There are a few things that all drivers need to have: a valid driver’s license, the ability to change a tire (or Roadside Assistance), and an active auto insurance policy. While policy features vary from insurer to insurer, and premium prices can differ significantly, there are a few key factors involved with acquiring legal auto insurance in the state of New York.
Buying auto insurance isn’t just about price–you’ll also want to ensure that you find a policy that offers the right amount of coverage to suit you, your vehicle, and even the area in which you live. You want an insurer who will be there if you actually need to file a claim, making it easy to get your vehicle repaired or expenses covered. And, of course, you don’t want to overpay for said coverage.
But finding the right auto insurance provider who is not only reliable, offers great customer service, and has the right price can be overwhelming. The amount of research involved can make your head spin, and you may not even know exactly what your state’s requirements are. That’s what Dough Roller is here for.
We have taken the time to do all of the research on New York auto insurance policies, bringing you this comprehensive guide to buying coverage. Here, you will find data on average pricing, the differences between cost in certain cities, state laws and policies, and even the penalties for failing to obtain adequate coverage. We will also go over the most popular providers, those who offer you the best coverage, and where you’ll find the cheapest price.
With all that said, let’s get started.
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Compare Car Insurance Plans in New York
The options are seemingly-endless when shopping around for your next auto insurance policy in New York state. This makes it easier to find exactly what you need with the features you want most. However, it can also make the entire shopping process even more confusing.
We have spent hours poring over the data and researching not only the laws and regulations of the state, but also the features of the companies who offer services there. In the end, we are able to offer some broad recommendations for where you should look when buying your next policy.
Below are our five favorite companies. It’s important to remember that these recommendations are based on our specific research and the data we used for this guide. Your own experience may vary, depending on any number of personal factors–things like your location within the state, your driving record and credit report, your age and the vehicle you drive, and even the number of miles driven in a year can all have an impact.
With that said, here are our five favorite insurance companies in New York, based on their strengths and what they offer to customers:
- Best Overall Satisfaction: Allstate
- Best Customer Service: New York Central Mutual
- Lowest Premiums: GEICO
- Great If You Have a Perfect Record: Hanover
- Best If You Have a Less-Than-Perfect Record: Preferred Mutual
While price may feel like your biggest deciding factor in the auto insurance-shopping game, it’s actually not. Before you ever start comparing discounts available, customer service ratings, or even price tags, you need to know just how much auto insurance coverage the state of New York requires you to have.
Each state has their own set of regulations. The level of coverage you buy in one state may be different from the next state over. The minimum limits, types of coverage, and even the price you’ll pay vary, as do the penalties for failing to maintain said coverage.
So, before you ever start shopping around for auto insurance in New York, you first need to know what coverage you need. You’re always welcome to buy a policy that goes above and beyond these minimum limits, but there is the bottom line coverage you’ll need to carry in order to be considered an insured driver in the Empire State.
|Bodily Injury Liability|
|Death or injury of one person in any one accident||$25,000 minimum|
|Death or injury of 2+ people in any one accident||$50,000 minimum|
|Property Damage Liability||$10,000 minimum|
|No-Fault Coverage||$50,000 minimum|
You may be wondering what the difference is between these three types of insurance requirements: bodily injury, property damage liability coverage, and no-fault coverage. Here’s a breakdown of each:
Property damage liability is exactly how it sounds. It’s a type of auto insurance coverage meant to protect property that is damaged or destroyed as a result of an auto accident for which you are liable (or responsible). Property damage liability will pay to repair or replace someone else’s vehicle or home, a building, objects, and even signs or structures. In the state of New York, you are required to carry personal property liability coverage of at least $10,000.
Bodily injury liability is for any number of injuries that are caused to another person in an accident for which you are at-fault. It will pay for medical bills, rehabilitation expenses, and more if you are responsible for an accident and someone else is hurt, this type of coverage will kick in. For New York drivers, you’ll need to carry a policy with at least $25k/$50k coverage. This means that one person injured in an accident will receive up to $25,000 in coverage; if two or more people are injured, you’ll need at least $50,000 in coverage which will be split between them as needed.
