New York Auto Insurance [Comparison & Companies]
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UPDATED: Nov 12, 2020
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|New York Statistics|
|Annual Road Miles||Total in State – 114,365
Vehicle Miles Driven – 127,230,000
|Vehicles||Registered – 10,283,907
Stolen – 15,313
|Most popular vehicle||Nissan Rogue|
|Percentage of Uninsured/ Underinsured||6.10%
State Rank – 50th
|Total Driving-related Deaths||2009–2018
Speeding – 3,327
DUI – 3,233
|Full Coverage Average Premiums||Liability – $840.00
Collision – $414.27
Comprehensive – $178.10
|Cheapest Providers||Geico and USAA|
The Empire State, known for its financial and economic clout and as the heart of arts and culture in the United States, expanded rapidly after it was founded in the early 1600s.
Part of its growth was due to its location, which allowed easy access to transportation via its ports, extensive rail lines, road routes, and airways that connect throughout the country and worldwide. And with subways, buses, and railroads that lead to nearby cities and states, it has the most complex commuter system in the country.
Cars are just one part of that network. Chances are, if you live in New York City, you don’t drive. But if you need to hit the road in the Empire State, you must buy car insurance.
That’s where we come in. In this guide to New York auto insurance, you’ll learn about the coverage you should buy, top insurers’ rates, and everything else you need to know.
If you can’t wait one New York minute to start comparison shopping, enter your ZIP code in our free online tool.
New York Car Insurance Coverage and Rates
Consumer Reports recommends that car insurance buyers shop around for price every few years. Among their membership, 62 percent of those who switched insurers in the past five years said they had found a better price.
If you lack the time to compare prices, you may stay with the same carrier out of convenience, despite better options at other companies. Some of us could use more money, and comparison shopping may help lower another one of your expenses.
Below, we’ll go through the minimum coverage you need in the Empire State, how much the top insurers charge, and more aspects of car insurance prices.
So, get ready to learn how to get a fair price.
What is New York’s car culture?
Before you learn about car insurance coverage, you might be curious to know how cars influence New Yorkers’ daily lives.
The Hartford reports that many New York residents like to drive practical cars, such as the Toyota Camry and the Honda Civic. New Yorkers also love pickups and SUVs, among them the Nissan Rogue and the Chevrolet Silverado.
And let’s not forget about their passion for race cars and classic cars, which shows in the many racetracks and car shows statewide.
How much coverage is required to meet New York minimum limits?
New York is a no-fault insurance state. That means that if another driver causes an accident that harms you, you must file a claim with your own insurance company to pay your medical bills and damages.
The state requires drivers to carry minimum liability insurance to pay for accident claims. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), your insurance coverage must meet these requirements:
- $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person/$50,000 per accident
- $10,000 of property damage coverage (per accident you cause)
- $50,000 for basic no-fault personal injury protection per person/$100,000 for the death for two or more people in an accident
- $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury
If you don’t carry coverage that meets these requirements, you may face several penalties, including the loss of your license.
Your liability insurance coverage must remain in effect while your car registration is valid, even if you don’t use the vehicle (there are exceptions for motorcycles). It must also be New York state insurance coverage issued by a company licensed by the State Department of Financial Services and New York DMV-certified. It must be in the vehicle registrant’s name and remain under their name. Out-of-state insurance isn’t acceptable.
One way to avoid filing a potential lawsuit is to buy more coverage than the minimum required to pay for all of your injuries or vehicle damage.
For instance, you can choose to purchase supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorists (SUM) coverage, based on your policy limits, up to $250,000 per person, per accident/$500,000 per accident.
What are forms of financial responsibility in New York?
New York law requires drivers to carry proof of insurance or financial responsibility to pay for accidents they cause.
Acceptable forms of proof of financial responsibility are:
- A paper or electronic insurance ID card
- A copy of your car’s current insurance policy
- A valid insurance binder (a temporary form of car insurance)
- Surety bond
- Self-insurance (if you own 25 vehicles or more)
- Cash or a security deposit of $150,000 or more with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
You must show proof of insurance when you register vehicles, at traffic stops, and after accidents, so make sure you’re carrying it before you drive.
How much percentage of income are New York premiums?
Car insurance prices vary across the country. Below are New Yorkers’ annual incomes, together with the average yearly cost of car insurance premiums and the percentage of their earnings that go to car insurance every year.
|New York Insurance as a Percentage of Income||2012||2013||2014|
|Insurance as percentage of income||2.77%||2.85%||2.80%|
In 2014, the average New Yorker’s disposable (after-tax) income was $47,446, and the median cost of an annual full coverage premium was $1,327.82. Based on those figures, on average, nearly 3 percent of residents’ yearly earnings pay for car insurance.
On average, Americans pay $981.77 yearly for full coverage. The average annual full coverage premium in New York costs $400 more than it does nationwide.
Compared to neighboring Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont, residents in only the last three states paid less for auto insurance than New Yorkers. Massachusetts and Connecticut residents spent about $200 less for premiums than those of New York, while Vermonters’ premiums averaged $746.79 annually.
The one constant is that prices tend to rise for everyone yearly. Auto insurance premiums increased slightly everywhere, often by $50 to $100, from 2012 to 2014.
How much of your income pays for car insurance? Try our free calculator below and see.
What are the core coverages in New York?
Now, let’s see how much core coverage generally costs in New York. The figures below from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) show the price ranges from liability to full coverage. Expect the cost of premiums to continue to rise from 2019 and beyond.
|Core Car Insurance Coverage in New York||Average Premium|
The premiums tend to cost more than the national average, which isn’t too surprising given that the Empire State ranks as the fourth-most expensive for full coverage insurance. As we mentioned earlier, New York has minimum insurance coverage requirements. If possible, experts suggest buying more than the minimum amount required.
