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What Is the Minimum Car Insurance Coverage You Need in New York?

Insurance Coverage

Many people (understandably) opt to ignore their confusing car insurance policy until they’re forced to face its terms — after the accident has already happened. Car insurance is often written off as another mandatory expense that we have “just in case” something happens. At least, that’s the thought for plenty of drivers who have never had to depend on their car insurance company; you’ll get an entirely different answer if you ask someone who has.

Most drivers know they should have some form of car insurance to protect themselves and their assets should they wind up in an accident. However, an unsettling number of insured drivers don’t fully understand what they’re paying for and often don’t have sufficient coverage. And while it’s true that car insurance is required in almost all states, it’s important to understand why.

So, what should your car insurance coverage include, and how much will it cost you? We’ll break down everything that you need to know with examples from an actual car insurance quote we generated. Keep reading to see how much it will cost to secure a solid policy and why it’s worth it in the long run.

KEY TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS ARTICLE

  • In NYS, you are required to have No-fault/Personal Injury Protection, Liability, and Uninsured Motorist Coverage in your car insurance policy.
  • No-fault, or personal injury protection (PIP), covers an injured person’s economic losses up to $50,000, regardless of who’s responsible.
  • Liability insurance covers damages and legal costs following a motor vehicle accident.
  • Supplemental/Uninsured Motorist insurance provides relief beyond No-fault benefits when the responsible driver doesn’t have coverage, doesn’t have enough coverage, or when a motorist flees the accident scene.
  • Collision & Comprehensive coverages pay for damages to the policyholder’s vehicle.

What’s Required In Your Car Insurance Policy in New York

Registered vehicles in NYS are legally required to be minimally insured for:

  • No-fault/Personal Injury Protection: $50,000.
  • Liability: $25,000/person, $50,000/accident in bodily injury coverage, and $10,000 in property damage.
  • Uninsured Motorist Coverage: $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Levels Of Car Insurance Coverage in New York Explained

A lot goes into an auto insurance policy, and insurance companies don’t give you all the information you need to make an informed decision. Now that we understand the required insurance in NYS, it’s important to go over what these levels of insurance mean, how much coverage you really need, and why.

  • No-fault/Personal Injury Protection

Minimum limit required in NYS: $50,000

Car accidents can be very stressful and overwhelming experiences, especially when medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses follow. No-fault, or personal injury protection (PIP), are interchangeable terms describing an insurance system some states adopt to provide economic relief to injured parties. As the name suggests, No-fault insurance applies, regardless of who’s at fault for the accident.

In “No-fault states” like New York, drivers must have PIP, which covers economic losses up to $50,000. The maximum includes lost wages, where insurance companies will pay up to 80% of the claimants’ monthly earnings up to $2,000. It’s important to note that PIP coverage is applied where deemed necessary by the insurance company.

Example 1

A driver is on their way to work, and a car begins aggressively tailgating them. The driver in front stops at a red light, but the car behind doesn’t have enough time to stop and ends up rear-ending them. Due to no fault of their own, the driver is injured, taken to the hospital, and gets several imaging studies, followed by months of physical therapy. The driver also has a physically demanding job and cannot immediately return to work.

In this case, the driver’s PIP coverage will come into play to cover their medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to their injuries, like mileage to get to their recurring therapy appointments.

  • Additional Personal Injury Protection (APIP) & Optional Basic Economic Loss (OBEL)

While PIP provides crucial protection, these benefits may not be enough in all cases. For instance, if you suffer severe injuries in an accident, medical expenses could quickly exceed the PIP coverage limit of $50,000.

That’s where additional PIP coverage, called “APIP,” comes in. APIP allows policyholders to add protection in $50,000 increments should they exhaust their No-fault benefits. The other add-on personal injury coverage is Optional Basic Economic Loss, or “OBEL.” The difference between PIP, APIP, and OBEL is that with OBEL, the injured person has more say in what expenses are to be covered.

Now, suppose the same driver in Example A above has a monthly income of $5,000. The maximum monthly PIP payout ($2,000) for their lost wages is far from what they’re used to bringing in. APIP coverage or OBEL would close that gap.

According to the insurance quote we generated using basic information, $25,000 in OBEL coverage can be added to a 6-month policy for as little as $7.70 (just over a dollar a month)!

  • Liability Insurance

Minimum limits required in NYS: $25,000/person, $50,000/accident in bodily injury coverage, and $10,000 in property damage.

If you are responsible for injuring someone in a car accident, your liability insurance covers your defense attorney fees and provides coverage should you be deemed responsible and have to pay a settlement. Liability coverage includes two types of coverage: bodily injury and property damage. When you choose your insurance policy, you select the maximum amount your insurance company will pay for each person and per accident.

If you are at fault for the accident and the other person’s injuries are valued at more than the limit you chose, you could be personally financially responsible for the difference. Similarly, if you are at fault for the accident and the other vehicle is damaged beyond your chosen limit, you could be on the hook for the rest.

Additional liability coverage beyond the minimum required by law is strongly recommended. Bodily injury insurance doesn’t only protect other drivers, but it covers you as the policyholder as well.

Example 2

A driver accidentally runs a red light and T-bones another car. The driver has the minimum bodily injury coverage of $25,000. The person in the other car broke their arm, was transported to the hospital, and required surgery. Their medical treatment alone cost $65,000. Suppose the injured person hires an attorney and pursues a claim against the driver. If a settlement or jury verdict exceeds $25,000, the driver could be personally and financially responsible for the amount above $25,000.

