Vehicle owners in New York are required by law to maintain certain minimum levels of car insurance coverage on any vehicle registered and operated in the state. New York is also a "no-fault" car insurance state, which means your options for pursuing a claim are often limited when you're injured in a car accident. Read on to learn more about New York's no-fault car insurance system, the minimum car insurance coverage requirements in the state, and more.
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 “medical benefits” 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. But 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 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.
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:
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).
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.
In order to drive a motor vehicle in New York, vehicle owners must carry certain minimum amounts of insurance on it:
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.
For more details on New York’s motor vehicle insurance rules and requirements, check out the New York Department of Motor Vehicles' New York Auto Insurance FAQs.