No-Fault coverage is also called Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. This coverage is intended to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and other medically-necessary expenses if you are injured in an automobile accident or are hit as a pedestrian.
Just because you are required to carry these minimum coverage amounts doesn’t mean that you’re limited to them. In fact, you can buy quite a bit more coverage in each of the categories mentioned–as well as additional coverage types–if you so desire. You can just expect to pay more each month in premiums.
For instance, you could purchase twice as much property damage liability coverage as the state of New York requires. If you were to get in an at-fault accident and the damages exceeded the state’s $10,000 minimum, you would be covered up to your policy’s limit. This would protect you from having to pay out of pocket for those damages, or even being sued for them.
It’s not just smart to buy adequate auto insurance coverage before getting behind the wheel in New York, it’s the law. And failing to meet these minimum requirements sets you up for some hefty penalties.
It’s important to note that the penalties aren’t just for drivers who get caught without any auto insurance coverage, though. If you buy auto insurance, but it doesn’t meet the New York state minimum requirements, you’re considered underinsured. This still makes you an “illegal” driver, and there are penalties for you, as well.
If you are stopped for a non-accident traffic citation and don’t have minimum liability coverage, here’s what you can expect in the state of New York:
- A registration suspension equal to the number of days your policy has been lapsed. If the lapse is more than 90 days, your license will be suspended for at least 90 days and your plates surrendered.
- A civil penalty of $8-12 per day
- A fine of up to $1,500
If you don’t have minimum coverage and are involved in a crash–whether it’s your fault or not–the penalties are much more steep. Your punishment will involve:
- A fine of up to $1,500
- A mandatory registration suspension of at least one year
- A mandatory license suspension of at least one year (reinstatement fee of $750)
- Possible arrest
Turning in Plates
When your auto insurance coverage lapses or is cancelled, the insurance company will automatically notify the DMV. Even if you’re not stopped by an officer or involved in an accident and asked for proof of insurance, they will already know that you don’t have adequate coverage and your registration on your vehicle will be suspended.
If your registration is suspended, you are supposed to turn your plates in to the DMV right away. If you simply let your insurance lapse for a few weeks and then reinstate it, that’s fine–but you’ll still need to serve a registration suspension equal to the number of days that your insurance had lapsed and you hadn’t turned in your plates.
For example: You allow your insurance to lapse for two weeks, and simply don’t drive your vehicle during that time. However, you didn’t want to turn in your plates because you knew you’d reinstate coverage soon, so you keep them on your vehicle. Well, when you get a new insurance policy after 14 days of no coverage, you’ll “owe” the DMV 14 days of registration suspension. This means that even though you now have valid coverage again, you won’t be able to drive for another two weeks, until you fulfill your registration debt.
You can also opt to pay a civil penalty instead of dealing with a suspension, and have your plates reinstated right away.
Penalties are as follows:
|Insurance lapse||1-30 days||31-60 days||61-90 days|
|Civil penalty||$8 per day||$10 per day||$12 per day|
You cannot opt for the civil penalty payment if you’ve paid the penalty for a coverage lapse in the last 36 months. You are also unable to opt for the fee if your insurance lapse was more than 90 days long. In that case, your license will also be suspended for the same period of time as the registration suspension; a $25 license reinstatement fee is due at the end of the period.
A Bigger Risk
While no one enjoys penalties–especially when fines are involved, or if you’ll lose your license for a period of time–it’s not the worst thing that can happen if you’re caught driving without coverage. A much bigger risk is getting in an accident.
If you’re involved in an auto accident and don’t hold a policy with state-minimum coverage, you’ll definitely get a citation. But you’ll also still be responsible for any damages or injuries incurred if you’re the at-fault party in the accident–even if you don’t have auto insurance to jump in and pay the damages.
