Except for New Hampshire and Virginia, all states require drivers to have at least liability coverage to meet the state’s minimum insurance requirements. Your policy must also include uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and personal insurance protection in some states.
How Much Car Insurance Is Mandatory in Every State
All states have different minimum car insurance coverage requirements. Some coverages are nearly universally required — for example, property damage liability coverage is included in car insurance policies in all states, and bodily injury insurance is part of liability coverage everywhere except Florida. Other coverages are more state-specific, like uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurance, which is mandatory for drivers in about half of states.
While minimum coverage is the cheapest insurance you can buy, it may not cover all your expenses after an accident. MoneyGeek compiled a list of each state’s car insurance requirements and compared rates to higher coverage plans to help you decide what policy is right for you.
Minimum Required Car Insurance Limits for Each State
A state’s minimum car insurance requirements may include the following types of coverage:
- Bodily injury liability insurance
- Property damage liability insurance
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance for bodily injury
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance for property damage
- Personal injury protection or medical payments coverage.
Full coverage insurance — which includes comprehensive and collision coverage — is not required in any state. However, if you purchased your car through bank financing or are currently leasing your vehicle, you may be required to carry a full coverage policy.
Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Requirements in Each State
How State Minimum Coverage Works
If you’re looking for the most affordable option, minimum car insurance is the cheapest coverage you can purchase. It typically only includes liability insurance, meaning your policy covers the other driver’s expenses from bodily injuries and property damage if you’re at fault in an accident. Costs often exceed minimum limits, though, so you may want to consider increasing your coverage above the state’s minimum auto insurance requirements.
Minimum cover varies from state to state. However — in most cases — it won't cover many of the costs associated with an at-fault crash. For example, California’s minimum car insurance requirement is 15/30/5. If you only have minimum coverage in the state and cause an accident where the other driver’s expenses reach $20,000, you’ll have to pay the remaining $5,000 out of pocket.
Depending on where you live, a state’s minimum auto insurance requirements may include uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) insurance or personal injury protection (PIP):
- Uninsured motorist insurance financially protects you if an uninsured driver hits you. Typically, it’s best to have the same limits for UIM and liability coverage.
- Personal injury protection covers expenses from injuries you or your passengers sustain in an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Note that bare minimum car insurance requirements don’t include comprehensive and collision insurance, which are both part of full coverage policies. Collision insurance helps pay for the cost of repairs if your car is damaged from hitting another or an object. Comprehension insurance covers damages sustained from events like vandalism, fire or theft.
States That Don’t Require Car Insurance: New Hampshire and Virginia
Car insurance is required in most states. However, you don't need auto insurance in New Hampshire and Virginia to operate a motor vehicle legally.
According to New Hampshire’s Financial Responsibility Law, you need to prove that you can pay for damages if you cause an accident. For most people, it’s cheaper and easier to purchase a policy that meets the state’s minimum liability coverage — in New Hampshire, that’s 25/50/25, liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance and at least $1,000 in medical payments coverage.
Similarly, you have to show proof of financial responsibility in Virginia to opt out of coverage or carry a policy that meets the state’s minimum car insurance requirements. That means purchasing coverage limits of at least 25/50/20 plus UM/UIM. If you choose to drive uninsured, you need to pay a $500 Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee at the DMV.
Purchasing a policy is still a good idea as both are tort states, meaning that if you’re at fault in an accident, you have to pay the cost of damage resulting from it. Because of this, MoneyGeek recommends buying car insurance even though it’s not required.
How Much State Minimum Car Insurance Costs
The average cost for auto insurance policies with state minimum coverage limits is $752 per year, although it varies by state. In comparison, full coverage insurance with liability limits of $300,000 for bodily injury per accident with a maximum of $100,000 for each individual and $100,000 for property damage has an average annual rate of $1,352.
There are several factors to consider to determine how much car insurance you need, including the kind of car you have and how much coverage you can afford. While they tend to be more expensive than liability-only policies, comparing quotes from different providers can help you find cheap full coverage car insurance.
Cost of Minimum Coverage Car Insurance vs. Full Coverage in Each State
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Why State Minimum Car Insurance Isn’t Full Coverage
When purchasing insurance, it’s important to understand the difference between different types of policies. Policies that meet the state's minimum auto insurance requirements don’t include collision and comprehensive insurance.
Comprehension insurance covers damages sustained from events like vandalism, fire or theft. Collision insurance helps pay for the cost of repairs if your car is damaged from hitting another or an object.
Outside of being involved in an accident, there are several situations where full coverage car insurance is required, such as if you purchased your car using bank financing. Lending institutions also typically need you to have full coverage auto insurance if you’re leasing your vehicle. MoneyGeek highly recommends purchasing 100/300/100 full coverage insurance for the best financial protection.
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