The Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnity Corporation (MVAIC) provides No-Fault and bodily injury coverage to New York State residents who were injured in a car accident with an uninsured or unidentified vehicle and are not covered by an automobile insurance policy.

If were hurt in a crash, and have no car insurance available to you, you might be eligible to file a claim with MVAIC. But before you do, speak with a car accident attorney to explore other options. MVAIC has very strict requirements and denies most claims.

What Is MVAIC?

MVAIC was created in 1958 and operates as a not-for-profit corporation. It is intended for New Yorkers and residents of other states with similar programs who do not own vehicles or do not live in a household with an insured vehicle.

New York is a no-fault state for automobile insurance. Everyone who registers a vehicle in New York is required to purchase No-Fault injury coverage, also known as Personal Injury Protection (PIP). They must carry minimum amounts of liability and uninsured motorist coverage as well.

No-Fault pays medical expenses, lost earnings, and other expenses for drivers and passengers injured in, or pedestrians or cyclists injured by, the insured vehicle, up to $50,000. These claims are paid regardless of who was at fault in the crash. Even if a car is registered outside of New York, the driver’s insurance must offer minimum coverage under New York insurance law if the driver is in a crash here.

But not all New York residents have No-Fault coverage. Some lack coverage because they don’t own a car and don’t live with family members who have No-Fault insurance they could qualify for. In 2021, 53.9% of New York City households reported owning zero motor vehicles.

And some drivers choose not to purchase insurance. Although illegal, about 4% of New York drivers are uninsured.

There are also instances where people are injured by the driver of a stolen car, in which case the driver’s insurance company would not cover the claim, or a driver who leaves the scene of the accident and cannot be identified.

In instances where car accident victims don’t have insurance coverage, or their claims are rejected by their own No-Fault insurer, MVAIC provides a safety net.

How Much Does MVAIC Pay?

MVAIC pays No-Fault benefits up to $50,000 and bodily injury benefits up to $25,000 per person injured in a crash.

In 2020, MVAIC paid the claims of 1,349 New York residents. These claims totaled $14.5 million. The previous year, MVAIC took care of 1,518 claims worth $16.7 million.

However, MVAIC pays only a small portion of the claims it receives. For 2020, MVAIC received 23,926 notices of intent to make a claim but declined 23,247. The 679 qualifying claims represent just 2.8% of the total number of claim notices MVAIC reviewed.

Who Qualifies for MVAIC Benefits?

MVAIC pays very few claims due to strict eligibility criteria. The official requirements for MVAIC benefits include:  

  • You were involved in a car accident in New York.
  • You were a New York resident at the time of the accident.
  • No other automobile insurance is available to you.

MVAIC claims must also be filed within certain timeframes.

  • The accident must be reported to the police within 24 hours of when it happened.
  • A Notice of Intention must be submitted to MVAIC within 90 days (hit and run or unidentified motor vehicle) or 180 days (identified motor vehicle) of the accident.

Along with a notarized Notice of Intention, claimants have to submit a notarized household affidavit that lists the names and dates of birth of all people they lived with at the time of the accident. If any household member has auto insurance that may cover the victim, the insurance company must be contacted about coverage.

In addition, MVAIC claimants are ineligible if they were the owner of the uninsured vehicle involved in the accident, or they were the spouse of the uninsured vehicle’s owner and a passenger in that uninsured vehicle.

Do Uninsured New Yorkers Have Other Options?

Private insurance is the option of first resort for car accident victims. MVAIC is the insurer of last resort.

Even if somebody qualifies for MVAIC benefits, the payout may not be enough to fully cover the victim’s losses. A better option might be filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

This latter option assumes that the at-fault driver can be identified, which may not be possible in a hit and run accident. But if the driver can be identified, the victim may be able to sue them.

In order for a lawsuit to be worth it, the driver would need to have enough income or assets to compensate the victim. Unfortunately, somebody driving without insurance may not have the money to pay somebody they injured.

However, more than one party can be liable. For example, if the driver was working at the time of the crash, their employer, including the City of New York, could be vicariously liable. A vehicle or roadway defect could also be to blame.

Just because you and another driver lack insurance doesn’t mean accident compensation is not available. When considering a claim with MVAIC, talk to a car accident lawyer at The Sanders Law Firm to make sure you exhaust every option. Call 855-SANDERS or contact us for a free consultation.