Featured Expert
Donna Berger
Donna Berger Director, Office of Traffic Safety View bio

This guide was written by

MoneyGeek Staff

Minnesotans are on the road an average of 120 million miles each year. But according to a 2014 report from the Insurance Research Council, more than 500,000 of those drivers are uninsured. In addition, Minnesotans without insurance have been involved in nearly $10 million in insurance claims from accidents. Learn what insurance you need to drive and protect yourself in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Minnesota Vehicle Insurance Requirements

Summary

It is against the law to operate a vehicle on Minnesota roads without insurance or other proof of financial responsibility. Most states require liability insurance, but Minnesota requires you carry triple coverage: liability insurance, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist insurance.

Who Needs Vehicle Insurance in Minnesota?

All vehicle owners, except the handful who choose to post a substantial bond (See Alternatives to Insurance, below). State law requires drivers to carry insurance at all times, including coverage for vehicles owners are “contemplating” using.

Proof of Insurance

State law requires drivers to show an insurance card or other proof of coverage when:

  • Registering a vehicle
  • Taking a driving test
  • Renewing a vehicle registration
  • Requested by a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop or after an accident

In 2015, the state passed a law allowing drivers to carry proof of insurance electronically on a mobile device. Whether you carry it on your phone or in your wallet, your proof of insurance should include coverage, the insurance company’s name, the expiration date of policy and a list of insured vehicles.

Minimum Insurance Requirements in Minnesota

Minnesota has more basic insurance requirements than many other states. The types and minimum amounts of vehicle insurance you need to buy are:

Personal Injury Protection (PIP), also known as “no-fault” insurance

  • $40,000 per person, per-accident
  • $20,000 for medical expenses for any one person
  • $20,000 for income loss, funeral expenses and other non-medical costs

Liability

  • $30,000 for injuries to one person in an accident
  • $60,000 for injuries to two or more individuals in an accident
  • $10,000 for property damage

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

  • $25,000 for injuries to one person in an accident
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people in an accident

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

  • $25,000 for injuries to one person in an accident
  • $50,000 for injuries to two or more people in an accident

It’s important to note that PIP coverage does not apply to motorcycles, so motorcyclists must purchase a separate policy.

Is this package enough to cover the costs of a catastrophic accident? See: How Much Car Insurance Coverage Do I Need? below.

High-risk auto insurance program

The Minnesota Automobile Insurance Plan offers high-risk insurance plans to people who have a bad driving record and can’t get coverage. To be eligible, applicants must demonstrate they have attempted to obtain automobile insurance within the past 60 days and were denied coverage.

Alternatives to insurance in Minnesota

Under state law, residents have alternatives to purchasing automobile insurance in Minnesota. These alternatives are known as “proof of financial responsibility.” In other words, the driver can prove he or she has enough savings or equity to meet the minimum liability requirements set by the state. Alternative forms of insurance include the following:

  • A $35,000 bond filed with a surety company in the state
  • A $100,000 cash or securities deposit with the Commission of Management and Budget

If the costs of a catastrophic accident exceed your bond or deposit, of course, you’ll still be liable for the costs.

What Happens If You Don’t Have Car Insurance in Minnesota?

If you allow your insurance to lapse or are found driving without insurance, you face stiff penalties and fines. You can be fined between $200 and $1,000 for a first offense. You may also have your license revoked and vehicle registration suspended. In some cases, you could serve up to 90 days in jail. If you are unable to pay the fine, the state law does allow you to complete community service instead.

How Much Vehicle Insurance Do You Need?

Minnesota requires more insurance than most other states. However, the minimum coverage still isn’t likely to cover all of the costs of an accident. The required no-fault coverage (PIP) only applies to the expenses from an injury in an accident (e.g. medical costs, wage loss and funeral expenses); it won’t cover vehicle repair or replacement.

What Percentage of Drivers in
Minnesota Lack Vehicle Insurance?
10.8% National Average: 12.6 %

You may want to consider a more robust insurance policy that will offer better protection. Most consumer and insurance industry groups recommend you have at least $100,000 per injury and $300,000 per accident, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

For more on the different types of insurance coverage and possible discounts you may qualify for, see MoneyGeek guide to car insurance on the topic.

