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Like most states, New Jersey requires drivers to carry at least a minimum amount of car insurance to stay legal. If you drive without coverage, you could face the penalties for driving without insurance in New Jersey. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team, which has nearly 50 years of combined industry experience and includes three licensed insurance agents, explains New Jersey’s minimum car insurance limits and what could happen if you drive uninsured.
New Jersey car insurance laws
New Jersey’s car insurance laws give drivers two options for coverage: a basic policy or a standard policy. Not only does a basic policy have lower limits, but it also restricts your ability to buy certain coverage types like uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You may not be able to buy comprehensive or collision coverage either, depending on the company you choose.
A standard policy gives you more coverage than a basic policy, but historically has provided lower minimum limits when compared to other states. However, a recent law has increased these limits, effective for new and renewed existing standard policies effective that take effect on or after January 1, 2023. If you choose to buy the standard minimum coverage option, you’ll have to buy $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident and $25,000 in property damage. You’ll also have to carry $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) and the same 25/50 limits in both uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage.
The law increasing minimum liability limits in New Jersey also has a second phase which will further increase standard policy limits in three years. By 2026, drivers who buy the standard minimum coverage policies will be required to purchase $35,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $70,000 in bodily injury liability per accident with the same limits for uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorists coverage. The current PIP limit of $15,000 and the new property damage limit of $25,000 will remain the same.
Remember that these are only the minimums required to drive legally in New Jersey, but you can buy more coverage on either plan if you have the budget to do so. Insurance professionals recommend that drivers purchase limits above the minimum to offer more financial protection.
Penalties for driving without insurance in New Jersey
If you are caught driving without insurance in New Jersey, you could be facing several penalties, depending on the specifics of your situation. The table below summarizes the penalties for driving without insurance in New Jersey:
|Penalty type||First offense||Subsequent offenses|
|Fines||$300 to $1,000||Up to $5,000|
|License suspension||Up to one year||Two years|
|NJ MVC surcharge||$100 for license reinstatement||$100 for license reinstatement|
|Jail time||N/A||14 days|
|Community service||To be determined by the court||30 days|
The severity of the consequences depends on how many times you’ve been caught driving without insurance. Additionally, if you cause an accident without insurance, you could be facing the penalties outlined above on top of having to pay out of pocket for the damages you caused.
You may also be required to obtain an SR-22 certificate, especially if your incident included other risky behaviors like drinking and driving or reckless driving. An SR-22 is a form that an insurance company files with the state to prove that you have the minimum required coverage. To obtain one, you’ll need to find a company that insures high-risk drivers in New Jersey and ask for the form to be filed on your behalf. You’ll have to do this before you are eligible to reinstate your license.
Not all carriers will insure high-risk drivers, and you’ll likely face a higher premium due to the driving behavior that caused the need for an SR-22. The best way to avoid these expensive policies is to practice safe driving and always carrying the proper insurance on your vehicle.
Getting into an accident without insurance in New Jersey
Getting into an accident without car insurance in New Jersey is a serious infraction. Not only will you likely be subject to fines, community service, license suspension and potential jail time, but you will also be financially responsible for the damages you caused. Without insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Depending on the severity of the accident, this could be a huge financial setback.
New Jersey’s “No Pay, No Play” law
New Jersey is one of several states that has a No Pay, No Play law. These laws are designed to help reduce the stress on insurance companies in terms of paying claims for drivers who don’t carry insurance. Essentially, if you are driving without insurance in New Jersey and someone hits you, you will not be able to collect any claim payout for noneconomic damages, including pain and suffering or mental anguish. Uninsured drivers in New Jersey are also unable to sue for compensation for personal injury and may be limited in their ability to collect for property damage.
Uninsured drivers who get hit by an insured driver and sustain serious injuries may be able to file a claim with their health insurance company to get reimbursed for their medical bills. Having a car insurance policy not only protects you from the state’s penalties for driving uninsured, it also protects your finances from the fallout of at-fault losses and entitles you to greater compensation if you are not at fault for an accident.
Frequently asked questions
The best car insurance in New Jersey is different for every driver. It depends on a number of factors, like your budget, what discounts you can take advantage of, what type of coverage you need and how much coverage you need. New Jersey drivers should shop around and compare providers to figure out which car insurance company is best for their unique needs.
The average cost of car insurance in New Jersey is $1,754 annually for full coverage insurance and $782 for a standard minimum coverage policy. In comparison, the average cost of full coverage insurance in the United States is $2,014 per year and $622 for minimum coverage. However, every driver pays a slightly different rate based on their ZIP code, age, credit score and claims history.
No-fault insurance in New Jersey, also called personal injury protection (PIP), is a required coverage. It covers your medical bills, lost wages and costs related to pain and suffering if you are involved in an accident, regardless of which driver caused the crash. Keep in mind, though, that uninsured drivers in New Jersey are subject to the No Pay, No Play law, which limits their ability to be compensated after a not-at-fault loss.
It depends. Generally, car insurance follows the car, not the driver, which means that if you’re driving a borrowed car, the owner’s insurance policy should take care of any damages that you cause. Before you borrow a vehicle, make sure the owner has insurance and check whether there are any exclusions, like with a named driver policy. However, your own insurance policy could kick in secondarily if the limits on the owner’s policy are expended. If you have a car and a car insurance policy of your own, be sure to carry limits that you feel comfortable with.