New Hampshire is one of the rare states that do not have a compulsory insurance law on the books. The New Hampshire law requires drivers to simply present proof of financial responsibility in the event of an at-fault accident, causing confusion for many drivers. However, drivers are strongly urged to obtain car insurance, regardless of whether it is required by law, to provide financial protection in the event of an accident.
Coverage Options in New Hampshire
Although there is no mandatory minimum for insurance in New Hampshire, drivers have access to all of the common options to provide protection from financial responsibilities in the event of an accident.
New Hampshire drivers can purchase all of these coverage options:
- Liability coverage to pay for bodily injury and property damage in the event of an accident. In New Hampshire, the minimum available coverage in this area is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily injury, and $25,000 per accident for property damage.
- Collision coverage to pay for damage to your own car when you are found at-fault in an accident.
- Comprehensive coverage to provide financial protection for non-accident incidents including fire, theft, and vandalism.
- Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage to pay for injuries or damages caused by another driver who is uninsured or does not have sufficient insurance.
- Rental Reimbursement coverage to pay for alternate transportation during covered repairs.
- Additional coverage options offered by various insurance companies, including things like New Car Replacement.
New Hampshire drivers may be required by their lien holder to provide coverage for the vehicle regardless of insurance laws. It’s also important to know that insurance is required in other states, regardless of the driver’s home state laws, so drivers leaving New Hampshire will need coverage.
The At-Fault Accident Requirement
New Hampshire’s financial responsibility laws become confusing when it comes to an accident. While you aren’t required to purchase an insurance policy, if you are found to be at fault in an accident, you are required to show proof that you are financially responsible for the damage.
While this doesn’t have to be an insurance policy, most drivers provide for this responsibility through insurance. Failure to provide proof of financial responsibility can result in the suspension of the driver’s license and/or requirement for an SR-22.
What the law means is that drivers in New Hampshire do have the right to choose to drive uninsured. However, every driver remains financially responsible for any damage or injuries that they cause, and is required to prove that they are able to cover those costs when an accident occurs.
Uninsured drivers in New Hampshire can face lawsuits resulting in loss of assets or garnishment of wages if they are unable to cover damages caused in an accident.
SR-22 Financial Responsibility Filings
In specific cases, a driver may be required to obtain an insurance policy and provide proof to the DMV. This is called a Financial Responsibility Filing, or an SR-22, and is a document filed by the insurance company proving that the driver in question has liability insurance.
In New Hampshire, a driver may be required to provide an SR-22 after one of the following:
- A conviction for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
- An underage DWI
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Conduct after an accident
- Second offense for Reckless Operation
There are also some other circumstances in which a driver may be required to file an SR-22:
- The driver has been deemed to be a habitual offender
- The driver has been involved in an uninsured accident and failed to provide financial responsibility
- The driver has been brought into a hearing for multiple demerit points
When an SR-22 has been filed, any lapse in coverage will be reported automatically to the DMV, and the driver will face suspension of driving privileges.
Shopping For Car Insurance in New Hampshire
New Hampshire has the 5th lowest rates for auto insurance in the entire nation, according to a 2015 Insure.com study. The state ranks well below the national average for car insurance costs.
The New Hampshire Insurance Department offers tools to help consumers with shopping for and purchasing insurance. These include a premium comparison survey that provides sample insurance costs for several different drivers.
Insurance For High-Risk Drivers
It is likely that high-risk drivers in New Hampshire are required by law to have insurance and file an SR-22. As a result of major problems on these drivers’ records, they are also the group that will have the most trouble obtaining insurance on the open market.
The New Hampshire Automobile Insurance Plan provides these drivers with an opportunity to get the coverage they need. This plan applies to drivers who have been unable to qualify for insurance elsewhere, and assigns these drivers to an insurance company.
Teen Drivers in New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s Graduated Licensing Program is a little different from most other states.
There is no learner’s permit in New Hampshire, although the steps for applying for a license are the same as those for teens with a permit in other states.
Teens who wish to apply for a license must be at least 15.5 years old, and must first complete two requirements:
- A Driver Education course that includes 40 hours of classroom instruction, 10 hours of behind-the-wheel practice, and 6 hours of in-car observation
- 50 total hours of driving practice, 10 of which must be at night, with a supervising adult driver in the vehicle
Youth Operator License
At 16 years of age, with completion of the required practice and education, teens can apply for a Youth Operator License. There is a road test required to obtain this license. This license allows the teen to drive under certain restrictions.
Restrictions on the Youth Operator License are:
- Driving between the hours of 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. is prohibited
- No more than one passenger under the age of 25 is allowed, unless the passengers are family members or the driver is accompanied by an adult supervising driver in the front passenger seat
- There can be no more passengers than there are seatbelts/restraints
Unlike most states which end the Graduated Licensing Program at 18 years old, drivers in New Hampshire will continue to hold a Youth Operator License until the age of 21, at which they can obtain a full license without restrictions.
Teens are subject to the same financial responsibility laws as adults once they are licensed. Teens who receive two or more speeding tickets will be required to file an SR-22 to prove Financial Responsibility.
Since parents and guardians of minors can be held financially responsible in the event of an accident, it is prudent to provide insurance for a teen driver. Teens can remain on a parent or guardian’s insurance policy whether living at home or away at school.
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