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In New York, auto insurance is not just a good way to protect your assets. State law also requires that New York drivers must purchase liability insurance, along with personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverages. Americans paid an average of $650 per year for liability coverage in 2019, while New York drivers paid more than $920 per year for the same coverage.
While it costs more on average to insure a car in New York, statistics reveal the importance of carrying car insurance in this state. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1,046 people died in motor vehicle crashes in New York in 2020, including 588 in single-vehicle accidents and 368 in alcohol-related collisions. Before getting behind the wheel, it can benefit you to know the New York car insurance laws, including how much auto insurance you need and the potential consequences of driving without proper coverage.
Car insurance laws in New York
New York is a no-fault state, which means that in addition to liability insurance, drivers need to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The state also requires uninsured motorist coverage. Here is the full list of New York car insurance requirements:
- $25,000 bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 death per person
- $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident and $100,000 death per accident
- $10,000 property damage liability per accident
- $50,000 personal injury protection (PIP)
- $25,000 statutory uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $50,000 statutory uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
Uninsured motorist coverage in NY comes in two options: statutory and supplemental. Statutory coverage provides coverage only for accidents that happen in the state. Supplemental coverage (available in minimum limits or higher limits) provides coverage outside of the state. Supplemental uninsured motorist coverage also provides underinsured motorist coverage.
Note that these are the minimum requirements which you must meet with your insurance policy. You may, however, purchase additional coverage for increased protection.
Your auto insurance serves as Proof of Financial Responsibility. Your insurance card tells others that you can pay for damages or injuries caused during an accident.
Liability insurance in New York
Liability car insurance is the coverage that pays costs associated with damages and injuries sustained by another driver and their passengers. This type of coverage does not pay for the damages to your vehicle when you cause an at-fault accident, though. You may see New York’s required liability insurance coverages expressed as 25/50/10.
But is the minimum enough? If you are in a serious accident, the minimum may not cover all expenses. Consider the property liability portion, for which the minimum is $10,000. If the other driver’s car was totaled, and it was a fairly new or expensive vehicle, $10,000 might not be enough to replace it.
Or consider the bodily injury minimum, which is $25,000. If a passenger in the other car suffers serious injuries requiring hospitalization and surgery, $25,000 in coverage might not cover all medical costs.
Many insurance experts will recommend that you carry more than the minimum for liability insurance if possible. This way, you are much less likely to be caught in a bad financial situation following an accident.
Is New York a no-fault state?
New York is a no-fault insurance state, which requires drivers to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. With PIP coverage, you can file a claim against your own insurance policy following an accident, no matter who was at fault. For example, if another driver runs a red light and hits you, you can file a claim with your insurer, not the other driver’s provider.
PIP typically covers your medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, if needed, and some additional costs. Required New York PIP coverage pays up to $50,000 per person, but you have the option to raise it for an additional cost.
PIP is mandatory in New York State, as it is in all no-fault states. Driving without insurance in New York will result in penalties and even jail time.
Penalties for driving without insurance in New York
Driving without insurance in New York can result in serious consequences. Your insurance company must notify the DMV if your policy lapses. If you no longer have insurance, you must turn in your vehicle registration and license plates to the DMV and refrain from driving. If you do drive, you could face the following penalties:
- Arrest or ticket
- Driver’s license and vehicle registration suspensions
- Impounded vehicle
If you are driving without insurance and are in an accident in New York, the state may suspend your license and registration for at least one year, and you could face fines as much as $1,500, plus a $750 civil penalty to restore your license.
Additional auto insurance coverage options in New York
In addition to the required liability, PIP and uninsured motorist coverages, there are other coverage options that may benefit you. Costs for these types of coverages vary by insurer and can be impacted by factors such as the type of vehicle you drive and your driving record.
- Collision: This optional coverage helps pay for damages to your car following a covered accident with other vehicles or a stationary object.
- Comprehensive: Comprehensive covers non-accident-related mishaps, from a tree falling on your car in a windstorm to car theft or vandalism. It is not mandatory in New York State. Comprehensive and collision are good coverages to have if your car is newer or a high-end model. For older cars with less value, it may not be as important.
- Medical payments: Optional in New York, medical payments coverage will augment your other coverages, such as PIP, and help pay for medical costs incurred in an accident. These might include hospital stays, surgery, ambulance costs or other medical expenses.
- Gap coverage: If you have a new car and owe more on the loan than the vehicle is worth, gap coverage will help pay off the loan if your car is stolen or totaled. This coverage may be useful because your collision or comprehensive will only pay the depreciated value of the car.
- New car replacement: If your car is totaled or stolen and is two years old or less (or for some insurers, one year old or less), new car replacement coverage ensures that you will have enough to purchase a new car of the same value as your former car.
- Roadside assistance: Similar to a membership with AAA or another roadside assistance company, this will cover the cost of repairs or towing if your car breaks down on the road, you run out of gas or you have a flat tire. You can use it if you need a jump-start, or if you are locked out of your car.
- Rideshare: If you drive for a ridesharing company like Uber or Lyft, you need rideshare coverage. Your personal car insurance policy does not normally cover your car while driving for a rideshare company but rideshare coverage will.