New York No-Fault Car Insurance

A breakdown of New York's no-fault car insurance rules, and minimum car insurance coverage requirements in the state.

By , J.D., University of San Francisco School of Law

Vehicle owners in New York are required to maintain certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage on any vehicle registered and operated in the state, and it's important to understand how the state's no-fault car insurance scheme works after a car accident:

  • New York's "no-fault" car insurance rules mean your own insurance covers your medical bills and other losses after an accident.
  • Your options for pursuing a lawsuit and recovering compensation for losses like "pain and suffering" are limited when you're injured in a car accident in New York.
  • Required minimum car insurance in New York includes both liability (fault) and personal injury protection (no-fault) coverage.

No-Fault Car Insurance in New York

New York is one of a dozen or so states that follow some form of a "no-fault" car insurance system. Under no-fault, after a car accident, your own car insurance coverage (specifically, your "personal injury protection" or PIP coverage) pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses incurred by anyone covered under the policy, up to coverage limits, regardless of who caused the accident.

Who Is Covered Under New York No-Fault Car Insurance?

When a vehicle owner carries mandatory no-fault PIP coverage, it will cover:

  • the vehicle owner/policyholder or anyone else who's driving the vehicle owner/policyholder's car with permission at the time of an accident
  • any passenger riding in the vehicle owner/policyholder's car at the time of an accident
  • any pedestrian hit by the vehicle owner/policyholder's car, and
  • any bicyclist hit by the vehicle owner/policyholder's car

What Is Covered Under New York No-Fault Car Insurance?

In New York, after a car accident, the vehicle owner/policyholder's no-fault or PIP coverage will apply to pay the covered person's:

  • "reasonable and necessary" accident-related medical bills
  • 80 percent of lost work income, up to $2,000 per month, for up to three years from the accident
  • up to $25 a day (for up to a year after the accident) for "reasonable and necessary" expenses resulting from the accident (like household help and transportation to medical appointments), and
  • a $2,000 death benefit to the estate of any covered individual killed in a car accident.

Does New York No-Fault Car Insurance Cover "Pain and Suffering" Caused By a Car Accident?

No. With a no-fault claim, you can't get compensation for your "pain and suffering" and other non-monetary damages stemming from the accident.

In order to step outside of the no-fault system and file a third-party car insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver (so that "pain and suffering" and other non-economic losses are on the table) your injuries must meet certain thresholds set by state law (we'll look at New York's "serious injury" threshold in the next section).

It's important to note that New York's no-fault car insurance system applies to injuries caused by car accidents, but not to vehicle damage claims. A claim for damage to (or total loss of) a vehicle can be made against the at-fault driver in New York, with no limitations.

What Is a "Serious Injury" Under New York's No- Fault Car Insurance Laws?

As touched on above, in order to step outside of New York's no-fault car insurance claim system and pursue a claim against the driver who caused your car accident, the car accident injuries you suffered must qualify as "serious" under the threshold set by state law. That means, as a result of the car accident, you've experienced any of the following:

  • significant disfigurement
  • bone fracture
  • permanent limitation of use of a body organ or member
  • significant limitation of use of a body function or system, or
  • substantially full disability for 90 days.

If your injuries qualify under this definition, you're not limited to a no-fault claim under your own policy. You can hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident via a third-party car insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, and you can pursue compensation for all categories of losses, including pain and suffering and all other available non-economic damages (which, again, aren't available in a no-fault claim).

What's the Deadline for Filing a No-Fault Car Insurance Claim In New York?

Anyone whose car accident injuries might be covered by a no-fault/PIP policy in New York must report the accident in writing (to the insurance company that issued the policy) no more than 30 days after the date of the accident. Exceptions to this deadline might be made if the injured person submits written proof showing "clear and reasonable" justification for the failure to comply with this 30-day deadline.

How Are Car Accident Medical Bills Handled In a New York No-Fault Car Insurance Claim?

According to the New York State Department of Financial Services, if you've been injured in a car accident and you need medical treatment that's covered under your own (or someone else's) no-fault/PIP car insurance, you:

  • can pay the doctor or hospital directly, and submit your receipts or bills to the car insurance company for reimbursement, or
  • let the doctor or hospital submit their bills directly to the car insurance company for payment.

As long as you make clear to the health care provider that you're being treated for car accident injuries, and unless any additional information is requested, the car insurance company is required to make payment on your no-fault/PIP claim within 30 days of receiving the request for reimbursement or the healthcare provider's bill, or be subject to the payment of interest and other penalties.

Now that you understand how no-fault car insurance works in New York, let's look at the state's requirements for different kinds of car insurance coverage.

What Are the Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Requirements In New York?

In order to drive a motor vehicle in New York, vehicle owners must carry certain minimum amounts of insurance on it:

  • $25,000 liability coverage for bodily injury per person (when you cause a car accident)
  • $50,000 total liability bodily injury coverage per accident you cause (regardless of how many people are injured)
  • $10,000 liability coverage for property damage (per accident you cause)
  • $50,000 in no-fault (personal injury protection) coverage, and
  • uninsured motorist coverage (for bodily injury sustained by you) subject to these same minimums.

Keep in mind that, if you are found responsible for causing a car accident, and the injured drivers' and/or passengers' losses exceed the limits of your car insurance policy (which is not all that far-fetched a possibility if you've only met New York's minimum coverage requirements), you may find yourself personally responsible for making up the difference out of your own assets.

Getting More Information and Help

For more details on New York's motor vehicle insurance rules and requirements, check out the Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements page from the New York Department of Financial Services.

After any kind of car accident in New York, and especially if your injuries turn out to be serious, you may want to understand your options for recovering all of your losses. An experienced lawyer can help. Learn more about how an attorney can make a difference in your car accident case.

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