With more than 16,000 miles of roadways, New Hampshire residents can easily travel anywhere from the White Mountains to the Connecticut River. Driver safety on those roads in New Hampshire is on par with the national average, and the state has a far higher rate of insured drivers - even though it doesn't require car insurance. Read on to find out what New Hampshire does require.
New Hampshire Vehicle Insurance Requirements
New Hampshire is the only state that does not require everyone to buy car insurance (although there's a catch: it does require you to show proof of insurance if you have an accident). Instead, the state gives drivers the choice to either purchase insurance or show proof of enough financial reserves to cover the cost of an accident.
"Live Free or Die" New Hampshire may not have a mandatory automobile insurance law, but the percentage of uninsured motorists in the state is only about 10 percent, which is lower than the national average.
Insurance Commissioner Roger Sevigny explains why New Hampshire chooses not to require car insurance. "Requiring mandatory automobile insurance does not ensure 100 percent compliance," Sevigny says. "The most common reason that people don't have auto insurance is because they can't afford the premium. No mandatory insurance legislation that we are aware of has solved the problem of providing insurance for those who cannot afford it."
Also, Sevigny adds, the money it would cost to enforce compliance "may outweigh any financial gain to the state through premium taxes."
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in New Hampshire?
New Hampshire has no mandatory auto insurance law. However, the Division of Motor Vehicles does recommend that you carry auto liability insurance policies that meet the state's minimum requirements (see below). And if you have ever been convicted of driving under the influence or leaving the scene of an accident, you may be required to purchase auto insurance.
- Driving under the influence
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Multiple reckless driving charges
- Underage DUI
Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements in New Hampshire
Although New Hampshire doesn't require auto liability insurance policies, drivers are required to show proof of financial responsibility — that means having enough money to cover the cost of an accident or buying insurance. The minimum auto liability insurance limits in New Hampshire are 25/50/25:
- $25,000 per person for injury
- $50,000 or two or more people injured in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
You may also have medical payments coverage of at least $1,000.
Finally, New Hampshire requires all policies to carry uninsured motorist insurance at
- $25,000 per person for injury
- $50,000 or two or more people injured in an accident
- $25,000 for property damage per accident
Alternatives to Car Insurance in New Hampshire
To satisfy the state's requirements, you may either purchase an insurance policy, as outlined above, or deposit money or securities with the state treasurer. The amount deposited must meet the market value of the state's auto liability policies ($75,000). Upon the deposit, the state's treasurer's office will issue you a certificate you can provide to the Division of Motor Vehicles.
High-risk auto insurance program
If you can't buy insurance through a traditional carrier, perhaps because of a spotty driving record, you may still be able to obtain coverage through the New Hampshire Automobile Insurance Plan. Applicants must demonstrate they applied for and were denied coverage within the past 60 days.
What Happens If You Don't Have Car Insurance?
Unlike other states, there are no penalties for not carrying auto insurance in New Hampshire. Instead, the state law says that if an uninsured driver causes a traffic accident, they must post an amount equal to the costs of the accident in the following acceptable forms of payment:
- Certified check or money order
- Savings account payment
If you're an uninsured driver in the state and you cause an accident that results in an injury or more than $1,000 in property damage, your license may be suspended by the Division of Motor Vehicles. If you're found at fault for an accident without insurance, you'll be required to file an SR22 (proof of insurance) for at least three years.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
It can be tempting to think of the savings that come along with not buying auto insurance in New Hampshire. However, no agency in New Hampshire recommends skipping insurance. No one plans on being in an accident, of course, but you should take the "it-could-happen" approach.
New Hampshire Lack Vehicle Insurance? 9.9% National Average: 12.6 %
To choose the right amount of insurance, consider what you stand to lose after an accident. Insurance industry experts traditionally recommend a 100/300 policy that covers up to $100,000 for an injury/death to one person and $300,000 for injury/death to two or more people.
