May 18, 2022

Cost of Liability Auto Insurance

How much you’ll pay for liability car insurance in each state

Nearly every state in the country requires that drivers carry liability auto insurance to protect themselves and other drivers on the road. It pays for damages to other drivers and protects you financially. However, the cost of liability insurance depends on where you live. Other factors — such as your driving record and credit score — can also determine how much you’ll pay for your insurance premiums.

To give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay, we’ve rounded up information about the cost of liability insurance across the country, as well as a few other things you’ll need to know when you purchase liability insurance.

Cost of Liability Auto Insurance

The cost of liability insurance varies across the country. Drivers in some states may pay more due to the frequency of accidents, the local crime rate, and even the weather.

Average Rates by State

While it’s not a guarantee that you’ll pay the average rate for your state, this chart can give you a ballpark figure.

State Average annual cost of liability insurance in 2019
Alabama $527.20
Alaska $584.90
Arizona $662.55
Arkansas $484.37
California $627.77
Colorado $704.82
Connecticut $799.45
Delaware $897.87
District of Columbia $819.36
Florida $997.20
Georgia $829.86
Hawaii $478.83
Idaho $433.66
Illinois $521.11
Indiana $444.98
Iowa $350.31
Kansas $426.14
Kentucky $609.98
Louisiana $1,023.91
Maine $375.40
Maryland 729.18
Massachusetts $664.92
Michigan $979.47
Minnesota $502.32
Mississippi $544.43
Missouri $527.59
Montana $437.69
Nebraska $431.71
Nevada $925.71
New Hampshire $442.52
New Jersey $958.31
New Mexico $584.25
New York $932.46
North Carolina $392.06
North Dakota $312.30
Ohio $447.86
Oklahoma $504.79
Oregon $684.81
Pennsylvania $548.58
Rhode Island $918.30
South Carolina $715.26
South Dakota $337.11
Tennessee $479.43
Texas $650.17
Utah $615.15
Vermont $374.06
Virginia $491.51
Washington $705.11
West Virginia $515.20
Wisconsin $421.21
Wyoming $356.08
National average $650.351

As you can see, the cost of liability insurance varies dramatically across different states. There are several reasons for this. First, each state sets its own minimum liability coverage limit. As a result, states with a higher required limit may have higher average premiums.

Car insurance rates also depend on local characteristics. States with high rates of speeding or accidents may have higher premiums simply because there’s added risk for the insurer. Other factors, like inclement weather, a high population density, and a high rate of uninsured drivers, can also cause premiums to rise.

After a Ticket or Accident

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket or been in a car accident, you probably already know that those events can cause your insurance rates to spike. Just how long they’ll affect your insurance rates depends on where you live since driving violations remain on your driving record for different periods of time in different states.

The effect an accident will have on your rate also depends on whether you were responsible for the accident. Your insurance premiums may go up either way, but they’ll likely increase more if you were at fault.

IMPORTANT

Speeding or having an accident aren’t the only violations that can increase your insurance rates. Other violations that might cost you money include driving under the influence, failing to stop at a red light, and driving without insurance.

All About Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is a must-have for nearly all drivers, so it’s important to understand exactly how this coverage works and how it applies after an accident.

What It Is

In short, liability insurance is a type of coverage designed to protect other drivers in an accident. Most states require drivers to carry liability insurance (with the exception of New Hampshire and Virginia, which we’ll cover later). When you’re responsible for an accident, your liability insurance pays for damages to other parties.

What It Covers

Liability insurance offers two different protections: bodily injury coverage and property damage coverage. Most states require both, and each comes with different coverage limits.

  • Bodily injury liability insurance: When you’re at fault for an accident, your bodily injury liability insurance pays for injuries or death to other parties. Bodily injury insurance usually has two coverage limits: one per person and one per accident.
  • Property damage insurance: When you’re at fault for an accident, your property damage liability insurance pays for damage to other parties’ property, including vehicles and other property.

