Connecticut is known as the Land of Steady Habits. Judging by its high rate of compliance with state insurance laws and its low rate of traffic fatalities, those habits are paying off behind the wheel. Whether you live in one of Connecticut's historic seaports or inland, here's what you need to know about insurance requirements and driver safety in the Constitution State.
What Connecticut Requires for Vehicle Insurance
Connecticut car insurance is required of all registered vehicles, and an estimated 92 percent of the state's residents comply with the law, according to the Insurance Information Institute. In this case, following the rules comes with a price: Connecticut residents spend more on auto insurance each year than residents of all but eight other states.
One reason for the high cost of coverage is that Connecticut is one of just several states that requires drivers to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in addition to standard liability coverage. Drivers looking to shave costs should ask their insurers about discounts (See the MoneyGeek guide to car insurance for details).
Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Connecticut?
Every Connecticut driver needs liability insurance. If you have a registered car that you aren't driving, you can drop your liability coverage by applying for "suspension of liability" with your insurance company. This will keep the car registered, but it cannot be driven until the liability is reinstated.
If you have a car that is inoperable or in storage and don't want to pay any insurance at all, you can turn in its license plate to the DMV and place it on hold.
Proof of Insurance
The state of Connecticut accepts proof of insurance in just two forms: an insurance card or an insurance policy declaration page. You'll need to show one of these two items if you're in an accident or if a law enforcement officer asks to see it.
Minimum Insurance Requirements in Connecticut
Every registered car needs to be insured for at least the following amounts:
- $20,000 in liability for injuries to another person
- $40,000 in liability for injuries to multiple people in an accident
- $10,000 in liability for damage to a car or other property
- $20,000 to cover one person in case of a collision caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver
- $20,000 to cover one person in case of a collision caused by an uninsured/underinsured driver
In the case of liability coverage, the state DMV encourages people to purchase policies with higher limits, as do most industry experts (see section: How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?).
Alternatives to Insurance in Connecticut
Drivers who don't want to invest in insurance from a company may "self-insure" in Connecticut. Here are the steps:
- Make a cash deposit or other financial arrangement that covers the minimum liability amounts given above.
- Get approval from the state insurance commissioner by showing you can efficiently pay out claims in the event of a traffic incident.
Self-insured drivers who are responsible for traffic collisions should hope the damage or injuries aren't too serious. Otherwise, just like other drivers with low limits, they may find themselves depleting their savings or putting their home at risk if they are sued.
What Happens If You Don't Have Car Insurance?
There are two reasons people fail to carry insurance. The first is because they just forgot to put it in the glove box. That will earn them a $35 fine. The second, which is more serious, is because they don't have any. Here are penalties for not having insurance:
- Motorists who don't establish a new policy before canceling or discounting their existing policy get a warning notice. They'll need to get insurance and pay a $200 fine.
- If they don't buy a new policy, they may have their license suspended, and they'll have to buy insurance and pay a $200 fine to get it back. They may also be temporarily banned from registering any more vehicles.
The state requires insurers to notify the DMV if a motorist cancels insurance, making it difficult for drivers of registered vehicles to sidestep coverage. So if you don't want to pay a fine, be careful not to let your coverage lapse.
How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?
In a severe car accident, cheap car insurance may not cut it. In fact, insurance experts recommend $100,000/$300,000 in liability coverage for injuries just to be on the safe side.
Connecticut Lack Vehicle Insurance? 8.0% National Average: 12.6 %
But that's not all: If you have a fairly new vehicle, you still need to protect it. That's why drivers should look into collision and comprehensive insurance. If you've bought a new car on financing, your lender will require you to carry both types of insurance. If you are in an accident or something unexpected happens to your vehicle — say, it gets crushed by a falling tree — you'll be able to repair or replace it.
You may also want to consider getting more than the minimum of uninsured motorist insurance, which will help protect you in a hit-and-run accident as well as an accident in which you're hit by an insured driver.
For more on the issue, see our MoneyGeek guide to car insurance.
Teen Drivers in Connecticut
Connecticut teenagers can save their parents money by doing two things: getting good grades and taking a driver education course, both of which may qualify them for lower premiums, according to the state's insurance department. Driver education courses also shave two months off the time they are in the learner stage, meaning they can get their license after four months of supervised driving instead of six.
Even with the driver education course, parents should get the best car insurance possible while their children are still learning to drive. In 2013 alone, more than 240,000 teenagers in the United States were hospitalized after a car crash.
But don't just get the best car insurance — get a good car as well. Safer cars (such as sedans with crash protection) not only protect drivers and passengers, but also can qualify for lower premiums; sports cars and SUVs will drive them up. The Connecticut Insurance Department recommends that parents shop around for insurance all over again when they have teenagers, because companies' policies and pricing differ quite a bit.
