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Penalties for driving without insurance in New York

Policeman asking a driver for identification
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At times, auto insurance may seem like a hassle to get and maintain, but it is required for a good reason. Insurance helps reduce potential lawsuits and provides financial relief if you are involved in an accident. Even a minor fender bender can become a financial strain if you have to pay out of pocket for repairs. When you have insurance, you simply file a claim, pay your deductible and let the insurance company take care of the rest. If you are caught driving uninsured, the penalties can be more costly than just paying car repairs out of pocket. For drivers in New York, driving without insurance is generally not worth the risk.

Minimum insurance required in New York

Each state has its own requirements for auto insurance, and New York is no different. The state’s minimum required liability coverage is:

  • $10,000 for property damage for a single accident
  • $25,000 for bodily injury and $50,000 for death for a person involved in an accident
  • $50,000 for bodily injury and $100,000 for death for two or more people in an accident

The state’s law requires insurance policies to provide uninsured motorist coverage for the same minimum coverage amounts. Mandatory “no-fault” or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of $50,000 is also required. While obtaining the minimum amount of coverage will keep you from getting a citation or other penalties, it is often a good idea to look into purchasing more comprehensive coverage to protect yourself financially to the fullest extent possible.

Penalties for driving without insurance in New York

Because having an active policy is legally required, driving without insurance in New York can result in serious penalties. Suppose an insurance company gives notice of a lapse in policy to the New York DMV. In that case, the insured is responsible for either reinstating their policy or turning in their registration and license plate and staying off the road. Many of us rely heavily on our cars, and it may be tempting for some to drive even when uninsured. However, those who choose to drive while uninsured in New York may have to face these consequences.

Tickets and fines

Drivers without insurance in New York can expect to pay fines between $150 and $1,500. Your penalties will increase with each subsequent offense.

Impounded vehicle

Since driving an uninsured vehicle is illegal in New York, a police officer may impound your car if you are caught driving without insurance. You’ll have to provide proof of insurance and pay storage and impound fees before they release the vehicle.

Jail time

In some circumstances, an uninsured driver may have to do jail time, particularly if it’s not the first offense. How much time depends on the judge’s discretion and likely be impacted by whether you were in an accident when uninsured.

Suspended license

Ninety days after the DMV notifies you about a lapse in insurance, the state can suspend your driver’s license. It can also be suspended if you are caught on the road without insurance. Reinstating your license typically costs about $50, but it can be up to $750 if you are involved in an accident and don’t have insurance.

Fees from New York’s online insurance verification system

New York’s online system makes it easy to verify insurance for anyone who may need to do so. Insurance companies, lienholders and vehicle owners can submit an Insurance Inquiry Letter to determine if a vehicle is currently insured. There are no fees to use the online insurance verification system, but you could face other fines and fees if caught driving without insurance, including those below. There are likely additional financial penalties if you get cited for driving without insurance, including civil fines.

Reason for fee Fee amount
Penalty for insurance lapse of 1-30 days $8/day
Penalty for insurance lapse of 31-60 days $10/day
Penalty for insurance lapse of 61-90 days $12/day
License reinstatement fee if suspended $50

Getting into an accident without insurance

New Yorkers caught driving while uninsured at the time of an accident are likely to face severe repercussions. In addition to fines up to $1,500, the driver’s license and registration can be suspended for a year or longer. Once the suspension is lifted, there is a hefty civil penalty of $750 to reinstate the license.

New York is a no-fault state, which is why PIP protection of $50,000 is required. That means that regardless of who is at fault in the accident if the other driver carries the minimum insurance required, their insurance will cover their medical bills up to that amount. However, it does not include property damage. If you were at fault and did not have insurance, you will likely be legally responsible for the other driver’s car repairs, which can be very expensive. Additionally, while a no-fault state limits the other driver’s ability to sue you, you could still face a lawsuit for medical costs that exceed their PIP coverage if their injuries are severe.

Even if you were not at fault in an accident, you’d be responsible for your vehicle repairs and medical costs if you don’t have insurance. Given how expensive out-of-pocket costs can get in an accident, it’s generally a better idea for your finances to secure adequate coverage that will protect you in the event of an accident.

Frequently asked questions

What if you provide false insurance information?

If you get pulled over for driving without insurance in New York, it’s unlikely that trying to provide false insurance information will work since there is an online insurance verification system that officers can access. If you are caught providing false information, the penalties will vary and depend on the severity and whether you benefited financially. Keep in mind that it will likely be treated as insurance fraud, a serious crime with hefty civil penalties and potential jail time.

How much is car insurance in New York?

Car insurance rates in New York are among the highest in the country. New York’s average rate for policyholders with minimum coverage is $1,062 and $2,321 for full coverage, compared to the national average of $1,674 for full coverage and $565 for minimum coverage.

Do I have to carry only the state minimum coverage in New York?

The state minimum coverage requirement is in effect as a baseline. Everyone in New York has to carry at least the minimum, but they can carry more. Higher limits or full coverage are something you might want to consider because more coverage means less out-of-pocket expenses for the policyholder in the event a claim needs to be filed.

Written by
Kay Irvin
Personal Finance Writer
Kay Irvin is a former contributor to Bankrate. Irvin has writing experience for insurance domains such as Bankrate and My Top Insurance Blogs. She has written about auto and life insurance and was a licensed insurance agent for 10 years.