Published: May 9, 2022Updated: May 13, 2022

Minimum Coverage Car Insurance: Is It Enough?

Learn what’s mandatory and what’s good to have in a policy.

Almost all states require drivers to purchase auto insurance. When you have auto insurance, your insurer will pay in the event of an accident or other loss, rather than financial responsibility falling to you. Insurance requirements vary by state, and it’s wise to purchase coverage beyond the mandated minimum. We’ll walk through different types of auto insurance coverage, and how much you should consider buying.

Minimum Car Insurance Requirements, State by State

There are six basic types of auto insurance coverage.1 Four of them are required in some states.

  • Bodily injury (BI): Bodily injury coverage pays for the treatment of injuries you cause to someone else. This coverage does not include you or your passengers.
  • Property damage (PD): Property damage coverage pays for damage you cause to someone else’s property — usually their car, but property or objects that your car hits are also covered.
  • Medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP): Medical payments/personal injury protection pays for the treatment of injuries you or your passengers sustain in an accident. Depending on your policy, it can include medical payments, lost wages, funeral costs, and more.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UIM): Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage reimburses you if someone without auto insurance (or with insufficient insurance) hits your car. This includes hit-and-run incidents and accidents where a vehicle hits you as a pedestrian.

No states require the other two types of coverage, though it’s usually a good idea to purchase them if you can.

  • Collision: Collision coverage pays for damage to your car resulting from a collision with another car or an object, even if you’re at fault. It also covers damage sustained from potholes. Generally, collision coverage comes with a deductible.
  • Comprehensive: Comprehensive coverage reimburses you for losses caused by something other than a collision, such as theft, vandalism, fire, and extreme weather. It also pays for broken windshields, though it does not cover regular wear and tear. Like collision, comprehensive coverage often comes with a deductible.

FYI

There are six main types of auto insurance coverage. Some states require bodily injury, property damage, medical payments coverage or personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. No states require collision or comprehensive coverage.

Minimum auto insurance requirements vary by state. States often express minimum coverage as a series of numbers. For example, in California, the minimum liability coverage required by law is 15/30/5. This coverage pays up to $15,000 of bodily liability damages per person, $30,000 payable per accident, and $5,000 in property damage per accident.

Check out the chart below for the minimum per-person and per-accident coverage limits by state, broken down by type of insurance.

State Bodily injury per person Bodily injury per accident Property damage Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident Medical payments coverage (at-fault states) or personal injury protection (no-fault states) per person Medical payments coverage or personal injury protection per accident Other required coverages
Alabama $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Alaska $50,000 $100,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Arizona $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Arkansas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
California $15,000 $30,000 $5,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Colorado $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Connecticut $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Delaware $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 Not required Not required $15,000 $30,000 None
District of Columbia $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Florida Not required Not required $10,000 Not required Not required $10,000 $10,000 None
Georgia $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Hawaii $20,000 $40,000 $10,000 Not required Not required $10,000 $10,000 None
Idaho $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Illinois $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Indiana $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Iowa $20,000 $40,000 $15,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Kansas $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 $4,500 for medical expenses

 

$9,000 a month for a year of disability or loss of income

 

$25 a day for in-home services

 

$2,000 for funeral, cremation, or burial expenses

 

$4,500 for rehabilitation expenses

Not required Survivors benefits, including up to $900 per month for a year for disability or loss of income and $25 per day for in-home services
Kentucky $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Louisiana $15,000 $30,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Maine $50,000 $100,000 $25,000 $50,000 $100,000 $2,000 Not required None
Maryland $30,000 $60,000 $15,000 $30,000 $60,000 Not required Not required $15,000 uninsured/underinsured property damage coverage per accident
Massachusetts $20,000 $40,000 $5,000 $20,000 $40,000 $8,000 $8,000 None
Michigan $50,000 $100,000 $1 million within MI

$10,000 outside MI

Not required Not required State will pay all necessary medical expenses and lost wages, plus $20 per day in replacement services in some cases

 

$250,000, or lower if enrolled in Medicare

Not required None
Minnesota $30,000 $60,000 $10,000 $25,000 $50,000 $40,000 Not required None
Mississippi $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Missouri $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Montana $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Nebraska $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Nevada $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
New Hampshire Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required None
New Jersey Not required Not required $5,000 Not required Not required $15,000 $15,000 None
New Mexico $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
New York $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 $25,000 $50,000 $50,000 Not required $50,000 for death of 1 person in an accident, or $100,000 for death of 2 or more
North Carolina $30,000 $60,000 $25,000 $30,000 $60,000 Not required Not required $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage coverage per accident
North Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 $30,000 Not required None
Ohio $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Oklahoma $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Oregon $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 Not required None
Pennsylvania $15,000 $30,000 $5,000 Not required Not required $5,000 $5,000 Limited or full tort coverage
Rhode Island $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required Not required
South Carolina $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage coverage
South Dakota $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Tennessee $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Texas $30,000 $60,000 $25,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
Utah $25,000 $65,000 $15,000 Not required Not required $3,000 $3,000 None
Vermont $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 $50,000 $100,000 Not required Not required $10,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist property damage coverage per accident
Virginia Not required if you pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee (UMVF) Not required if you pay the UMVF Not required if you pay the UMVF Not required if you pay the UMVF Not required if you pay the UMVF Not required if you pay the UMVF Not required if you pay the UMVF None
Washington $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None
West Virginia $25,000 $50,000 $25,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required $25,000 uninsured motorist property damage coverage
Wisconsin $25,000 $50,000 $10,000 $25,000 $50,000 Not required Not required None
Wyoming $25,000 $50,000 $20,000 Not required Not required Not required Not required None