You may also want to consider adding comprehensive/collision insurance to cover your own vehicle, or getting uninsured motorist coverage in case you're hit by someone who doesn't have insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance also covers damage from hit-and-run drivers.
For more on common types of insurance and what you can afford, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.
Teen Drivers in New Hampshire
To best prepare teen drivers, the state of New Hampshire requires drivers under the age of 18 to complete a driver education course and enroll in a graduated licensing system. This process includes a learning permit (age 15 and a half) and a youth operator license (ages 16-21). Parents should notify their insurance company when their teen begins to drive. Teens with learner's permits are traditionally added to the family's policy at no charge. When a teen qualifies for a youth operator/full license, he or she must be added to the family's policy.
The Impact of a Teen Driver on New Hampshire Car Insurance Premiums
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$1,900 increase This is a difference of 142%.
Average annual premium increase if a teen gets a speeding ticket for driving 11 to 15 mph over the speed limit:
Do Teens Save on Premiums in New Hampshire?
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$461 saved
Compare Auto Insurance Premiums from New Hampshire Insurers
Look around for the least expensive policy that's right for you. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in New Hampshire:
New Hampshire Premiums: The Difference a Car Makes
Sports cars are considered a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans, and you can expect to pay hundreds or thousands more in annual premiums.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in New Hampshire
College students moving to New Hampshire to attend school are not required to establish residency there. If they do choose to become a resident, the state requires them to register their vehicles and obtain a New Hampshire driver's license within 60 days of establishing residency. For those who do not want to become a resident, they have two options:
- Register their vehicle in their home state
- Register their vehicle in New Hampshire as a non-resident
If you're a college student and want to register your car as a non-resident, you have to: 1) house your car exclusively in New Hampshire and 2) not take it out of state on any overnight trips.
Do College Students Have Lower Premiums in NH?
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$520 decrease This is a decrease of 14%.
How a College Student Affects Your New Hampshire Premiums
Each year, review your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better rate somewhere else. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in New Hampshire.
Surprising Savings for New Hampshire College Students
You may see small savings in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home and isn't using a car.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $3,499 at home
- $3,046 at school
- $453 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $2,920 at home
- $2,647 at school
- $273 in savings
How Car Choice Can Lead to Savings in New Hampshire
Your family premium will be lower if your college student drives a minivan instead of a sports car — savings that reflect the lower risk to insurers.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$4,180
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$2,337
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in New Hampshire
Military members from or serving in the Granite State still need car insurance like everybody else to drive legally. One advantage enjoyed by armed forces personnel and veterans is the availability of discounted auto insurance in New Hampshire. Most of the major carriers give discounts to military families, and several insurance companies sell policies only to vets and active-duty enlisted. All you have to do is provide proof of service in the armed forces.
By comparing prices from several companies and maintaining a good driving record, military members and vets can cut their auto insurance costs. Some companies will even give extra discounts for buying and maintaining multiple policies, such as homeowners and auto insurance.
Whether you're stationed in New Hampshire, or a state resident deployed elsewhere, residents need to register their vehicles every year. Disabled vets are exempt from paying a license plate fee.
New Hampshire Service Members:
How the Vehicle You Drive Affects Your Premium
Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to the Insurance Information Institute, but an older model SUV still has less impact on your premium than a recent model sports car.
Military Drivers: How Premium Ranges Change by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age-Based Savings for New Hampshire
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Premiums Available to New Hampshire Military Personnel
When looking for the best premiums, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in New Hampshire.
Seniors in New Hampshire
New Hampshire doesn't require insurers to offer discounts to seniors. However, some providers offer discounts to seniors who take a state-approved driving program. Here are some other ways seniors find insurance savings:
- Age discounts
- Low-mileage driving
- Multi-car ownership
- Bundling home, auto and life insurance
Undocumented Workers in New Hampshire
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, New Hampshire does not allow driving privileges to unauthorized immigrants.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
Following legislation passed in 2016, New Hampshire's rideshare requirements include liability limits of 50/100/25 for injury per person/per incident/property damage. Unlike most states, though, it only requires $300,000 in coverage while the driver is engaged with a passenger.
