The Risks of Driving Without Insurance in New York

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Driving without insurance in New York is illegal and may have severe consequences. The penalties for driving without sufficient coverage in the Big Apple and elsewhere in the Empire State can include fines, fees, license and registration suspension, and jail time. However, the legal penalties aren’t the only punishment uninsured drivers may face, as there are several financial consequences associated with the crime. 

Let’s check out what can happen to New Yorkers who fail to maintain an adequate policy and how to build your New York car insurance policy to ensure you never risk going to jail for a crime as dull as driving without insurance. 

The Risks of Driving Without Insurance in New York

In terms of auto insurance, New York drivers have a lot of rules they must adhere to each time they get behind the wheel, lest they risk the consequences of driving uninsured. Driving without car insurance in New York is illegal and can have serious financial and legal repercussions. 

Car insurance laws in the Empire State mandate all drivers must have at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 in bodily injury liability per accident, $10,000 in property damage liability per accident (25/50/10 liability coverage), $25,000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI/UIMBI) per person, $50,000 in UMBI/UIMBI per accident (25/50 UMBI/UIMBI), and $50,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) per person. Those who lease or finance their vehicles may be required by their lender or leaser to have comprehensive and collision coverages on a full coverage policy.

Policies that meet the legal requirements in the state are considered sufficient as far as the law is concerned. However, a minimum coverage policy in New York may protect drivers less than a full coverage policy. A full coverage policy in the Empire State will often contain higher limits of all the legally required coverages, plus some optional coverage types like collision, comprehensive, uninsured and underinsured property damage (UMPD/UIMPD), medical payments (MedPay), and gap coverages. 

Since New York is a no-fault state, drivers must carry no-fault and tort coverages. PIP is New York’s required no-fault coverage, and it’s one of the insurance market’s most expensive coverage types. The mandatory PIP limit may be one reason New York is one of the most expensive states for auto insurance. 

The average full coverage policy in the Empire State costs about $2,340 annually, or about 30% more than the national average of $1,670 annually. While getting the cheapest policy in the state can be tricky, it’s not impossible.

It can be tempting to forgo coverage in the name of savings in the Empire State, especially considering how expensive car insurance is in the state. However, getting a policy with one of the state’s top insurers offering low base rates and plenty of discounts is the best way to save on your policy without sacrificing your safety. In the long run, it’s often far cheaper to budget for an annual premium than to risk financial ruin in a catastrophic accident while uninsured. 

What Happens if You Get Caught Driving Without Insurance in New York?

Driving with no insurance in New York can lead to pretty serious consequences, like fines, fees, license and registration suspension, or even jail time. The consequence generally depends on the severity and frequency of the offense. However, first offenders may still face jail time.

Suppose a driver has a clean driving record and accidentally let their policy lapse for a few days and unluckily got into a fender bender in that period. Their punishment will likely be far less severe than someone who has never had insurance and causes an accident that sends the other driver to the hospital in critical condition. 

Generally, a first offender will face a fine of up to $1,500 for the incident, but the amount may vary based on the driver’s insurance history and driving record. Those who commit a more serious crime while uninsured, like driving while intoxicated or recklessly, may have their license or registration suspended on top of being served some hefty fines. Those with their license or registration suspended or revoked risk car impoundment and filing for SR-22 insurance.

SR-22 insurance isn’t really a type of insurance but rather a form an insurer files on behalf of a high-risk driver to certify they have an active and adequate insurance policy with the state. It essentially proves that a driver is willing to take financial responsibility for their insurance premiums and any costs they may owe in an accident. While an SR-22 itself isn’t required or issued in New York, high-risk tendencies on one’s record can raise one’s premiums to double or triple the average rate for several years just as an SR-22 in another state might.

On top of the legal penalties for driving uninsured, one may face several financial consequences. Auto insurance is generally much more expensive for those caught driving without insurance, as insurers view such drivers as high-risk drivers and must compensate for that risk by charging them higher premiums. Plus, drivers who cause accidents while uninsured are on the hook for all the expenses incurred in the accident, both the other party’s and their own. 

Finally, those who have had their licenses suspended or cars impounded may see a significant loss in their access to transportation. For many drivers, having access to transportation is essential to how they earn and save money. Without legal access to one’s vehicle, paying back the debts one owes can be very challenging. 

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What Happens if the Person at Fault in an Accident Has No Insurance in New York?

In New York, the fine for driving without insurance is just one of the consequences drivers who lack sufficient coverage may face. Those who cause an accident without sufficient insurance coverage may be in for a world of trouble (and bills) in the Empire State.

Luckily, New York is a no-fault state, so theoretically, drivers will default to their own coverage to help with their medical expenses before relying on the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. However, no-fault states still assign fault in accidents, they’re just not as rushed as tort states to do so. 

Once the victim of an accident caused by an uninsured driver reaches their PIP limit, they will use their UMBI/UIMBI coverage to help cover their medical costs. If that still doesn’t cover the bill, the uninsured driver is on the hook for the remainder of the victim’s expenses. That’s not to mention the uninsured driver must pay for all their expenses out of pocket as well. 

Should the victim need repairs on their vehicle, the uninsured, at-fault driver will need to cover that bill out of pocket. Drivers in the Empire State are required to carry property damage liability coverage to help the victim pay for repairs to their vehicle damaged in an accident. Still, many drivers don’t have coverage that extends to their own vehicle repairs unless they have a full coverage policy. 

Is It Illegal To Drive Without Insurance in New York?

Yes, the driving uninsured penalty in New York can be jail time, depending on the offense, since going without adequate car insurance coverage is illegal in the state. Those who fail to maintain a sufficient auto insurance policy may face legal penalties such as fees, fines, license and registration suspension, or even jail time. The consequences range depending on the crime, severity of the crime, and frequency of the offense. Generally, first offenders face lighter consequences, but that’s not an exact rule.

Is Driving Without Insurance a Misdemeanor in New York?

Yes, driving without insurance is a misdemeanor in New York. Those who get behind the wheel without sufficient coverage risk up to 15 days of jail time, making this criminal offense a misdemeanor. 

How To Find a New York Auto Insurance Quote

If you’re ready to bind a policy that meets New York’s minimum requirements to avoid the consequences of driving uninsured in the Empire State, the best way to find the right policy for your lifestyle is to get and compare quotes online. By getting and comparing quotes from several insurers, you can tailor your policy to meet your needs and fit within your budget. 

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for quotes. Here at Clovered, we have a free quoting tool you can use to access your unique quotes in minutes. If you’d rather speak with a professional about your quote, we have those too! You can chat with one of our licensed agents at 833-255-4117 or

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The editorial content on Clovered’s website is meant to be informational material and should not be considered legal advice.

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