All auto accidents are scary — out-of-state ones maybe more. Rest assured virtually all auto insurance policies will cover you in every state, despite variations in insurance rules and state laws. Driving out of state for extended periods (i.e., beyond a few weeks) or moving to another state will require you to update your insurance or buy a new policy.
If you purchased your state’s minimum allowable amount of insurance coverage but that amount is less than what is required in the state where your accident occurred, almost all policies will bump you up to the higher minimum — a.k.a. the “broadening clause.” Conversely, if your minimum coverage is higher than the state minimum where the accident occurred, you’re covered by the higher amount.
The broadening clause also kicks in if you live in a “fault” state that does not require personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and the accident occurs in a “no-fault” state, where it is required. Again, you’re covered.
You must file a claim in the state where the accident took place or where the at-fault driver (or business) resides. You generally won’t be able to file in your home state unless the at-fault driver (or business) resides, owns property, or works there.
Where is gets tricky is when the defendant driver in your out-of-state crash does NOT have insurance, then a determination needs to be made if you need to file in his home state, or in NH, where you live and where you have uninsured motorist coverage (mandatory on all NH car insurance policies).
Typically, you will need to hire an attorney from the state where the accident occurred — ideally, located near the city or county where the accident took place to save on time and transportation costs, and to benefit from their knowledge of the local courts, judges, and attorneys. Unfortunately, in-person appearances may be required for some court proceedings.
If you are injured by a negligent driver while out of state, our office stands ready to assist you, even if we can’t take on the case ourselves.