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Know the Law: New York Automobile Insurance Requirements for Your Car

Liability coverage provides payment for damage a driver causes to persons or property. Any vehicle registered in New York State must carry liability insurance.

Beyond the prospect of having to pay for damages arising from an auto accident out of pocket, there are many important reasons to carry auto insurance. Failure to do so can result in serious legal consequences – anyone cited for driving without insurance should consult a New York State traffic ticket lawyer.

Auto Coverage Limits and Requirements

In New York, the minimum amount of insurance coverage is $25,000/$50,000 for injury, $50,000/$100,000 for death, and $10,000 for property damage caused in any single accident. The dual coverage limits for injury and death refer to maximum coverage amounts for an individual and for the total damages arising out of the accident, respectively. For instance, an insurance policy for someone carrying the minimum coverage would not pay any one person injured in an accident more than $25,000, and if multiple parties were injured, the total amount paid out by the insurer to all of them would not exceed $50,000.

Meeting the minimum coverage amounts is not the only insurance requirement for New York drivers; other insurance regulations must also be adhered to. For one thing, New York state insurance coverage has to come from a company licensed by the Department of Financial Services. Out-of-state insurance coverage of any kind is never valid for vehicles registered in New York State.

Furthermore, liability coverage must be issued in the name of the vehicle registrant. When you obtain insurance coverage, your insurer will issue you two original NYS Insurance Identification Cards. One must be retained by you and kept with the vehicle at all times (you must show this card if a police officer asks for your proof of insurance). The other must be presented to the DMV office when you apply for your vehicle registration within 45 days of the effective date of the insurance coverage. The name on the registration must match the name on your Insurance Identification Card; your insurer is also required to file an electronic notice of insurance coverage with the DMV to further verify your insurance coverage.

Enforcement Mechanisms and Penalties for Lack of Insurance

In New York, lack of insurance may be detected during a routine police stop, but there is another way the authorities often find out about uninsured drivers. Insurance companies must notify the DMV if you cancel your liability insurance, if your coverage is reinstated or if you get new insurance coverage. When the DMV get word of an insurance lapse and does not receive an electronic notice about your new or reinstated liability coverage, you will receive a warning letter and will have ten days to prove that you do, in fact, have insurance coverage, that you sold the vehicle or otherwise no longer need insurance under New York law.

If for any reason your New York State insurance is going to end on your registered vehicle, even if there is only going to be a temporary gap in coverage, you must surrender your vehicle license plates to the DMV immediately. Should you fail to do so, both your vehicle registration and your driver license can be suspended indefinitely. However, if your lapse in coverage is less than 90 days, and you have not used this remedy in the last three years, you can pay a civil penalty in lieu of surrendering your vehicle plates. The fee structure is a sliding scale based on the length of your lapse in coverage: the fine is $8 per day for each day of lapse from day one to day 30, $10 per day from day 31 to day 60 and $12 per day from day 61 to day 90. For instance, if you had a lapse in insurance of 75 days, your civil fine would be $240 for the first 30 days ($8 times 30), $300 for the next 30 days ($10 times 30), and $180 for the final 15 days ($12 times 15), for a total civil penalty of $720.

Other penalties for driving without insurance include revocation of your driver license and vehicle registration for at least one year if the DMV is informed that you were involved in a traffic accident while operating a vehicle not covered by liability insurance. In addition, traffic court fines of up to &1,500 can be imposed for driving without insurance or letting someone else drive your uninsured vehicle. On top of the fine, a civil penalty of $750 will be assessed to get your license back after it has been revoked.

How to Steer Clear of Legal Trouble Caused By Driving Without Insurance

The consequences of driving without insurance can be avoided by obtaining insurance coverage, registering your vehicle and ensuring that your coverage remains up to date. To obtain liability coverage after buying a vehicle you must bring proof of ownership to an insurance agent or broker authorized to do business in New York State. Suitable proof of ownership for a new vehicle is typically the manufacturer’s documentation of origin and form MV-50, Dealer’s Bill of Sale. For most other vehicles transferred from someone who is not an auto dealer, an original bill of sale and a title certificate, taken together, are acceptable as proof of ownership.

Once insurance coverage is obtained, your insurer should provide you with a card to serve as your proof of insurance coverage. Then, you must take this proof of coverage, your proof of ownership, proof of New York State sales tax payment, proof of your identity and date of birth, a completed E-ZVisit Form MV-82EZV, and payment for sales taxes and fees to a DMV office to register your vehicle.

If you have already been cited for lacking insurance, you may face dire legal consequences. However, a New York traffic ticket attorney can help you explore all your potential options. Contact a lawyer today to learn more.

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