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New York Car Insurance

The state of New York sets minimum levels of automobile insurance coverage that every driver must buy to comply with the law.

To be in compliance with the law, if you live in New York, you must buy the following levels of auto insurance:

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  • Bodily injury liability insurance - $25,000 for bodily injury to one person; $50,000 for bodily injury to all persons.
  • Property damage liability insurance - $10,000 for property damage in any one accident.

In addition, mandatory "no-fault" coverage of $50,000 is required.

You can carry higher liability limits and additional personal injury protection and most motorists do.

Insurance rates will vary depending on where in the state you live. Generally, rates are higher in New York City.

The insurance coverage you buy must be obtained from a company that is licensed by the New York State Department of Financial Services. Out-of-state insurance is not acceptable.

Driver education reduces premiums

You may be able to reduce your auto insurance premiums by completing a state approved six-hour driver's education course.

If you are the principal driver of a motor vehicle, you will receive a minimum 10 percent reduction in the base rate of your automobile and motorcycle liability and collision insurance premiums each year for three years after completing the course. You can take the course in the classroom or online.

A list of course sponsors is on the Department of Motor Vehicles website.

Getting caught without insurance costly

If the DMV learns you were involved in an accident and do not have auto insurance, you could lose your driver license and vehicle registration for at least one year. You could also lose your license and registration for at least one year if someone else driving your uninsured vehicle is involved in a traffic accident and is found to be operating without insurance.

You might have to pay a court fine as much as $1,500 for driving without insurance or allowing someone else to drive your uninsured vehicle. You also might have to pay the DMV a civil penalty of $750 to get your license back.

Your insurance company will issue you an ID card proving you have insurance. You should always carry the insurance ID card in your vehicle.

When you insure your vehicle, your insurance company is required to file your coverage electronically with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Your insurance ID card alone does not prove you have coverage. New York state law requires both paper proof and electronic filing of coverage.

New York's graduated driver's license program

New York - like many other states - has adopted a graduated driver's license program. You can apply for a learner's permit when you turn 16 with a parent's consent.

To get your junior driver's license, you will need to hold your learner's permit for at least six months. During that time, you must:

  • Get at least 50 hours of driving experience, including 15 hours of driving after sunset
  • Or complete a driver's education course or a pre-licensing safe driving course

Once you are eligible and you pass the road test, you will be granted your junior's license.

A junior license comes with restrictions depending on where you live in the state. For example, if you live upstate, you will be allowed to drive after 9 p.m. for school or work but not if you live in New York City.

When you're 17 and if you have a certificate from a driver's education course, you can upgrade to a standard license. Your license will automatically upgrade when you turn 18.

If you hold a junior license and are driving, you may have only one passenger in your car who is not a family member.

Also, no driver, no matter what age, is allowed to text or use a portable electronic device while driving in New York.

Keeping track of teen drivers

If you are parents or guardians of drivers younger than 18 years old, you can be automatically notified by mail should your child receive a traffic conviction, be involved in a reportable accident, or have his license suspended. You can enroll your child in the Teen Electronic Event Notification Service (TEENS) online.

New to New York

If you move to New York, you must apply for a New York State driver's license within 30 days of becoming a New York state resident. You can exchange an out-of-state driver's license as long as it has:

  • Your photograph
  • Has not been suspended or revoked
  • Has been valid for at least six months
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