Minimum Car Insurance Requirements by State

Find the minimum car insurance requirements for every state and how to understand liability limits.

State-specific minimum car insurance requirements differ from one state to the next. The car insurance limits and coverages that work for someone you know or a family member may not work for you. NerdWallet has compiled minimum requirements for each state to help you quickly and easily determine how much car insurance is required.

Knowing your coverage requirements

Liability insurance: All states except New Hampshire require at least the minimum amount of insurance. This insurance covers any damage that you do to another driver, their passengers, or their property such as their car.

Car insurance liability coverage consists of three components:

  • Individual coverage for bodily injury
  • Accident coverage for bodily injury
  • Property damage coverage per accident

These limits are often expressed in a series, such as 15/30/10. Let’s suppose you collide with a van that has several passengers. These hypothetical limits would allow you to have liability coverage that covers up to $15,000 per person in case of bodily injuries to passengers in the van, but not more than $30,000 for total bodily injury costs. Property damage up to $10,000 would also be covered.

Experts recommend that you have more coverage than the minimum required liability. You could be responsible for up to $30,000 in medical bills and possible damages in a case if you are at fault in an accident. Agents recommend that you have liability coverage of 100/300/50 if you want a full coverage policy. It’s also worth considering an umbrella policy for more protection if you have a high net worth and a lot of assets.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: UM/UIM are required in almost half of states. These are required to cover the cost of any injuries you or your passengers sustain if you are ever hit by a car driver without enough or no insurance. A few states also require uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage to cover property damage in these cases. The minimum limits for UM/UIM coverage are often identical or similar to the liability insurance limits in your state.

Personal injury protection: PIP is required in roughly 20% of states. It covers the cost of medical expenses for both the insured and their passengers, regardless of fault, if there’s an accident. PIP can also be used to cover lost wages and other benefits that are not covered by health insurance. PIP is often linked to “no fault” states where each party is responsible in an accident for their own injuries.

Medical Payments Insurance: This coverage is similar to PIP and goes towards your medical bills if you are injured in an accident. It doesn’t provide additional benefits like PIP. Although medical payments coverage is usually limited, it can be beneficial for people with high deductibles. In Pennsylvania and Maine, this coverage is mandatory.

Exceptions to the minimum state car insurance requirements

Some states do not require drivers to have insurance. New Hampshire is known for not mandating insurance for its drivers. Only those who are convicted of vehicle-related offenses, such as drunken driving or other serious crimes, must have it. There are other states that offer (often not well-known) alternatives.

  • Arizona allows drivers to show proof of financial responsibility, such as a certificate of deposit, a bond or cash, to the department for motor vehicles. This is in addition to their state minimum car insurance. The amount of the payment varies from one state to another and can range from $30,000 to more than $100,000.
  • Registration as an uninsured driver: Residents with clean records in places like Virginia have the option of becoming uninsured drivers for an annual fee. This does not replace your car insurance. This allows drivers to drive a vehicle with no coverage. This option is cheaper than auto insurance but leaves drivers without any coverage in the event of an accident.

It’s easier for most drivers to comply with the minimum state car insurance requirements than it is to get alternative insurance.

Additional coverages

Although it is important to meet the minimum state car insurance requirements, you don’t have to stop there. The minimum requirements are not sufficient in most cases. Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage are not required in every state. These are common add-ons that many drivers use to protect their cars from thefts and animal collisions.

If you are leasing your vehicle or borrowing money to purchase it, your lender may require that you buy collision and comprehensive insurance.

There are many additional optional coverages available, such as rental reimbursement, which pays for a rental car if your car is in the shop after a covered claim, roadside assistance or towing insurance and full-glass coverage, which pays to repair or replace broken window glass, without a deductible.

Shopping around will allow you to get more insurance than is required without having to break the bank.