Insights: 

Nearly all states have minimum car insurance requirements, but car insurance experts recommend going beyond state minimum liability requirements. 

Buying a new car is a thrill. But if you fail to insure your new wheels properly, you might be in for heartbreak down the road. 

Not only is it smart to get car insurance, but just about everywhere, purchasing such coverage is necessary if you plan to obey the law. Nearly every state requires you to buy a minimum amount of car insurance. 

Purchasing the state minimum car insurance will keep you out of hot water with the law, but this level of coverage isn’t often robust enough to fully protect yourself from the financial damage that might occur if you are in an accident. 

Read on to learn more about the minimum level of car insurance you need to drive legally in your state – and why you might need more coverage. 

Key Takeaways

  • Most states require you to purchase car insurance, although New Hampshire and Virginia are exceptions.
  • States have their own rules for the minimum coverage that you must purchase.
  • Some states require drivers purchase forms of car insurance coverage that are optional in other states.
  • Typically, buying the minimum amount of insurance – and nothing more – isn’t adequate to protect your finances.

What is state minimum car insurance?

The minimum amount of car insurance is the level of coverage your state requires you to purchase if you plan to drive legally.

Do you need car insurance? Yes. Nearly every state requires you to buy at least some liability insurance. This is the type of insurance that reimburses you when you damage a car, another person’s property or a person’s health. 

“Insurance is regulated at the state level, and legal requirements vary from state to state,” says Scott Holeman, media relations director at the Insurance Information Institute.

Some states also require you to buy minimum of levels of other coverages, such as: 

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This insurance reimburses you for damages caused by a driver who doesn’t have adequate car insurance coverage. 
  • Personal injury protection or medical payments coverage. This insurance covers medical expenses resulting from an accident, regardless of who is at fault. 

State auto insurance rules differ depending on where you live, so make sure you know which laws apply to you.

What is covered by a basic auto insurance policy?

A basic auto insurance policy typically offers six types of protection, according to the Insurance Information Institute. You’re not required to carry all of these coverages in every state, but it’s often a good idea to purchase several or all of the following:

Bodily injury liability

Bodily injury liability covers injuries that you cause to someone else.

Property damage liability

Property damage liability covers damages you cause to someone else’s property.

Medical payments

Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for medical expenses you and passengers incur after an accident.

Collision

Collision coverage pays for damage that occurs to your car as the result of a collision with another vehicle or object. It also covers damages related to potholes and flipping the car over. 

Comprehensive

Comprehensive coverage handles your losses that result from theft of your car or damages resulting from an event, such as fire, flood, windstorm or vandalism. 

Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage

Uninsured and underinsured motorist protection covers you if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits you. 

What is the purpose of minimum insurance coverage?

States impose minimum insurance requirements to make sure drivers have enough insurance to pay claims when accidents occur. 

If these requirements were not in place, millions of accidents likely wouldn’t be reimbursed, causing financial hardship for those involved. 

How much auto insurance do I need?

Purchasing the minimum required amount of car insurance is usually a mistake. That coverage doesn’t often offer enough coverage to protect your finances. 

“Most insurance experts would recommend that auto insurance consumers purchase more coverage than the minimum requirements,” Holeman says. 

In a worst-case scenario, you could be sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars – or more – if you seriously injure someone in a car accident. 

“If a driver is at fault in an accident, the liability could far exceed the minimum required coverage,” Holeman says.

So, it’s important to purchase enough insurance to protect your assets. 

How to read auto insurance liability limits 

Auto insurance liability coverage has two parts. The first is bodily injury and the second is property damage. 

Bodily injury pays for the medical expenses of those you harmed in an auto accident, up to your limits. Property damage covers the damage you caused to another vehicle or other property, such as a fence, in an auto accident. 

Payment is up to your limits. Liability coverage does not cover your injuries or damages to your vehicle. Instead, it only covers damages to someone else’s vehicle, property or well-being. 

Here’s how to read auto insurance liability minimum limits:

  1. First number: Bodily injury liability maximum for one person injured in an accident.
  2. Second number: Bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident.
  3. Third number: Property damage liability maximum for one accident.

For example, if you live in New York, the minimum liability limits are $25,000 for injury liability for one person, $50,000 for all injuries and $10,000 for property damage in an accident (written as 25/50/10). 

