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New York Car Insurance Guide

Feel like car insurance in New York is way too expensive? It’s not just you. Because rates are so high, everyone struggles to find good and affordable coverage that you can rely on if you can get into an accident. We’ll explain the NY state minimum requirements, optional coverage, and how to find the best rates.

Want the sped up version? The easiest way to find cheap car insurance in NY is to get personalized quotes on Compare.com. It’s free. It’s fast. It works!

What are the NY auto insurance requirements?

Compared to other states, New York requires a lot of insurance. If you’re a New York driver, you need:

  • $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 per accident: Bodily injury liability is the part of your insurance that pays for other people’s medical bills and other losses if they get hurt in an accident you’re responsible for
  • $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person and $100,000 per accident: This kind of coverage pays out for injuries resulting in death
  • $10,000 in property damage liability: This pays for damage to other people’s cars (or other property) in an accident you’re responsible for
  • $25,000 in uninsured motorist bodily injury liability per person and $50,000 per accident: Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays for injuries you and your passengers suffer if an uninsured or hit-and-run driver causes an accident
  • $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP): PIP benefits can pay medical bills for you and other people covered on your policy, no matter who’s at fault in an accident

What does it mean that New York is a no-fault state?

A lot of people think “no-fault” means you can’t get sued if you cause a car accident. No fault = not your fault, right?

Not quite. New York’s no-fault law doesn’t prohibit lawsuits; it just sets a threshold for when people can sue. If you are seriously injured as a result of a car accident, meaning (among other things) that you suffer broken bones, disfigurement or long-term disability, you can still sue the at-fault driver for damages.

The point of having no-fault insurance coverage (aka personal injury protection) is that people who get hurt in a car accident can get their medical bills and other losses paid promptly, no matter who’s responsible for the crash. PIP covers the driver as well as all passengers in their car and pedestrians injured by the car, up to $50,000 per person. It pays for:

  • Reasonable and necessary accident-related medical and rehabilitation expenses
  • 80 percent of lost earnings from work, up to a maximum payment of $2,000 per month for up to three years from the date of the accident
  • Up to $25 a day, for up to a year from the date of the accident, to reimburse other reasonable and necessary expenses
  • A $2,000 death benefit, payable to the estate of a person eligible for no-fault benefits who is killed in a car accident

Why is car insurance so expensive in New York?

If you spend a little time comparing car insurance quotes in NY, you soon notice one thing: They’re really high! Of all 50 states, New York ranks third for the highest average car insurance rates, behind New Jersey and Michigan. Why?

There are a few reasons. One, New York is a state where around 88 percent of the population lives in urban areas. If you live in a city, there’s more traffic and more crime, so the chances of something bad happening to your car go up. Rates are especially high in New York City. Two, New York’s no-fault system actually raises car insurance costs due to increased fraud. In a no-fault system with PIP insurance, it’s easy to get money from insurance companies for medical bills, which entices scammers to do just that.

However, just because you live in New York doesn’t mean you’re doomed to pay super-high insurance rates. Compare.com can help you save a ton just by shopping around.

How do I find the cheapest car insurance in NY?

Because auto insurance is such a personal product — the price is affected by how much coverage you want, where you live, your driving record and other factors — there’s no single company that gives everyone the cheapest NY car insurance quotes. To find the lowest rates, you have to compare customized quotes side by side.

Compare.com makes it simple. Enter some basic information and then select a level of coverage: state minimum, Basic, Plus or Premium. If your goal is buying the absolute cheapest NY insurance, pick state minimum. This gives you 25/50/10 coverage for bodily injury and property damage, 25/50 in uninsured motorist bodily injury, and $50,000 in PIP coverage (with a $200 deductible). Look at the quotes you get and pick the lowest. That’s it!

How much insurance do I really need in New York?

That’s a tough question. New York’s state minimum insurance isn’t too skimpy (compared to other states), so if you’re on a bare-bones budget and you drive a beater car, it might be enough.

However, we do recommend carrying more than the minimum, if you can afford it. If you cause a serious accident and exceed your insurance limits for bodily injury and property damage, you could be sued for a lot of money.

To find that perfect balance — cheap NY car insurance that still gives you adequate protection — we recommend comparing quotes for different levels of coverage. Here’s how it’s done. We’ll run the numbers for a 27-year-old woman with a good driving record who lives in Rochester, NY. When she chooses state minimum insurance, the best quote she gets on Compare.com is $106 per month (when she opts to pay the premiums up front, avoiding an extra down payment.)

That’s pretty cheap. But that minimum insurance doesn’t include comprehensive and collision coverage, which she really needs to protect her two-year-old Honda Accord. So she selects Basic coverage, which adds comprehensive and collision (with a $1,000 deductible). Now, her best quote is $142 per month.

What if she wants even more coverage? That can be a good idea if she has assets to protect, like a savings account or a house. Plus coverage increases the bodily injury/property damage liability limits to 50/100/50 and cuts her PIP deductible to $0. Her comprehensive and collision deductibles go down to $500. She also gets $25,000 in optional basic economic loss coverage, which kicks in to cover lost wages and other injury-related expenses after PIP has been exhausted. But there’s a price for all this protection, and Plus coverage will cost even more per month.

Of course, your personalized quotes will be different! Insurance quotes can vary by hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so it’s important to run your own numbers. On Compare.com, you can also increase or decrease your deductibles, add or delete towing and rental car coverage, and choose specific limits for different aspects of your coverage.

What if I can’t afford New York car insurance?

If you don’t have insurance, you shouldn’t drive. The penalties can be serious! If you have a lapse in coverage, meaning your car is registered but not insured, your registration may be suspended. If the suspension exceeds 90 days, you have to surrender your registration and license plates. Your license will be suspended too, and you’ll need to pay a $50 fee to get it back.

The penalties are tougher if you’re actually caught driving without insurance — or worse, if you get into an accident. Police can ticket you, arrest you and/or impound your vehicle. The DMV will also revoke your registration and your license. The fine can go up to $1,500, and you’ll have to pay an additional $750 penalty to restore your driver’s license.

Long story short, don’t let the cost of NY car insurance make you drive illegally. Compare.com can help you find the cheapest New York insurance quotes in just minutes. Let’s go!

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