Here’s what you need to know before you take a drive in the Empire State.
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Think of New York and you might picture the bright lights of Times Square, the complicated subway system or even the rolling mountains of the Catskills upstate. If you’re going to drive in New York, you’ll need car insurance, specifically liability and uninsured motorist coverage, plus personal injury protection. Car insurance in New York is the second most expensive in the county, with high minimums and costs that run over 37 percent higher than the national average. Let’s dive deeper into car insurance in this no-fault state.
Here is the minimum car insurance you’ll need as a New York driver:
While New York’s car insurance requirements are extensive compared to other states, they’re not enough to protect you in the event of an at-fault car accident or another incident that causes damage. Ideally, you should have liability limits of up to $500,000, plus collision and comprehensive coverage to cover damages to your own car, not just the other party’s.
If you cause an accident, collision coverage pays for your car’s repairs up to its actual market value (AMV). Or, if forces other than collisions damage your car (such as theft, vandalism or hail), comprehensive coverage also pays up to the AMV. If you only carry the minimum coverage the state requires, you would cover any property damages out of pocket.
Car insurance costs in New York are the second-highest in the country, at an average of $1,436 a year. That’s 37 percent higher than the national average.2 However, many factors affect the cost of insurance, such as your credit score and your driving history, so you could pay anywhere from $304 to $5,369.60 annually for car insurance in New York.
While you’re living in New York, consider these auto insurance companies:
Whether you live in the Hamptons or the heart of Manhattan, surely you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance in New York. While you can’t help your state’s higher-than-average costs, there are ways to lower your premiums and get the best price on auto insurance.
No matter what type of home you live in, if you have homeowners, renters, condo, or any other type of insurance policy, bundle it with the same provider as your car insurance if you want to save money. Many companies offer discounts for insurance bundles.
Every provider offers different auto insurance discounts, so ask your insurance agent for ways to save. You probably have access to cost-saving options, whether they’re in the form of a defensive driving course or automatic billing.
If all else fails, you can drop auto insurance coverages the state doesn’t require, like rental car coverage or collision insurance, to save money. Keep in mind that dropping coverage options could cost you more later if you get into an accident.
Have an older car? Drop collision and comprehensive coverage, as your car will most likely be declared a total loss in the event of an accident.
Similarly, lowering your limits will also lower the cost of your auto insurance, but again, you’ll pay more if you incur injuries or damages in an accident.
You can increase your deductible to cut costs, but make sure you could still afford it if you were in an accident. If you can’t pay your deductible, you won’t be compensated for collision or comprehensive claims.
You may be able to cut the cost of your car insurance by requesting an insurance quote from a competitor (or three). When you look into auto coverage with other companies, consider these questions: Does the bodily injury liability cost more? Can you get liability insurance plus all the insurance the law requires for lower prices? If so, it may be worthwhile to switch car insurance.
Since car insurance is a requirement in New York, you can get into legal trouble if you’re caught driving without insurance, specifically paper or electronic proof of insurance.
Have we convinced you to comply with New York’s car insurance requirements yet? If so, you’re almost ready to drive, but take stock of a few state driving laws first.
New York’s no-fault insurance system is one of the reasons insurance is so expensive in the state, much like Florida’s no-fault insurance. In no-fault states, each person in an accident is responsible for their own medical expenses under PIP, regardless of who caused the accident. However, the at-fault party is still responsible for the other party’s property damages.
With the Empire State’s comparative negligence laws, victims can recover some money for their injuries, regardless of their level of negligence or fault. Even if they were responsible for more than 50 percent of the damage, they could still receive compensation, much like in California and Florida.
As we noted previously, uninsured motorist coverage is a requirement in New York, but did you know it also includes car insurance coverage for hit-and-runs? That means that if someone hits your car and leaves the scene, uninsured motorist coverage can compensate you for any injuries or property damage.
In New York, only 4 percent of drivers are uninsured, the third-lowest rate in the U.S. That’s 205 percent below the national average, according to the most recent estimates from the Insurance Research Council.4
Another interesting fact about uninsured motorist coverage in New York is that you can stack coverage if you have multiple cars. Multiply your limits with the number of cars you have and you’ll reach your new limit.
If you’re caught driving under the influence, you could face fines up to tens of thousands of dollars, a prison sentence, and license revocations or suspensions. See New York’s DUI penalties below.