Keep in mind that state requirements are the lowest limits you can carry and may not be adequate. A car accident can cost far more than the limits mandated by most states as medical expenses have skyrocketed and the value of vehicles has gone up.

You want to make sure you have enough car insurance coverage to protect you if you get in an accident. That includes protection to cover other driver and passenger injuries and against potential lawsuits. 

Experts recommend at least:

  • $100,000 in bodily injury protection per person per accident
  • $300,000 in bodily injury protection per accident
  • $100,000 in property damage per accident

That’s often referred to as 100/300/100 coverage. 

Higher liability limits offer better protection and don’t cost that much more. So, if you can afford it, raise your limits to protect your assets, such as home and motor vehicles. 

Car insurance coverage abbreviations 

Here’s your guide to the car insurance acronyms in the chart below that lists the minimum car insurance coverages in each state. New Hampshire doesn’t mandate car insurance in its laws but instead requires you provide financial responsibility if you cause an accident. The easiest way to provide this is with a car insurance policy.

Many states just require liability coverages, so you have a way to cover damages you cause to others. But some states require a variety of other coverages.  Here is your cheat sheet for the abbreviations used in our chart for various coverages.

  • UM: Uninsured motorist coverage
  • UIM: Underinsured motorist coverage
  • UMBI: Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage
  • UMPD: Uninsured motorist property damage coverage
  • BI liability: Bodily injury liability
  • PIP: Personal injury protection
  • PPI: Property protection insurance (Michigan)

Minimum car insurance requirements by state 

Minimum car insurance requirements vary by state. Here’s a look at each state’s requirements.

State Minimum car insurance limits
AlabamaLiability: 25/50/25
AlaskaLiability: 50/100/25
ArizonaLiability: 25/50/15
ArkansasLiability: 25/50/25
CaliforniaLiability: 15/30/5
ColoradoLiability: 25/50/15
ConnecticutLiability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
DelawareLiability: 25/50/10
 PIP: 15/30
District of ColumbiaLiability: 25/50/10
 UM BI: 25/50
 UMPD: $5,000
FloridaLiability: 10/20/10
 PIP: $10,000
 BI liability not required by Florida but many carriers require 10/20
GeorgiaLiability: 25/50/25
HawaiiLiability: 20/40/10
 PIP or PPO: $10,000
IdahoLiability: 25/50/15
IllinoisLiability: 25/50/20
 UM BI: 25/50
IndianaLiability: 25/50/25
IowaLiability: 20/40/15
KansasLiability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
 PIP: $4,500/person for medical expenses
$900/month for one year for disability/loss of income
$25/day for in-home services
$2,000 for funeral, burial or cremation expense
$4,500 for rehabilitation expense
KentuckyLiability: 25/50/25
 PIP: $10,000
LouisianaLiability: 15/30/25
MaineLiability: 50/100/25
 UM/UIM BI: 50/100
 Medical payments: $2,000
MarylandLiability: 30/60/15
 UM/UIM BI: 30/60
 UMPD: $15,000
 PIP $2,500
MassachusettsLiability: 20/40/5
 UM/UIM BI: 20/40
 PIP: $8,000
MichiganLiability: 50/100/10
 PIP: 6 choices from $50,000 to unlimited medical
 PPI: $1,000,000
MinnesotaLiability: 30/60/10
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
 PIP: $40,000
MississippiLiability: 25/50/25
MissouriLiability: 25/50/10
 UM BI: 25/50
MontanaLiability: 25/50/20
NebraskaLiability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
NevadaLiability: 25/50/20
New Hampshire*Liability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
 Medical payments: $1,000
 *Insurance not mandatory in New Hampshire
New JerseyLiability: 15/30/5 (standard policy)
 UM/UIM BI: 15/30
 UMPD: $5,000
 PIP: $15,000
New MexicoLiability: 25/50/10
New YorkLiability: 25/50/10
 UM BI: 25/50
 PIP: $50,000
North CarolinaLiability: 30/60/25
 UM BI: 30/60
 UMPD: $25,000
North DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
 PIP: $30,000
OhioLiability: 25/50/25
OklahomaLiability: 25/50/25
OregonLiability: 25/50/20
 UM BI: 25/50
 PIP: $15,000
PennsylvaniaLiability: 15/30/5
 First party benefits (PIP): $5,000
Rhode IslandLiability: 25/50/25
South CarolinaLiability: 25/50/25
 UM BI: 25/50
 UMPD: $25,000
South DakotaLiability: 25/50/25
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
TennesseeLiability: 25/50/15
TexasLiability: 30/60/25
UtahLiability: 25/65/15
 PIP: $3,000
VermontLiability: 25/50/10
 UM/UIM BI: 50/100
 UMPD: $10,000
VirginiaLiability: 25/50/20
 UM/UIM BI: 25/50
 UMPD: $20,000
WashingtonLiability: 25/50/10
West VirginiaLiability: 25/50/25
 UM BI: 25/50
 UMPD: $25,000
WisconsinLiability: 25/50/10
 UM BI: 25/50
WyomingLiability: 25/50/20

Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and Insurance Information Institute; state departments of insurance and motor vehicles.

  • New Hampshire doesn’t require car insurance, but you must be able to show proof of financial responsibility if you’re in an accident.

Average car insurance rates for state minimum liability limits

See the average annual rate based on each state’s minimum requirements. The states are listed from cheapest to most expensive. Use the search box to find a specific state.

State Average rate
Alabama$498
Alaska$412
Arizona$578
Arkansas$449
California$606
Colorado$553
Connecticut$891
DC$839
Delaware$843
Florida$828
Georgia$684
Hawaii$485
Idaho$377
Illinois$493
Indiana$430
Iowa$326
Kansas$464
Kentucky$669
Louisiana$771
Maine$355
Maryland$853
Massachusetts$520
Michigan$1,855
Minnesota$614
Mississippi$413
Missouri$546
Montana$447
Nebraska$393
Nevada$717
New Hampshire$424
New Jersey$846
New Mexico$479
New York$867
North Carolina$438
North Dakota$423
Ohio$406
Oklahoma$418
Oregon$674
Pennsylvania$502
Rhode Island$738
South Carolina$617
South Dakota$323
Tennessee$462
Texas$538
Utah $565
Vermont$398
Virginia$380
Washington$537
West Virginia$541
Wisconsin$401
Wyoming$328

Average car insurance rates for state minimum liability limits by company

Car insurance companies don’t have standard rates for state minimum liability limits. 

Here are the average rates by insurance company for state minimum liability limits by company. 

Company Liability Only – State Minimum
Concord$290
Progressive$315
Geico$318
North Carolina Farm Bureau$332
Metropolitan$342
USAA$358
Mississippi Farm Bureau$376
MMG$402
Owners$404
Farmers$405
Erie$414
Texas Farm Bureau$414
Kentucky Farm Bureau$422
Safety Insurance$435
Depositors$476
State Farm$484
AAA Texas County$493
Arbella$493
United Financial$499
Oklahoma Farm Bureau$509
Liberty Mutual$534
Mid Century$553
Allstate$555
Nationwide$573
Farmers Ins Co Inc$588
Travelers$599
New Jersey Manufacturers$660
Amco$687
Louisiana Farm Bureau$698
Amica$703
Geico Ind Co$704
Colonial$735
New York Central$757
Victoria$803
Safeco$840
Allied$1,111
Safeway$1,237
Foremost$1,417

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the minimum amount of car insurance required by law?

The minimum amount of car insurance required by law varies widely by state. Each state sets its own liability minimums, but many states also require other types of coverage. 

Which states don’t require car insurance?

Nearly every state requires you to purchase liability auto insurance coverage. New Hampshire doesn’t, and in Virginia, you can pay a fee of $500 at the time of vehicle registration that will allow you to skip car insurance. 

The rules for other types of auto insurance coverage – such as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection coverage — vary by state.

What happens if you don’t have insurance on a car?

In most states, driving your car without car insurance is against the law and you will suffer significant consequences for this violation. These might include fines or the loss of your driver’s license or car registration. In some states, you might even face jail time. 

Penalties vary by state. Some states just fine drivers if they don’t have insurance. Others suspend registration and license. A couple of states even send drivers to jail for driving without car insurance.

Which state has the highest car insurance?

Motor vehicle insurance costs vary depending on where you live. Louisiana has the most expensive car insurance in the nation, according to a recent survey by Insure.com. The average annual car insurance rate in The Bayou State is $2,839, which is 99% higher than the national average. 

For many years, Michigan had the most expensive car insurance. But Louisiana takes the dubious honor in 2021. 

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