New Hampshire Car Insurance Laws

An explanation of New Hampshire's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, how insurance affects a car accident claim, and more.

By , J.D.
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  • If you're involved in a car accident in New Hampshire, or you just want to understand how car insurance works in the state, here's what to know at the outset:

    • New Hampshire does not require drivers to carry car insurance, but the state's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law makes the purchase of a liability policy the best option for most vehicle owners.
    • If you do choose to purchase liability coverage as a way to comply with the state's financial responsibility laws, you must carry certain minimum amounts of coverage.
    • Failure to comply with New Hampshire's financial responsibility laws after a car accident could result in a number of penalties, and you'll be personally on the financial hook for any injuries and vehicle damage you cause.

    New Hampshire's 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).

    How Do I Get Compensation After a New Hampshire Car Accident?

    In New Hampshire, if you suffer any kind of injury or property damage due to a car accident, you might be able to proceed in one of three ways:

    • by filing a claim with your own car insurance company, under your medical payments coverage (for injuries) or collision coverage (for vehicle damage) of you have it (in this situation, your own 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 other driver's insurance carrier; this is usually only a good option if the other driver was clearly at fault for the accident, or
    • by filing a personal injury lawsuit in civil court against the at-fault driver (the at-fault driver's liability insurance would still come into play here, and remember that the lawsuit could settle at any point before trial).

    Note: In no-fault car insurance states, a claimant doesn't usually have this same range of options. New Hampshire drivers don't need to worry about no-fault after a car accident that occurs in the state or in neighboring Vermont. But the no-fault rules could play a part in any crash that happens right across the N.H border in Massachusetts, which is a no-fault car insurance state.

    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 their 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).

    What Are Other Ways of Complying With New Hampshire's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law?

    As we've discussed, in New Hampshire, you must be able to demonstrate the ability to pay sufficient funds for other people's losses resulting from any vehicle accident you cause. Most people do this by purchasing liability insurance, as we've described here.

    But you can also comply with this law by filing with the state's Department of Safety a receipt from the state treasurer showing a cash deposit, or the deposit of securities (such as those purchased by savings banks or for trust funds) in amounts that meet the minimum liability insurance requirements (listed above). Of course, this could prove to be a bigger hassle than just buying a car insurance policy.

    Can I Show Digital Proof of Car Insurance In New Hampshire?

    Yes. If you're asked to show proof of compliance with New Hampshire's motor vehicle financial responsibility law (by a law enforcement officer, for example), you can provide digital proof of insurance through your insurance company's app, or with other official electronic documentation that includes all of the information contained on a physical copy of your car insurance card.

    Of course, you can still carry a physical copy of your car insurance card and produce it when asked for proof of insurance.

    What If I Cause a Car Accident In New Hampshire and I'm Uninsured?

    If you don't comply with New Hampshire's financial responsibility rules and you end up causing a car accident, there's a good chance your driver's license will be suspended, and you'll probably need to purchase car insurance for a period of three years if you want to drive legally in the state.

    Keep in mind that regardless of what the law says, 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.

    Getting Help After a New Hampshire Car Accident

    For more details about how car insurance works in the Granite State, check out the New Hampshire Insurance Department's collection of Auto Insurance Consumer FAQ.

    And if you need more than just the basics on New Hampshire's car insurance rules, especially if you've been injured in a car accident, it might make sense to discuss your situation with an experienced legal professional.

    Learn more about when you might need a car accident lawyer's help, and what to expect from your first meeting with a car accident attorney. And if you're ready to connect with a New Hampshire car accident lawyer now, you can use the features right on this page to find one in your area.

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