If you have a driver’s license, then you should already know the rules of the road. But even if it hasn’t been a while since you took your driving test, there are plenty of surprising facts about driving that you may not know.
Not All States Require Auto Insurance
Did you know? As of December 2020, there are 2 states where car insurance is not mandatory. Neither Virginia nor New Hampshire require it, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t liable for damages if you’re deemed at fault in a car accident. In fact, because all states, including Virginia and New Hampshire, require financial responsibility to operate a vehicle on a public roadway, many drivers choose to purchase insurance for the coverage benefits.
Similarly, all states but one require riders to carry motorcycle insurance. Minimum liability coverage varies from state to state, but it’s simply not required in Florida. This also means that Florida riders do not need proof of insurance to register their bike. Still, similar to drivers in Virginia and New Hampshire, many riders choose to purchase motorcycle insurance in Florida to cover liabilities.
Here’s another interesting tidbit about riding motorcycles in Florida: You don’t need to wear a helmet if you’re older than 16, but regardless of whether you choose to wear head protection, eye protection is always required for motorcyclists of all ages in the state.
COVID-19 Has Changed How Driver’s Licenses Are Issued
Each state regulates how their residents can get a driver’s license, and each state has responded differently to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many local DMVs have switched over to using an online reservation system only, severely limiting their walk-in services. Most have automatically extended learner’s permit expiration dates until the state lifted restrictions, some have chosen to modify their driving tests, and others have gone so far as to waive road tests, also known as behind-the-wheel tests, for driver’s licenses.
States that have waived road tests temporarily include:
- North Carolina
States that still require an in-person road test include:
- New York
Some of the states that still require behind-the-wheel tests have modified them to increase safety for all participants, including:
Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 are continuously changing, these changes are also in flux. Be sure to check your local DMV for your state’s specific guidelines.
What Is Underinsured Insurance?
Underinsured insurance, also known as uninsured insurance, may sound like a contradiction. But it’s very real, and it’s very important! Underinsured insurance is an auto insurance provision that protects policyholders who suffer property or bodily damage in an accident caused by a driver with insufficient insurance. This means that, if you get in an accident with someone whose insurance can’t cover the cost of your injuries, or worse, if they leave before you can get their information, you can still get your bills covered.
Many states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage on top of their regular car insurance, including:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- New Hampshire (required when auto insurance is purchased)
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island (required if you purchase higher auto liability limits than the state minimum)
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Virginia (required when auto insurance is purchased)
- West Virginia
In the states where underinsured coverage is required, it will be automatically included for every vehicle on your policy. However, in states where it’s not strictly required, but available, you’ll need to add it separately for each.
Insurance Follows the Vehicle, Not the Driver
Speaking of insurance, many people might assume that it’s the driver, not the car, who's covered by car insurance. However, in most states, the opposite is true! Insurance usually follows the vehicle, which means that if you let someone else drive your car and they get into an accident, your insurance company would likely pay that claim. Because there are so many different policies that you could be covered by, though, it’s important to review both of your coverages.
There are a few different factors that can play into whether your insurance covers damage incurred when someone else is driving your car. One of the most important is whether that person had permission to operate it. This is called permissive or non-permissive use, which can affect insurance coverage in these ways:
- Permissive use means that the person driving was given the owner’s permission to do so. This tends to allow your insurance to cover that driver in the event of an accident, though it may be reduced coverage in some states.
- Non-permissive use, on the other hand, refers to when a friend of family member takes your car without your consent, or if a thief steals your car. Should they get in an accident, your insurance may not cover the damages. In this case, the driver’s insurance may be considered primary coverage.
Know What Is Legal in Your State
Because driving and insurance laws vary from state to state, the best thing you can do to prepare for your next drive is to understand the laws and regulations that are specific to your area.
At Arnold & Itkin, our car accident and truck accident attorneys have years of experience winning cases just like yours. If you have been in an accident and you’re not sure who’s at fault or what insurance may cover, don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm. We always fight for what’s right. No matter what.