What is an insurance lapse in New York State?
An insurance lapse means that there is no liability insurance coverage for a vehicle registered in New York State for a period of time. If there is a lapse of insurance for a vehicle registered to you, the DMV can suspend your registration and driver license.
What can cause an insurance lapse?
Any amount of time that your vehicle is registered but not insured can cause a lapse in your insurance coverage. An insurance lapse can occur between the date your insurance is cancelled and the date
- your new insurance begins
- you surrender your vehicle plates
- your registration expires
- ‘other proof’ of insurance (for example, a vehicle registered in another state, or a vehicle repossessed or impounded) is valid
- your insurance company reinstates your insurance coverage
A lapse in insurance coverage can also occur between the date you register your vehicle and the date your new insurance coverage begins. See Respond to DMV insurance letters and orders for instructions on how to resolve an insurance lapse.
If the registration suspension period is more than 90 days, you must surrender your vehicle registration and plates. The DMV will also suspend your driver license. Your driver license will be suspended for the same number of days as your registration suspension. To reinstate your driver license, you must pay the DMV a $50 license suspension termination fee.
What will happen if I drive without insurance (with lapsed insurance)?
Do not drive any vehicle that is not insured.
- you could be arrested or ticketed
- your vehicle can be impounded by a law enforcement officer
- the DMV will revoke your registration and your driver license
What will happen if I or my uninsured vehicle is in a traffic crash?
Your license and registration will be suspended, and you will need to pay fines and penalties.
If your vehicle does not have insurance and you or someone else driving your uninsured vehicle are involved in a traffic crash, the DMV will revoke your driver license and vehicle registration for at least one year.
The traffic court fine could be as much as $1,500 for driving without insurance or allowing another person to drive your uninsured vehicle. You will also need to pay the DMV a $750 civil penalty to restore your driver license if it is revoked.
What happens if my insurance is cancelled or reinstated, or I get new insurance?
Your insurance company must notify the DMV electronically if
- your insurance coverage is cancelled
- your insurance coverage is reinstated
- you get new insurance coverage
In your response to the DMV letter you must either
- prove that you have insurance coverage
- prove that you sold the vehicle
- prove that insurance coverage was not required
If you have insurance coverage, also ask your insurance company (do not ask your agent or broker) to file an electronic notice of insurance coverage with the DMV.
If you do not have auto liability insurance, you must surrender your vehicle plates to the DMV immediately.
How do I avoid an insurance lapse?
Remember this simple rule: no insurance, no plates!
- keep the address for your vehicle registration and driver license current with the DMV
- have liability coverage from a company licensed by the NYS Department of Financial Services and authorized by the NYS DMV (out-of-state coverage is never acceptable on any vehicle registered in New York)
- have your insurance company report any changes to the DMV immediately (for more information, see Changes to my insurance policy)
- keep insurance coverage on your vehicle for as long as it is registered in New York
- respond to DMV Insurance Letters and Orders immediately
- surrender your vehicle registration and license plates to DMV before your New York State coverage ends for any reason
If you do not have valid auto liability insurance coverage for your vehicle, you must immediately surrender your registration and vehicle plates.
Motorcycle plates do not have to be surrendered to DMV when auto liability insurance lapses. However, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle when it does not have proper auto liability insurance.
If my registration is suspended for a lapse of insurance, can another person register the vehicle?
No. The DMV will not issue a new registration if the DMV determines that the purpose of the new registration is to avoid the suspension.
The DMV will not issue a registration if the applicant for the new registration
- has the same last name as the registrant whose registration is suspended, or
- resides at the same address as the registrant whose registration is suspended
The DMV will not issue a registration to any person unless that person makes a sworn statement on form FS-2. The statement certifies that the purpose of the application in not to avoid the results from the current suspension. The local DMV Office determines if the application will be accepted or rejected.
Form FS-2 is available only at a local DMV Office.
If my license is suspended for a lapse of insurance, what can I do?
If your registration has not expired, you must surrender your plates. A driver license becomes suspended when the lapse is 91 days or more or if the time period of the lapse has not yet been determined. To determine the lapse period
- the plates must be surrendered, or
- the plates must be reported lost/stolen/confiscated, or
- the registration must expire, or
- the plates must be transferred to another vehicle by DMV, or
- DMV must receive proof of new or reinstated insurance, or
- DMV must receive other acceptable proof
Once the lapse is determined, the registration, and if the lapse period is 91 days or more, your driver license will also be suspended for the same number of days. The suspensions may not be effective on the same date. Therefore, you may serve the suspension on the driver license first or you may serve the suspension on the registration first. The suspension on the driver license will not end until you have paid the suspension termination fee and have served the suspension.