How to get the best auto insurance in New Hampshire
If you live in New Hampshire or you’re planning to move there, you should know the ins and outs of what the state requires when it comes to car insurance. Compare New Hampshire’s minimum coverage requirements, extra coverage options and how to get cheap car insurance in New Hampshire.
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Minimum liability requirements
Average car insurance costs in New Hampshire
New Hampshire lands on the cheap side of the national average for car insurance costs, typically in the range of $1,100 to $1,200 per year. This means if you’re looking for standard coverage, you could pay a price close to that range.
New Hampshire has midsize cities like Manchester with 110,000 residents and small hamlets like Hancock with just 1,500. With many rural areas and more empty acres of land than there are people, there tends to be a variety in insurance costs.
Within a small state like this one, the rule of thumb is if you live in a more rural area, you’re likely to pay less. If you live in cities like Manchester and Concord you’re likely to pay more to insure your car.
Cheapest car insurance in New Hampshire
How to get cheap car insurance in New Hampshire
There’s a lot more to auto insurance rates than state averages and population density. Compare some factors that commonly affect car insurance rates
- Age. Insurance companies consider your age when determining your risk of accident. Drivers younger than 25 or older than 65 tend to pay more for car insurance.
- Gender. It’s not uncommon for men to see higher premiums, which is sometimes further modified by age and marital status.
- Driving experience. Individuals with a learner’s permits or probationary license tend to pay more, which often compounds the effect of age on premiums.
- Type of car. You might think screaming down the highway in a red Corvette sounds like fun, and you’re probably right, but luxury and sports cars can be more costly to insure than sedans and minivans. This is for several reasons, but mostly because powerful cars tend to be driven fast, putting these cars and their drivers at a higher risk for accidents.
- Occupation. People who have long commutes or drive around all day for work — say, outside sales representatives or transporters — could see higher premiums.
- Marital status. Single people are seen by insurers as less stable than their married counterparts, which can play a role in the rates. If you get married, don’t be surprised to see your premiums decrease.
- Location. Some regions are at higher risk of theft, vandalism and other potential hazards, which incurs higher costs. Urban drivers are at higher risk for an accident than people who live far outside the city limits. Similarly, if one area is more prone to flooding or storms, this could impact your premium.
- Claims history. The more car insurance claims you’ve made in the past, the more likely you are to see a surge in premiums.
- Driving record. The more violations you have on your driving record, the more likely your insurance company will take these into consideration when deciding your premiums.
- Credit score. Like it or not, many auto insurance providers use your credit score to help calculate your risk before arriving at a policy cost. This is because multiple independent studies indicate that if your credit score is low, you’re more likely to be involved in an accident. However, there are a few states where car insurance providers aren’t allowed to use credit to determine rates — California, Massachusetts and Hawaii.
- Other drivers. Only certain people will be approved to drive your car, and all of them impact your insurance premiums. Even the world’s safest driver could potentially see higher costs by listing another less-safe driver on the policy.
- Typical driving habits. The distance you drive, how often you get behind the wheel and where you drive all play a part in your car insurance prices.
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Can my credit affect my car insurance rates in New Hampshire?
In 47 US states, auto insurance providers are allowed to use your credit score to help calculate your risk before arriving at a policy cost. This is because separate studies by the University of Texas and the Federal Trade Commission both show correlation between poor credit scores and elevated accident risk. However, California, Massachusetts and Hawaii do not allow car insurance providers to use your credit score to determine rates — for better or worse.
State minimum requirements in New Hampshire
This is where things get really interesting. New Hampshire is one of a few states that actually doesn’t require car insurance coverage to drive. So what is required? If you cause an accident involving another car, you’re liable for damages and injuries resulting from the accident — so whether you have insurance or not, there’s probably a big bill to pay.
Despite having no legal obligation, most New Hampshire drivers opt to get car insurance anyway so they’re covered if an accident happens. And the state’s 9.9% rate of uninsured drivers is actually lower than the 13% national average in 2015.
If you do decide to carry car insurance in this state, your policy should include at least:
- Liability coverage. You must carry at least $25,000 for bodily injury, per person; $50,000 for bodily injury, if multiple people are injured in an accident; $25,000 for property damage.
- Medical payments coverage. Must be for at least $1,000.
- Uninsured motorist coverage. Must match your liability coverage amounts.
What optional coverage should I consider?
You can also get additional types of insurance to better protect yourself, including:
- Collision. Helps pay for repairs if your car is damaged in an accident.
- Comprehensive. Covers you in case your car is damaged by something other than an accident — for instance, a fire or vandalism.
- Medical and funeral services. Assists in paying for medical bills or funeral services as a result of an accident.
- Rental. Covers some of the costs of renting a car while waiting for your car to be repaired after an accident.
What happens if I drive in New Hampshire without insurance?
Unless you’re in an accident, nothing much.
New Hampshire has no laws requiring drivers to be insured, but you’ll be held liable for damages resulting from any accident you cause on the road. You’ll also have to pay for repairs to your own vehicle, whether the damages occur in a traffic accident, if you hit a deer or if your car is flooded.
