New Jersey Car Insurance Requirements

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Minimum car insurance in New Jersey

New Jersey has three types of car insurance policies: Standard, basic and special. The "standard" policy is similar to coverage in other states. The "basic" policy has much less coverage than the "standard" and will be cheaper. It was created in an effort to get more New Jersey drivers to buy car insurance.

The trade-off with a "basic" policy: You have less insurance! You may save money with a "basic" policy, but you can be sued for car accident costs you're responsible for that your policy doesn't cover. The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance says the "basic" policy "should be considered by those with few family responsibilities and few real assets," such as young drivers who are getting their first jobs.

The "special policy" is only available to New Jersey drivers who have federal Medicaid with hospitalization benefits.

Let's work our way through the car insurance options in New Jersey so you can identify the right policy for you.

"Standard" policy minimum insurance:

Minimum liability -- covering damage and injuries you cause to others

  • $15,000 bodily injury per person.
  • $30,000 bodily injury per accident.
  • $5,000 property damage per accident.

This is often written as 15/30/5.

Minimum uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage:

  • $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident (15/30). This covers injuries to you and your passengers if you're hit by a driver with no liability insurance or not enough to cover your medical bills.
  • $5,000 in uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD). This covers your car damage from a driver without enough insurance.

Minimum personal injury protection (PIP) coverage:

  • $15,000 per person

More: Cheap car insurance in New Jersey

"Basic" policy insurance:

  • No liability coverage is included, but there's an option for $10,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $5,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $15,000 in personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage not required.
  • You have a limited right to sue if you buy a New Jersey "basic" policy. You can sue an at-fault driver for medical bills and pain and suffering only under certain circumstances, such as permanent injury, loss of a body part or serious disfigurement.

You can buy a "basic" policy from any New Jersey auto insurance agent.

"Special Automobile Insurance Policy" (SAIP):

  • Available only to people who are on federal Medicaid with hospitalization benefits.
  • An insurance agent can tell you if you're eligible by looking at your Medicaid card number.
  • This is medical-only insurance: It covers your emergency treatment after a car accident and treatment of serious brain and spinal cord injuries up to $250,000. It also has a $10,000 death benefit.
  • It costs $360 a year if you pay up-front, or $365 if you pay in two installments.
  • Find out more from the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

No-fault auto insurance in New Jersey

New Jersey has a no-fault insurance system. That means you make small injury claims on your own policy, no matter who was at fault. Personal injury protection (PIP) pays these claims.

   More: No-fault insurance

Other car insurance

Comprehensive coverage
For theft of your vehicle or damage caused by hitting an animal, hail, flood, fire, vandalism, falling objects and explosions.

Collision coverage
For damage to your vehicle caused by hitting another vehicle or an object, like a fence.

Rental reimbursement
Pays for a rental car if your car is being repaired due to an accident.

You must show an insurance ID card (or other proof of financial responsibility) in New Jersey when:

  • Law enforcement requests it.
  • You renew vehicle registration.
  • Your vehicle is involved in a car accident.

Penalties for not having auto insurance in New Jersey

  • First offense: $100-$300 fine, plus community service; license suspended for one year, but may be reduced or eliminated with satisfactory proof of motor vehicle liability insurance to the court at the time of the hearing.
  • Subsequent conviction results in 14 days imprisonment and forfeiture of rights to operate a motor vehicle for two years, up to a $5,000 fine and 30 days community service

Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America

Complaints about auto insurance companies 

Each state's department of insurance tracks complaints against insurance companies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners uses state data to make a "complaint ratio." It shows the number of complaints nationally relative to a company's size of business. Shown here are national complaint ratios for the largest car insurance companies in New Jersey.

New Jersey auto insurance complaints comparison

DWI laws in New Jersey

In New Jersey, a DWI is defined as operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor, a narcotic or a habit-producing drug. You can be convicted solely based on an observation that there was a substantial deterioration of your mental and physical capabilities to drive.

Driving while intoxicated is considered a traffic offense in New Jersey, not a criminal offense, though the penalties and fines increase as the number of offenses increase. If the offense took place in a school zone, some fines and penalties may be increased.

First offense

If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more but less than .10, you could get:

  • A $250 to $400 fine.
  • No more than 30 days in jail.
  • Driver's license suspension for three months.
  • If you're under 17, the suspension will run through your 17th birth date and then for three months.
  • Possible probation.
  • Completion of an intoxicated driving program.
  • You may have to install an ignition interlock on your vehicle for not less than six months and no more than one year.

First offense

If your BAC is .10 or higher or you're under the influence of drugs, you may face:

  • A $300 to $500 fine.
  • Up to 30 days in jail.
  • License suspension not less than seven months and not more than one year.
  • If you're under 17, the suspension will run through your 17th birth date and then no less than seven months and not more than one year.
  • The court may order a supervised visitation program.
  • Completion of an intoxicated driving program.
  • You may have to install an ignition interlock on your vehicle for not less than six months and no more than one year.

Second offense

If your second offense happened within 10 years of a prior conviction (including foreign convictions), you may face:

  • A $500 to $1,000 fine.
  • Jail for not less than 48 consecutive hours and no more than 90 days.
  • 30 days of community service.
  • Driver's license suspension for two years.
  • If you're under 17, the suspension will run through your 17th birth date and then for two years.
  • You may order a supervised visitation program.
  • Completion of an intoxicated driving program.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock for not less than one year and no more than three years.

Third or subsequent offense

If your third or subsequent offense happened within 10 years of a prior conviction (including foreign convictions), you may face:

  • A $1,000 fine.
  • Jail for not less than 180 days, although the court may lower this to time spent in an approved inpatient facility.
  • Driver's license suspension for 10 years.
  • If you're under 17, the suspension will run through your 17th birth date and then for 10 years.
  • The court may order a supervised visitation program.
  • Completion of an intoxicated driving program.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock for not less than one year and no more than three years.

Refusal to submit to chemical breath testing in New Jersey

New Jersey has an implied consent law, meaning every driver must consent to a chemical breath test. If the offense takes place in a school zone, fines and penalties can increase. If you refuse to take the test, you may face the following fines and penalties.

First offense

  • A $300 to $500 fine.
  • License suspension not less than seven months and not more than one year.
  • A referral to the intoxicated driving resource center.

Second offense

  • A $500 to $1,000 fine.
  • License suspension for two years.

Third or subsequent offenses

  • A $1,000 fine.
  • License suspension for 10 years.

DWI penalty source: The State of New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety and National Conference of State Legislatures

Distracted driving laws in New Jersey

Prohibits drivers from using hand-held cell phone while driving

Yes

All cellphone ban

School bus drivers only

All cellphone use banned for novice drivers

Drivers with permit or provisional license

Text messaging ban while driving

All drivers

Source: Governors Highway Safety Association


Updated July 9, 2018

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