|Violation||Offense number||Mandatory fine||Maximum imprisonment term||Mandatory driver’s license action|
|Aggravated driving while intoxicated (AGG DWI)||All||$1,000-$2,500||1 year||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|AGG DWI – D felony||Third within 10 years||$2,000-$10,000||7 years||Revoked for at least 18 months|
|AGG DWI – E felony||Second within 10 years||$1,000-$5,000||4 years||Revoked for at least 18 months|
|Chemical test refusal||First||$500 civil penalty, or $550 for commercial drivers||None||Revoked for at least 1 year, or 18 months for commercial drivers|
|Chemical test refusal||Within 5 years of a previous DWI-related charge or chemical test refusal||$750 civil penalty||None||Revoked for at least 18 months for drivers over 21; for 1 year or until age 21 for drivers under 21; CDL revoked permanently for commercial drivers|
|Chemical test refusal under zero-tolerance law||First||$300 civil penalty and $100 reapplication fee||None||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|Chemical test refusal under zero-tolerance law||Second or subsequent violation of zero-tolerance law||$750 civil penalty and $100 reapplication fee||None||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|Driving under the influence (DUI) out of state||Any previous alcohol or drug violation||N/A||N/A||Revoked for at least 90 days (longer with certain prior offenses); if less than 21 years old, revoked for at least 1 year or until age 21 (longest term)|
|DUI out of state||Second and subsequent||N/A||N/A||Revoked for at least 90 days; if less than 21 years old, revoked for at least 1 year|
|Driving while ability impaired by alcohol (DWAI)||First||$300-$500||15 days||Suspended for 90 days|
|DWAI||Second within 5 years||$500-$750||30 days||Revoked for at least 6 months|
|DWAI – misdemeanor||Third or subsequent within 10 days||$750-$1,500||180 days||Revoked for at least 6 months|
|Driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving while impaired by a drug (DWAI-Drug)||First||$500-$1,000||1 year||Revoked for at least 6 months|
|DWI or DWAI-Drug – D felony||Third within 10 years||$2,000-$10,000||7 years||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|DWI or DWAI-Drug – E felony||Second within 10 years||$1,000-$5,000||4 years||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|Driving while ability impaired by a combination of alcohol/drugs (DWAI-Combination)||First||$500-$1,000||1 year||Revoked for at least 6 months|
|DWAI-Combination – D felony||Third within 10 years||$2,000-$10,000||7 years||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|DWAI-Combination – E felony||Second within 10 years||$1,000-$5,000||4 years||Revoked for at least 1 year|
|Zero-tolerance law||Second||$125 civil penalty and $100 reapplication fee||None||Revoked for 1 year or until age 21 (if younger at time of violation)|
|Zero-tolerance law||First||$125 civil penalty and $100 fee to terminate suspension||None||Suspended for 6 months|
No matter what seat you’re in, you must wear a seat belt if you’re in a car in New York. This law is under primary enforcement, so a police officer can stop you for not wearing a seat belt, no other traffic violations needed.
You can’t use a handheld device while driving in New York, no matter your age or the activity, such as texting. Like the seat belt law, this ban is under primary enforcement. You’ll get five points per violation on your license, and you could face fines for texting and driving in New York (and for conducting any activity on a handheld device while driving).
No matter what part of the state you’re in, there are certain restrictions for those with learner’s permits and junior licenses.
|Learner’s permit and junior license restriction||Regulation|
|When you can drive without a supervising driver||5 a.m. to 9 p.m.|
|Conviction of traffic violations||Suspension of license/permit for 60 days|
|Cell phone use while driving, first offense||Suspension of license/permit for 60 days|
|Cell phone use while driving, second offense within 6 months||Minimum 6-month revocation for probationary licenses; 60-day revocation for Class DJ/MJ driver’s license or learner’s permit|
The three regions of New York (upstate, Long Island and New York City) all have slightly different restrictions regarding passengers, so check the DMV website for the most detailed information at https://on.ny.gov/3hRVEJQ.
File any property damage or personal injury claims within three years of the incident to ensure proper coverage. Beyond that statute of limitations, you won’t be compensated for your losses.
New York car insurance companies have 20 days to alert you before they cancel your policy mid-term, or 15 days if the cancellation is due to nonpayment. For non-renewal at the end of your term, companies must alert you 45 to 60 days before the expiration date.5
You can self-insure your cars as an alternative to buying a personal auto policy from a provider. You’ll have to prove you have the proper liquidity and assets, which you can calculate from the number of tow trucks and other vehicles you own, the average dollar amount of claims in the past four years, and other factors. See the exact requirements on the application from New York’s DMV at https://dmv.ny.gov/ii-es/fs-100.pdf.
Any car registered in the Empire State must be inspected every year or when ownership is transferred at a DMV-licensed inspection statement. The safety inspection includes an emissions inspection. Find a station near you via https://process.dmv.ny.gov/FacilityLookup/?_ga=2.73365715.1352907158.1646677644-930311440.1646677644. See below to estimate how much you’ll pay for the inspection.
|Group||Vehicle weight (in pounds)||Exceptions||Inspection fee|
|1 – Light vehicles||Under 10,001||Trailers, motorcycles||$10|
|1 – Light vehicles||10,001-18,001||Trailers, motorcycles||$15|
|1 – Light vehicles||10,001-18,001||Semitrailers||$6|
|2 – Heavy vehicles||Over 18,000 or 10,001-18,001||Trailers||$20|
|2 – Heavy vehicles||Over 18,000 or 10,001-18,001||Non-trailers||$12|
|2 – Heavy vehicles||All||Non-semitrailers||$12|
|3 – Motorcycles||All||Non-motorcycles||$6|
|Emissions||Under 8,501||Vehicles from 1995 and earlier||$27 at an inspection station within the New York metropolitan area, or $11 if outside the NYMA|
|Emissions||Over 8,500||Vehicles from 1996 and after||$11|
|Emissions||Over 8,500||All diesel-powered vehicles||$25|
New York doesn’t require SR-22 forms that prove minimum coverage. If you’re a New Yorker, you can forget that this form exists.