Read on to find out about additional coverage options.
What additional liability is available in New York?
As we mentioned earlier, besides bodily injury liability, New York state requires drivers to buy additional liability in the form of personal injury protection (PIP) and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
The data below from the NAIC centers on loss ratios for MedPay, PIP, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. A loss ratio measures how much a company pays in claims to how much it earns in premiums.
|Additional Liability Coverage in New York||Loss Ratio – 2015||Loss Ratio – 2014||Loss Ratio – 2013|
|Personal Injury Protection (PIP)||72.66%||70.58%||72.29%|
|Medical Payments (Med Pay)||76.50%||63.73%||56.96%|
|Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage||58.87%||55.96%||57.16%|
Looking at the percentages above, if a company’s loss ratio is over 100 percent, it pays more in claims than it earns. A loss ratio of over 75 percent is already high. However, if a company’s loss ratio is too low, at 40 percent, it pays fewer claims.
Companies with ratios that are neither too high nor too low have a balance of profits versus losses. Unless a company’s loss ratio is high for several years in a row, a high loss ratio doesn’t mean an insurance company faces bankruptcy. More than likely, it means the company will raise its rates soon.
The loss ratios from 2012–2014 are low, as shown above, which could mean insurance companies don’t pay all the claims they receive. PIP coverage requirements could affect these numbers, as insurance companies may pay those claims first.
PIP will help pay your medical bills if you suffer injuries in a crash. Uninsured and underinsured coverage will pay bills if the other driver has little or no insurance.
6.1 percent of New York drivers don’t have insurance, which ranks the state 50th for uninsured drivers nationwide.
Though this percentage is low compared to other states, you don’t want to get stuck paying bills from an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver. New York requires uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and it helps pay for damages those motorists may cause.
What add-ons, endorsements, and riders are available in New York?
Below is more coverage you can add to a basic car insurance plan for more protection tailored to your needs.
- Guaranteed auto protection (GAP)
- Personal umbrella policy (PUP)
- Rental reimbursement
- Pay-as-you-drive or usage-based insurance
- Emergency roadside assistance
- Mechanical breakdown insurance
- Non-owner car insurance
- Modified car insurance coverage
- Classic car insurance
These options help you customize the perfect coverage just for you.
Among pay-as-you-go or usage-based insurers, Allstate’s Drivewise program operates in New York. Drivers who qualify may receive discounts of up to 30 percent. The program tracks users’ driving habits through a telematics device installed in the vehicle’s diagnostic port.
If you avoid speeds of 80 miles per hour or above and drive less than 30 miles daily outside of 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. without hard braking, you may get the maximum discount. Users must operate their vehicles for at least 90 days over six months to qualify for the discount.
Do gender and age affect my car insurance in New York?
We’ve partnered with Quadrant Data to bring you the information below. It’s based on coverage the state population has purchased and includes rates for high-risk drivers and those who choose to buy more than the state minimum. That covers other types of insurance the state doesn’t require.
As you’ll see below, gender is a factor in setting car insurance rates, but age also affects them, as well. Many insurers create gender and age profiles based on accident data, often charging young males more for car insurance.
Here’s how gender and age affect rates in New York.
|Company||Married 35-year-old Female||Married 35-year-old Male||Married 60-year-old Female||Married 60-year-old Male||Single 17-year-old Female||Single 17-year-old Male||Single 25-year-old Female||Single 25-year-old Male|
Sixty-year-olds of both sexes typically pay the lowest car insurance rates. Seventeen-year-olds don’t have much freedom in pricing with Liberty Mutual, as they face the highest auto insurance fees compared to competitors.
What are the cheapest rates by ZIP code in New York?
Location matters in real estate and car insurance rates. Cities and towns with higher populations and accident rates are riskier to insure, so premiums there may cost more. Here are the prices in New York state by ZIP code. The first table shows the 25 most expensive ZIP codes followed by the 25 least expensive in the next table.
|ZIP Codes||Allstate||GEICO||Liberty Mutual||Nationwide||Progressive||State Farm||Travelers||USAA|
|Zipcode||Allstate||GEICO||Liberty Mutual||Nationwide||Progressive||State Farm||Travelers||USAA|
In 11241 and other nearby ZIP codes, Geico customers pay as much as $7,000 to $12,000 less than with pricier insurers. So if you’re thinking of moving, consider your ZIP code in your car insurance costs.
What are the cheapest rates by city in New York?
Below are the most expensive cities in New York state.
The borough of Brooklyn dominates the list. These are the least expensive cities:
In these cities, auto insurance costs are $3,000 to $4,000 less than in areas around Brooklyn. That’s another reason why it makes sense to compare rates among different companies.
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Best State Car Insurance Companies
Consumer Reports also found in their surveys over the years that car insurance companies tend to perform consistently over time, and some get high scores regularly. That often comes down to a company’s long-term record of customer satisfaction.
The news report below goes into more detail about the CR survey:
But, with all of the companies and coverage out there, it can be hard to decide what’s right for you. That’s the downside of having a lot of options available. On the upside, we’ve gathered information about the essential factors car insurance shoppers should consider when they choose a carrier.
Are you ready to read more? You’ll be glad you did. The knowledge can help you while you shop around.
What are the financial ratings of the largest companies in New York?
A.M. Best ranks companies based on their financial strength. And, as we discussed above, loss ratio is part of that and can reflect the stability of a company and whether it may charge customers more to make up for any differences. These are A.M. Best’s ratings for some of the top companies.
