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Is auto liability insurance mandatory in New York?

Anyone who has ever been involved in an auto accident quickly learns the value of having an insurance policy in place to cover his or her liability for damages.

In the state of New York, a valid policy issued by a New York auto insurance company is mandatory for any car or vehicle being registered throughout the state. Those who let coverage lapse face driver's license and vehicle registration suspensions from the Department of Motor Vehicles. According to New York law, all drivers must at least carry liability insurance with the following minimums:

-- $100,000 for fatalities involving two or more people in a single accident and $50,000 for bodily injuries

-- $50,000 for a single death in one accident and $25,000 for bodily injury

-- $10,000 for property damages stemming from one accident

As long as a vehicle has a valid registration, its liability insurance coverage must be kept current. This applies to even those vehicles not currently being driven, with exemptions available for motorcycles. An out of state company is not allowed to issue the policy; all companies must be licensed by the state Department of Financial Services and certified through the DMV. Additional restrictions include having the policy issued in the vehicle registrant's name and remaining in their name.

In cases of co-ownership of a vehicle, no more than two names may appear on the registration. Both the primary and co-registrant must sign the Title/Registration application after supplying proof of ID and birth dates. Both co-registrants' names must also be included on the policy ID card.

After purchasing a valid policy, NY residents have 45 days in which to register their vehicles with the DMV. They need to leave a copy of their insurance ID card on file with the agency.

Even a fairly minor car accident can result in a mountain of medical and car repair bills for the injured parties. Mandatory liability insurance helps to ameliorate the damages that result from the collision.

Source: Department of Motor Vehicles, "New York State Insurance Requirements," accessed April. 24, 2015

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