New York Auto Insurance Rules

Car Accident

New York, as one of the most populous states in the union, suffers more road accidents than most other states despite the fact that its per capita accident rate is one of the lowest in the nation. Since insurance issues almost always come into play when a car accident claim arises, an understanding of New York’s auto insurance rules is important if you intend to drive on the state’s roads.

New York’s “No Fault” Auto Insurance System

New York applies a “no fault” system to auto insurance claims. This means that unless your injury is “serious” as that word is defined under New York law, you do not have the option of seeking personal injury liability against a motorist who you believe is at fault – you must rely on your own insurance coverage, regardless of fault. A “serious” injury means you suffered:

  • disfigurement
  • bone fracture
  • significant or permanent limitation of a body function, organ or member
  • complete disability for at least 90 days

Property damage liability is not subject to “no fault” limitations.

Mandatory Liability Insurance Coverage

In New York, mandatory auto liability insurance must cover at least the following:

  • $25,000 per victim in personal injury damages,
  • $50,000 in personal injury damages per accident, regardless of how many claimants there are
  • $50,000 per victim in wrongful death protection
  • $100,000 per accident in wrongful death protection
  • $10,000 per accident for damage to property (typically a vehicle).

Many New York drivers purchase supplementary coverage.  

Other Types of Coverage

Liability insurance is not the only type of coverage available to New York motorists. Uninsured motorist insurance, for example, covers you for personal injury due to the fault of an uninsured motorist, while underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when an insured motorist’s liability insurance coverage limits are reached. New York requires its motorists to carry both of these two types of coverage, with coverage limits of no less than $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. 

Other types of auto insurance coverage are available as well if you are willing to pay for extended coverage – higher policy limits on your liability insurance, or other types of insurance such as collision or comprehensive. Speak with your local insurance agent for details.

Penalties for Failure to Carry Mandatory Insurance 

New York applies the following penalties to drivers who fail to maintain mandatory auto insurance:

  • A fine of $150 to $1,500, plus a $750 civil penalty.
  • Jail time of up to 15 days. 
  • If your insurance lapsed for more than 90 days, suspension of your license and registration for a time equal to the number of days of lapse

Statute of Limitations

In New York, you have three years from the date of an auto accident to file a personal injury or property damage lawsuit. If you are the personal representative of the probate estate of someone who died in the accident, you have two years from the victim’s date of death (as listed on the death certificate) to file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

If you or someone you love is injured, talk to an experienced lawyer in your area.

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