If you’re thinking of driving without insurance, don’t. Besides the huge financial risk that you would take driving on the road, a DMV N.Y. insurance lapse comes with heavy penalties.
In this article, we’ll cover everything about insurance lapses in N.Y., including the cost, what to do after a lapse in coverage, and ways to avoid lapses. The best solution is to find an insurance company that gives you affordable coverage. We’ve reviewed dozens of companies on the market today and will recommend a few of the best car insurance companies in New York later on.
Fill out the form below to start comparing car insurance quotes in N.Y. or call our team at (844) 246-8209 for an even easier process.
In this article:
- DMV N.Y. Insurance Lapse Overview
- Penalties For Lapses In Coverage By The N.Y. DMV
- Penalties For Driving Without Insurance In N.Y.
- Penalties For Causing An Accident Without N.Y. Car Insurance
- What To Do If You Have A Lapse In Coverage In N.Y.
- The Hidden Fees Of A DMV N.Y. Insurance Lapse
- How You Can Avoid Insurance Lapses In Coverage
- Our Recommendations For Car Insurance
- FAQ: N.Y. DMV Insurance Lapse
DMV N.Y. Insurance Lapse Overview
What is an insurance lapse in coverage in New York? A lapse in car insurance coverage in N.Y. means that there is no liability insurance coverage on your operating vehicle, which can trigger a civil penalty by the DMV.
When the DMV discovers an insurance lapse in N.Y., a citation for driving without insurance can lead to an arrest, an impounded car, and suspension of your license and registration. An at-fault accident without insurance will cause the DMV to revoke your license and registration, and you could be responsible for accident damages.
While you might understand the gist of why you can't drive without insurance in N.Y., this guide will explore in-depth the penalties for an N.Y. insurance lapse and what to do if you experience a lapse in car insurance coverage.
Penalties For Lapses In Coverage By The N.Y. DMV
We’re starting in the shallow end as far as penalties go. New York law requires you to have liability coverage, plus a couple more types of insurance. A lapse in coverage happens when you don’t have liability car insurance on a motor vehicle registered in your name. This can happen between the time when you buy a new car and get insurance, between switching insurance companies, or after a non-renewal or cancellation of insurance.
After your liability coverage ends from one insurance company, that company notifies the DMV. Ideally, another company would notify the DMV that you have new coverage from that same day. When that doesn’t happen, the DMV will send you a suspension order.
The suspension order means your registration is suspended, and it’s illegal to drive your car. Once you get new liability insurance, the lapse is over. You can then respond to the DMV N.Y. insurance lapse letters and show that you have coverage.
You’ll have to pay a civil penalty fine for each day that you didn’t have insurance. Here’s how the prices break down:
- $8 per day for days 1–30
- $10 per day for days 31–60
- $12 per day for days 61–90
As you can see, you get charged more the longer your lapse goes on. If you can’t afford to pay, you also have the option of surrendering your registration and plates for an equal number of days as the lapse. So, if your lapse was 21 days long, you could surrender your registration and plates to the DMV for the next 21 days. The maximum civil penalty for a 90-day lapse would be $900.
At 91 days and beyond, you no longer have the option to pay a civil penalty fine. At that point, your license and registration will be automatically suspended for the same time as your lapse. If your lapse went on for 120 days, your driving privileges would be suspended for another 120 days. You’d have to pay another $50 to reinstate your license at the end.
Penalties For Driving Without Insurance In N.Y.
The penalty for driving without insurance in N.Y. is another story. You’ll still have to pay the civil penalty for however long your lapse is. But when you get pulled over by an officer, they could write you a ticket of up to $1,500 or put you in jail for 15 days, depending on the number of offenses. This also applies if you let someone else drive your uninsured vehicle.
An officer could also impound your car, which would cost money to retrieve later on. Finally, your license and registration would be revoked. Now, this is different from them being suspended.
You’d have to pay a $750 civil penalty to reinstate a revoked license. That’s a lot more than $50 for a suspended license. To reinstate a revoked registration, you basically have to apply for a new one. You might have to take driving tests again, and you’d have to pay the typical fee to register a vehicle.
Penalties For Causing An Accident Without N.Y. Car Insurance
At this point, you could almost buy a new Rolex with the money you’d spend on fees and fines for getting caught driving without insurance. But it gets worse.
The disaster would be to cause an accident without having liability coverage. Liability specifically covers other people’s car repairs and medical bills in accidents that you cause. So who would cover the damage if you didn’t have liability? You would, at least in part.