How Teens Affect Car Insurance in CT
Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:$2,596 increase This is a difference of 122%.
Average annual premium increase if your teen gets a speeding ticket while going 11-15 mph over the speed limit:
Insurance Discounts for Connecticut Teens
Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:$389 saved
Compare Premiums of Connecticut Providers
Policy costs vary greatly, so do some comparison shopping. Check out these annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Connecticut:
Connecticut Premiums: The Difference a Car Makes
Insurers consider sports cars a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans, and the state's premium rates reflect it.
Average premium for two 2014
Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds
Annual benefit of minivans:
College Students in Connecticut
College students taking the family car far away from home will have to talk with an insurance agent because the new location may have an impact on the premium. If their high school graduation gift was their own car registered in their name, they'll need to get their own insurance policy to go with it.
Do College Drivers Have Lower Premiums in CT?
Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver$1,065 decrease This is a decrease of 22%.
Annual Premiums With a College Student in Connecticut
Each year, take a look at your policy before it renews to see whether you could find a more affordable premium. Case in point: Here are the average premiums for a married couple and a 19-year-old college student in Connecticut.
Distance Discount: Savings for Connecticut College Drivers
You may see a slight savings in your family's premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.
Average premium for a 19-year-old male
- $4,299 at home
- $3,565 at school
- $734 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
- $3,726 at home
- $3,203 at school
- $523 in savings
How Car Choice Can Lead to Savings in Connecticut
If your college student drives a minivan, it will cost less than if he or she drives a sports car — a price that reflects the lower risk to insurers.
2014 Mustang GTs (2)$4,480
2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)$3,126
Annual benefit of minivans
Military Drivers in Connecticut
Many auto insurers in Connecticut offer discounts to veterans and the enlisted. Some companies cater specifically to military personnel. Whichever route you choose, contact several carriers to evaluate quotes and get the best deal. Even though discounts are available, insurance companies are still going to look at your driving record to determine your rate.
Connecticut, with more than 7,100 active-duty military personnel living in the state, requires proof of insurance to register a vehicle. That means you'll need a policy before you can get plates for a car. The good news is, once they show proof of insurance, active duty military don't have to pay certain fees, including new and renewal registration fees, or fees connected to a temporary plate, safety plate, or the clean air act. You'll still have to pay title and lien fees, vehicle or record transfer fees, duplicate registration, special plate fees and sales tax.
Connecticut Service Members:
The Vehicle You Choose May Cost You
Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to the Insurance Information Institute, but a recent model sports car will drive up your premium more than an older model SUV.
Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
Age-Based Savings for Connecticut
Median auto insurance
for service members:
Compare Average Auto Rates Available to Connecticut Military Personnel
Whether you're in the military or not, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Connecticut.
Seniors in Connecticut
While different companies may offer their own deals, the state requires all insurers to provide a discount to drivers over the age of 59 who take a DMV-approved accident prevention course. This will reduce premiums by at least 5 percent for at least two years.
Undocumented Workers in Connecticut
In Connecticut, undocumented immigrants can get a license and, therefore, car insurance, by following a few steps:
- Prove their identity (using an ID such as a foreign passport) and establishing that they live in Connecticut
- Sign an affidavit stating they will apply for legal status when they are eligible
Proponents of the law point out that studies show unlicensed drivers are three to five times more likely to get in car crashes, while licensed drivers are more likely to get car insurance.
Ridesharing Insurance: Are You Covered?
For the time being, transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber or Lyft are unregulated in Connecticut. The services are still legal in the state, but drivers may be less protected than they assume. Since regular car insurance policies typically don't cover you if you're working as a professional driver, motorists may not be covered on every trip, including both before and after the fare is picked up. Under pressure from various states, TNCs have provided some insurance to drivers, but it's not necessarily enough.
So if you're a rideshare driver, talk with your insurance agent to make sure you won't be paying out of pocket for incidents that happen when you're behind the wheel. If you're a passenger, check with your insurer as well: TNCs don't usually offer the same insurance protections as a taxi.
Car Accidents: How to File a Claim in Connecticut
Collisions comes in all forms, and the rules for what to do vary based upon the severity of the collision. Here are the basics, according to the state DMV:
- Stop the car.
- If someone is injured or a car is damaged, call the police. Failure to do so is a crime.
- Gather the name of the other driver(s) and write down their phone number, license number, car details and insurance information, along with contact information for any witnesses.
- Check all cars involved for damage and write down what you observe. (You may want to take photos as well.)