Companies with the highest rating of A++ remain profitable despite paying claims regularly.
Which car insurance companies have the best ratings in New York?
Now, let’s review customer satisfaction ratings. J.D. Power’s U.S. Auto Insurance Study measures car insurance customers’ overall satisfaction. These are the results:
|New York average||839||three|
|New York Central Mutual||869||five|
New York Central Mutual earned the top spot, with five power circles, to become among the best. On the opposite end of the scale, Progressive netted only two power circles.
USAA also received high marks, but because it’s available only to military personnel and their families, J.D. Power didn’t include USAA in its official results.
Which car insurance companies have the most complaints in New York?
Praise is one thing, but when you evaluate a car insurer, it helps to look at customers’ criticisms of the company. The data below shows complaints about the top New York insurers in 2017 from the NAIC closed complaint ratio report.
|Company Name||National Median|
|Allstate Insurance Group||1||.5||163|
|Amtrust NGH Group||1||0||2|
|Liberty Mutual Group||1||5.95||222|
|Nationwide Corp Group||1||.28||25|
|NYCM Insurance Group||1||0||2|
|State Farm Group||1||.44||1482|
A complaint ratio reflects the number of complaints a company receives. It’s also tied to an insurer’s market share or the number of customers it serves in a certain geographic area. A ratio of “one” is average.
Though State Farm had the most complaints, its ratio was less than one. It serves more customers in New York than many of its competitors, but not everyone has a grievance. Even if several do, they don’t affect its overall ratio. On the flip side, a company with half the market share of State Farm, Liberty Mutual, received fewer complaints, yet its ratio was six times higher than the average.
What are the cheapest car insurance companies in New York?
Here’s how the top insurers’ rates compare to the state average car insurance prices.
|Company||Average||Compared to State Average (+/-)||Compared to State Average (%)|
Geico is the cheapest company in New York, costing 77 percent less than the New York average. Liberty Mutual’s premiums, however, are over 34 percent higher than the state average.
Does my commute affect my car insurance in New York?
With some insurers, the longer your commute, the more you’ll pay, generally, because your accident risk tends to increase with the more miles you drive.
|Company||10-Mile Commute||25-Mile Commute|
Nationwide, Progressive, and Travelers don’t factor distance into their rates. Of the insurers who base their prices on mileage, Liberty Mutual charges the highest rate at $372.
So if you drive a lot, it’s better to avoid companies that tie their rates to mileage.
Can coverage level change my car insurance rate with companies in New York?
Full or high coverage will give the most protection in case of an accident. With low- or medium-level coverage, you may end up paying some costs for a crash out of pocket.
As you’ll see below, with some insurers, full coverage may be affordable.
|Company||Low Coverage||Medium Coverage||High Coverage|
With Geico, the difference from the highest to lowest coverage amounts to just under $300.
How does my credit history affect my car insurance rate with companies in New York?
Another critical factor in car insurance costs is your credit score. Companies in New York also use their own insurance score, which sometimes includes your credit rating. The video below explains this concept further:
Here’s how auto insurance premium prices compare in the Empire State for drivers with poor, fair, and good credit scores.
As it turns out, New York residents generally have good credit scores.
Experian found that the average New Yorker’s credit score in 2017 was 688, which was higher than the national average of 675. New Yorkers own an average of 3.34 credit cards and carry over $6,000 in credit card debt.
As shown above, Geico and Nationwide offer the lowest rates to drivers with poor credit rankings. This shows that some insurers factor credit history into their prices more than others, and it can help to know which ones give it the most weight.
How does my driving record change my rates with car insurance companies in New York?
Your driving record is another major factor in your insurance premiums. Here’s how they change among the top companies in New York State.
|Company||Clean Record||With One Accident||With One DUI||With One Speeding Violation|
Not every company adjusts its rates for certain driving penalties. For instance, Liberty Mutual keeps rates for drivers who have one accident the same. Like other companies, for one DUI offense or a speeding ticket, Liberty will raise your rates. Some companies do so more than others.
Which car insurance companies are the largest in New York?
Here’s how the top insurers compare by loss ratio, market share, and direct premiums written in New York.
|Company Name||Direct Premiums Written||Loss Ratio||Market Share|
|Allstate Insurance Group||$1,843,730,000||59.24%||13.90%|
|Amtrust NGH Group||$291,750,000||69.66%||2.20%|
|Liberty Mutual Group||$731,396,000||61.45%||5.52%|
|Nationwide Corp Group||$302,854,000||63.35%||2.28%|
|NYCM Insurance Group||$327,366,000||63.55%||2.47%|
|State Farm Group||$1,758,370,000||67.43%||13.26%|
Geico has the largest market share, but also the biggest loss ratio, at over 80 percent. As we’ve mentioned, many of the largest insurers have the financial resources to remain stable despite paying several claims, which could bankrupt smaller companies.
How many car insurance companies are available in New York?
Domestic insurers were formed in New York, while foreign insurers were founded elsewhere, but are licensed to operate in the Empire State.
Out of 882 total insurers who operate in New York, 173 are domestic and 709 are foreign. These totals may include not only property/casualty insurers, but also charter groups and self-insurance companies.
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New York Laws
Laws vary from state to state. Lots of regulations exist, and the legal mumbo jumbo surrounding them can be confusing.
To help you cut through the clutter, below, we’ll cover the laws you must know when you buy car insurance, when you get a license, and when you hit the road.
Get ready to learn more about driving and car insurance regulations.
