It was recently brought to our attention, when a car smashed into the back of Leo and Chris’s rental car in Hawaii, that some states operate much differently than Washington when it comes to auto insurance and accidents.
States like Hawaii operate as “no-fault” states, meaning that drivers have insurance to cover their own injuries and damage instead of having it to cover other drivers. In other words, it doesn’t matter whose fault the accident is – your insurance company is paying for your losses, and the other drivers’ companies are paying for theirs.
How is no-fault different than Washington’s system?
Basically, states choose one of two insurance methods: tort or no-fault (though some states have adopted a combination of the two).
Tort – the law assigns fault in the event of a collision, and the person who is at fault is responsible for all damage, medical bills, and other costs. Their insurance will pay up to the selected limits, but after the limit is reached, the at-fault individual must pay out of pocket. Washington is a tort state.
No-fault – each driver’s insurance pays for their own damage and medical expenses. You also cannot sue another driver, even if they were 100% at fault, except when exceeding certain verbal (as determined by severe injury/disability) or monetary (as determined by medical bills) thresholds.
Which states are no-fault states?
States currently operating on some form of no-fault system, either strict or combination, are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Why do I need to know this?
If you have any plans to move or travel to one of these 12 states, it’s important for you to make sure your health and auto insurance are in good standing before you go. Even if you’re a safe driver, you can’t count on other drivers to keep you out of trouble.