Not many uninsured drivers have an extra $30,000 to spend in the bank. But with average car prices and health costs today, causing $30,000 or more in damage is easy. Since New York is a no-fault state, the other driver will seek medical coverage from their own car insurance company first. However, it might not be enough. That’s where your liability coverage would come into play.
It often just takes one uninsured crash to make someone declare bankruptcy. In fact, some law firms are built around helping at-fault drivers declare bankruptcy after getting sued by the victim. Does that process sound fun?
The state of New York also steps up the penalties for this infraction. After being in an uninsured accident, no matter who was at fault, your license and registration will be revoked for at least a year. That’s in addition to a maximum fine of $1,500 for driving without insurance, $750 for reinstating your license, and the fee for your insurance lapse, plus the fee for registering your vehicle at the end of revocation. All in all, an accident is much worse than just a DMV N.Y. insurance lapse.
What To Do If You Have A Lapse In Coverage In N.Y.
If you have a lapse in car insurance coverage, you need to at least get minimum New York coverage as soon as possible. Don’t worry about other bells and whistles like roadside assistance or rental reimbursement. You don’t even need to get collision or comprehensive if it’s not affordable.
Think about it this way. Let’s say you find a minimum coverage policy for $100 per month (that’s actually a little expensive for minimum coverage in New York). With that policy, you’re paying about $3 per day. In contrast, the fees for a lapse start at $8 per day, so one month would cost $240.
So let’s say you don’t have insurance right now but you have a policy that starts in one week. Should you drive? No. Do not drive your car during a lapse in coverage. Don’t even drive it to your neighbor’s house. It is a crime, and there are severe penalties which you now know about.
The Hidden Fees Of A DMV N.Y. Insurance Lapse
There’s actually something else you need to worry about. What we’re calling “hidden fees” are the increased prices that you’ll pay for car insurance in the next three years following a DMV N.Y. insurance lapse.
Since the lapse is reported to the DMV, auto insurance companies can see it in your insurance history. Whether you drove your car during the lapse or not, companies will now see you as a high-risk driver. You might pay 20 to 50 percent more for insurance coverage while the lapse is on your record. If you have an uninsured accident on your record, you could pay even more.
How You Can Avoid Insurance Lapses In Coverage
First, try lowering your car insurance limits to the state minimum. Full coverage costs more than minimum coverage, of course. Also, it’s a good idea to call and speak to your insurance agent. They may have some ideas for you to save money on your policy if you explain the situation.
If you live with family or even roommates, consider combining insurance policies and splitting the bill. A multi-car policy with two vehicles is usually cheaper than two policies on separate vehicles. That is, if all else is equal. If your roommate has a bad driving record, don’t combine plans.
If you’re wondering about stopping your auto insurance while you leave town for a few months, unfortunately, there isn’t an easy way to do that. It would be better to sell your car so you don’t have a registered vehicle or have to keep paying for insurance than to try and cancel your insurance.
The bottom line is that you can’t just stop your car insurance bill like you can pause your Netflix subscription.
Our Recommendations For Car Insurance
One of the best ways of saving on car insurance and avoiding a lapse is to simply switch to another provider. We've reviewed and ranked the best auto insurance providers on the market, and have even learnred that some companies have discounts for new members. In our research, we found that Geico and Progressive both offer low prices and good options for minimum coverage in New York.
Finally, you have to use a company that’s authorized by the N.Y. Department of Financial Services. In other words, out-of-state insurance isn’t acceptable for a car registered in New York.
#1 Geico: 4.5 Stars
The Government Employees Insurance Company has been around since 1936. Today, it offers coverage for a wide range of drivers, and it’s one of the more affordable companies out there. Here are some things we like about Geico auto insurance:
- A++ financial strength rating from AM Best and A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- Better than average on J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study℠
- Offers mechanical breakdown insurance, which is similar to an extended car warranty
- Other extras including roadside assistance and rideshare coverage
Read more in our full review of Geico insurance.
#2 Progressive: 4.5 Stars
Progressive car insurance is another affordable option, plus it can be a good choice for drivers who already have a DMV N.Y. insurance lapse on their record. Here are some details about the insurer:
- A+ financial strength rating from AM Best and A- rating from the BBB
- Name Your PriceⓇ tool that shows coverage options based on your budget
- Quotes comparison tool that compares prices from other insurance companies on the website
- Perks including a deductible savings bank, accident forgiveness, gap coverage, custom parts value, roadside assistance, and more
Progressive has 13 different discounts, including the SnapshotⓇ program. This option can lower your premium based on how you drive. But be careful – it can also raise your premium if you aren’t a good driver.
Read more in our full review of Progressive insurance.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
- Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
- Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
- Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.
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