Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: Aug 6, 2019

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The State of New York requires drivers to register their cars and obtain license plates.

In order to do this, drivers must produce proof of financial responsibility, which means that the drive must prove the ability to pay for damages in the event of an accident. The thresholds for these liability limits are set by the state.

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The liability requirement may be satisfied in only one way—through liability auto insurance. Although other states allow you to provide a surety bond or other form of proof of financial responsibility, New York requires its residents to carry liability insurance.

This requirement is called NSY—New York State Liability insurance. This does not refer to a particular policy, but a set of requirements for a valid policy in New York.

Further, the company you purchase from must meet New York’s requirements as an in-state provider; out-of-state providers are not acceptable.

For this reason, not all insurance companies can do business in New York. Finally, the liability policy must be the name of the person registering the vehicle; you cannot insure someone else’s vehicle.

How much auto insurance do you need in New York?

New York’s liability insurance minimums (2010) are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for personal injury, and $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for death.

There is also a $10,000 property damage liability requirement. Of course, residents are encouraged to purchase insurance above these minimum requirements, as anything over the policy limits is the responsibility of the driver.

Before obtaining auto insurance you always want to check with the New York State Department of Insurance about current minimum requirements as sometimes these change before information can be updated online.

New York is also a no-fault insurance state. This means that any insurance company operating in the state must offer no-fault policies. Some companies, for this reason, do not do business in New York. However, most large insurance companies have no-fault provisions in their policies.

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What is No-Fault Auto Insurance?

No-fault means that each person involved in an accident is responsible for his or her own damages, and that person’s insurance company must pay the costs. However, no state, including New York, operates on a “pure” no-fault system.

After your policy limits are exhausted, if you are the victim rather than the cause of an auto accident, you can reserve the right to file suit for damages caused by another person.

For this reason, the minimum coverage is not always adequate; if you cause an accident, and the other person is carrying low liability limits, you may be required to pay any amounts above the limits of your policy.

What is considered Proof of Insurance in New York?

New York does not rely on a “card only” system for providing proof of insurance. New York State maintains a database of insured drivers, and your company must report the status of your auto insurance to the state on a regular basis. Your agent cannot perform this duty; only the company that holds your policy can do the reporting.

For this reason, it is important to be sure that your company transfers all information to the state, as police officers have immediate access to this information if you are pulled over or are involved in an accident. You must also carry your insurance card and produce it upon demand of a law enforcement official.

You are given two insurance cards at the time you buy your policy; one must be taken to the DMV within 45 days of registration of your vehicle. Keep the other in your car at all times.

What are the penalties for having no auto insurance in New York?

New York uses various measures to ensure that drivers are covered when traveling the roads. First, immediately upon loss of insurance, you are required to turn in your license plates. You cannot retrieve them until you show proof of insurance at the DMV.

If you turn in your plates as required, you can pay a civil penalty of $9-$12 per day when you show proof of current insurance and retrieve your license plates. You must do this within 90 days of turning in your plates.

If you fail to turn in your license plates when you are uninsured, your license and registration will be suspended, and there is a $750 civil fee to reinstate the registration, along with a $25 fee to reinstate the license.

You can also be fined up to $1,500 if you are driving without insurance or are involved in a wreck while uninsured, even if the accident is not your fault. Your license and registration may also be suspended up to a year. Clearly, driving without insurance does not pay on New York roads.

What auto insurance companies sell coverage in New York?

There are several large insurance companies doing business in New York, along with local companies. Geico, Progressive, 21st Century, and State Farm are all licensed to do business in New York State.

The best way to find a list of auto insurance companies in New York is to compare auto insurance quotes online.

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