Car insurance protects you and other people financially. Should you get into a car accident, your insurance will help pay for medical bills, personal property damage and legal fees. Because it’s financial protection, it can help protect your most valued assets from being seized in court.
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Because of how important car insurance is, many states have requirements about the amount of insurance you have to carry. Learn about car insurance state minimums to make sure you’re meeting this legal requirement.
Does every state require insurance?
All states don’t require auto insurance. However, even the states without specific insurance specifications require you to have financial responsibility. This means you must have enough money in assets to pay for any damages you cause. Because most people don’t have $100,000 in the bank, this boils down to needing car insurance.
Most states require you to have bodily injury liability and personal property liability. Despite what you may think, full coverage is not mandatory— meaning liability, collision and comprehensive. Only liability is required in most states.
What is the insurance minimum in my state?
Ever asked Google, “What is the insurance requirements in my state?” but not really understood what you saw?
Below is a list of each state’s minimum car insurance requirements. You’ll notice each state has three numbers.
Here is what to know about these three numbers:
- Each number is a dollar amount and needs three zeroes added to it. For example, 25 actually stands for $25,000.
- The first number represents bodily injury per person— meaning the maximum amount of money your insurer will pay for each person you injure in an accident. For example, in a 25/50/25 policy, an injured person could get $25,000 in an accident if you are at fault.
- The second number represents bodily injury per accident or the maximum amount of money your insurer will pay per accident if more than one person is in the car you hit. In a 25/50/25 policy, your insurance company would help you up to $50,000 if you hit a car with multiple people in it.
- The third number represents property damage per accident or the maximum amount of money your insurer will pay to help repair the damage you cause. In a 25/50/25 policy, your insurer would cover up to $25,000 in property damage if you are found at fault.
Here’s a list of state minimum car insurance:
|State||Required minimum coverage|
Some states also have additional requirements such as underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage.
What is the difference between at-fault and no-fault state?
An at-fault state is one where the driver who is considered to be at-fault of the accident is the one who pays for any damages— this includes medical, personal property damage and lost wages. At-fault states require you to purchase liability but may also require you to purchase uninsured motorist coverage.
In a no-fault state, it doesn’t matter who is considered to be at-fault. Everyone pays for their damages. No-fault states require you to buy personal injury protection and medical payments coverage. After that, it’s up to you whether you want to buy any additional coverage.
Most states are tort states (aka at-fault states). The following, however, are the exceptions and are no-fault states.
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
These states also require personal injury protection.
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Who should consider getting the state minimum coverage?
If you drive, you need at least minimum coverage. The real question is whether you should purchase more.
If you have a new car you’re making payments on, budget for more coverage. You don’t want to make payments on a car you can’t drive if it gets totaled. If you’re driving an older car, minimum liability may be enough.
We can’t foresee accidents and therefore can’t predict what we’ll one day need. For this reason alone, always purchase as much insurance as you can comfortably afford.
Is the state minimum enough coverage?
Should you cause a severe accident, funeral costs and medical costs could easily exceed your state’s minimum. Plus, when you consider the possible costs of litigation, it’s not hard to imagine your liability coverage getting sucked dry.
What happens when you run out of insurance money? You’re expected to pay for everything out of pocket. To cover this, many people resort to selling assets such as their home, business or stocks. Just purchasing your state’s minimum required liability leaves you financially vulnerable.
- Paid in full
- Defensive driving course
- Bundled (when you use the same insurer for multiple policies, such as homeowners and auto)
- Good student
- Safe driver
- Car alarm
To find out what types of discounts your insurer offers, speak with an agent.
Car insurance state minimum coverage simplified:
- Not all states require insurance, but all require financial responsibility.
- All states have a minimum amount for liability.
- Drivers in no-fault states pay for their own damages. Drivers in at-fault states pay any damage they cause.
- Always purchase as much insurance as you can comfortably afford.
- Most insurers offer numerous ways to reduce your premium.