Life in Buffalo

Driving in New York State:  Car Insurance

Car Insurance



Winter Driving

What do I need to know about car insurance in New York State?

  • There is a minimum amount of coverage that you must carry on your automobile. This is determined by the State of New York.  Please visit for specifics about this requirement and helpful hints about insuring your car.
  • This minimum coverage must be in effect as long as your car is registered in NYS.  This means that, even if you are not driving the car for some reason, you must still pay your car insurance bills if your car is registered in NYS.
  • You must purchase an automobile liability insurance policy from an insurer licensed by the New York State Insurance Department and authorized to do business in NYS.
  • The insurance must be in the name of the person who has registered the car.
  • The cost for auto insurance is called the “Premium”. The amount that you must pay yourself if you get into an accident is called the “Deductible." If you want insurance coverage for damage to your car, you will need to purchase "Collison" coverage as well.
  • If you live in the "city", you will probably pay more than if you live in the suburbs.
  • If you have a bad driving record or are a new driver in NYS, your premium will be higher.
  • You can reduce your auto insurance premium by taking a "Driver Improvement" course.
    • ISSS organizes "AAA Driver Improvement" courses on UB's North Campus each semester. Please watch your listserv messages and check the ISSS website for dates and times.
    • The American Automobile Association offers courses regularly at various locations in Western New York. Please check the AAA website for locations and contact information:

How do I find a good insurance company?

  • Obtain recommendations of reputable companies from individuals whose opinions you respect.
  • Choose a company that will be there for you if you have an accident.
  • Call numerous agents or companies to compare rates (known as “premiums”) to see which company offers the best rate and customer service.
  • Be aware that companies that advertise a lot may need to cut their costs in other areas (e.g. payment of claims.)
  • Be wary of agents or companies that only want to sell you the NYS minimum level of insurance coverage.

How much insurance coverage should I buy?

  • Buy enough insurance so that you will have adequate coverage if you have an accident.
  • Be aware that you can usually increase your level of coverage beyond the NYS minimum requirements by paying only a small amount of additional money.

More Important Information

  • Driving while intoxicated (“DWI”) is a very serious crime in New York State.
  • NYS law requires a “hands-free device” to use your cell phone in the car.
  • Texting while driving is against the law!
  • You must always wear your seat belt — it's the Law!
  • Know what to do if you get pulled over by the police. For more information, visit or pick up the brochure "What To Do When Stopped By the Police" in ISSS, Talbert Hall 210.