What are the car insurance laws in New York?
In this section, we’ll go over New York laws that control car insurance rates, windshield replacement, high-risk coverage, fraud, and statutes of limitation.
How State Laws for Insurance Are Determined
The State of New York and the Department of Financial Services set insurance rates based on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ standards.
Insurance companies must get prior approval from the state financial department before filing rates and forms in New York. For prices, the Department of Financial Services requires prior consent only if they are a certain percentage above or sometimes below the rates a company has filed before.
New York law lets you replace a windshield with aftermarket parts if they are “equal or exceed the comparable OEM crash part in terms of fit, form, finish, quality, and performance.” If you use them, the information must appear on the estimate.
Insurers may also offer zero-deductible policies for windshield glass replacement. Comprehensive car insurance, which covers damage from acts of god such as vandalism, theft, fire, and natural disasters, sometimes covers windshield replacement.
If you’ve been convicted of several offenses such as driving without insurance or a DUI, insurance companies may consider you a high risk to insure. That may make it harder to get insured through the open marketplace.
In New York, by law, SR-22 car insurance forms aren’t required. High-risk drivers have an alternative. The New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP) will cover motorists who have tried and failed to get auto insurance within the past 60 days at rates not above those applicable under the plan. The coverage, however, isn’t cheap. In 2012, the average NYAIP premium was $2,283.
You must also provide proof that you tried and failed to get automobile insurance in New York within the past 60 days and haven’t been able to get coverage at rates that don’t exceed those available under the plan.
Though New York has a program to help high-risk drivers, it doesn’t have one for low-income drivers.
California, Hawaii, and New Jersey are the only states with government-funded programs to help low-income drivers pay for their car insurance.
Automobile Insurance Fraud in New York
Misrepresenting facts on insurance claims, submitting false claims, and faking accidents are among the most common forms of car insurance fraud.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurance applicants, policyholders, third-party claimants, and insurance professionals are among those who commit fraud. The III reports that New York is among only five other states that require auto insurance photo inspections for claims:
“Photo inspections uncovered about $1.8 billion in pre-existing auto damage in New York state from 2014 to 2018. This saved insurers from paying $128 million in false claims on vehicles. In addition, for every dollar invested in pre-insurance inspections, $34 in false claims payouts were avoided.”
- Fifth degree – Committing any fraudulent act to get insurance payments improperly, which is a Class A misdemeanor (176.10)
- Fourth degree – Committing insurance fraud and wrongfully receiving assets of more than $1,000 is insurance fraud, which is a Class E felony (176.15)
- Third degree – Carrying out insurance fraud and unfairly gaining $3,000 or more in assets is insurance fraud, which is a Class D felony (176.20).
- Second degree – Committing insurance fraud and getting $50,000 or more of assets is insurance fraud, which is a Class C felony (176.25).
- First degree – Committing insurance fraud and obtaining $1 million or more in assets is insurance fraud, which is a Class B felony. (176.30)
- Aggravated insurance fraud – Committing another act of insurance fraud within five years of a prior conviction, which is a Class D felony (176.35).
If you’ve been a victim of insurance fraud, you may file a complaint online with the New York Attorney General’s Auto Insurance Fraud Unit or call the fraud hotline at (888) 372-8369.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is the time you have left to file and resolve an insurance claim or bring a lawsuit. In New York state, drivers have three years to file a personal injury or a property damage insurance claim or lawsuit.
Evidence can degrade, and witnesses can be hard to keep track of over time, so it’s best to file sooner rather than later.
New York-specific Laws
Like other states, New York has some driving laws you won’t find elsewhere. These are some ordinances that apply only to certain parts of the state:
- Especially in New York City, on some streets, you can turn left only at certain times of the day. Pay attention to the signs before you make these or any other turns.
- In the Village of Sag Harbor, you can’t take off your clothes in your vehicle.
- Drivers in West Hampton Dunes must not make U-turns.
- The Town of Oyster Bay prohibits fancy car horns, so your car must honk like everyone else’s — without the cute bells and whistles.
- It’s illegal to sleep inside your vehicle in Southampton when you park on any street, beach access road, or park, parking lot, or recreational area the village owns or maintains. Violators face fines of up to $1,000 or 15 days in jail.
Whether or not they affect your driving in the Empire State, some quirky rules remain on the books.
What are the vehicle licensing laws in New York?
Here we’ll cover regulations regarding getting and maintaining a license to drive in the Empire State: the recent REAL ID law, penalties, and driver licensing requirements.
Starting October 1, 2020, to comply with the federal REAL ID Act, you’ll need a REAL ID driver’s license, permit, or identification card to board domestic flights or enter federal buildings.
Otherwise, you don’t need to get one. A valid U.S. passport is already REAL ID-compliant, so you can use it to board a flight.
To apply for a REAL ID, you can visit your local Department of Motor Vehicles. Below are the original or certified documents the DMV suggests you bring:
- Proof of identity, such as a valid license, birth certificate, or passport, with your full first, middle (if applicable), and last name. Your name, as it appears on your proof of identity, will appear on your card. If the name on your application doesn’t match the one on your ID, lawful status, and Social Security card, you must bring court or government-issued proof, such as a marriage license, divorce decree, adoption, or court order.
- Proof of Social Security number or Social Security number ineligibility. If you have a valid New York license, permit, or ID card, you must bring your original Social Security card or W-2 with the full SSN. If you don’t have a New York state driver’s license or identification card, you must bring your Social Security card or a letter from the Social Security Administration that proves your ineligibility for a Social Security number.