- If your car needs to be taken for repairs, make sure you call the insurance company and have an agent settle on a price with the repair shop of your choosing.
- If another driver is at fault for vehicle damage, you'll need to file a claim with that driver's insurance company before repairs take place, though your insurance agent can likely assist with this process.
Best and Worst States for Drivers: How Does Connecticut Rank?
Connecticut ranks in the top 10 of states for fewest traffic fatalities per 100 million miles driven, with a rate 18 percent lower than the national average. However, drunk driving continues to be a serious threat on the state's roads, says Kathryn Faraci of the Connecticut Office of Highway Safety: "In 2012 to 2014 we had a total of 31,469 DUI arrests in Connecticut. That equates to almost 30 DUI arrests per day." The state introduced ignition interlocks, she says, to deal with the problem of impaired drivers: "You try to prevent them from hurting themselves or others on the roadway."
To see how Connecticut stands in terms of overall road safety and preventable driving problems, MoneyGeek crunched federal data tables on driving accidents. The table below shows how Connecticut ranks in comparison with other states and the District of Columbia in terms of road safety.
Connecticut Driver Safety Ranking
The driver safety table shows the different safety factors that contribute to your state's overall safety rank (in the green box). The overall safety ranking and the National Ranking column scores in each category (including crash fatality rates) are from safest to most dangerous, with 1st being the safest and 51st the least safe.
How did we create the safety rankings?
We created a traffic safety ranking of all US states plus the District of Columbia by combining data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. We looked at fatality rates by distance traveled as well as by population and gave more weight to behaviors that were riskier and preventable (i.e., drunk driving, not using a seat belt), as well as to accidents that involved more than one party (i.e., multi-vehicle).
|Driver Safety Profile||Number of Fatalities||Fatality Rate
The fatality rate is the rate per one billion vehicle miles traveled, except for pedestrian and bicyclist fatality measures, which are per measured per a population of 100,000.
Rankings are in order of safest to least safe. A state with the lowest fatality rate would be the safest, and thus ranked #1.
|Drunk Driving-Related Fatalities||113||3.66||38th|
|Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities||75||2.42||14th|
|Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities||21||0.68||26th|
|Multiple Vehicle Fatalities||115||3.72||15th|
|Total Vehicle Fatalities||276||8.92||10th|
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Connecticut: Protecting You from Injury on the Road
The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection points out that it's illegal to hunt from a motor vehicle. But of much greater concern to the Office of Traffic Safety is that many drivers are ignoring a simple but lifesaving tool. To limit fatalities, Faraci says, the state continues to look at innovative ways to reach people who refuse to wear seat belts. "They're predominantly 18- to 34-year-old males who feel as if they don't need to wear a seat belt for whatever reason," she says. Her message: "'Hey, listen, you're not above the law. It's for your safety.'"
Safe Driving Laws - Connecticut
|Mandatory seatbelts||Required in front seat. All children have to use either a child safety seat (depending on age) or a seat belt.|
|Child passenger safety||Infants must use a rear-facing seat until they are one year of age and weigh 20 pounds. Children up to six must use child safety seats before graduating to booster seats after reaching a weight of 60 pounds.|
|Driving under the influence (DUI)||The legal blood alcohol concentration limit is .08 for drivers, except for those under 21, who have a .02 limit. Penalties include license suspension for 45 days and an ignition interlock, which means the car will not start if the device detects alcohol on the breath|
|Ignition interlock after DUI||Anyone convicted of a DUI must install one from one to three years, depending on the offense|
|Talking on cell or texting while driving||It is illegal for all drivers to text on a phone while driving. Drivers under 18 cannot text or talk on a cell phone, even hands-free|
|Protections for young drivers||Nighttime driving is prohibited until the 18th birthday; no passengers outside of family members for first year|
|Motorcycle helmet law||Partial||Minors must wear helmets|
|Bicycle helmet law||Partial||Minors under 16 must wear helmets|
Car Insurance Resources for Connecticut Residents
Aspiring drivers who have been rejected for insurance have a last resort with CT AIARP. Though the premiums are likely to be higher, CT AIARP is a way for them to get insured.
The CID website is invaluable for drivers who need to file a complaint with their insurance company, typically because of a discrepancy between what the company will pay and what a repair shop is charging. This may lead to arbitration.
For insurance purposes, drivers may need copies of a state police report. They can do so through the Division of State Police at this website.
The state's DMV website has printable forms and provides information about driver licensing and vehicle registration.
The OLR conducts research for the Connecticut General Assembly to assist in the creation and enforcement of laws. Consumers can benefit from its research by searching for reports it has done related to auto insurance. There, they can find everything from details about cancellation fees to rates for older drivers.