Of all the expenses that most citizens living in New York have to bear, paying your car insurance bill may be one of the most painful. Let’s face it; paying significant amounts of your hard earned money for insurance that you will hopefully never need to use is not a pleasant proposition. However, not only is automobile insurance required under New York law, the consequences of not having coverage, or letting the coverage lapse, will have severe financial consequences upon you.
An insurance lapse is anytime that you have no liability insurance coverage for any vehicle that is registered in your name with the New York State DMV. An insurance lapse can occur anytime that you do not have a valid insurance policy in effect on your vehicle(s). Insurance carriers who operate in New York are required by law to notify the DMV if your policy lapses or expires with their company. There are numerous reasons why your insurance coverage may lapse, including failing to timely pay your insurance premiums or errors by the insurance carrier in notifying the DMV that you have continuing coverage. Once DMV receives notice that your coverage has ended, your vehicle’s registration will be immediately suspended and a notice of this action will be sent to you. Regardless of the cause for the insurance lapse, it is important that you take immediate action once you receive notice of the lapse.
Once your vehicle’s registration has been suspended for the insurance lapse, motorists are required to surrender the vehicle’s registration and plates to a DMV branch office. The DMV will also suspend your actual driver’s license once the insurance lapse suspension has reached 90 days in length.
Driving Without Insurance Coverage
If a motorist is caught driving without valid insurance coverage, the consequences can be very harsh. A police officer can arrest you and impound your vehicle. A conviction for Driving without Insurance (VTL §319-1) carries a court fine of up to $1500 and/or 15 days in jail. Aside from these court issued penalties, the motorist will also be liable for a civil penalty to the DMV in the amount of $750.00 to restore your driving privileges.
Resolving an Automobile Insurance Lapse with DMV
If you find yourself in a situation where the DMV notifies that your automobile’s insurance coverage has lapsed, what can you do? If the vehicle’s registration has not yet expired, you can immediately surrender the vehicle’s plates to DMV to toll the ongoing insurance lapse period. The length of the insurance lapse is of great significance both for the penalties you will face and your options in restoring the vehicle’s registration so that you may legally drive it again. For insurance lapsed of less than 91 days, you have the option of paying a civil penalty of $8 for every day that the insurance coverage was not in effect. For insurance lapses of 91 days or longer, your driver’s license will be suspended for a number of days equal to the length of the suspension and you will have to pay a $50 reinstatement fee to clear your driver’s license and legally drive any vehicle again.
Preventing Insurance Lapses
There are several steps you can take to avoid having to deal with a costly insurance lapse. First, always make sure your insurance premium payments are paid by their due date. Second, always make sure to keep your current address up to date with both your insurance company and DMV. Third, once you have purchased insurance coverage for your vehicle, ask your insurance company directly to send electronic notification to the DMV, do not rely on your local broker. Fourth, respond to any DMV letters or orders immediately. Waiting or procrastinating will almost always make the problem worse! Lastly, surrender your plates immediately if you incur an insurance lapse for any reason.
If you or somebody you know finds themselves charged with Driving without Insurance or is facing insurance lapse penalties, contact one of our experienced attorneys at Team Green Lawyers. In most cases, we can help to minimize the financial impact an insurance lapse can have on your wallet and your driving privileges.