Following an at-fault accident, the other party (or their insurance company) will come calling with bills for medical care (if applicable) and property repairs/replacement. If you don’t have an auto insurance policy to cover these bills, you are personally on the hook for them. And if you can’t afford to pay? You are likely to be sued and the impacts can be disastrous.
A civil suit would target your assets–your family home, vehicles, savings and retirement accounts, property, and more. If those assets still aren’t enough to cover the damages, your wages could be garnished for many years to come, until your debt is paid.
Those monthly auto insurance premiums are a bit easier to swallow when you think of it that way, huh?
Proof of Insurance
When you purchase an auto insurance policy (and then renew it every six months thereafter), you will be provided with what’s called “proof of insurance.” Some insurance companies will mail you a card to keep in your wallet; others will simply offer you a printed insurance card or even access to a PDF that you can print at home.
If you choose a tech-savvy company, they may even have a mobile app that will give you access to policy document–such as your insurance card–on the go. No matter the medium, though, you will need to keep some proof of insurance with you at all times when you are behind the wheel of a car.
Your proof of insurance will contain a number of identifiers. These include your:
- Name (as the insured) and the names of others covered under the same policy
- Vehicles covered under the policy
- Policy number
- Dates of valid coverage
- Insurance company’s name, address, and phone number
Depending on the insurance company, you may also find additional information on your insurance card. This could include your coverage limits, state-mandated minimums, and more.
No one wants to overpay for something like auto insurance. However, there needs to be a balance between cost and the level of service provided. If you can’t count on your insurance company to cover your claim when you need them, it doesn’t matter how cheap that policy was, it was a waste.
Even still, your budget would argue that cost is a factor. It’s important then to find the best possible coverage that you can afford, with an insurance company that offers reliable service and a history of positive claim management.
As you might expect, New York has one of the highest average auto insurance premiums in the country. The actual premium you’ll receive will depend on a number of personal factors, including your age, driving record, the vehicle you own, the level of coverage you want to purchase, and even the exact area in which you live. However, here’s a look at the average auto insurance costs across the state as a whole, taking into account all insured drivers.
I was interested to learn that the insurance premium data published from QuoteWizard was broken down by gender. Typically, they only offer the overall average costs–but with New York drivers, we get to see the difference between prices paid by men and women.
Based on their information, the average auto insurance policy in the Empire State will run men $1,286 per year. Women have it a bit worse, with an average cost of $1,421. If you’re wondering how this compares to the rest of the country, it’s about what you would expect (considering this is New York we’re talking about): the national average is only $889.01 per year, so NY women are paying almost double that.
Now, keep in mind that these prices are total averages. They take into account drivers that have full coverage auto insurance, as well as those who only opt for liability coverage. So, if you want to know the average of the level of coverage you are interested in buying, we need to break the numbers down further.
Let’s look at New York state men first. As mentioned, they spend an average of $1,286 a year for auto insurance. This breaks down into an average of $836 per year for basic, liability-only coverage (this coverage level alone is almost the same as the national average!). That means that if you’re a man driving in New York, this is about what you can expect to pay if you want the cheapest, most bare-bones coverage you can buy.
Male drivers in New York also pay an average of $379 a year for collision coverage. This protects their vehicle if they’re in an at-fault accident and want their car repaired. Another $71 is spent, on average, on comprehensive coverage. This protects their vehicle against any number of things, such as a hit-and-run or someone knocking off your mirror in the middle of the night.
For women, the numbers are a bit higher. As mentioned, the average annual premium is $1,421, of which $958 is spent on liability coverage alone. Another $393 goes toward collision coverage and, as with the men, an average of $71 is spent on comprehensive coverage.