Car Insurance and Special Groups

Teen Drivers in Minnesota

Minnesota has a graduated driver’s license system designed to slowly introduce teenage drivers to the behind-the-wheel experience. The steps include a learning permit, a provisional license and a full license. Young drivers with an instructional permit may be added to their parent’s insurance policy and—in most cases—insurance companies will not charge for someone with a learner’s permit. When moving into a provisional and full license, teenage drivers must have auto insurance in order to drive unaccompanied. Typically, it is cheaper to add a teenage driver to a family policy than to purchase a new policy.

Minnesota Car Insurance: The Difference a Teen Makes

Median annual price change for families with a teen driver on their policy:

$1,493 increase This is a difference of 100%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th – 75th Percentile Median
Speeding Toward a Higher Premium

Average annual premium increase if your teen gets a speeding ticket while driving 11-15 mph over the speed limit:

Male teen

$580

Speedometer
Female teen

$481

Discounts for Teens in Minnesota

Impact on annual premium with Good Student and Defensive Driving discounts:

$428 saved

Compare Premiums from Minnesota Providers

Auto policy costs are different from insurer to insurer, so do some comparison shopping. Check out the annual average premiums for a married couple with a 16-year-old teen driver in Minnesota:

Insurance Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
American Family $1,731 $2,728 $4,820
Farmers $1,589 $2,792 $6,052
Progressive $1,766 $3,180 $7,518
State Farm $1,920 $3,715 $7,381
Allstate $2,778 $6,270 $18,571

Minnesota Premiums: Mustang vs. Minivan

Insurers view sports cars as a more risky choice for teens than sedans and minivans. If your teen wants a sports car, consider the long-term costs.

Average premium for two 2014
Mustang GTs

$5,009

Average premium for two 2008
Town and Country Limiteds

$3,246

Annual benefit of minivans:

$1,763 saved This is 35% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + 16 Year Old
25th – 75th Percentile Median

College Students in Minnesota

New residents in Minnesota have 60 days to register their vehicle. If you are an out-of-state student attending college in Minnesota, register your vehicle with Driver and Vehicle Services. In addition, call your insurance agent to make sure your auto coverage meets Minnesota’s minimum insurance requirements.

If you’re a Minnesota resident planning to head to school in another state and leave your car at home, alert your insurance agent. You have to keep your current registration and auto insurance policy in Minnesota. If you are living in the state but moving out of your parent’s house, you also need to notify your insurance company of your address change.

Do College Students Have Lower Premiums in MN?

Median annual premium change with a college student vs. high school driver

$673 decrease This is a decrease of 20%.
Comparison of Premium Ranges
25th - 75th Percentile Median

How Annual Premiums Compare for Minnesota Insurers

Each year, scrutinize your policy before it renews to see whether you could get a better deal elsewhere. Here are the average premiums for a married couple with a 19-year-old college student in Minnesota.

Provider Min MEDIAN MAX
American Family $1,238 $2,041 $3,867
Farmers $1,255 $2,167 $4,581
State Farm $1,279 $2,534 $5,144
Progressive $1,590 $2,772 $6,038
Allstate $2,591 $5,556 $13,350

Minnesota College Students: Distance Discount

You may see a slight break in your family’s premium if your student lives 150+ miles away from home.

Average premium for a 19-year-old male
  • $3,628 at home
  • $3,154 at school
  • $474 in savings
Average premium for a 19-year-old female
  • $3,026 at home
  • $2,718 at school
  • $308 in savings

College Students in Minnesota: Mustangs vs. Minivans

For a college student, driving a minivan rather than a sports car will help keep auto premiums on the lower side.

2014 Mustang GTs (2)

$4,093

2008 Town and Country Limited minivans (2)

$2,591

Annual benefit of minivans

$1,502 saved This is 37% less expensive.
Premium Comparison for Two Adults + College Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Military Drivers in Minnesota

Military discounts on auto insurance are available for active-duty members of the armed forces and veterans in the North Star State, with about 750 active-duty members and 369,000 veterans. Major insurance carriers offer them, as well as specialized companies that work only with military members and vets. To find the best rate, consider your net worth and the value of your car, compare it with the mandated minimum insurance for Minnesota and get several quotes from insurance companies.

