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State Car Insurance Requirements

  January 21st, 2019  By Maggie Overholt

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

Car insurance requirements are set on a state-by-state basis. Depending on where you live, you may be legal to drive with basic liability insurance. You may also be asked to tack on personal injury protection (PIP), MedPay, or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Find your state’s car insurance requirements below or start here for an explanation of what each coverage type means.

= No-fault state; PIP insurance is required
= At-fault state; PIP insurance is not required but may be optional

Car Insurance Minimums Explained

Every state except two (New Hampshire and Virginia) requires drivers to purchase liability insurance. Liability coverage comes in three parts:

  • Bodily injury (BI) liability per person is the maximum amount an insurer will pay out for the other person’s medical bills if you’re at fault in an accident.
  • Bodily injury (BI) liability per accident is the maximum amount an insurer will pay out for all total medical bills if you’re at fault in an accident.
  • Property damage (PD) liability per accident is the maximum amount an insurer will pay to repair the other person’s vehicle if you’re at fault in an accident.

Liability limits are often expressed in shorthand. They always follow the same format, so if you see 25/50/25, for example, that means you’re covered for $25,000 BI per person, up to $50,000 BI per accident, and $25,000 PD per accident.

Some states set the bar a little higher with coverage mandates that go beyond basic liability. Other coverages you may be required to purchase include:

  • Personal injury protection (PIP) is required in states with no-fault auto insurance laws. PIP covers your own medical expenses if you’re involved in an accident — no matter who caused it.
  • MedPay, like PIP, helps cover your own medical bills after an accident, no matter who was at fault. Unlike PIP, it often doesn’t cover extended costs like lost wages.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) pays for your repairs and/or medical bills if you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have enough insurance to cover it themselves.

Take note: In almost every scenario, it makes sense to opt for higher coverage levels than your state requires. Why? Because most state’s minimums wouldn’t go far toward paying off a serious accident.

The good news is, upping coverage limits is often more affordable than you’d think. Check for yourself: After filling out an online quote form, most major insurance companies give you the option to explore different coverage levels and see what they’d cost. We recommend using these tools to gauge how much protection you can comfortably afford within your budget.

What’s Next?

  • If it’s your first time buying car insurance, you might be swimming in questions. (Trust us, you’re not alone.) Check out our complete guide to auto insurance for a crash course on coverage and expert advice about what to look for in your policy.
  • Ready to shop? Start by taking a look at the top car insurance providers in your state (links in the table above), or head over to our review of the best auto insurance companies for a rundown on the nation’s top providers.

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