All in all, New York drivers pay about $107 (men) and $118 (women) a month for their auto insurance coverage.
|Coverage||Rates for Men||Rates for Women|
|Total Cost Per Year||$1,286||$1,421|
|Price Per Month||$107||$118|
As mentioned, it’s important to remember that these are only averages. Your actual cost will likely vary in either direction, based on your personal factors. Your age, how long you’ve been driving, your history of accidents or citations, your marital status, and even your credit score can easily raise or lower premiums.
You may also qualify for any number of discounts offered by various insurance providers. These could include price breaks for safe drivers, students, military members, multiple-driver families, and even discounts for purchasing more than one policy through the company.
Did you skip forward to this section? It’s the biggest question that many New York drivers have and want to know the answer to. Which company offers the cheapest car insurance in New York state?
Now, before we answer the question, you should know that it’s not as black-and-white of a matter as you may think. There may be a particular insurance company that offers the lowest rates to everyone except those who have had an accident in the last three years. And the company that’s the cheapest for the soccer mom next door might not be the cheapest for the college kid in the red convertible down the street. There are plenty of variables in action, which means that there might not be one company that’s the “cheapest” overall.
However, we can come pretty close to giving you the answer. Here at Dough Roller, we have done some serious research to find the best value for New York drivers, no matter which driver profile they fit into. We figured out which companies were consistently the most affordable when priced out for different types of drivers, so you can at least have an idea of where you should look first.
To do this, we created a sample driver. Meet Tom.
Tom is a 30-year-old college graduate. He is single, has a clean driving record, and drives a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. Tom also lives in a condo that he owns in Schenectady (we will see the importance of this later).
Here’s what we found when we started shopping around for rates for Tom, based on standard, state-minimum coverage.
|Insurance Company||Monthly Premium|
How different would Tom’s premiums look if he lived in Lawrence instead?
|Insurance Company||Monthly Premium|
As you can tell, Tom is stuck paying quite a bit more for the same coverage, just for living in a different area. Either way, though, it appears that he can look toward GEICO as being one of the least expensive options for him personally, no matter where he lives.
So, now you know how much Tom can expect to pay for auto insurance in two cities–but that might not help you very much in your search. Understandably, you want to know how much you can expect to pay for coverage in New York.
Of course, that’s difficult to say, and we can’t possibly tell you exactly how much you’ll spend in premiums each year. The reason is because there are tens of personal factors involved with calculating your premiums, and each insurance company works differently. Your variables will carry different weight with different insurers, and there’s no way for us to take every single one of them into account.
Things that impact your premiums include your:
- Marital status
- Driving record
- Vehicle(s) covered
- Whether your vehicle is financed, leased, or paid in full
- ZIP code
- Whether you own or rent your home
- Miles driven each year and the purpose of those miles (work commute, pleasure, etc.)
- How much coverage you want
So, now you can see why it would be impossible to tell all of you readers exactly what you can expect to pay for your New York state auto insurance policy. Without knowing all of your personal factors, there’s no way to truly calculate an accurate price. As you already know, though, the average policy in the state runs $1,286 a year for men and $1,421 for women. If you only want basic, state minimum liability coverage, this price drops to an average of $836 for men and $958 for women.
But we aren’t going to leave you there. We wanted to take this guide a step further, so we did some extra research. While we still can’t tell you, Specific Dough Roller Reader, precisely how much you’ll be charged, we can get you a number that’s a bit closer to what you’ll pay. That way, you can go into your auto policy shopping experience with a baseline expectation in mind.
Since we don’t know you or your personal information, we created four different sample drivers. Each of these four drivers represents a specific demographic, giving us a way to compare how prices change based on certain factors. While you probably won’t exactly relate to any of them, you will probably be able to lean toward one–and the pricing charts that follow can at least tell you the trends that you’ll find when searching for your own policy.
Let’s take a look at our four example drivers in this pricing exercise. They all live in Albany, NY, in ZIP code 12208. We chose this city because it ranks almost dead-center in terms of average auto policy pricing across the state. This makes it a more accurate indicator, versus choosing a more metropolitan area.