If you are a driver:
Make sure to discuss your coverage options with your insurance provider as your current policy may be inadequate to cover your ridesharing liabilities.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in New Hampshire
If you cause an accident that results in an injury, death or more than $1,000 in damage, you'll have to report it to the New Hampshire Department of Safety within 15 days of the accident. Ask for form DSMV 159.
If you are involved with an accident, take these steps to file an insurance claim:
- Exchange names and phone numbers with other driver(s) involved and witnesses
- Get the insurance policy information, license plate number, address, and driver's license number from other drivers involved
- Get the names, phone numbers, and addresses of any witnesses
- Write down the details of the accident and take photos, if possible
- As soon as possible, call your insurance agent or company
- Follow the insurance company's claims process. This may include working with an insurance adjuster to complete an investigation, get repair estimates and get reimbursed
Driver Safety: How Does New Hampshire Rank?
In terms of car crash fatalities, New Hampshire roads are slightly safer than the national average. However, the state's highway safety office is working to reduce the number of impaired driver fatalities.
The state police "are heavily involved in DUI enforcement," says John Clegg, program manager for the state's Highway Safety Agency. "Impaired driving accounts for close to 40 percent of our highway fatalities."
A new effort called STEP - the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program - focuses on speeding, running red lights and special enforcement programs like Operation Safe Commute, according to Clegg. "Law enforcement will conduct Safe Commute at least one day a month to address aggressive or impaired driving, speeding, and texting and driving," he says.
New Hampshire Driver Safety Ranking
The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.
How did we create the safety rankings?
We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).
|Driver Safety Profile||Number of Fatalities||Fatality Rate
The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.
Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.
|Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities||46||3.56||33rd|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||56||4.34||34th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||17||1.32||45th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||52||4.03||20th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||135||10.46||25th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
New Hampshire: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
Although the state has some optimal traffic safety laws, including a mandatory ignition interlock law, an open container law, and a ban on texting and driving, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says New Hampshire needs to fill some important gaps in its legislation. Among other things, the alliance of consumers, public health and insurer groups urges the state to adopt an all-rider motorcycle helmet law, a primary enforcement seat belt law, and raise the minimum age for a learner's permit to 16.
Learn more about traffic safety laws in New Hampshire below.
Safe Driving Laws in New Hampshire
|Mandatory seat belts||Partial||New Hampshire is the only state without mandatory seat belt laws for adult passengers or drivers. Children and teens under 18 are required to buckle up.|
|Child passenger safety||Children ages 7 and younger and under 57" must ride in an approved child safety seat|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||
Blood alcohol concentration levels for a DUI are 0.08 and 0.02 for age 21 and younger
First conviction: Minimum $500 fine; driver's license suspended 90 days to two years
Subsequent convictions will earn larger fines, longer suspensions, jail sentences, required ignition interlock device.
|Ignition interlock after DUI||After a DUI, driver must have ignition interlock installed for at least 12 months|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||Statewide ban on cell phone and mobile device use is in effect. Hands-free calling is still permitted. Drivers 18 and younger are not allowed to use mobile devices, except in emergency situations, while driving|
|Protections for young drivers||No driving between 1-4 a.m. until the age of 17 and one month; no carrying more than one passenger under than 25 years old unless supervised by a licensed adult (at least 25 years old) for the first six months of driving|
|Motorcycle helmet law||No statewide helmet law in place|
|Bicycle helmet law||Partial||Riders 16 and younger are required to wear a helmet|
Car Insurance Resources for NH Residents
This Division of Motor Vehicles page provides drivers with an overview of the financial responsibility of car owners, among other things.
The New Hampshire Department of Safety includes FAQs on traffic safety.
Includes state DMV information on vehicle registration and driver's license application systems.
The insurance department can help you find license insurance agents, compare rates and file a complaint.
An overview of everything a driver needs to know about auto insurance in New Hampshire.