Our 6-month, $25,000/$50,000 liability insurance quote was $96.10. For $100,000/$300,000, it generated an estimate of $176.40 — that’s about an $80 difference. In other words, $13 extra per month could save you tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance

Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance is a new law providing bodily injury insurance to the at-fault policyholder’s spouse.

For all auto insurance policies opened after August 1, 2023, Supplemental Spousal Liability Insurance is automatically applied to all insurer’s policies unless policyholders request to decline or remove.

Example 3

A driver with spousal liability insurance is in the car with their spouse as a passenger. The driver becomes distracted and crashes into a light post at a high rate of speed. Their spouse was seriously injured as a result. The driver’s liability coverage is available to potentially provide compensation for the spouse’s injuries.

This coverage is necessary for the spouse to recover because they would otherwise only be entitled to their PIP coverage, as no other driver or vehicle is involved.

  • Supplemental/Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Minimum limit required in NYS: $25,000/person and $50,000/accident

Although auto insurance is mandatory, not all drivers abide. Uninsured Motorist (“UM”) insurance is access to coverage where there otherwise wouldn’t be any. For example, suppose someone is injured in a car accident where the driver flees or doesn’t have insurance. In that case, that injured person must rely on their own UM benefits to secure a settlement for the pain and suffering from their injuries.

Supplementary Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (“SUM”) coverage is similar. SUM includes personal bodily injury coverage when the responsible driver is insured, but the coverage is just not enough to cover the injured person’s damages. SUM is an optional but critical protection that all drivers should have.

Example 4

Driver A was hit and was not at fault for the collision. The at-fault Driver B only had the minimum liability coverage of $25,000. However, Driver A suffered life-altering injuries that will affect their ability to work and care for their family for an unpredictable amount of time. With no SUM coverage, the most Driver A could get is $25,000, some of which would go to legal costs. This amount is unlikely to cover the medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future care needs of anyone severely injured.

Now imagine that Driver A had $100,000 in SUM coverage. Driver A would have up to $100,000 to recover ($25,000 from Driver B’s liability insurance + $75,000 from Driver A’s SUM ($100,000-$25,000=$75,000 additional) – that’s a big difference.

And it doesn’t cost that much to add SUM to your policy, either. Our quote for $100,000/$200,000 of SUM coverage in a 6-month policy was only $28 even. That’s less than $5 a month, cheaper than your Netflix subscription and most Starbucks drinks, if you’re still debating whether it’s worth the additional cost.

Here’s the breakdown:

The first quote shows how much it would cost you to have the minimum coverage allowable in NYS. The second shows the cost breakdown if you were to add the recommended bodily injury, OBEL, and SUM coverages.

Bodily Injury Liability $25,000/$50,000 $96.10
Property Damage Liability $10,000 $108.90
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) $50,000 $103.90
Optional Basic Economic Loss (OBEL)
Uninsured Motorist $25,000/$50,000 (state min. required if declining SUM) $6.50
Total:
$315.40
Per month:
$52.57
Bodily Injury Liability $100,000/$300,000 $176.40
Property Damage Liability $10,000 (state min. required) $108.90
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) $50,000 (state min. required) $103.90
Optional Basic Economic Loss (OBEL) $25,000 $7.70
Supplemental Underinsured Motorist (SUM) $100,000/$200,000 $28.00
Total:
$424.90
Per month:
$70.82

*These prices are not guaranteed and were generated using neutral information in February 2024. Factors such as vehicle class, driving history, age, date, and more apply when auto insurance companies provide personalized auto insurance quotes and premium offers.

This is an estimated quote, but it provides the price difference of a major auto insurance carrier with the same personal and vehicle information. As you can see, it would cost less than $20 per month to secure your assets and set yourself up to have sufficient money available should you ever become injured in a car accident.

  • Add-on Coverage

Circumstances vary, but the minimum car insurance required is not enough for most drivers. For maximum security and peace of mind, consider your vehicle, schedule, and personal priorities when deciding what add-on coverages you need.

Collision, Comprehensive, & Rental Coverages

Collision insurance covers any damage to your vehicle, regardless of who is responsible for it. The payout by insurance companies for collision coverage is determined by how much your car is worth and the deductible you select.

Comprehensive coverage is similar, with the difference being how the damage got there. Insurance companies will pay through your comprehensive coverage if there’s property damage from things like extreme weather conditions or vandalism.

If you have rental reimbursement coverage, your insurance company will reimburse you for the cost of a rental car while yours is getting fixed.

Example 5

The driver backs into a dumpster, causing $2,000 in repair costs. The driver has collision coverage with a $200 deductible, so their insurance will cover $1,800 of the repairs. The car part needed to fix it isn’t available, so the driver is without their car for a week. Luckily, their policy includes rental reimbursement of $50 per day for up to two weeks. The driver will only have to pay $200 out-of-pocket for the crash.

Conclusion

Making informative decisions about your car insurance coverage is essential. Remember, it is not just another mandatory expense, but the only safety net that protects you and your assets following an accident. All NYS drivers must have no-fault/PIP, a minimum of $25,000/$50,000 in liability coverage, and at least $25,000 in supplemental/uninsured motorist coverage. And all NYS drivers should have SUM, collision, and additional liability coverages. As discussed before, accident and injury costs can quickly surpass the minimum required limits, and you don’t ever want to find yourself in a position where you’re underinsured.

Richmond Vona is a Personal Injury law firm located in Buffalo, NY, dedicated to fighting for New York car accident victims. For more information, please visit www.richmondvona.com or call us at 716-600-HURT.

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