Auto insurance is mandatory in every state. However, the required coverages and their limits vary considerably from one state to another. It creates an additional layer of complication to interstate travel plans or cross-country relocation. If you’re planning a road trip or moving across the country, it’s essential that you meet the minimum auto insurance requirements wherever you plan on driving.
Car insurance isn’t a universal requirement. For example, New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to purchase any. But this doesn’t mean you can drive in either of those states without ant kind of financial responsibility. You may need to pay a fee for having no coverage. Virginia is another state that doesn’t require coverage. However, you must pay an uninsured motorist fee of $500 if you don’t want to buy a policy.
This article will help you find your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. We’ll also go over the different types of coverage your state may require. Finally, we’ll talk about other coverage options your state may allow.
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Types of Coverage Requirements
Most states want you to have basic liability insurance, which helps protect you from having to cover all the costs of an accident where you’re at fault. Below are the two types of liability coverage your state may require:
- Property damage liability coverage (PDL). This takes care of damages you cause to property such as trees, light poles, or buildings. Your amount of coverage for property damage on your policy is determined by your limits. If the amount of property damage exceeds these limits, you pay the remainder out-of-pocket.
- Bodily injury liability coverage (BIL). This takes care of any medical bills to other parties injured in an accident. This includes coverage for medical and funeral expenses, long-term care, and more.
Some states may only require you to carry liability insurance. But others will require other types of coverage. These include:
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. UM/UIM covers medical expenses if you get into an accident with a driver who either doesn’t have insurance coverage or doesn’t have enough to cover it.
- Personal injury protection (PIP). Personal injury protection or PIP covers injuries that you or your passengers may have in an accident. This kicks in regardless of fault. It includes coverage for medical and funeral costs, lost wages, and more.
- Medical payments coverage (MedPay). Like PIP, Medical payments or MedPay covers your medical bills after an accident. This is the case whether you’re at fault or not. It won’t cover expenses such as lost wages.
Each state that requires liability insurance has a minimum coverage limit. Limits are the highest amount of money that your insurer will provide if you need to file a claim.
Every type of insurance you can add to your policy has a limit. But you’ll often see liability limits written in a shorthand form such as “25/50/25.” These numbers refer to a type of coverage you have on your policy. Each number represents one coverage and the limits for each in thousands of dollars.
Here’s how to read limits in shorthand, using the “25/50/25” example:
- $25,000 for injuries to one person in an accident.
- $50,000 for injuries to everyone involved in an accident.
- $25,000 for property damage in an accident.
Remember that your state’s required liability coverage limits are just the bare minimum. If the damages from an accident go over your limits, you’ll have to pay out of pocket to cover the rest. Some states offer very little in the way of limits for BIL and PDL coverage. It’s entirely possible to set your limits higher if you can afford it.
If you’d like to find out how little a policy with much higher limits will cost, compare quotes from top companies for the best rates. A few dollars a month gets most drivers a significant increase in coverage.
Minimum Car Insurance Requirements for Every State
The following is a table containing every US state’s minimum auto insurance requirements, per the Insurance Information Institute (III):
|State||Required Insurance||Minimum Liability Coverage Limits|
|Arkansas||BIL, PDL, PIP||25/50/25|
|Connecticut||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/25|
|District of Columbia||BIL, PDL, UM||25/50/10|
|Delaware||BIL, PDL, PIP||25/50/10|
|Hawaii||BIL, PDL, PIP||20/40/10|
|Illinois||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/20|
|Kansas||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||25/50/25|
|Maine||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, MedPay||50/100/25|
|Maryland||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||30/60/15|
|Massachusetts||BIL, PDL, PIP||20/40/5|
|Michigan||BIL, PDL, PIP||20/40/10|
|Minnesota||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||30/60/10|
|Missouri||BIL, PDL, UM||25/50/25|
|Nebraska||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/25|
|New Hampshire||No required coverage||25/50/25 (if you buy a policy)|
|New Jersey||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||15/30/5|
|New Mexico||BIL, PDL||25/50/10|
|New York||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||25/50/10|
|North Carolina||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||30/60/25|
|North Dakota||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||25/50/25|
|Oregon||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM, PIP||25/50/20|
|Pennsylvania||BIL, PDL, PIP||15/30/5|
|Rhode Island||BIL, PDL||25/50/25|
|South Carolina||BIL, PDL, UM||25/50/25|
|South Dakota||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/25|
|Utah||BIL, PDL, PIP||25/65/15|
|Vermont||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/10|
|Virginia||BIL, PDL, UM/UIM||25/50/20|
|West Virginia||BIL, PDL, UM||25/50/25|
|Wisconsin||BIL, PDL, UM||25/50/10|
Exceptions to Coverage Requirements
Though it’s a good idea to meet your state’s minimum coverage requirement, you might have some other options. Many states include alternatives or exceptions to the usual minimum liability requirements.
Here are some examples of alternatives that many states offer:
Proof of Financial Responsibility
One example of an alternative to meeting your state’s minimum requirements is proof of financial responsibility (FR). Proof of financial responsibility means that you have a bond or certificate that proves you have enough money to cover damages in an accident. You typically must give your proof of financial responsibility to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
It varies by state, but you’ll likely need to put up quite a bit of money to prove you can cover an accident. For instance, Washington requires you to get a certificate of deposit or liability bond of at least $60,000 from its Department of Licensing (DOL).
Registering as an Uninsured Motorist
Another alternative to satisfying your state’s minimum liability requirement is to register as an uninsured driver. States that don’t require auto insurance will often let you pay a yearly fee to register as an uninsured motorist. Be aware that doing this will leave you without any protection. Having no coverage puts you at risk of paying for damages to both yourself and others if an incident occurs.
Some states might also allow you to become a self-insured driver. This means that, instead of seeking out an insurer, you have a certain amount of money set aside to pay for the costs of an accident. To self-insure, you’ll need to get proof of FR.
Self-insurance is normally only for wealthy people who can pay for damages and injuries in the event of an accident. Like being uninsured, self-insurance is risky and can end up with you needing to pay lots of money. Getting a policy from a regular insurer is the best bet for most people.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do minimum car insurance requirements exist in every state?
Yes, every state, except New Hampshire and Virginia, has minimum insurance requirements. Every state that does sets minimum coverage limits for drivers.
What are the most common types of coverage that states require?
Every state that mandates car insurance requires at least some form of liability coverage. Some states may also require:
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
- Medical payments coverage (MedPay)
- Uninsured and/or underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage
Are there exceptions to my state’s coverage requirements?
Some states may allow you to seek other coverage options. This includes things like:
- Getting proof of financial responsibility
- Registering yourself as an uninsured driver for a yearly fee
Remember that these options aren’t for everyone and usually only work if you’re willing to assume high financial risk.