New York State Seal
STATE OF NEW YORK
INSURANCE DEPARTMENT
25 BEAVER STREET
NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10004

George E. Pataki
Governor

Gregory V. Serio
Superintendent

The Office of General Counsel issued the following opinion on November 26, 2003 representing the position of the New York State Insurance Department.

RE: Insurance Regulation No. 35-A (11 NYCRR § 60-1.1); Minimum Provisions / Auto Liability Policies.

Question Presented:

When a driver has the minimum statutory auto insurance liability coverage required under New York State law and is in an accident where four pedestrians were struck and killed by his vehicle, how is the coverage allocated amongst the four pedestrians?

Conclusion:

The applicable minimum bodily injury liability limit is $50,000 when one death occurs and, subject to said limit for any one person, $100,000 for death of two or more persons. See N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 311 (McKinney 1996); see also N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, § 60-1.1 (2002) (Reg. 35-A).

Facts:

Four pedestrians are struck and killed by one motor vehicle in a single accident. The vehicle has liability coverage in the statutory minimum amount ($50,000 when one death occurs and, subject to said limit for any one person, $100,000 for death of two or more persons).

Analysis:

Chapter 305 of the Laws of 1995 amended N.Y. Veh. & Traf. Law § 311 (McKinney 1996) to increase the required minimum limits of liability for motor vehicle insurance coverages. The new requirements became effective on January 1, 1996 and apply to all accidents occurring after that date. The required minimum coverage for liability for injury to one person in a motor vehicle accident increased from $10,000 to $25,000 and, subject to said limit for any one person, the required minimum liability coverage for liability for injury to two or more persons increased from $20,000 to $50,000. The minimum liability coverage for property damage increased from $5,000 to $10,000. Minimum bodily injury liability limits remained at $50,000 when one death occurs and, subject to said limit for any one person, $100,000 for death of two or more persons in a single accident. These limits are also contained in N.Y. Comp. Codes R. & Regs. tit. 11, § 60-1.1 (2002) (Reg. 35-A). The statute and regulation are silent as to how the $100,000 should be allocated in an instance where more than two fatalities result from the same accident.

For further information you may contact Associate Attorney Sam Wachtel at the New York City Office.