If you cause an accident in New Hampshire without insurance coverage or the means to pay for all the damages, here’s what you can expect:
- Plates, registration and license suspended until you demonstrate your ability to pay for damages.
- Driver’s license reinstatement fee of $100.
- Registration reinstatement fee of $25.
- SR-22 filing mandated for three years.
For these reasons, more than 90% of drives in New Hampshire choose to have car insurance anyway. And unless you have a large reserve of cash to cover accident costs, you may want to have a safety net if the worst-case scenario happens.
Uninsured motorist insurance in New Hampshire
All car insurance policies in New Hampshire are required to include uninsured motorist coverage. This might seem strange, imposing minimums on a state where car insurance isn’t required, but the aim is to make sure you’re covered even if an uninsured driver doesn’t have their own policy or the cash to pay for all damages and injuries.
Can I get temporary insurance in New Hampshire?
Yes, you can. You might need temporary insurance coverage for a short period for a borrowed car or rental car. And while it’s perfectly legal to purchase short-term car insurance for less than six months, most insurance companies won’t offer this option. Call your insurance provider or contact an online provider to find out your options. You may want to look for a policy that lets you cancel for no or low fees and transfer to a more long-term option when you’re ready.
New Hampshire’s driving laws
While most states have similar road and traffic laws, New Hampshire has a few regulations that stand out.
- If you’re at least 15½ years old, you can practice driving on public roads as long as a licensed driver older than 25 is in the passenger seat — no learner’s permit or special license is required.
- If the car in front of you is about to make a left turn, you’re legally allowed to pass on the right, though not recommended.
- All drivers in this state are prohibited from texting while driving, with a minimum fine of $100.
Not all of New Hampshire’s driving laws are going to apply to you — for example, it’s illegal to inhale the exhaust fumes of a bus for pleasure, but you weren’t going to do that anyway, were you? Regardless, it’s good to know the laws of the land before you find yourself with a citation for something you didn’t realize was regulated.
Drunk driving laws in New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s drunk driving laws use the same standards as the rest of the US — having a blood alcohol content (BAC) over 0.08% is enough to get charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI), and if you’re a commercial driver, all it takes is a BAC of 0.04%.
Here are the penalties for getting a first, second and third DWI offense in New Hampshire.
- First offense: $500 to $1,200 fine; driver’s license suspension for minimum of six months.
- Second offense: Minimum 30 days in jail; fines of at least $750; driver’s license suspension for minimum of three years; ignition interlock device (IID) possible.
- Third offense: 180 days minimum jail sentence; fines of at least $750; driver’s license suspended indefinitely or revoked; IID possible.
New Hampshire also has laws for Aggravated DWI that involves driving drunk and the following crimes:
- Driving more than 30 mph over the speed limit.
- Causing a collision resulting in serious injury.
- Attempting to elude a police officer.
- Having a passenger younger than 16 in the vehicle.
- BAC over 0.16%
Conviction of Aggravated DWI is likely to result in steeper fines, longer jail sentences and longer license suspensions than a standard drunk driving offense.
Can I get SR-22 insurance in New Hampshire?
No, New Hampshire doesn’t mandate an SR-22 filing, though you might need to maintain your out-of-state SR-22 if you move here from another state. An SR-22 certificate tells the state you have at least the minimum required insurance to get back on the road.
What happens after a car accident in New Hampshire?
Car accidents can be unsettling, even a small fender bender. Try to stay calm and follow these steps to keep the process as simple and safe as possible.
- Get to safety. Check the people around you for injuries and your surroundings for any additional potential dangers. If someone is injured or you see a danger, call 911 right away. If not, it’s still usually a good idea to inform the local police of what’s happened as quickly as possible. If you’re blocking the road and feel comfortable moving your car, that’s a good idea too.
- Exchange information. Exchange information with the other people involved in the accident including names, driver’s license numbers, addresses and cell phone numbers. Also, write down information about their car’s make, model, year, registration and insurance policy details.
- Notify your insurance agent. Call your insurance company before you leave the scene. Tell them what’s happened and ask about any other additional steps.
- Document the scene. Take pictures of the accident from all angles, especially the areas that got damaged. Take down the names of police officers and any potential witnesses to better protect your claim.
Who’s at fault after an accident?
New Hampshire is an at-fault or tort state. This means if you cause an accident and injure someone else or damage their vehicle, you’re held liable for those damages or injuries.
When should I report an accident to the authorities in New Hampshire?
If anyone is injured, dies or if there is property damage greater than $1,000, you’re required to report the accident to local law enforcement right away. Failing to report an accident with serious damages or injuries can be considered a crime, and leaving the scene of an accident before the police arrive can also get you into serious legal trouble.
If law enforcement is not called to the scene of an accident, you’ll need to complete a Motor Vehicle Accident Report with the Division of Motor Vehicles within 15 days of the accident.
If you drive in New Hampshire without car insurance, you aren’t breaking the law, but you’re opening yourself up to some very large risks. And if you’re involved in an accident, the financial and legal consequences could be far more painful than paying regular insurance premiums. Consider your car insurance options in New Hampshire to find the best coverage for you and your vehicle.
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