Once your auto insurance is squared away, as a military member you won’t need to register your insured vehicle while stationed in Minnesota so long as it is properly registered in your home state. Minnesota residents on active duty out-of-state are exempt from registration tax for up to one year after discharge. You must be the owner or co-owner, and the vehicle must be registered in Minnesota throughout your service.

Minnesota Service Members:
How the Vehicle You Choose Affects Your Premium

Rollover crashes are more common among SUVs and pickups, according to the Insurance Information Institute, but an older model SUV is still less likely to affect your premium than a recent model sports car.

Military Drivers: A Comparison of Premium Ranges by Driver Age and Vehicle
25-Year-Old Driver
50-Year-Old Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Age-Based Savings for Minnesota
Service Members

Median auto insurance
for service members:

$1,109
Male (25 yrs)$1,382
Male (50 yrs)$1,037
$345 savings
Female (25 yrs)$1,342
Female (50 yrs)$1,092
$250 savings

Compare Average Premiums Available to Minnesota Military Personnel

When you're looking for the best auto insurance policy, it pays to do some comparison shopping. Check out the average annual rates you can get in Minnesota.

Premium Comparison for a Military Driver
25th - 75th Percentile Median

Seniors in Minnesota

If you are 55 years old or older, you can qualify for a state-mandated discount on your auto insurance by completing a state-approved defensive driving course. The discount will trim 10 percent off your premiums for three years. You can complete this course either in the classroom or online.

Undocumented Workers in Minnesota

In Minnesota, undocumented immigrants may not receive a driver’s license – a prerequisite to car insurance. However, legislative support to change that has picked up steam over the past five years, with bills introduced in 2013 and 2015.

In the meantime, young immigrants that meet certain criteria may be eligible for a driver’s license under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). If you’d like to apply, check with the Minnesota Division of Driver and Vehicle Services about eligibility requirements.

Ridesharing Insurance in Minnesota: Are You Covered?

The emergence of ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft has forced state legislatures and public commissions to rethink insurance. These transportation network companies (TNCs) usually do provide commercial liability insurance when a driver is logged into the network and is engaged in a ride. However, they often don’t provide coverage when a driver is logged into the network but not engaged in a prearranged ride.

In 2015, the Minnesota state legislature adopted new policies regarding insurance coverage for TNCs. Under state law, drivers must carry appropriate levels of coverage when the driver is logged into the network—whether or not giving a ride. This coverage may be provided by either the driver, the TNC or a combination of both:

  • $50,000 for injury or death for one person
  • $100,000 for injury or death to two or more persons per accident
  • $30,000 for property damage per accident

If you’re a ridesharing driver, check with your insurance agent to see what you need to do to be fully covered.

Car Accidents: How to File a Claim

If involved in an accident, Minnesota law requires you to stop at the crash site. Contact law enforcement and provide assistance to anyone, if needed. After the accident, take the following steps:

  • Exchange names, addresses, vehicle license plates and driver’s license information with the driver(s) involved in the crash
  • Collect the names, addresses and license plate numbers of witnesses
  • Provide evidence of vehicle insurance to investigating law enforcement officer (if asked)
  • File an accident report with Driver and Vehicle Services if the accident resulted in injury or death, or if it caused more than $1,000 in damage
  • Call your insurance agent or claims processing number for your insurance company
  • Follow your insurance company’s claims process, which may include getting an estimate for vehicle repair
  • Call the other driver’s insurance company to file a claim against that driver

Driver Safety: How Does Minnesota Rank?

Minnesota is among the 10 safest states to drive in terms of fatal crashes, according to federal data (see chart below). The state also has the second lowest rate of crashes in the country involving drunk driving, but since approximately a third of all fatal crashes in Minnesota involve alcohol, it is working hard to reduce that and other problems still further.

“In 2003 we noticed that with traffic fatalities, the trend line was going up,” says Donna Berger, director of the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety. “We knew we couldn’t be doing the same thing, so we worked with the departments of health and transportation to form our Toward Zero Deaths program. We have engineers talking to law enforcement talking to traffic safety stakeholders and EMS. And through 2014 we had a 40 percent decrease in traffic fatalities.”

