New York requires all drivers to carry a minimum level of liability insurance to cover property damage and bodily injury in the event of an at-fault accident. New York also has a mandatory coverage minimum for wrongful death payments, a separate limit that is not included in the bodily injury coverage, as well as a mandatory no-fault coverage. Drivers can add additional coverage for better protection on top of the mandated minimums, and most choose to do so.
New York’s Required Insurance Coverage
New York mandates coverage that differs slightly from many other states. In order to legally be on the road, each driver must carry liability coverage that meets or exceeds these minimum limits:
- $10,000 for property damage for any single accident
- $25,000 for bodily injury for any single person, and $50,000 for bodily injury for multiple people injured in a single accident
- $50,000 for wrongful death for any single person and $100,000 for wrongful death for multiple people in a single accident
In addition to liability coverage, New York requires no fault insurance in the amount of $50,000, which applies no matter who is at fault in the accident. This limit covers:
- Medical payments
- Lost income at 80% up to a $2000 per month limit, payable for a maximum of three years
- Additional payments of $25 per month for other needs, for up to a year
- A death benefit of $2000
New York also mandates that all drivers carry coverage for uninsured or underinsured motorists. This coverage provides for an accident in which the driver at fault does not have insurance or does not have sufficient insurance coverage. The minimum limit is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident.
Optional Insurance Coverage
As in most states, drivers have the option to increase their liability limits for greater protection. Most New York drivers select limits that are higher than the required amount due to the high costs involved in a serious accident. Additionally, there are several other optional coverage choices to round out a comprehensive auto insurance policy.
- Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (SUM). In addition to the Uninsured Motorist coverage that is required by law on all New York state policies, drivers can choose to purchase additional coverage. This coverage is purchased to match the chosen liability limits on the policy, in the same amounts, and can cover up to $250,000 per person and $500,000 per incident.
- Collision. This optional coverage pays for damages to your own vehicle if you are found at fault in an accident. Without this coverage, you will be responsible for your own repairs.
- Comprehensive. Comprehensive coverage pays for any loss or damage that results from an incident other than an accident. Comprehensive claims include theft, vandalism, fire, and weather damage. There is also a benefit for glass repair.
- Towing and Labor. Optional roadside assistance coverage will help to pay for towing costs in the event of a breakdown or for any other roadside emergency need that requires calling someone to help. This can include locking your keys in your car, a dead battery, or a flat tire.
- Medical Payments. This provides additional coverage for medical payments related to an accident.
- Other Coverage. New York insurance companies may offer a variety of other optional coverage for drivers to choose from, such as rental reimbursement coverage for a rental car used during repairs.
Proof of Insurance Laws in New York
New York drivers are required to carry and present proof of insurance when requested to do so by an official agent. This includes police officers and DMV agents when registering or renewing registration on a car, or obtaining or renewing a driver’s license. Failure to present proof of insurance can result in legal action.
When you purchase a car, your insurance company will submit an electronic proof of insurance to the DMV, however you are still required to bring the insurance cards issued to you by the insurance company when you register the car. If the policy lapses or is cancelled, the insurance company will notify the DMV. You will then be sent a notice requiring you to provide proof that you either sold the car or have obtained a new policy.
Driving without insurance in New York can result in stiff penalties:
- Traffic tickets or even arrest at the scene
- Traffic court fines of up to $1500
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Impounding of your vehicle and revoking of your registration
In addition to any fine you are given by the court, you will have to pay a civil penalty of $750 in order to get your license back.
If you are involved in an accident without insurance, the DMV will revoke your license for a period of one year and you will face fines in court. Uninsured drivers can be held financially responsible for damages and injuries and sued, which can be extremely costly to the driver.
Drivers who have been caught without insurance in an accident may also be required to file an SR-22, a financial responsibility document, through their insurance company.
No-Fault Insurance in New York
New York is among a few states with a no-fault insurance law that allows for payments to be made directly from your insurance company regardless of who is at fault. The $50,000 that every driver is required to carry as part of the no-fault system is available to anyone who was injured in an accident to pay for medical costs and other damages. No-fault coverage also applies to pedestrians and cyclists. Motorcycles are exempt from no-fault insurance requirements.
Although these benefits are paid regardless of fault, insurance companies will still determine fault in the accident. New York law allows injured parties to sue when there are serious injuries in an accident when the cost of medical care exceeds the benefit limits.
Teen Drivers in New York
New York has a graduated licensing system that takes teen drivers through several phases of learning, with a set of restrictions in place to ensure safety on the road. In addition to restrictions in place by age, New York also has a set of restrictions based on where in the state the teen driver will be on the road.
You must be at least 16 to apply for a learner’s permit in New York. In order to take a road test for a Junior License, you must complete a 5-hour course, spend 6 months driving with the learner permit, and complete 50 hours of driving practice, 15 of which must be at night. All drivers must follow the restrictions for their area during each phase. At 18, you will graduate to a full license.
Upstate New York
If you have a learner’s permit, you must follow these restrictions to drive in Upstate New York:
- You must have a licensed driver over the age of 21 in the passenger seat
- You may have only one passenger under the age of 21, unless they are family members or the licensed driver in the passenger seat is a parent, guardian, or driving instructor
- You may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless your supervising driver is a parent, guardian, or driving instructor
If you have a Junior License, you may drive within these rules:
- You may not have more than one passenger under 21, unless the passengers are family members or you have a parent, guardian, or driving instructor in the passenger seat
- You may only drive unsupervised between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. if you are going to school or work, or have a parent, guardian, or driving instructor in the passenger seat
New York City
If you hold a learner’s permit and are driving within the five boroughs of New York City, you must follow all of the same restrictions as drivers in Upstate New York, with some variations:
- You may not drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- The car must have dual brakes
If you have a Junior License, you may not drive at all within New York City.
If you have a learner’s permit, you may drive in Long Island in accordance with the same restrictions that apply to Upstate New York. However, like New York City, Long Island does not allow permit holders to drive between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
If you have a Junior License, you may drive between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. unsupervised only to go to work, to school, or a short list of other approved locations. From 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., you may drive only to attend specific educational institutions or a short list of other approved locations. You may drive at any hour during a driver education program.
Teen drivers with a Junior License are required to have insurance that meets the state law for minimums. This is usually obtained by adding the driver to a parent or guardian’s policy. A teen driver can continue to be covered under that policy while away at school.
Shopping for Insurance in New York
New York drivers pay some of the lower insurance premiums on average compared to other states. A 2014 study of average insurance rates on Insure.com ranked New York at number 42 with an average annual rate of $1173 for insurance. Rates may differ greatly between areas – especially between New York City and upstate New York. The New York State Department of Financial Services regulates the insurance industry and handles complaints regarding companies; their records can help you to choose the right company and policy.
New York does not currently have a low-cost auto insurance program available, but there are a large number of companies offering policies in the state, which allows drivers to shop around and compare for a better price.
High Risk Drivers and Insurance
High-risk drivers often do not qualify for standard policies and may have difficulty finding insurance. There are many companies who cater to high-risk drivers and can usually offer coverage.
For drivers who have been unable to find insurance, the New York Automobile Insurance Plan can help. The system assigns high-risk drivers to an insurance company, which is required by law to cover that driver for a period of three years. Every insurer in New York must participate in the program, allowing the risk to be spread among multiple companies.
For a list of companies that we recommend, visit our Best Insurance Companies page.