If you rack up 11 or more points on your driving record, the state of New York requires you to take a defensive driving course. The courses are five hours and 20 minutes long and can take four points off your driving record (although those points will still be visible on the record physically). You may also be able to get up to a 10 percent discount on your car insurance for three years.
You can find a defensive driving course in New York at https://dmv.ny.gov/pirp/classroom.
While there’s no monetary threshold for civil suits in New York, there is a serious injury threshold. In other words, to file a civil suit following a car accident, you must have one of these serious injuries:
You must report accidents that incur property damage, death or injuries worth more than $1,500 within 10 days. If you don’t, you could face a maximum fine of $250, 15 days of imprisonment, or both.6
New York’s laws are progressive in general. However, car insurance companies are allowed to base premiums on both credit scores and gender. If you have bad credit or are a man, expect to pay more for car insurance than those with good credit and women.
If a car’s repairs cost 75 percent or more of its AMV, it’ll be declared a total loss. If you have proper coverage, you will be reimbursed for your car’s AMV and won’t have to go through the repair process.
Are you a new driver in New York who needs to register your car? Or do you want to contest a claim decision with the state’s insurance department? Find the contact information you need here.
First of all, you’ll need insurance for car registration in New York. Once that’s sorted out, you can register with your county’s DMV, whose address you can find at https://dmv.ny.gov/registration/how-register-vehicle. The documents you’ll need depend on how you bought the car — from a dealership, a private sale, or elsewhere. Figure out what you need to bring before you make the trip by reviewing the information at https://on.ny.gov/35Eg2ve. See how much you’ll pay for the registration below.
|Vehicle weight range (in pounds)||Fee|
|Up to 1,650||$26|
|6,951 or more||$140|
You can renew your registration online, by mail, or in person.
You can contact the New York DMV in several ways:
Whether you lost your car title or want a copy for safekeeping, follow these steps to obtain a duplicate:
You can contact the New York DFS online, over the phone, or by mail.
New York has the third-highest cost of living in the country, behind Hawaii and Washington, D.C.7 Surprisingly, though, car repairs in the state are actually 2 percent lower than the national average at only $376.08. Labor costs $138.60, and parts cost $237.48.8
On average, there is less car theft in New York than in the rest of the U.S. Unfortunately, New York’s traffic fatality rates are above the national average.
New York only had 102 car thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2019, according to the most recent FBI data. That’s 142 percent lower than the national average.
However, the state’s biggest cities had higher rates, which is the usual case; in most states, car theft is more common in cities than in suburban and rural areas.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||1189|
The state of New York has 24 percent more traffic fatalities than the rest of the country — 931 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.10
New York has many different roads for you to travel down. But while you’re driving, make sure you follow all state and local guidelines. Maintaining a clean driving record will keep your car insurance rates as low as possible.
Still curious about car insurance in the Big Apple and beyond? Keep reading for our FAQs.
Car insurance in New York averages $120 monthly. This is 37 percent higher than the national average cost, according to the most recent 2020 data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
In New York City, you need bodily injury, property damage, and uninsured motorist coverage, as well as personal injury protection and coverage for deaths in accidents, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles.
No, you cannot drive without insurance in New York. If you do not have the minimum coverage and are convicted of driving without insurance, you could face the following penalties.
You do not need full coverage in New York, as collision and comprehensive coverage aren’t mandatory. New York requires all other components of full-coverage car insurance: liability coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and personal injury protection.
New York State Insurance Requirements. New York State DMV. https://dmv.ny.gov/insurance/insurance-requirements
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2023, Jan).
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. https://consumerfed.org/pdfs/140310_penaltiesfordrivingwithoutautoinsurance_cfa.pdf
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar). https://www.insurance-research.org/sites/default/files/downloads/UM%20NR%20032221.pdf
Cancellation and Nonrenewal. New York State Department of Financial Services. https://www.dfs.ny.gov/consumers/auto_insurance/cancellation_and_renewal
Leaving scene of an incident without reporting. The New York State Senate. (2022). https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/VAT/600
Cost of Living Data Series. Missouri Economic Research and Data Center. https://meric.mo.gov/data/cost-living-data-series
2020 State Repair Cost Rankings. CarMD. (2020, Jul). https://www.carmd.com/wp/vehicle-health-index-introduction/2020-carmd-state-index/
NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. NICB. (2021, Aug). https://www.nicb.org/news/news-releases/nicb-hot-spots-auto-thefts-significantly-across-country
Fatality Facts 2019 State by state. IIHS. (2021, Mar). https://www.iihs.org/topics/fatality-statistics/detail/state-by-state