- Proof of your date of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residency, or temporary lawful U.S. status
- Two different proofs of New York State residence, such as a utility bill, bank or mortgage statement (P.O. box is not acceptable). This address will show up on your card.
Penalties for Driving Without Insurance
Whenever law enforcement pulls you over, you must show your license, registration, and insurance card.
As we mentioned before, in New York, you must carry proof of insurance or financial responsibility with you at all times. If you can’t, according to the state DMV, you’ll face the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $1,500 if you’re involved in an accident and a $750 civil penalty
- License and registration suspension for up to one year if you’re without insurance after 90 days and can’t pay the below fees
If you let your insurance lapse, the DMV will charge you per day at the following rates:
- For 1–30 days – $8 per day
- For 31–60 days – $10 per day
- For 61–90 days – $12 per day
A lapse in insurance and a conviction for driving without insurance can cost you up to $2,400.
Ultimately, driving without insurance can cost you — sometimes more than buying insurance — and it’s a risk that’s better to avoid.
Next, we’ll go over teen driving laws.
Teen Driver Laws
In New York, you must be at least 16 years and six months old to drive without adult supervision. Per New York’s graduated licensing law, below are the requirements for getting a learner’s license.
|Requirements for |
Getting a Learner's
|Mandatory holding period||Six months|
|Minimum supervised driving time||50 hours, 15 of which must be at night|
Young drivers with a learner’s permit must follow these passenger and nighttime restrictions until they meet the age requirement to carry a full license:
|New York Learner's |
|Nighttime restrictions||9 p.m.–5 a.m. except for NYC (unsupervised driving prohibited at all times) and Long Island (limited daytime unsupervised driving)|
|Passenger restrictions (family members excepted unless noted otherwise)||no more than one passenger younger than age 21|
These are the minimum ages when the DMV abandons the restrictions:
may be lifted:
|Nighttime restrictions||Until age 17 with driver education; until age 18 without (min. age – 17)|
|Passenger restrictions||Until age 17 with driver education; until age 18 without (min. age – 17)|
Once they receive a full license, teen drivers may take the wheel without restrictions.
Older Driver License Renewal Procedures
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, older drivers must meet these requirements to renew their licenses:
- Renew their licenses every eight years
- Show proof of adequate vision at every renewal
- Renew by mail or online at every renewal, without restrictions.
New York’s relaxed renewal process means older drivers can make fewer trips to the DMV.
If you’ve moved from out of state, you must apply for a New York driver’s license at a DMV office within 30 days after you establish your residency.
Your out-of-state license must meet the following requirements:
- have a picture
- be valid or have been expired for fewer than 24 months
- have been issued at least six months before your New York license application
You can’t exchange your license if it is or has been:
- suspended or revoked
- lost or stolen
- a hardship or employment-only license
- non-renewable or non-transferable
A New York license is valid for five years from the date of issue.
The news report below details a new Empire State law that allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses:
License Renewal Procedures
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that drivers with New York licenses must renew them every eight years and provide proof of adequate vision at every renewal. They may renew online or through the mail.
Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS)
In New York, reckless driving interferes with the free and proper use of a public highway or endangers other drivers. It’s generally considered a misdemeanor. These are the potential penalties:
- First offense – up to 30 days in jail and/or $100 to $300 in fines
- Second offense (within 18 months) – up to 90 days in prison and/or $100 to $525 in fines
- Third offense (in 18 months) – up to 180 days in jail and/or $100 to $1,125 in fines
One reckless driving conviction can add five points to your driving record and raise your insurance premiums.
What are the rules of the road in New York?
To remain a safe and responsible driver (and avoid penalties), it’s essential to stay on top of the current rules of the road.
Below, we’ll go over laws you should know regarding seat belt and car seat use, when you should keep right and move over, speed limits, automation, and more.
Fault Versus No-fault
As a no-fault state, drivers must file claims with their own insurance company, even when they’re not responsible for an accident.
The Empire State follows a doctrine of comparative fault for personal injury cases. That means a judge or a jury assigns each party involved in an accident a percentage of fault or responsibility.
For example, if a plaintiff who ran a red light was 60 percent at fault, and the other driver, who was speeding, was 40 percent responsible, the judge would reduce the plaintiff’s award by 60 percent.
This law firm video goes over the basics of the comparative negligence law:
Seat Belt and Car Seat Laws
Below are the seat belt and car seat laws in the Empire State.
|Seat Belt Laws in New York||Details|
|Effective since||December 1, 1984|
|Primary enforcement||Yes; effective 12/01/84|
|Age/Seats applicable||16+ years / in front seat|
|First offense maximum fine||$50|
More fees for violating the seat belt law may also apply (besides the $50 fine). Primary enforcement means that law enforcement officers can pull drivers over if they see passengers who aren’t wearing seat belts.
New York State continues to consider requiring passengers in the back seat also to wear seat belts.
Follow these car seat laws to protect your child in case of a car accident:
|Type of Car Seat Required||Age|
|Child booster seat||Younger than 2 years or until a child outgrows the manufacturer's top height or weight recommendations in a rear-facing child restraint; younger than 4 years unless they weigh more than 40 pounds and are seated where there is no available lap/shoulder belt; 4 through 7 years unless they're seated where there is no available lap/shoulder belt|
|Adult belt permissible||8 through 15 years; children who weigh more than 40 pounds or children 4 through 7 years in a seating position where there is no available lap/shoulder belt|
|Preference for rear seat||Yes|
|Maximum base fine for first offense||$100|
As of November 1, 2019, New York law requires restraining children up to 2 years old who ride in a motor vehicle in a rear-facing child safety seat. Always follow the manufacturer’s height and weight requirements to restrain children safely in the right car seats.
