New Jersey has strict rules about auto insurance and is known for heavily penalizing uninsured drivers. Are you fully informed about buying car insurance in New Jersey? Here are 5 things you should know.
SEE ALSO: What Does Auto Insurance Cover?
#1: They’re Serious About Penalties
Driving uninsured is no joke in New Jersey. The penalty for a first-time offense is $301 to $1,002, depending on the circumstances, plus mandatory community service.
A second offense for driving uninsured is amazingly harsh. Not only will you get a minimum fine of $532 and 180 hours community service, you’ll have your license revoked for 2 years and spend 14 days in jail!
The jail time is mandatory and strictly enforced. You’ll also be required to pay the state $250 a year as a lifetime penalty. These rules have given New Jersey a reputation as one of the toughest states in the country on uninsured drivers.
#2: Lapsed Coverage is NO Coverage
If you live in New Jersey, check your policy often to ensure it doesn’t lapse. Some people try to get by with the excuse that they used to have coverage, but it expired. An expired policy means very little to a law enforcement officer.
New Jersey law allows a little leeway if your policy has expired within the past 30 to 60 days. For example, you might have your license suspended for just 60 days instead of a year. But that’s still pretty serious.
If your policy is expired, or about to expire, get new coverage immediately. Most new auto insurance policies will cover you as soon as you sign up.
#3: Be Prepared to Pay
New Jersey auto insurance is expensive - more so than in many states. Your insurance may be more costly because of proximity to big cities like New York and Philadelphia.
However, your rates depend on many factors. Some of it is individual to you: your driving history, vehicles, age, location, and how you use your car. Some of it varies by the insurance provider, too. Shop around for good rates and competitive plans.
#4: Independent Agents Offer Options
In a high-rate environment, it’s important to note the value of an independent insurance agent. Independent agents aren’t tied down to a certain insurance company. They can help you do price comparisons without worry that they’re pressuring you into a certain plan.
This is also important if you have multiple vehicles, multiple drivers, or complex auto insurance needs. An independent agent can factor all of this in, and shop around for a provider that’s as unique as your situation.
#5: Parked and Pleasure Vehicles Need Insurance, Too
People often wonder if they have to maintain insurance on a vehicle that is inoperable or always parked. The law is very clear on this issue: Yes. It must be insured.
In one court case, a New Jersey driver was accused of allowing a relative to move a car from one side of a driveway to another, without insurance. She lost the case and faced the same fines as any other driver.
If you have a motorcycle, ATV, RV, or other so-called pleasure vehicle, it needs insurance too. Even if you only drive your special vehicle on private property a couple times a year, failure to insure it could lead to fines and legal action.
Avoid these issues by maintaining auto insurance and staying in contact with your insurance company. A reputable company will make sure you always stay safe and within the law.
Need to start or update an auto policy? Get a free price quote now from Links Insurance, one of New Jersey’s top insurers.