First, there is Little Timmy. He’s a stereotypical young, male driver: 22-year-old college kid, living in an apartment, who has racked up two speeding tickets in the last two years. He drives just over 15,000 miles a year in his 2012 Chevy Impala (which he is still paying off), and has average credit.
Next up are John and Jane Smith. These married folks are both 42, both college grads with good credit, and own their home. Between them, they drive a 2011 Chevy Equinox (which is paid off) and a 2014 Toyota Sienna (which is financed). They drive around 16,000 miles a year each, toting their kids to soccer practice and whatnot. Neither of them has any speeding tickets, but Jane did get into a little at-fault fender bender last year.
Straight-Laced Sally is the third sample driver, and she is an insurer’s dream. Sally is 35 and owns her condo. She has excellent credit, is a college grad, and drives 10,000 miles a year in her 2010 Toyota Camry. As you’d expect, she also has a crystal clean driving record.
Our fourth and final sample driver is sweet Grandpa Joe. Grandpa is 65 with a clean driving record and good credit. He owns both his home and his 1998 Honda Civic outright, and he drives about 8,000 miles a year. He also has his bachelor’s degree from way back when.
Now, it bears repeating: you aren’t likely to perfectly align with any of these sample drivers. However, there is probably one you relate to more than the others, either in terms of age and driving record, incidence of violations or accidents, or even owning a home versus renting. You can use that to gauge how premiums change between the same drivers, to see which companies you should look into first.
Let’s get started then, shall we? Here is a look at monthly premiums for each of our four Albany, New York drivers if they only want state-minimum liability coverage. (Quotes provided by The Zebra and Insurox)
|Little Timmy||John & Jane Smith||Straight-Laced Sally||Grandpa Joe|
It’s easy to see that the pricing results will vary from insurer-to-insurer, according to the drivers’ personal information. You can expect to see the same when shopping for you own policy.
There are some patterns that we see, however, even though insurers in the Empire State are a bit more limited than in other states. For example, Hanover was one of the cheapest options for every single driver checked, if not the cheapest. Preferred Mutual also offered competitive pricing for almost everyone, even if they weren’t the absolute cheapest option available.
Based on what we found here, we can also assume that your driving record will play a significant role in your premiums, followed by your age (either young or older). Other factors, such as the vehicle you drive, your education level, and even your credit score come second to those.
As you have probably noticed, each state in the U.S. is different from the next. This also extends to auto insurance, meaning that every state has their own rules, regulations, and even quirks when it comes to buying your policy.
Here’s a look at the things that make New York auto insurance different than other states, and how it can impact your own policy shopping.
New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP)
If you’ve already lost and/or been denied coverage due to a DUI, accidents, or other driving record issues, or that you’ve failed to pay your premiums with a previous policy, you are likely considered a high-risk driver. And if you’re a high-risk driver, you might not be able to find an insurer that will approve you for new coverage. In this case, you’ll need to turn to the high-risk coverage option offered in the state: the New York Automobile Insurance Plan, or NYAIP.
The NYAIP was created for drivers who otherwise struggle to get adequate, state-mandated coverage. These drivers may have had their coverage cancelled, non-renewed, and/or have been denied for a new policy due to certain factors. But because all drivers in New York are required to have valid, state-minimum liability in order to get behind the wheel, the NYAIP option is a last resort.
The NYAIP isn’t an auto insurance provider, though. Instead, they will match high-risk drivers–who can’t otherwise obtain coverage–with providers who will offer them an appropriate policy. You can expect to pay a premium for this coverage if you’re going in as a high-risk driver, but if the NYAIP is your last resort, then the added cost is well worth the ability to legally drive in the state.
The provider with which you’re matched is obligated to provide you with coverage for at least three years, before they can choose to non-renew your policy. Following that three year period, you can shop around for a new policy on the voluntary market; if you’re still unable to find an insurer willing to offer you coverage, you can request assistance from the NYAIP once again.
