Why do I need liability insurance on my car?

Q: Why Do I Need Liability Insurance On My Car?

A: The law requires liability insurance in order to protect you and motorists who may be involved in an accident with you. You must have liability coverage at all times while your car is registered, even if you don’t use your vehicle: It the registration is in your name, the insurance must also be in your name. You should always carry the insurance ID card in the vehicle.

Q: What Happens If I Don’t Have Liability Coverage?

A: If the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) receives information you were involved in an accident driving a car not covered, or that a car you own was involved in an accident and. wasn’t covered, your driver license and vehicle registration will be revoked for at least one year. Additionally, you have to pay a $500 civil penalty to DMV in order to get your license back. These penalties also apply if you get a traffic ticket and are found guilty of driving without insurance, or if someone else drives your vehicle while it is not covered. The court may also fine you up to $1,000, which is separate from the $500 civil penalty.

Your insurance company must notify DMV when your liability coverage ends. Unless you follow the steps outlined in this brochure, your car registration, and possibly your driver license, will be suspended.

Q: How Do I Avoid A Problem?

A: Remember a simple rule: no insurance, no plates!

Keep liability coverage on your vehicle at all times. If your coverage is going to end for any reason, turn in the license plates to DMV before your coverage terminates and obtain a receipt showing you turned in your plates. If your coverage has ended, you must turn in your plates even if you are not going to use the vehicle.

Be sure to keep your address up to date with both DMV and your insurance agent or company. Important notices will be mailed to the latest address available. It is your responsibility to keep address changes current.

Q: What If My Coverage Does Lapse?

A: If you receive a cancellation notice, contact your insurance agent or company immediately.

Do not use the vehicle if coverage has ended, even if you think it ended due to a mistake.

If your liability coverage is going to end and you are not going to get other coverage, turn in your license plates to DMV to avoid suspension of your registration and license.

Don’t let your insurance coverage end, and then hold onto the plates while you work out a problem with the insurance company. TURN THE PLATES IN! You will be able to get your registration back when the problem is resolved.

Q: What If I Get A Notice From DMV About Liability Coverage?

A: Answer it quickly! DMV must receive the following information within 7 days:

  • Proof you have other coverage, and had continuous coverage during the time period in question (for example, an insurance ID card), or
  • Proof that the car has been sold.

It is up to YOU to answer DMV’s letter! The problem will not be resolved unless YOU respond!

Q: What If I Don’t Follow These Steps?

A: Your registration will be suspended. You must turn in your plates. The suspension lasts for the same number of days that you were without liability coverage and the plates were not turned in. If this period is more than 90 days, your driver license will also be suspended.

Instead of turning in your plates, you may pay an $8-per-day civil penalty to DMV. For example, for a 25-day lapse without surrendering plates you could pay a $200 penalty (25 x $8) instead of turning the plates in and serving a 25-day suspension.

However, the civil penalty option will not be available to you if:

  • The lapse is for more than 90 days,
  • You used the civil penalty option for a previous suspension within the last 36 months.

For more information about Auto Liability Insurance, please visit: www.nydmv.state.ny.us or call: (518) 474-0700.