Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes in Your Area
New Jersey law requires all drivers to carry auto insurance that includes both liability and personal injury protection (PIP) coverages. Uninsured motorist and collision and comprehensive coverages aren't required in New Jersey but can be added to your policy.
New Jersey requires all drivers to have some form of liability car insurance coverage. This requirement helps to ensure that if you get into a car accident where you hurt another person or damage their property, some of the financial costs involved will be addressed. Like other states, New Jersey sets its own minimums regarding how much coverage you need and what will suffice to comply with the law.
New Jersey also permits insurers to employ a practice known as auto insurance scoring to help set rates. Insurance companies use your auto insurance score — usually a combination of your credit information and accident history — to determine how much of a risk you pose and what your rates should be.
We explain how these requirements and practices work in the below.
New Jersey car insurance requirements
New Jersey differs from other states in that consumers can opt for one of two types of policies: a Standard Policy or a Basic Policy. Unlike other states that have a single set of minimum coverage limits, state minimums for auto insurance in New Jersey depend on what type of policy you choose.
The table below briefly summarizes how the two policies differ from one another:
Basic Policy minimum limits
Standard Policy minimum limits
|Bodily injury (BI) liability||Coverage not included, but $10,000 per accident available||Minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident|
|Property damage liability||$5,000 per accident||Minimum of $5,000 per accident|
|Personal injury protection (PIP)||$15,000 per person, per accident||Minimum of $15,000 per person or accident|
|Uninsured/underinsured motorist||Not available||Not required, but available up to the limits you choose for your liability coverages|
|Collision and comprehensive||Not required, available from some insurers||Not required, but available|
A Basic Policy is much cheaper than a Standard Policy. In exchange for lower premiums, however, you forgo several important coverages that come with a Standard Policy, and you limit your right to sue the other party after an accident.
We list the coverage options and limits for the Basic Policy in greater detail below:
- Bodily injury liability: Coverage for third-party bodily injury is not automatically included in a Basic Policy. This means that your carrier will not contribute towards any claims made by parties you injure in an at-fault accident unless you choose to add an optional $10,000 coverage limit for all persons per accident.
- Property damage liability: $5,000 coverage limit per accident
- Personal injury protection (PIP): $15,000 per person, per accident limit, as well as an additional coverage of up to $250,000 for certain severe injuries. These include permanent and significant brain injury, spinal cord damage, disfigurement or other permanent injuries requiring care at a trauma center or acute-care hospital.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: Not automatically offered with a Basic Policy, and can only be added as additional coverage by some insurers.
- Collision and comprehensive coverages: Not automatically offered with a Basic Policy, and can only be added as additional coverage by some insurers.
A Basic Policy also limits the policyholder’s right to sue, which we explain in greater detail below.
New Jersey's Standard Policy auto coverage is similar to a minimum policy in most other states. The state establishes minimums with respect to bodily injury, property damage and PIP. However, unlike other states, New Jersey drivers can lower their premiums on a standard auto insurance policy by voluntarily limiting their right to sue for pain and suffering after an accident.
We describe the coverage limits for the Standard Policy in greater detail below:
- Bodily injury liability: A minimum of $15,000 coverage limit per person, with $30,000 total coverage per accident. The maximum per person and per accident limits for bodily injury liability on a Standard Policy are $250,000 and $500,000, respectively.
- Property damage liability: A minimum of $5,000 coverage limit per accident.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): A minimum of $15,000 per person, per accident. The maximum per person, per accident, limit for personal injury is $250,000. However, no matter the limit you choose, you also receive up to $250,000 of coverage in claims for certain severe injuries. These include permanent and significant brain injury, spinal cord damage, disfigurement or for medical treatment necessary for other permanent injuries.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage: Not automatically included, but available as an additional option.
- Collision and comprehensive coverages: Available as an additional option from all insurers under a Standard Policy.
The Special Automobile Insurance Policy
New Jersey offers a form of residual auto insurance known as the Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP). Known as a "dollar a day" policy, it costs $365 a year, on average.
However, it offers only an extremely limited form of coverage — just emergency treatment after an accident, $250,000 treatment for brain and spinal cord injuries and $10,000 in death benefits paid to your family — and it is only available to an extremely limited number of state residents. Only drivers who are eligible for Federal Medicaid with hospitalization can purchase an SAIP policy.
New Jersey limits the availability of this coverage because it leaves drivers extremely vulnerable. SAIP offers no liability coverage, so you remain financially responsible for all injuries and property damage you cause to another driver, your own non-emergency medical care and any damage to your property. We've summarized how this policy works in greater detail in our overview of New Jersey’s Special Automobile Insurance Policy.
