Automobile insurance is required in New York, however many New Yorkers drive each day without the required insurance coverage. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, nationwide uninsured and underinsured drivers cost those who carry insurance policies $10.8 billion in 2007. Approximately seven percent of New York drivers are uninsured, according to the Insurance Research Council. An even higher number are underinsured. Motorists who do not carry appropriate insurance risk more than injury in a collision – they could face civil and even criminal liability.

What Is Required In New York?

Liability insurance is required for all motor vehicles registered in New York State. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles requires an insurance identification card to be provided before a vehicle may be registered. Liability insurance is required in order for registration to be valid even if the vehicle is not regularly driven. The minimum liability insurance required is:

  • $25,000/$50,000 for injuries in an accident
  • $50,000/$100,000 for death caused by an accident
  • $10,000 to cover property damage in an accident

While drivers are required to carry minimum liability policies, many times the minimums are not adequate in a catastrophic motor vehicle accident.

Uninsured/Underinsured Coverage

In a Rockland County car accident when the other driver lacks adequate coverage, uninsured (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage is vital. Uninsured coverage kicks in when the other party failed to insure his or her vehicle in violation of New York law. Underinsured coverage is needed when damages exceed the other party’s insurance limits.

UM coverage will also provide coverage when your vehicle is struck by a hit and run vehicle. However, New York requires actual physical contact before UM coverage is triggered. To illustrate this point, assume that while driving down Route 304 towards the Palisades Mall, another car swerves in front of you forcing your car off the road. The other car drives away. While taking evasive measures, you could not avoid striking a parked car. Everything happened so fast, you did not get the license plate of the offending vehicle. The at-fault driver caused your car to be seriously damaged and you or a passenger may be seriously injured in the accident. It seems unfair, but UM coverage will not be triggered in this example, because no physical contact occurred between the at-fault driver’s car and yours.

Adding UM and UIM insurance generally protects the policy owner in accidents, if the other driver is not carrying sufficient insurance coverage.

A driver who does not carry liability insurance in New York risks personal financial liability and may also be subject to fines, license suspension or even jail time. Those who drive without insurance also increase premiums for everyone else.

After an accident get the other driver’s insurance information. If the other driver refuses to provide insurance information or offers to pay for damage, it may indicate that they are either driving without insurance or inadequate insurance. Following an accident, contact an experienced White Plains personal injury attorney for an evaluation of your case.