Regarding riding the cargo areas of pickup trucks, it’s illegal in New York except in the following situations:
- If the trip is five miles or less.
- If the trip is five miles or more and if one-third or fewer of the passengers are standing, if suitable seats are securely attached, or there are side rails and a tailgate.
- If the trip is five miles or more and fewer than five people age 17 or younger or at least one person, 18 or older, is in the cargo area.
Follow these restrictions to prevent injuring passengers, especially during sharp turns or sudden stops.
Keep Right and Move Over Laws
If you drive slower than the average speed of traffic in New York, you must keep right.
However, according to AAA, when an emergency vehicle, tow truck, or a maintenance vehicle with flashing lights is traveling in the same direction, you must use care, reduce speed, and move to a nearby lane.
When you obey these laws, you potentially avoid hitting people and vehicles. Watch this video for more details on New York’s move-over laws:
These are the highest speed limits on New York roads to keep every driver safe.
|Type of Roadway||Speed Limit|
|Rural interstates||65 mph|
|Urban interstates||65 mph|
|Other limited access roads||65 mph|
|Other roads||55 mph|
Keep your speed in check by looking at the posted speed limits on these and other roads.
If you want to drive for rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, among other requirements (which vary by company), according to the New York DMV, you must carry a New York license and insurance. Drivers must also be at least 19 years old.
Automation on the Road
New York limits the use of driverless cars on the road. According to the IIHS, New York is among the states that are testing automated or driverless vehicles. The tests require operators to be licensed and inside the car. They must also have liability insurance of $5 million.
The news report below explains more about driverless cars in the Empire State:
What are the safety laws in New York?
New York has several safety laws that control driving under the influence (DUI) and marijuana-impaired and distracted driving. In this section, we’ll cover the laws and the penalties involved in such risky behaviors.
DUI is a crime in New York and can increase your insurance rates by $1,000 or more. Below are some facts about the state’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit from Responsibility.org and the different levels of offenses:
|Name for Offense||Driving While Intoxicated (DWI); High BAC Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated (ADWI)|
|BAC limit||0.05 – DWAI, 0.08 – DUI|
|High BAC limit||0.18|
|Criminal status||DWAI – First, traffic violation; Second and subsequent, misdemeanor;
DWI – First, misdemeanor;
Second in 10 years, class E felony;
Third and subsequent in 10 years, class D felony
|Look-back period||10 years for second offense
15 years for third and subsequent
The table below reveals more details about penalties and fines, which include New York’s two levels of DUI — driving while intoxicated (DWI) and aggravated driving while intoxicated (ADWI).
|DUI Penalities||ALS or Revocation||Imprisonment||Fine|
|First Offense||Revoked for at least six months|
ADWI – One-year minimum
|No minimum, but up to one year|
ADWI – Up to one year
ADWI – $1,000–$2,500
|Second Offense||Second in 10 years – One-year minimum; |
ADWI – 18 months minimum
|Five days minimum. |
Second in 10 years – Up to four years.
ADWI – Up to four years
|Second in 10 years – $1,000–$5,000;
ADWI – $1,000–$5,000
|Third Offense||Third in 10 years – One-year minimum. |
ADWI – 18 months minimum
|10 days minimum. |
Third in 10 years – Up to seven years;
ADWI – Up to seven years
|Third in 10 years – $2,000–$10,000;
ADWI – $2,000–$10,000
With the rise in BAC levels, the penalties increase accordingly. These laws are strict for a reason and act as a deterrent. The safest thing to do to prevent severe injuries and death is not to drink and drive.
Marijuana-impaired Driving Laws
New York doesn’t have any specific laws for marijuana-impaired driving. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t get caught for drugged driving.
Law enforcement will charge drivers under the influence of marijuana with intoxicated driving. This charge carries many of the same penalties as drunk driving, such as fines, jail time, and license suspension.
Recreational marijuana use remains illegal in New York. However, in July 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo approved the reduction of fines for possessing an ounce of the drug from $100 to $50.
The law also closes the public view loophole police officers have used as a reason to arrest those who possess the drug. Further, it automatically erases old convictions for this now decriminalized conduct.
CNN reports that the governor also announced recently that legalizing cannabis is among his priorities in 2020. Regarding medicinal use, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are among the qualifying conditions.
Unfortunately, drugged driving is increasing, and the effects are just as bad — if not worse — than drunk or distracted driving. To avoid harming yourself and others, don’t drive while under the influence.
Distracted Driving Laws
Using a handheld device while you drive can be just as risky as a DUI. With the rise of the smartphone, distracted driving has become a bigger road hazard. Below are the New York laws over cellphone use while driving.
|Handheld Ban||Young Drivers – All Cellphone Ban||Texting Ban||Enforcement|
|All drivers||Not a law||All drivers||Primary|
The American Automobile Association (AAA) states that “no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using a mobile telephone to engage in a call while the vehicle is in motion unless that person is using a hands-free device. Text messaging while driving is prohibited for all drivers.”
These laws are primary enforcement, which means that a police officer can pull you over for using your cellphone.
See the video below for more facts about the state’s ban on texting while driving:
For those who are addicted to drugs, alcohol, or even smartphones, treatment options are available.
Driving in New York
The dangers of driving in high-traffic situations in densely populated areas such as New York City lead some people to take public transportation instead.
Wherever you drive, it helps to stay informed about the hazards of car ownership and taking to the streets. Keep reading to learn all about vehicle theft, traffic fatalities, and more.
How many vehicle thefts occur in New York?
