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Most states require drivers to carry some level of car insurance. Some states only require minimum amounts of liability insurance, while others have additional coverage requirements, such as personal injury protection.
Buying the minimum required amount of liability insurance provides you some financial protection if you are at fault for an accident. We recommend buying higher amounts of liability insurance than the state minimum. If you cause an accident, you could be sued for damages that exceed the limits of your coverage. A good rule of thumb is to buy enough liability insurance to cover the assets you could lose in a lawsuit.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State
Which States Don’t Require Car Insurance?
Every state except New Hampshire and Virginia requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. However, even drivers in those states may find they still need coverage in certain situations.
- New Hampshire typically doesn’t require you to carry auto insurance if you can prove you meet the state’s minimum financial responsibility requirements. If you can’t meet these requirements, you may have your New Hampshire driving privileges suspended. Also, if you run into certain problems on the road, such as being found at fault for an uninsured accident, you may be required to purchase insurance.
- Virginia residents can opt not to buy liability insurance by paying an uninsured motorist fee of $500. However, skipping car insurance means you won’t have any coverage in the event of an accident. If you cause an accident, you’ll be on the hook to pay for other people’s injuries and property damage.
Common Types of State-Required Car Insurance
If you’re shopping for the best car insurance policy for your needs, a good place to start is understanding what types of coverage are required by your state. Generally, this includes one or more of the following coverages.
If you cause an accident, liability car insurance pays for property damage and injuries to others, including the other driver, their passengers and pedestrians. It also covers your legal defense and any judgments or settlements that arise if you’re sued because of an accident.
Liability coverage requirements include a minimum amount of coverage for bodily injuries per person, bodily injuries per accident and property damage.
For instance, if you’re shopping for car insurance in Texas, you’ll need a policy that meets the state 30/60/25 minimum liability requirements. This means your policy must include at least:
- $30,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person per accident
- $60,000 in bodily injury liability per accident
- $25,000 in property damage per accident
Uninsured motorist coverage
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) protects you if you’re in an accident and the at-fault driver doesn’t carry insurance.
Similarly, drivers may be mandated by their state to purchase underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. This type of coverage kicks in if the at-fault driver is insured but doesn’t carry enough coverage to pay for your damages.
Like liability insurance, UM/UIM is often broken down into two parts:
- Bodily injury: Uninsured motorist coverage for bodily injury (UMBI) and underinsured motorist coverage for bodily injury (UIMBI).
- Property damage: Uninsured motorist coverage for property damage (UMPD) and underinsured motorist coverage for property damage (UIMPD).
Some states require drivers to carry UMBI but do not require UMPD. Others require coverage for both bodily injury and property damage.
Personal injury protection
If you get into an accident, personal injury protection (PIP) covers injuries to you and your passengers, regardless of who caused the accident.
PIP coverage includes medical bills, loss of wages, rehabilitation costs and funeral expenses and survivor benefits. It can even cover the cost of some everyday services, like child care, if your injuries prevent you from carrying out those tasks.
PIP is required in some states.
Medical payments (MedPay)
MedPay covers accident-related medical bills for you or your passengers regardless of who is at fault for an accident. It can also cover your medical bills if you’re in an accident as a passenger or as a pedestrian.
MedPay isn’t available in every state but is required in some.
Related: The main types of car insurance
Additional Car Insurance Coverage Required for Some Drivers
- Collision coverage pays for damages that happen when you collide with another object, such as a car, guardrail, telephone pole or other structure.
- Comprehensive coverage pays for damages caused by other incidents, like natural disasters, fires, theft, vandalism, rollovers or damage caused by animals (such as a deer running in front of your car or a mouse gnawing your engine wiring).
Best Car Insurance Companies 2022
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Minimum Car Insurance FAQs
How much does minimum coverage car insurance cost?
An analysis by Forbes Advisor shows the average “good driver” rate for the minimum required liability car insurance is $618 per year. However, rates will vary based on several factors, including where you live, your age, your driving history and the type of car you drive.
Another thing that influences the cost of car insurance is the car insurance company you choose. Shopping around and comparing car insurance quotes can help you find the lowest rate for the coverage you need.
Related: Cheapest car insurance companies
Should I get minimum or full-coverage car insurance?
Minimum coverage will ensure you have enough insurance to legally drive in your state, but there are benefits to purchasing additional coverage if it fits in your budget.
If you’re at fault for an accident, especially one that results in injuries, a minimum coverage policy will likely not be enough to cover all accident-related damages, including your legal defense and any judgments against you if you’re sued.
Related: How much car insurance do you need?
What happens if I don’t meet my state’s minimum car insurance requirements?
Each state has its own penalties for driving without car insurance.
Generally, you can expect to pay a fine ranging from $150 to $1,500. License suspensions are also common and can last up to three years, as is the case in Florida. There may also be other consequences, such as vehicle impoundment, vehicle registration suspension and even jail time.