New Hampshire stands alone as the only state in the U.S. not requiring car insurance. That’s right, while most states like neighboring Massachusetts mandate auto insurance before you can even register a car, New Hampshire never passed a law making car insurance obligatory.
Maybe it’s the “Live Free or Die” attitude. Maybe New Hampshire lawmakers enjoy standing apart from the rest of the country. After all, being different gives New Hampshire the first in the nation primary.
But don’t let the “no insurance” law fool you. Have an accident without insurance and you’re in for a world of pain. Here are five of the many reasons having no auto insurance is not an option:
5 Reasons You Need New Hampshire Car Insurance
1 – New Hampshire Law Nails Uninsured Drivers
Driving around without car insurance remains legal in New Hampshire. But ill effects rear their ugly heads after an accident. First, if you are at fault the law holds you responsible for paying all damages. This includes damages to the other guy’s car and also all car accident related medical bills. Also, the state suspends your driving privileges if you don’t fully pay up. Even if the other driver carries auto insurance and that company pays “the other guy’s” damages, that other insurance company can come after you for reimbursement. The insurance process sometimes called subrogation comes in the form of a nasty demand letter to you. Worse, if you don’t pay, your driver’s license faces revocation.
For ever after that first accident, New Hampshire car insurance is a requirement for the faulty driver. As a matter of fact, the state of New Hampshire makes you file a document proving you have insurance, a form called an SR-22 before you get the driver’s license reinstated.
2 – If the Other Guy Has No Insurance You’re Helpless
You’re a good driver, right? You figure if someone hits you their insurance will pay. Unfortunately, having practiced personal injury law in New Hampshire for over 25 years as of this writing, I’ve seen too many cases where neither driver carried insurance. Then, even a faultless driver is up the creek without a car if neither of you has insurance.
Sure, you “can” sue the other driver in small claims court. But you need a car. Not a wait for the case to eventually be processed. Then, even if you obtain a court order for the other guy to pay all damages, what do you do if the other driver is a deadbeat with no money, no job and no finances to pay you.
3 – What about Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
If you are injured in a car accident, your own car insurance provides primary insurance to pay your medical bills. This reality might not make sense to you if you haven’t been injured in an accident. The ‘medical payments’ coverage of your own policy provides payment for car accident related treatment. In so-called “no-fault” states, your own ‘Personal Injury Protection’ insurance or PIP pays your car accident medical bills.
In states without PIP the medical payments provision of your own car insurance stands first in line to pay car accident medical bills.
What about your health insurance after a car accident? Some health insurance companies outright refuse to pay accident related injuries. Others reluctantly pay then want their money back for payment of car accident medical bills if and when you settle a case for your “pain and suffering”. Here’s more about health insurance liens.
4 – Why get Car Insurance on an old car?
Sometimes people figure their old car simply is not worth insuring. It’s old, if I’m in an accident, this line of reasoning goes, I’ll simply get another car. Some people figure car insurance costs more than the car so it’s just not worth the money to buy insurance.
Like it or not, auto insurance is about more than just the car. What if you are injured and what if the other driver has no insurance. See the other sections of this article.
5 – After an Accident You Need Support
The first call most people make after an accident is to the insurance company. They will deal with the other driver who may or may not be demanding money and falsely accusing you for causing the accident. Drivers who are in the wrong make pushy demands. Insurance companies are in the business of dealing with that and are not going to pay a dime more than they must. Let them deal with it. Without support, I have seen people wrongfully harassed needlessly after an accident by overly aggressive drivers who were in the wrong.
New Hampshire Car Insurance: A Necessary Evil
No one likes paying car insurance. Most people face enough bills. In an ideal world getting rid of a few bills would be nice. Even still, the above real life scenarios make not having car insurance unwise.
While not having car insurance in New Hampshire continues technically to be legal, after any one of the following events, the state clamps down and you will be required to have insurance:
- After an at-fault accident where you do not pay the damages
- After a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to stop and report an accident.
- Second conviction for reckless operation.
- Second time driving at an excessive rate of speed.
- Homicide or assault related to operating a motor vehicle
Not Having Car Insurance Presents Hidden Traps
No normal person thinks about committing homicide or the other offenses above. Then again no human is perfect. It only takes a moment’s inattention or an unintentional slip of the foot off the brake pedal to veer into the next lane or to lurch into the car in front, causing an accident.
Finally, two more problems come up if you try to use health insurance to pay car accident medical bills: First, since the Affordable Care Act many people have very high deductibles to pay before the insurer will actually kick in and pay. So, you need to get the treatment, submit the bills, have them rejected, pay them yourself, before you reach the deductible and the health insurer starts paying. Second, health insurers manage what you can and cannot do for treatment. They’ll often deny payment for certain providers such as chiropractors, which offer an alternative chosen by many.
The author of this article, Attorney Andrew D. Myers, actively pursues accident and other personal injury cases in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. New Hampshire law applying to accidents presents unique challenges. One hidden trap to those uninitiated to NH negligence & injury law is the state’s harsh law on contributory negligence or comparative fault. A New Hampshire law known as DeBenedetto holds that any failure to bring in any possible potentially at-fault parties can automatically chop down the value of a case. Be smart. Retain this office to review and aggressively pursue your injury claim.