If you’ve just moved to the Garden State, it’s important to meet New Jersey minimum car insurance requirements. Otherwise, you could end up facing fines and even lawsuits if you drive.

You’re probably wondering if you need to switch your driver’s license and current registration to New Jersey before you take out insurance. While it can be tempting to stay registered in another state if you’re only in New Jersey temporarily for work or school, or you want to maintain your voter registration in another state, or you’d like to avoid the cost of registration—you’ll need to register your car in New Jersey to maintain insurance coverage.

In this guide, we’ll go over the reasons why.

New Jersey Insurance Requirements

It may go without saying that you need New Jersey insurance when you’re living and driving in New Jersey. In case you’re tempted to keep your old insurance, we’ll explain why you need to update your policy.

  • Most states require that you insure your car in the state where you are a legal resident, and New Jersey is no exception.

  • If you live in one state and work in another, you should insure your car in the place where it stays overnight. For example, if you live in New Jersey and work in Connecticut, your car should be insured in the Garden State.

  • College students who call a different state their primary residence may be exempt from this rule if they are on their parents’ insurance policies.

What happens if you’re living in New Jersey and carrying insurance from another state?

If you’re pulled over or you’re in an accident, you could face fines and legal penalties.

The Risk of Insurance Fraud

If you fail to take out insurance in the proper state, your current insurer might decide that you’ve committed insurance fraud.

“Insurance fraud” is when you provide false information to your insurance company.

When you take out an insurance policy, you effectively claim that you’re a resident of the state where you have insurance. You imply to your insurer that you and your car will both be there for most of the year. If you split your time between several states, you may need a multi-state insurance policy.

If you get into an accident in New Jersey, your insurer will investigate any insurance claim. If they find out you actually live there—not the state where you’re insured—they may consider your policy fraudulent. Then, you’d face the following consequences:

  • Cancellation of your policy

  • Denial of coverage for claims resulting from the recent accident

  • Difficulty taking out insurance in the future

You could also end up facing steep fines for failure to take out the proper insurance.

New Jersey Insurance Requirements

Does your out-of-state insurance meet New Jersey’s minimum requirements?

In New Jersey, residents have the option of taking out a Basic Auto Insurance Policy to meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements. A Basic Policy carries the following kinds of coverage:

  • Property damage liability – $5,000 per accident to cover damage to another driver’s car in an at-fault accident. This may also cover damage to other property, i.e. homes or mailboxes.

  • Personal injury protection – $15,000 per person, per accident to cover injuries to yourself and your passengers when you’re at fault, or you have an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver

Keep in mind that if your insurer finds your policy is fraudulent, you’ll lose coverage and find yourself in violation of New Jersey state minimum requirements.

If you drive in New Jersey without proper coverage, you could face fines:

  • After your first offense, you’ll be charged a minimum of $300 and will have your license suspended for a year.

  • For subsequent offenses, fines range from $500-$5,000. You will have your license suspended for two years, and even then, it is up to the DMV Director’s discretion whether to reinstate you.

Registration and Insurance in Different States

As we’ve already noted, there are numerous reasons why you might want to register in one state and take out insurance in New Jersey. However, beyond taking out insurance, you’ll ultimately need to register your car in New Jersey to satisfy the state’s legal requirements and to make sure your policy is valid with your insurer.

New Jersey Car Registration Requirements

If you’ve moved to New Jersey, the best reason to change your driver’s license and current registration is simply to comply with the Garden State’s legal requirements.

  • If you are over 21, the state expects you to transfer your driver’s license within 60 days of your move.

  • If you are under 21 and your licence carries some restrictions in your previous state of residence, you must participate in the state’s Graduated Driver License program to obtain a valid license.

  • Likewise, you’ll need to transfer your car’s title and registration to New Jersey. The costs are as follows:

  • $60 for standard vehicles

  • $85 for vehicles with a lien resulting from a bank loan

  • $110 for vehicles with two or more liens

If you fail to update your license and registration and you get pulled over, you could be charged with operating an unregistered vehicle, which is a misdemeanor offense.

Registration and Insurance Laws

New residents have sixty days to register their car in New Jersey. It is possible to switch over your insurance without completing your new registration, however, this depends on your insurer.

  • Talk to your current, out-of-state insurer to make sure they carry coverage in New Jersey. When you switch over your address, they may inform you of any requirements, i.e. showing proof of new registration and license within a certain time frame.

  • If you need to take out a new policy, your insurer will inevitably need to check with your state’s DMV about your driving history. If you don’t already have a valid New Jersey license, they may ask for proof of license and registration within a certain period of time.

While you may not need to head to the DMV on your first day of residence in New Jersey, you shouldn’t waste time getting your car, license, and title transferred over to the Garden State.

Getting Registered in New Jersey

Preparing the right documents in advance of going to the DMV can help speed up the process so that your car fully complies with local laws. To get your New Jersey car registration, assemble the following documents:

  • Vehicle title

  • Current license

  • Proof that you’ve taken out New Jersey insurance

  • Information about any financing from a lienholder, if relevant

If you don’t have a title or purchased the new vehicle at auction, check the NJ DMV page to understand additional requirements.

You’ll also need a way to pay for registration transfer fees.

If you plan to transfer your license to New Jersey on the same trip, also bring other documents to prove your identity. These could include:

  • Birth certificate

  • Social Security card

  • Certificate of naturalization

  • Passport

  • College ID card

  • Marriage certificate

  • Bank statement

  • Health insurance card

  • ATM card with your name

Then, look for the closest DMV branch and plan to dedicate your day to taking care of your car registration. We know no one looks forward to a DMV trip, but the time spent waiting is well worth the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’re properly registered and insured.

Once you’re registered, it will be easy to complete your New Jersey car registration renewal online.

Other Insurance Coverage

Want to extend your protections in New Jersey?

While the Basic Policy discussed can be ideal for people with low-value cars and few financial assets, it leaves out several kinds of coverage that the state recommends. A “standard” New Jersey policy also includes $15,000 in bodily injury liability to cover another vehicle’s driver and passengers when you’re at fault in an accident.

To improve your coverage, select policy limits well above the bare minimum. You may also want to add the following kinds of coverage:

  • Collision insurance to cover damage to your vehicle

  • Uninsured motorist coverage to cover costs when another driver is uninsured

  • Comprehensive coverage to cover damage from weather, theft, and other occurrences

Which coverage is right for you? While it can be tempting to save money by taking out a Basic Policy, it won’t do you much good if you total your car. Investing in a well-rounded insurance policy can help you avoid significant repairs and financial losses down the line.

Check out our guide on the cheapest car insurance in New Jersey to find an affordable policy that meets your unique needs.

OAI: The Best New Jersey Car Insurance Rates, All in One Place

Moving to a new state can be expensive. The good news? You can lower your overall costs with an affordable car insurance policy.

At Online Auto Insurance, our goal is to simplify the process of researching and taking out insurance. Use our tools to get quotes from dozens of insurers. Select the one that best fits your coverage needs and get insured in the Garden State today!

Sources:

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Registration. https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/vehicles/reginitial.htm

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. First Driver License. https://www.state.nj.us/mvc/license/initiallicense.htm

State of New Jersey Department of Banking & Insurance. Get Legal with New Jersey's Basic Auto Insurance Policy. https://www.state.nj.us/dobi/division_consumers/insurance/basicpolicy.shtml

Wolf Law. Driving Without Insurance in New Jersey. http://wolflawnj.com/traffic/no-insurance-nj/

New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission. Moving to New Jersey. https://nj.gov/mvc/drivertopics/movetonj.htm