by your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive: can offer the highest level of protection, with coverage including damage to your vehicle due to accidents, collisions, fire, theft or covered weather events and damage to other vehicles or property caused by your vehicle.

Are there any circumstances where I don't need car insurance?

CTP insurance is a legal requirement for all registered cars in Australia, and it’s illegal to drive without it. There may be very limited circumstances temporarily exempting you from needing car insurance, depending on the state or territory you are in – for example, in South Australia, you may drive an uninsured and unregistered vehicle to fight a fire that poses a threat to life and property. However, in all other situations, you must have CTP insurance.

Can I drive an unregistered car?

In most circumstances, you cannot legally drive an unregistered car. If the police catch you driving an unregistered vehicle, they can fine you or seize your vehicle. There are limited exceptions, such as driving a vehicle to get it registered.

In cases where you may need to drive an unregistered vehicle for repairs, for an inspection, to relocate the car or to attend a car rally, you may need to apply for an unregistered vehicle permit (UVP) to drive on public roads.

It is important to note that CTP insurance usually isn’t valid until your car is registered.

What are the potential risks and consequences of driving without car insurance?

Driving without car insurance can have significant risks and consequences, including:

  • Financial liability: if you cause an accident while driving without insurance, you may be personally responsible for covering the costs of property damage, medical expenses and legal fees.
  • Lack of protection: without car insurance, you aren’t protected against the financial burden of repairing or replacing your vehicle in the event of an accident, theft or other damage. This may cause you greater concern on the roads.
  • Legal penalties: driving without CTP insurance is illegal, bar a few limited exceptions. If you’re caught driving without insurance, you may face penalties such as fines, licence suspension or vehicle impoundment. Additionally, with no CTP in place, you won’t be covered for compensation claims for injury or death of another person, which could set you back a significant amount of money.

What if I have an accident with an uninsured car?

If you’re in an accident with another car and you are responsible for the accident, you are liable to cover all expenses. If you don’t have insurance, you will be personally responsible for covering all costs, and could also face penalties such as fines. If you’re uninsured but not at fault, the other driver will be responsible for paying for your costs, but you’ll need to seek out this compensation yourself without the backing of an insurance company.

However, if the other driver in the incident is uninsured, you’ll have to ask them for payment to cover the costs of the accident or potentially go to court or an accident tribunal if this is unsuccessful.

It’s important to note that CTP insurance does not cover damage to third-party property or any of the vehicles involved in an accident, so many drivers take out additional cover such as TPPD or comprehensive car insurance.

Common questions about driving without car insurance

Can I temporarily suspend my car insurance if I won't be driving my vehicle for a while?

If your car is not currently being used on the road – perhaps because it’s being repaired or restored – you’ll still need CTP insurance. However, if you want coverage at a lower cost, you may be able to reduce your premium by taking out laid-up car insurance, which can protect against risks such as fire, theft, vandalism and accidental damage. If you drive your car only occasionally, you may be able to lower your insurance costs by taking out pay as you drive car insurance

Do I need to insure my classic car?

Like other cars, vintage and classic cars need CTP insurance, even if your vehicle is rarely or never driven. There are also specialist classic car insurance policies available that are designed to cover classic vehicles, which take into account the car’s features and unique requirements.

Do I need car insurance if I’m driving off-road?

Cars driving off-road, such as on unpaved surfaces like mud, sand and gravel, need to be insured. However, not all providers will cover off-road activities or beach driving, so it is important to check with your insurance provider. You may also be able to take out specialist 4X4 car insurance for your four-wheel drive, which may offer additional coverage options for off-road driving. 

What could void my car insurance?

To maintain your car insurance cover, you need to ensure you meet the conditions of your policy. Common mistakes that could void your policy or result in a denial of a claim include:

  • Not paying your premium
  • Not having a valid licence
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Not informing your insurer of car modifications
  • Failing to properly secure your car
  • Using worn-out tyres
  • Overloading your vehicle

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Car Insurance Banner - Rear view of young woman driving car, uncertain about driving without car insurance.

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