Car insurance is a requirement in almost every state, but it’s not enough to simply have proof of insurance. Each state has its own minimum coverage amount that all drivers are legally required to carry.
It’s important to understand the guidelines in your state. If you get caught driving without insurance, you could face fines or penalties. This article will explain car insurance requirements by state, and note any exceptions.
Is car insurance required?
Traditional car insurance is not legally required in every state; New Hampshire and Virginia are the exceptions. However, states that don’t require car insurance do require drivers to carry some form of financial responsibility. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require insurance, an alternative will apply.
Each state also requires drivers to carry several different types of car insurance. Bodily injury liability and property damage coverage are the two kinds that are typically required at the state level. Other coverages, like collision and comprehensive coverage, are optional.
Car insurance requirements by state
The table below indicates the minimum amount of liability required by each state. Please note, some states may also require additional coverage, like uninsured motorist or personal injury protection (PIP).
|State||Bodily Injury/Person||Bodily Injury/Accident||Property Damage|
* These states do not legally require insurance; however, both have minimum levels of financial responsibility that you must meet in order to drive a vehicle without coverage. If you choose to purchase insurance, the amounts shown are the state required minimums.
Understanding types of coverages
Minimum coverage car insurance addresses various essential areas. These include:
Liability coverage has two parts—bodily injury and property damage. In either scenario, liability coverage helps pay for your legal fees if you are sued after an accident. Bodily injury liability coverage specifically protects you in court in the event you are involved in an at-fault accident and passengers in your car, or other involved drivers, sustain injuries. With property damage, liability coverage will pay for your legal fees if you damage someone else’s property and you are sued. It also helps pay to repair the damages, up to your policy’s limits.
If you or a passenger in your car sustains injuries in an accident, medical payments coverage will help cover the cost of medical expenses, regardless of who caused the accident. Everything from an ambulance ride to surgery is covered by medical payments coverage, up to your policy’s limit.
Uninsured motorist coverage protects you’re involved in an accident with a driver that doesn’t have insurance. Similarly, underinsured motorist coverage protects you if the other driver in the accident does not have enough insurance coverage to cover your losses.
Personal injury protection
Drivers in no-fault states are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP). This type of insurance will pay for your medical expenses after an accident, regardless of who caused the crash. Drivers in some at-fault states can purchase PIP as an add-on coverage for more protection.
When researching the minimum amount of car insurance required in your state, you might see three numbers separated by back-slashes, such as “15/30/10.” This is an abbreviated way to show the limits of a minimum coverage car insurance policy.
For example, drivers in Ohio are required to carry $25,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage. The abbreviation would be 25/50/25.
Exceptions to state minimum car insurance requirements
There are a few states where car insurance is not mandatory. However, that doesn’t mean that drivers are completely off the hook for liability. The exceptions for New Hampshire and Virginia are detailed below.
States that don’t require car insurance
New Hampshire and Virginia are currently the only two states that don’t require drivers to carry car insurance. Instead, they must carry proof of financial responsibility.
To obtain proof of financial responsibility, drivers can provide a cash or certificate bond, or otherwise deposit to their state’s DMV, a specified amount of money. In turn, drivers receive documentation which can be kept in the car for an event in which they are asked to provide their insurance information.
In Virginia, drivers who don’t have a history of accidents or traffic violations are allowed to register as an uninsured motorist for an annual fee. However, this designation doesn’t replace insurance—it only allows a driver to get behind the wheel without their own policy. They still have no coverage in the event of an accident. Any driver that does have accidents or violations on their record is required to carry insurance.
- Car insurance is mandatory in most states.
- Every state requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of car insurance coverage.
- Minimum car insurance coverage usually includes liability, medical payments, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and sometimes PIP.
- If you live in a state that doesn’t require insurance, be prepared to pay for some form of financial responsibility documentation.
Having car insurance provides important financial protection, even if you live in a state that doesn’t require it. Car insurance shields you from certain liabilities as a driver, helps pay for medical expenses after a crash, and covers the cost of car damages after an accident, up to policy limits.
Whether you’re purchasing insurance for the first time, or you recently moved, it’s important to know what the minimum car insurance requirements are in your state. If you’re found to be driving without enough insurance coverage, you could face fines or other consequences.