Some vehicles are more popular to steal than others. These are the top 10 most stolen cars in the Empire State.
|Type of Vehicle||Model Year||Number Stolen|
|Ford Econoline E350||2011||339|
|Jeep Cherokee/Grand Cherokee||2015||263|
In keeping with drivers’ tendency to drive more practical cars, thieves, in turn, prefer to steal them. The 1997 Honda Accord and the 2014 Toyota Camry were among the most stolen vehicles.
Let’s look at Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) statistics on the vehicle thefts by city in the Empire State:
|Addison Town and Village||0|
|Alexandria Bay Village||0|
|Amity Town and Belmont Village||0|
|Ballston Spa Village||1|
|Blooming Grove Town||8|
|Briarcliff Manor Village||0|
|Camillus Town and Village||8|
|Cape Vincent Village||0|
|Cayuga Heights Village||0|
|Central Square Village||0|
|Centre Island Village||1|
|Dobbs Ferry Village||1|
|East Aurora-Aurora Town||2|
|East Fishkill Town||10|
|East Greenbush Town||7|
|East Hampton Town||4|
|East Hampton Village||2|
|East Rochester Village||2|
|Elmira Heights Village||0|
|Floral Park Village||4|
|Fort Edward Village||0|
|Fort Plain Village||1|
|Garden City Village||6|
|Glen Park Village||0|
|Great Neck Estates Village||0|
|Green Island Village||4|
|Greenwood Lake Village||5|
|Hoosick Falls Village||1|
|Hudson Falls Village||2|
|Huntington Bay Village||0|
|Hyde Park Town||1|
|Johnson City Village||22|
|Kings Point Village||2|
|Lake Placid Village||4|
|Lake Success Village||0|
|Le Roy Village||0|
|Lewiston Town and Village||12|
|Lloyd Harbor Village||1|
|Macedon Town and Village||3|
|Mount Hope Town||2|
|Mount Morris Village||3|
|Mount Pleasant Town||0|
|New Berlin Town||0|
|New Castle Town||1|
|New Hartford Town and Village||5|
|New Paltz Town and Village||1|
|New Windsor Town||7|
|New York Mills Village||1|
|North Castle Town||2|
|North Greenbush Town||9|
|North Syracuse Village||3|
|Nunda Town and Village||0|
|Ocean Beach Village||2|
|Old Brookville Village||2|
|Old Westbury Village||1|
|Orchard Park Town||5|
|Oyster Bay Cove Village||1|
|Pelham Manor Village||13|
|Penn Yan Village||0|
|Pine Plains Town||0|
|Port Byron Village||0|
|Port Chester Village||18|
|Port Dickinson Village||2|
|Pound Ridge Town||1|
|Red Hook Village||0|
|Rockville Centre Village||8|
|Rouses Point Village||0|
|Rye Brook Village4||5|
|Sackets Harbor Village||0|
|Sag Harbor Village||0|
|Sands Point Village||0|
|Saranac Lake Village||1|
|Seneca Falls Town||5|
|Shelter Island Town||0|
|Sleepy Hollow Village||1|
|Sodus Point Village||0|
|South Glens Falls Village||4|
|South Nyack Village||0|
|Spring Valley Village||13|
|St. Johnsville Village||1|
|Stony Point Town||5|
|Tupper Lake Village||3|
|Wappingers Falls Village||0|
|Waterford Town and Village4||3|
|Watkins Glen Village||0|
|Webster Town and Village||12|
|West Carthage Village||1|
|West Seneca Town||15|
|Westhampton Beach Village||0|
Not surprisingly, the most populated cities, such as New York City and Buffalo, were among the places where the most car thefts occurred. The prevalence of these incidents emphasizes the need to maintain comprehensive coverage to reimburse you for theft or vandalism.
How many road fatalities occur in New York?
Through crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), we’ll explore which parts of New York are the most hazardous to drive around.
We’ll also explore some of the obvious and overlooked risks of the road, including weather and light conditions, speeding, and alcohol impairment. Sadly, a harsh result of these dangers are crashes that lead to deaths. We’ll look at those statistics, too.
First up, we’ll discover which Empire State highway is the deadliest.
Most Fatal Highway in New York
According to Geotab, over the past decade, 156 fatal crashes occurred along Interstate 87 (I-87), which spans from New York City to Montreal, Quebec, in Canada. The many deadly crashes have resulted in a fatal crash rate of 0.3, based on NHTSA and Federal Highway Administration data. These statistics highlight the need to drive safely there and wherever you are on the road.
The news report below features one of the many crashes that have happened along I-87:
Fatal Crashes by Weather Condition and Light Condition
Rain, snow, and ice can cause dangerous road conditions. However, darkness or daylight can also factor into the hazards. Let’s see how many fatal accidents happened in different weather and light conditions in New York.
|Weather Condition||Daylight||Dark, but Lighted||Dark||Dawn or Dusk||Other / Unknown|
Regardless of conventional wisdom, many of the deaths reported occurred in normal daylight conditions.
Fatalities (All Crashes) by County
We’ve covered the conditions that are likely to lead to crashes. Now, let’s look at where they tend to happen. Here’s how many fatal crashes occurred in each Empire State county.
From 2013 to 2017, Suffolk and Nassau Counties consistently had the highest number of fatal crashes in the state. This kind of goes with the territory, as they’re also among the New York counties with the biggest population.
These figures reveal how many traffic deaths happened in rural versus urban areas of New York.
Despite the remoteness of rural areas, the number of crash deaths between them and urban areas was almost even from 2008 to 2017.
