Carrying motor vehicle liability insurance protects you in the event that you make a mistake and cause a collision with another vehicle. It's also a requirement under the law. New York mandates that every person registering a motor vehicle must have at least $10,000 in property damage coverage and at least $25,000 for bodily injury or death of one person, or $50,000 for injury or death to two or more people.
Another form of coverage which is optional is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. At first glance, that may seem unnecessary. Why do you need protection against someone else's lack of insurance if you pay your own policy? The answer is simple. If the uninsured driver causes the crash, your insurance company may not cover your losses. Adding uninsured driver coverage helps ensure you won't end up holding the bill in a crash because of someone else's negligence.
How many people drive without insurance in New York?
According to the Insurance Information Institute, a little over 6 percent of New York drivers did not have insurance while driving in 2015. If that rate has remained the same over the last few years, that would mean that roughly one out of every 20 cars you pass on the road doesn't have an active insurance policy.
New York has the lowest estimated percentage of uninsured drivers out of all 50 states. However, that still means you face some risk of a collision caused by an uninsured driver. If someone who doesn't have insurance causes an accident, you could incur substantial property damage costs, medical bills and losses related to missed wages as well.
Underinsured drivers are also a real concern
There are quite a few people on the roads in New York who only carry the bare minimum level of insurance they need to legally drive. While having some coverage is better than none at all, a minimum coverage policy could leave a lot of expenses without coverage.
Newer vehicles, hybrids, wheelchair-accessible or special needs modified vehicles can cost five or six times the minimum amount of property damage coverage on a minimum policy. In many cases, $10,000 worth of property damage coverage falls far short of covering all the expenses associated with repairing or replacing a vehicle.
With medical coverage, it's easy to see how serious injuries could cost well more than the policy's maximum payout. Vehicle crashes can produce injuries that require surgery and long-term care, as well as injuries that result in permanent disability. Spinal cord injuries and brain injuries can leave someone unable to work. Those hurt in crashes caused by someone else may need compensation for medical costs, as well as lost wages if their injuries keep them from returning to work.
Victims of uninsured drivers deserve compensation
Adding a rider for underinsured and uninsured drivers to your policy costs very little and provides a lot of protection in a bad situation. For those who did not have this coverage at the time of a collision with an uninsured driver, civil lawsuits may be the best option.