Your right to sue and legal limitations
Motorists who choose a Standard Policy will be asked to select an option with regards to their right to sue. The choices are between a limited right to sue, like a Basic Policy, or an unlimited right to sue that broadens your legal options. The option you choose impacts the cost of your premium, with unlimited rights resulting in higher quotes.
Be aware that if you do not explicitly select an unlimited right to sue, insurers will opt you into a limited right to sue. Additionally, your insurer cannot be sued for whatever choice — or lack of choice — you make with regard to your right to sue. If you decide to limit your right to sue and then later find this coverage to be insufficient, you cannot take your insurance company to court. If you fail to make a decision regarding your right to sue and your insurer selects the limited right to sue on your behalf — as they are legally obligated to — you cannot later take them to court.
New Jersey drivers should also note that the following limitations are not exclusive to the driver of the policy. Whatever you decide also applies to your spouse, children and any other relatives who live with you and do not have their own insurance policy.
Limited right to sue
Under a limited right to sue policy, you can still sue for financial or economic damages related to an accident. This includes medical expenses, property-related damages and any loss of wages related to injuries suffered due to the accident. Your legal recourse is restricted to lawsuits related to pain and suffering resulting from an accident. A limited policy prohibits you from pursuing pain and suffering damages except in the following cases:
- Loss of a body part
- Significant disfigurement or significant scarring
- A displaced fracture
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent injury, when the body part in question will not heal to normal function with further medical treatment
Unlimited right to sue
In contrast, the unlimited right to sue permits the motorist to pursue financial compensation for pain and suffering related to any type of injury. This can open legal recourse for conditions that might result from minor but still debilitating injuries arising from a car accident. Some less serious injuries may cause discomfort or pain for prolonged periods. In these situations, an unlimited right to sue could yield some benefits.
How the limited vs. unlimited right to sue affects your auto insurance premium
If you're looking for cheap car insurance in New Jersey, one of the best things you can do to keep your rates down is to limit your right to sue. We compared quotes across four of New Jersey's largest insurers and found that, all else being equal, rates for our sample driver increased by about 25% when drivers opted for the unlimited right to sue. In some cases, however, rates more than doubled when drivers retained full rights.
Monthly rate with limited right to sue
Monthly rate with unlimited right to sue
Auto insurance scoring in New Jersey
Car insurance companies in New Jersey often use a process called auto insurance scoring to help calculate your premiums. Insurance scores rely primarily on information contained in your credit report, though they also factor in information about motor vehicle claims and accidents. It works similarly to a credit score, with a higher number indicating lower risk and a lower number indicating higher risk.
However, the main difference is that an auto insurance score is designed to gauge how likely you are to get into an accident and need to make a claim. It is not designed to assess your creditworthiness overall. Insurance companies combine your insurance score with standard rating factors — such as your residence, location, driving history and gender — to set your premiums.
Insurance scores also differ from eligibility points. Each carrier will interpret your insurance score differently, and some carriers choose not to use this information at all. By contrast, with eligibility points, the point values for specific incidents are standardized across insurers.
The state has implemented several requirements for auto insurance scoring that are intended to help protect consumers.
First, insurance companies must share their scoring models both with the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance and with their own policyholders. Second, New Jersey requires that insurance scores not include any of the following factors:
- Demographic information, such as race, ethnicity, sex, age, religion, income or address. Bear in mind that some of these factors — such as address, sex and age — can affect your overall premium, even if they can't affect your insurance score.
- Unpaid medical bills.
- The number of inquiries for home and auto loans made within the past 30 days.
- Extraordinary life events and their impact on your credit score, such as catastrophic illness or injury, death of a family member, temporary loss of employment, divorce or identity theft. If you've experienced one of these events, your insurer must either give you a neutral insurance score or only take into account credit information that was not affected by the event.
However, New Jersey legislators are currently considering even more robust consumer protections. In early 2021, the New Jersey Senate passed legislation banning auto insurers from factoring credit scores, education and occupation into rates. If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will join the states where credit score cannot impact insurance.
Our sample driver is an employed, unmarried 30-year-old male with an undergraduate degree who drives 12,000 miles each year in the 2015 Honda Civic EX he bought in 2019. To control for the impact of the limited right to sue, we gave him the following coverages:
|Bodily injury liability||$15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident|
|Property damage liability||$5,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/underinsured bodily injury coverage||$15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident|
|Uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage||$5,000 per accident|
|Personal injury protection||$15,000, with a $2,500 deductible|
|Personal injury protection — Extended Medical Payments||$1,000|
|Collision and comprehensive||$500 deductible|
We obtained quotes from the four major national insurers with the largest market shares in New Jersey. Your own rates could differ from those quoted to our sample driver.