Fatalities by Person Type
Whether you’re a passenger in a car, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist, you’re prone to death or injury from a crash. These are the fatalities by the type of vehicle and transportation used in New York.
|Light truck – utility||93||90||113||91||119|
|Light truck – pickup||59||49||49||70||47|
|Light truck – van||41||26||41||33||33|
|Light truck – other||0||0||1||0||1|
|Bicyclist and other cyclist||40||46||36||39||46|
Many of the deaths involved passenger car occupants. However, several pedestrian and motorcyclist fatalities also occurred. These figures serve to remind us to keep aware of our surroundings and seek ways to protect ourselves — through proper clothing, equipment, or procedures — in case of a crash.
Fatalities by Crash Type
Now, let’s look at the types of crashes that are most likely to lead to deaths.
|Involving a large truck||118||98||126||106||121|
|Involving a rollover||160||144||160||144||127|
|Involving a roadway departure||580||509||513||471||450|
|Involving an intersection (or intersection-related)||467||377||419||385||373|
During the five-year timeframe, most of the crashes involved single vehicles and roadway departures.
Five-year Trend for the Top 10 Counties
These are the numbers of fatalities in the most populated New York counties from 2013 to 2017.
Suffolk County had the highest number of fatalities, followed by Nassau and Queens County. New York, Orange, and Onondaga Counties experienced the fewest fatalities out of the top 10, at an average of 30 to 40 yearly.
Fatalities Involving Speeding by County
Speed is among the many factors involved in crash deaths. Which counties had the most and least casualties from speeding?
Though it’s a concern no matter where you are, Suffolk and Nassau Counties had the highest speeding-related accident deaths. Yates, Albany, and Livingston were among those with the fewest.
Fatalities in Crashes Involving an Alcohol-impaired Driver by County
Another major contributor to crashes in New York is alcohol consumption. We’ve all heard the warnings not to drink and drive, but regardless, some people still don’t heed them. These statistics remind us of the consequences of that risky behavior.
Suffolk and Queens Counties were among those with the highest alcohol-related fatalities.
Teen Drinking and Driving
Teens, sadly, have also been known to take the wheel while they’re intoxicated. Here’s data about underage drinking trends in the Empire State.
|DUI Arrests (Under 18 years old)||DUI Arrests (Under 18 years old) Total Per Million People||Rank|
Fortunately, New York is among the states with the fewest alcohol-impaired fatalities for those under age 21, ranking 46th out of 50 states. Nationally, according to Responsibility.org, the average is 1.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Together with safe driving, drug and alcohol education is a crucial step in raising awareness of the risks of substance abuse on and off the road. Mothers Against Drunk Driving and other organizations have been especially vocal in helping victims and fighting to prevent people from getting behind the wheel while under the influence.
EMS Response Time
One of the most anticipated arrivals on an accident scene is that of emergency medical services (EMS). Below are their response times for accidents in rural and urban New York areas.
|Details||Time of Crash to EMS|
|EMS Notification to|
|EMS Arrival at Scene|
to Hospital Arrival
|Time of Crash to Hospital|
|Total Fatal Crashes|
|Rural||3 minutes||11 minutes||40 minutes||50 minutes||427|
|Urban||2 minutes||5 minutes||28 minutes||33 minutes||506|
Response times in rural parts of New York, unfortunately, were three times higher than those in cities and suburbs. The delays may be due to difficulties traveling to and from remote areas.
What is transportation like in New York?
New York is one of the most highly populated states, so access to adequate transportation is essential. In this section, we’ll offer statistics from Data USA that show how much car ownership, commute times, and certain forms of transportation play a role in New Yorkers’ lives.
In the end, we’ll cover a constant problem: traffic congestion in the Empire State. Let’s get rolling.
In New York state, 30 percent of drivers own two cars. Given that residents in major metropolitan areas such as New York City use public transportation, the ratio is 10 percent less than the nationwide average.
Traffic levels are a major factor in the time drivers take to reach their destinations. As you might expect, often because of traffic congestion, New Yorkers face longer commutes than the U.S average. By how much?
The average New Yorkers’ commute is 32.2 minutes one way, which is nearly seven minutes longer than the typical U.S. driver’s time of 25.5 minutes. On top of that, about 6 percent of New Yorkers have a super commute of 90 minutes or more. That’s also more than double the nationwide average.
New Yorkers prefer certain types of transportation over others for their commutes.
Just over 50 percent of residents drive alone, but that number pales in comparison to the U.S. average of 75 percent. Part of that is because more New Yorkers — 28 percent — take public transportation. The number of public transit passengers also happens to be almost six times higher than the national average.
It’s no mystery that traffic congestion is a problem in major New York cities. Here’s how Inrix’s Traffic Scorecard ranks the cities:
|City||2018 World Rank||Hours Lost in Congestion||Cost of Congestion (Per Driver)|
|New York City, NY||40||133||$1,859|
New York City is one of the worst spots for traffic, ranking 40th in the world, while Buffalo placed a distant second in the state. Congestion in both cities costs commuters over $1,000 yearly in transportation-related costs, such as gas. So, if you live in those cities, add extra time — and as necessary, pad your budget — for your commute.
By contrast, the TomTom Traffic Index rates NYC 42nd worldwide for the worst traffic congestion. The congestion level on highways and non-highways is 36 percent. That percentage increases during peak commute times — 55 percent in the morning and 69 percent in the evening.
In morning traffic, commuters spend an extra 17 minutes in their cars. That time increases in the evening to 21 minutes.
We’ve reached the end of this comprehensive car insurance guide. Did you learn everything you needed to know? We hope you learned something useful.
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