We’ve discussed that liability insurance covers damage and injuries, but it’s equally important to point out what it doesn’t cover. If you cause an accident, liability insurance won’t pay for any of your own losses, whether that’s an injury you sustain or damage to your vehicle. You’ll need a separate type of coverage for those expenses, which we’ll talk about more later.

How It Works

Most states are at-fault insurance states, meaning the driver who’s at fault for an accident is responsible for the damages to other parties. To help you understand how liability insurance works, let’s discuss an example of an accident in an at-fault state.

Suppose you drove through a stop sign and hit another car. The other driver has a broken bone and damage to their vehicle. Both you and the other driver will report the accident to your insurance companies.

Ultimately, your insurance will cover that person’s damages through a third-party insurance claim. Your bodily injury liability coverage will pay for medical expenses associated with their broken bone, while your property damage liability coverage will pay to repair the damage to their vehicle.

Some states, on the other hand, have no-fault insurance laws. If you live in a no-fault insurance state, then your property damage liability coverage would still protect other drivers when you’re responsible for an accident. But in most cases, you won’t have bodily injury liability protection to pay for other drivers’ injuries.

Instead of relying on bodily injury liability coverage, no-fault insurance states require that drivers carry personal injury protection (PIP). This coverage pays for medical expenses and other costs associated with an injury for an accident, such as lost wages or child care. The major difference is that no matter who causes an accident, your PIP pays for your injuries and other driver’s PIP pays for theirs.

It’s worth noting that even in no-fault insurance states, there are situations where someone who sustains injuries in an accident can recover damages from the at-fault driver. However, there’s usually a threshold their injuries must meet, such as being permanent injuries or causing the person to lose the use of a body part.

Requirements

As we mentioned, nearly every state in the country requires that drivers carry at least some amount of liability insurance. The table below breaks down the liability insurance requirements by state.

State Required bodily injury coverage (per person) Required bodily injury coverage (per accident) Required property damage coverage
Alabama $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Alaska $50,000 $100,000 $25,000
Arizona $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Arkansas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
California $15,000 $30,000 $5,000
Colorado $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Connecticut $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Delaware $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
District of Columbia $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
Florida Not required Not required $10,000
Georgia $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Hawaii $20,000 $40,000 $10,000
Idaho $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Illinois $25,000 $50,000 $20,000
Indiana $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Iowa $20,000 $40,000 $15,000
Kansas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Kentucky $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Louisiana $15,000 $30,000 $25,000
Maine $50,000 $100,000 $25,000
Maryland $30,000 $60,000 $15,000
Massachusetts $20,000 $40,000 $5,000
Michigan $50,000 $100,000 $1 million within Michigan

$10,000 elsewhere

Minnesota $30,000 $60,000 $10,000
Mississippi $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Missouri $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Montana $25,000 $50,000 $20,000
Nebraska $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Nevada $25,000 $50,000 $20,000
New Hampshire Not required Not required Not required
New Jersey Not required Not required $5,000
New Mexico $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
New York $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
North Carolina $30,000 $60,000 $25,000
North Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Ohio $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Oklahoma $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Oregon $25,000 $50,000 $20,000
Pennsylvania $15,000 $30,000 $5,000
Rhode Island $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
South Carolina $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
South Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Tennessee $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Texas $30,000 $60,000 $25,000
Utah $25,000 $65,000 $15,000
Vermont $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
Virginia Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee
Washington $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
West Virginia $25,000 $50,000 $25,000
Wisconsin $25,000 $50,000 $10,000
Wyoming $25,000 $50,000 $20,000

As you can see from the chart above, neither New Hampshire nor Virginia requires either bodily injury or property damage liability insurance. However, it’s not because they are no-fault states. Instead, New Hampshire allows drivers to avoid carrying liability insurance if they demonstrate an ability to pay for damages from an at-fault accident. If they can’t meet that requirement, they must carry at least $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage as well as $25,000 in property damage coverage.2

Drivers in Virginia won’t have to carry liability insurance if they pay the Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee of $500. This fee doesn’t provide insurance coverage to drivers, but it does allow them to drive without insurance.3

Things to Consider When You Buy Liability Insurance

Many drivers simply buy their state’s minimum liability coverage by default, assuming that’s enough to protect them in an accident. However, you may want to consider buying additional coverage.

