In New Hampshire, there is no mandatory insurance law but the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles urges all drivers to purchase at least standard liability and property damage coverage. Regardless of the procedures, auto insurance regulation in every state demands that all drivers utilize their vehicles in the most responsible manners possible.
The minimum coverage requirement in most states is Liability Insurance. It covers two important forms of financial responsibility as follows:
1. Bodily Injury Liability: a driver who causes an accident (the at-fault party) must cover all medical cost for the treatment of non at-fault party. Treatment and rehabilitation for physical injuries can cost a lot of money on the at-fault’s part without this coverage.
2. Property Damage Liability: the at-fault party should be responsible for vehicle/property damages as well. The cost for vehicle repair or replacement is the at-fault’s burden to bear. The coverage helps cover the expenses.
Liability insurance does not cover medical treatment and vehicle repair for the at-fault’s part. Drivers have to understand that one of the main purposes of auto insurance is to show that they are responsible for any accident that they may cause while they are driving.
Beyond the Road
Auto insurance is not just mandatory requirement by the state. Many (if not all) lenders are reluctant to finance a vehicle unless the borrower agrees to purchase at least minimum coverage requirement. In some cases, lenders also need some optional coverage types such as Collision and Comprehensive to protect the value of the vehicle in the event of both collision and non-collision crashes.
· Collision: in the event of collision after which the policyholder’s vehicle sustains damages, collision coverage helps to pay for repair expense. From lender’s perspectives, Collision coverage helps to maintain the value of the vehicle at least until the policyholder pays if off.
· Comprehensive: when damages are from non-collision instances for examples vandalism, animals, fire, and falling objects, Comprehensive coverage helps to cover the repair cost.
Many lenders require both coverage types before they allow a borrower to drive the car away. Even if the state’s DMV regard the coverage as optional, driver must accept that lenders can make the coverage mandatory for as long as the lease period is valid.
Although it seems that auto insurance is only important for the at-fault party in an accident, the not-at-fault also needs auto insurance for legal reasons. For example: when an uninsured driver becomes the victim in an accident, the police officers in duty should still ask the driver to produce proof of financial responsibility. Failure to produce insurance card or similar document will result in driver license suspension. In worst case scenario, there will be fines, punishment in form of voluntary service for the community, or jail times. No matter what the punishments are, uninsured drivers are in real risks of difficult consequences.
In the states where auto insurance is mandatory, uninsured drivers (even when they are not at-fault in an accident) also have to deal with potential drivers’ status relegation from low-risk to high-risk; in this case, higher is worse. In the U.S., there are plenty of traffic checkpoints where police officers have the rights to ask for drivers’ insurance information. For those who drive without proof of insurance, there can be penalties such as SR-22 requirement. SR-22 is a certificate to guarantee that the holders will meet insurance requirement. The certificate also indicates high-risk driver status.
How to Deal with High-Risk Status
High-risk is not just a label to indicate a driver’s tendency to break traffic regulation, but it puts heavy weight that the holder must carry in terms of insurance. A high-risk driver cannot apply for random auto insurance and expect easy approval. Most insurers deny such application because they want to avoid potential expensive claims due to reckless behaviors behind the wheel. Once a driver gets his/her high-risk status, any typical insurance company is reluctant to provide coverage. The solution is to turn to non-standard auto insurer.
Standard vs. Non-Standard
Auto coverage from either standard or non-standard insurance company is the same, but there is big difference in price. Because non-standard insurers accept the fact that their customers are high-risk, they tend to charge more expensive premium rate. However, there are some companies from which high-risk drivers have options to lower the cost with discounts or payment options.