Credit Can Be a Factor
In many states, your credit can be taken into account when determining your insurance premiums. New York is one of those states, so you can expect your credit score to have an impact when insurers are calculating the price you’ll pay.
When applying for auto insurance coverage, you may be asked for your approximate credit score. Alternately, the company can also choose to run a soft pull on your credit, getting a good idea of your score and payment history with other companies.
An insurance company cannot choose to deny you a policy or even cancel an existing policy simply due to your credit. However, they can opt to charge you more or less based on your score and history.
Your ZIP Code Matters
In New York, as in many other states, your location matters. In fact, a move mere blocks away can have significant impacts on your premiums, simply because you’re in a new ZIP code.
Of course, your personal factors matter when it comes to how much you’ll pay for auto insurance. But next to things such as your age, driving record, and the vehicle you drive, your exact location within the state is the biggest determining factor in your cost.
If you’re curious about which insurance companies your fellow New Yorkers are choosing, have no fear. We took the time to look into the market share across the state, to see which companies hold the biggest slices of the pie.
Here are the five auto insurance companies that are the most “popular” in the Empire State.
The popular option doesn’t necessarily equal the best option, of course. So, rather than simply accounting for the market share, let’s take a look at how each of these companies measures up against one another in terms of customer service and financial stability. After all, those are the things that will really matter when it comes time to file a claim.
When you buy an insurance policy, you hope to never need to actually use it. If it comes down to it, though, you want a good company who has your back and will take care of you.
It doesn’t matter how popular (or cheap) an insurance company may be; if they aren’t taking care of their customers, it’s a poor value. This is why customer satisfaction ratings matter so much. If other customers feel like they are taken care of when they need an insurer most, there’s a good chance you’ll be happy with them, too.
For this reason, we took the time to compare the customer service (and financial security) ratings of the most popular New York auto insurance companies. This will give you an idea of not only the companies that are chosen most often, but also which ones take care of their paying customers in the end.
To determine which of these companies has the best customer service ratings, we looked at the score from two leading industry authorities: JD Power and A.M. Best. Each of these companies is respected in the industry and offers a comprehensive view of the reliability, strength, and performance of the insurers you’re considering. Using their ratings, you can make an even more informed decision on your purchase.
This company accounts for 16.5% of the New York auto insurance market share. Although their gecko spokesman and overall popularity snag them the number one spot in terms of sheer numbers, they don’t fare quite as well in customer satisfaction. However, they do have stellar financial and credit ratings, according to A.M. Best.
- A.M. Best: “A++” (Superior) financial strength rating and “aaa” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #9 with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Next up, we have Allstate with the second-largest share of New York drivers. They represent 9.2% of the market, and have respectable satisfaction ratings:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating but “aa-” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #3 in the region with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Read More: Allstate Insurance Review
Coming in at third place is State Farm, holding 9.2% of the New York market. They sit at the middle of the road in terms of customer service in the state, as well.
- A.M. Best: “A++” (Superior) financial strength rating and “aa+” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #6 in the region with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Read More: State Farm Review
Liberty Mutual accounts for 4.8% of the New York auto insurance market share. Here’s what customers think about the company:
- A.M. Best: “A” (Excellent) financial strength rating but “a” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #7 in the region with a 3-star rating in overall satisfaction
Read More: Liberty Mutual Review
Last in our list, in fifth place, is Progressive, which insures only 3.5% of the New York market. Although it also brings up the rear of JD Power’s study:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating and an “aa” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #8 in the region (of 10 companies compared) with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Read More: Progressive Insurance Review
It’s easy to be confused when buying a new auto insurance policy, whether you’ve been doing it for decades or it’s your first time. We have tried to cover all of the bases with this guide, providing you with everything you need to buy coverage in New York.
However, if you have additional concerns or specific questions about the laws of the state, you can visit the New York state auto insurance website. There, you’ll find more resources and contact information, to answer any lingering questions.