In most states, the bodily injury liability requirement is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, in a serious accident, the total medical bills can easily exceed those figures. Similarly, the property damage liability coverage requirement in most states is lower than the average cost of a new vehicle, which, according to Kelley Blue Book, is about $47,000.4

If you’re responsible for an accident, you’re also responsible for the damages that result from that accident. Yes, your auto insurance company will foot the bill up to your insurance limit. But if the total damages exceed your insurance limit, you could be on the hook for the remaining expenses.

Cheapest Liability-Only Car Insurance

The cost of liability insurance varies depending on where you live and other factors, but depending on your situation, it could be a major line item in your budget. Below, we’ll share some tips for saving money on car insurance as well as where you may want to spend more.

How to Get Cheap Liability Coverage

  • Shop around. There are plenty of car insurance companies to choose from, and one of the best ways to save on liability coverage is to shop around for the best deal. When you’re buying car insurance, get quotes from several different companies. You can even make it a practice to shop around once or twice per year to make sure you’re still getting the best rate.
  • Bundle your coverages. Many insurance companies offer a discount if you bundle your car insurance with your homeowners or renters insurance. If you’re also paying for insurance for your home, consider bundling your policies with the same insurer.
  • Buy the minimum coverage. We’ve talked about why you may want to buy more than the minimum coverage in your state. However, if your budget is tight, you can save money by purchasing only the minimum amount of coverage that your state requires you to have.
  • Take advantage of other discounts. Bundling your policies isn’t the only way you can save money on car insurance. Companies offer insurance discounts for plenty of other things, including being a loyal customer, having no accidents on your record, and taking a driver safety course.

What Is Liability-Only Car Insurance?

As we’ve mentioned, most states require that drivers carry liability insurance. And while there are other coverages you can purchase — which many people choose to do — you don’t necessarily have to. Instead, you can choose to carry liability-only insurance. This type of policy provides no protection to you for injuries or damage to your vehicle but will pay for damages and injuries that others sustain when you’re responsible for an accident.

Liability vs. Full Coverage

Depending on your situation, it might make sense to expand your insurance coverage beyond just liability insurance. When you purchase full coverage, your insurance will cover even more potential hazards as well as your own vehicle. Here are some protections you’d expect to find with a full-coverage insurance policy:

  • Collision: This coverage pays to repair damage to your vehicle in an accident. Unlike liability coverage, collision insurance protects your own vehicle and applies regardless of whether there was another vehicle in the accident.
  • Comprehensive: This coverage pays to repair damage to your vehicle from something other than an accident. Examples include inclement weather, theft, and vandalism.
  • Uninsured motorist: If you happen to be in an accident where the responsible party doesn’t have liability insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage will pay for your losses.
  • Medical payments: Similar to the PIP in no-fault insurance states, medical payments coverage pays for your medical bills if you sustain injuries in an accident.

In most states, liability insurance is the only type of coverage you have to buy. However, liability-only insurance may not be enough for everyone.

In general, you might opt for liability-only insurance if you drive an older car that isn’t worth much. Because your car isn’t worth a lot, you wouldn’t get much from your insurance company if you totaled the car in an accident.

On the other hand, you should probably purchase full coverage insurance if you wouldn’t be able to replace your car in cash after an accident. This might be the case if you drive a newer car. Additionally, if you used a loan to purchase your car, your lender will probably require that you carry collision and comprehensive insurance, at least until you’ve paid off the loan.

Is Liability-Only Insurance Cheaper?

