New Hampshire Car Insurance Laws

An explanation of New Hampshire's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, how insurance coverage is likely to affect a car accident claim, and more.

By , J.D.
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  • Even though the law in New Hampshire does not require drivers to carry car insurance, the state's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law makes the purchase of a liability policy a fairly attractive option for most vehicle owners. Read on for the details of these rules, how insurance coverage typically affects car accident claims, and more.

    New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law

    The first thing to know is that New Hampshire follows a traditional fault-based system when it comes to financial responsibility for losses stemming from a crash: that includes car accident injuries, lost income, vehicle damage, and so on.

    Under the New Hampshire Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, the person who was at fault for causing the car accident is also responsible for any resulting harm (from a practical standpoint, if the driver has liability insurance, the insurance company will absorb these losses, up to policy limits).

    In New Hampshire, a person who suffers any kind of injury or damage due to an auto accident usually can proceed in one of three ways:

    • by filing a claim with his or her own insurance company, assuming that the loss is covered under the policy (in this situation, the injured person's insurance company will likely turn around and pursue a subrogation claim against the at-fault driver's carrier)
    • by filing a third-party claim directly with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier, or
    • by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver.

    Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. After a car accident in a no-fault state, you must turn to the personal injury protection coverage of your own car insurance policy for payment of medical bills and other out-of-pocket losses, regardless of who caused the crash. Only if your injuries reach a certain threshold can you step outside of no-fault and make a claim directly against the at-fault driver. But New Hampshire drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after an in-state accident.

    Car Insurance Is Not Required in New Hampshire

    New Hampshire's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Requirements do not require you to buy car insurance, but under these rules you must be able to pay for losses arising from a car accident you cause. If you choose to purchase liability coverage, it must meet the following minimums:

    • $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
    • $50,000 liability coverage for total bodily injury or death liability in an accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle
    • $25,000 liability coverage for property damage per accident caused by the owner/driver of the insured vehicle.

    Liability coverage pays the medical bills, property damage bills, and other costs of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians who are injured or have their vehicle damaged in a car accident you cause, up to coverage limits. You can (and in some situations should) carry more coverage to protect you in case a serious crash results in significant car accident injuries and vehicle damage. Once policy limits are exhausted, you are personally on the financial hook, so higher insurance limits can help protect your personal assets in the event of a serious crash.

    Your liability coverage will kick in if any family member is driving your vehicle, or if you've given someone else permission to use it. It will likely also cover you if you get into an accident in a rental car.

    Remember that liability coverage doesn't apply to your own injuries or vehicle damage after a New Hampshire car accident. You'll need different (additional) coverage for that if you're involved in a car accident and no one else's coverage applies to your losses. For example, collision coverage (optional in New Hampshire) can pay for repairs to (or replacement of) your damaged vehicle after a car accident. Note that collision or comprehensive might be required under the terms of a vehicle lease or financing agreement.

    If you choose to buy liability insurance in New Hampshire, the law also requires you to buy medical payments coverage of at least $1,000 (which covers your medical expenses after an accident regardless of who caused the crash). New Hampshire Revised Statutes Title XXI section 264:16 provides a few key details to know about MedPay in New Hampshire:

    • MedPay coverage in New Hampshire only applies to medical costs incurred during the three-year period following the date of the underlying car accident.
    • After an accident, the policyholder can submit a claim for medical expenses under either his/her MedPay coverage, a health insurance policy, or both, but the policyholder can't get "duplicate payment" for the same medical expense.
    • MedPay coverage is not required for most commercial car insurance policies.

    The purchase of liability coverage also triggers the requirement that you buy uninsured motorist coverage in amounts equal to your liability coverage (so if your liability coverage meets the state minimum of 25/50/25 as described above, your uninsured motorist coverage must also be at 25/50/25.

    Keep in mind that regardless of what the law requires you to do, the practical implications of driving without insurance are the same in New Hampshire as they are in every state: You face serious financial consequences if you cause a car accident and you don't have insurance

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