Below is the overall ranking of Minnesota in terms of driver safety.

Minnesota Driver Safety Ranking

3rd in the U.S.
About Our Data

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.

Ranking
(National)

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 97 1.70 2nd
Speeding-Related Fatalities 84 1.47 1st
Passenger Vehicle Unrestrained Fatalities 80 1.40 2nd
Unhelmeted Motorcycle Fatalities 34 0.60 25th
Multiple Vehicle Fatalities 202 3.55 12th
Pedestrian Fatalities 32 0.59 2nd
Bicyclist Fatalities 6 0.11 17th
Total Vehicle Fatalities 387 6.79 3rd

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Minnesota: Protecting You from Injury on the Road

Minnesota adapts solutions to specific regional problems, rather than imposing a one-size-fits-all program on every locality. Not surprising, it has driven its Toward Zero Deaths program down to the local level with countywide grants.

“The thing is, regions in our state differ quite a bit in terms of problem areas,” says Berger. “Some areas see low drunk driving and high seatbelt use, and it’s just the opposite in other areas. Some counties might have more of a problem with speeding than others. So we tailor programs to solve the problems at the local level. We have high visibility enforcement, and we really publicize it as a deterrent. We want to change behavior and prevent accidents.

“We’ve had a primary seatbelt law in place since 2009, and we estimate 132 lives have been saved by that,” Berger says. “Still, our overall fatality numbers have increased in the last nine months. We can’t say our job is done when we continue to have lives lost on the roads. Overall, it’s about changing the driver culture. Maybe 40 years ago, drunk driving didn’t get as much attention as it does today. Drunk driving is bad, and we want people also to feel that way about texting, aggressive driving – anything they might do that puts themselves and other people on the road at risk.”

Safe Driving Laws – Minnesota

  Requirement State Law Details
Mandatory seat belts All drivers and passengers must use appropriate seat belts and child safety restraints. Seat belt tickets and fees range from $25 to $100.
Child passenger safety Infants <1 year old and <20 pounds must use a rear-facing safety seat; children <8 must ride in a federally approved car seat; children age 8 or older or 4’9” or taller may use traditional seat and lap belts.
Driving under the influence (DUI) The legal alcohol concentration driving limit is 0.08 (but motorists can still be arrested at lower BAC levels). Fines range from $1,000 for a first offense to more than $14,000 for a 4th offense. Depending on the number of convictions and other factors, drivers may lose their license for 90 days to four years and may be required to serve 90 days to seven years in jail.
Ignition interlock after DUI Partial First time DUI offenders arrested at or above 0.16 alcohol concentration and second-time offenders must use an ignition interlock device or lose driving privileges for one to two years; drivers with three offenses or more within a 10-year period must use an ignition interlock for three to six years or forever lose driving privileges.
Talking on cell or texting while driving It is illegal for all drivers to read, write or send text messages or access email on a mobile device while driving. Hands-free cellular device use is still approved. Drivers under the age of 18 cannot use a cell phone to text or talk at any time, except to dial 911 in an emergency. A $225 fine applies to second or subsequent violations.
Protections for young drivers < 18 drivers may not drive between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., carry more than one passenger under the age of 21, or drive while using a cell phone. Full driving privilege age is 18.
Motorcycle helmet law Partial < 18 drivers must wear a state-approved helmet
Bicycle helmet law No statewide bicycle helmet regulations

Source: Minnesota Office of Revisor of Statutes; Division of Motor Vehicles; Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety

Car Insurance Resources for Minnesota Residents

Minnesota Automobile Insurance Plan

The Minnesota Automobile Insurance Plan is a state-mandated plan that provides insurance coverage to drivers who are denied auto insurance through traditional channels.

Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services

The Minnesota Driver and Vehicle Services handles the car registration and driver licensing processes in the state.

Minnesota Department of Commerce

The Minnesota Department of Commerce publishes an informative brochure, “What You Need to Know” about auto insurance in the state of Minnesota.

Safe Roads MN

Safe Roads MN is an advocacy organization promoting licensing and insurance for undocumented immigrants in Minnesota.

Updated: July 29, 2017