The reason that some drivers choose to carry liability-only insurance is because of the cost savings. And as you would expect, buying full coverage insurance can increase your premiums considerably. In fact, the cost of full coverage is nearly double the cost of liability-only insurance in many states.

Other Factors That Affect Car Insurance Costs

  • Coverage amount: This includes both your liability coverage and the amount of additional coverage you choose to purchase
  • Deductible: In general, the higher your deductible, the lower your insurance premiums, and vice versa.
  • Vehicle: Certain vehicles are more expensive to insure based on their make and model, safety ratings, and other factors.
  • Mileage: The more miles you drive per year, the more you’re likely to pay for car insurance since you have a greater chance of being in an accident.
  • Location: In addition to your state, your city and neighborhood can also affect your car insurance rates due to population density, crime rate, and other factors. You’ll find the lowest auto insurance rates in rural and suburban ZIP codes.
  • Credit history: In most states, insurance companies can consider your credit score when setting insurance rates, and they generally charge more if you have poor credit.
  • Age: Car insurance rates tend to decrease as you get older since you have a lower perceived risk. Young drivers pay the highest insurance rates.
  • Gender: Most states allow insurance companies to use gender as a determining factor for insurance rates, so men pay more for car insurance.
  • Driving history: Expect a higher insurance quote if you have a history of at-fault accidents, tickets, DUIs, etc.
  • Marital status: You might find that when you get married, your insurance rates decrease.
  • Homeownership: In general, homeowners get better insurance rates than renters, partially because of the bundle discounts available for auto and homeowners insurance.

How Much Liability Coverage Should I Buy?

When you buy liability insurance, you’ll have two choices: You can get your state’s minimum liability requirement, or you can purchase more. On one hand, purchasing the state’s minimum coverage limits allows you to save the most money. And if you have extenuating factors that make your insurance more expensive, saving money every month might be the most important objective.

On the other hand, we discussed that if the damages from an accident exceed your liability coverage limit, you might have to pay them out of pocket. If your state has relatively low insurance requirements, it may be even more important to buy more than the minimum coverage.

NOTE

You might want higher coverage limits if you don’t have any emergency savings you could use to pay the remaining bills from an at-fault accident.

Recap

Most states require you to carry liability insurance to protect yourself and other drivers if you’re responsible for an accident. The average driver pays more than $650 per year for liability insurance. However, premiums vary depending on where you live.

As you’re buying insurance, be sure to consider whether you should buy more than your state’s minimum insurance requirements. Additional liability insurance could protect you from financial losses after an accident, and full coverage car insurance adds another layer of protection for your own vehicle, which liability insurance doesn’t cover.

FAQs

Is full-coverage insurance worth it?

Full coverage — meaning insurance with collision coverage, comprehensive coverage, and either medical payments or PIP in addition to liability coverage — might be worth it if you have a newer car or won’t be able to replace your car with cash if it gets totaled.

What is the cost of auto insurance that covers $300,000 worth of liability?

The cost of liability insurance of $300,000 will depend on several factors, including where you live. However, you can expect the cost to be quite a bit higher than your state’s average premium.

What is the average cost for liability-only coverage in New York for a male under age 25?

Drivers in New York pay an average liability insurance premium of $932.46 per year. Because younger drivers are more expensive to insure and men tend to pay higher insurance rates, a male under the age of 25 is likely to pay considerably more than the state’s average premium.

Does liability insurance cover my car if someone hits me?

Yes, liability insurance will cover your car if someone hits you. In all states, the responsible party must pay for the other party’s property damage.

Citations

  1. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  2. Your Guide to Understanding Auto Insurance in the Granite State. State of New Hampshire Insurance Department . (2009).
    https://www.nh.gov/insurance/consumers/documents/nh_auto_guide.pdf

  3. Insurance Requirements. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
    https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/#insurance.asp

  4. Average New Car Price Tops $47,000. Kelley Blue Book. (2022, Jan 14).
    https://www.kbb.com/car-news/average-new-car-price-tops-47000/