Cost of Minimum Coverage

How much you pay for an auto insurance policy with minimum coverage depends on a number of factors, such as where you live, your age, your credit score, and whether you have a history of at-fault accidents or DUIs.

For drivers with good credit and a clean driving record, the average annual cost for minimum coverage nationally is $561. If you have poor credit or a history of at-fault accidents or DUIs, the average annual minimum insurance costs range from about $850 to $1,200. Additionally, since minimum coverage requirements vary by state, expect the cost of insurance to vary. Check out our roundup of the best cheap auto insurance options, and learn more about getting a car insurance quote.

Which States Don’t Require Auto Insurance?

Two states do not require drivers to purchase auto insurance: New Hampshire and Virginia.

In New Hampshire, drivers who opt not to purchase insurance must prove their ability to pay for damages following an at-fault car accident. The state does not specify an exact amount, but if you can’t prove your ability to pay, you must buy a 25/50/25 auto insurance policy2.

This policy pays $25,000 per person for bodily injury, up to $50,000 if two or more people are hurt, and up to $25,000 for property damage. To be exempt from purchasing auto insurance, expect to prove your ability to pay for damages somewhere in that range.

In Virginia, you can pay an annual $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee, which allows you to drive an uninsured vehicle.3 The fee is not a form of insurance, so you’re financially vulnerable if you get into an accident. The purpose of the fee is to reduce the cost of uninsured motorist coverage statewide.

In Virginia, the average annual cost of liability coverage is $491.51, or just under $500, so it makes more sense to purchase minimum coverage than it does to pay the uninsured motor vehicle fee.4

GOOD TO KNOW

States that do not require auto insurance still require drivers to prove financial responsibility.

Self-Insurance

Some states give individuals the option to pay for self-insurance, meaning you can put down a bond or deposit in lieu of traditional auto insurance. Some drivers might choose this option to lower insurance costs. For example, if you own a fleet of vehicles, it’s often less expensive to pay for self-insurance than to insure each vehicle.

If you’re self-insured, you assume all financial responsibility for protecting your car and financial risk resulting from losses. This means that in the event of an accident, theft, or other liability, you (not the insurance company) will pay all the associated costs.

To self insure your vehicle(s), you’ll need to put up collateral. You can leave a cash deposit with your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles or Department of Insurance, or purchase a surety bond.

Explore self-insurance options by state in the table below.

State Is self-insurance allowed? Minimum required collateral
Alabama Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the director of the AL Department of Public Safety
Alaska Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $125,000
Arizona Yes, if you own more than 10 vehicles $90,000
Arkansas Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $100,000
California Yes $35,000, either with DMV or as a surety bond
Colorado Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the insurance commissioner
Connecticut Yes At the discretion of the insurance commissioner
Delaware Yes, if you own more than 15 vehicles $130,000
District of Columbia Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles Yes, at the discretion of the mayor
Florida Yes Must have an unencumbered net worth of at least $40,000 for the first vehicle and $20,000 for each additional vehicle, as well as $85,000 for liability insurance and uninsured motorist coverage
Georgia Yes $50,000
Hawaii Yes $90,000
Idaho Yes, if you own at least 5 vehicles $50,000-$120,000
Illinois Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the director of the IL Department of Insurance
Indiana Yes $100,000
Iowa Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the IA Insurance Division
Kansas Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $100,000
Kentucky Yes $100,000
Louisiana Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $100,000
Maine Yes At the discretion of the secretary of state
Maryland Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $105,000
Massachusetts Yes At the discretion of the commissioner of the MA Division of Insurance
Michigan Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the insurance commissioner
Minnesota Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles A current net worth or equivalent of $5,000,000
Mississippi Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the MS Insurance Department
Missouri Yes $175,000
Montana Yes $95,000
Nebraska Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the NE Department of Insurance
Nevada Yes, if you own more than 10 vehicles Either 130% of the average annual claims in the previous 3 years, or:

 

$55,000 for 11-50 vehicles

 

$80,000 for 51-100 vehicles

 

$130,000 for 101-250 vehicles

 

205,000 for 251-500 vehicles

 

$280,000 for 501-750 vehicles

 

$355,000 for 751 or more vehicles

New Hampshire Yes $100,000
New Jersey Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the insurance commissioner; includes a $1,000 filing fee
New Mexico Yes At the discretion of the superintendent of insurance
New York Yes Liquidity of $160,000 times the square root of the number of vehicles, or the average dollar amount of claims from the past 4 years, or $85,000 times the number of other vehicles
North Carolina Yes $205,000
North Dakota Yes $205,000
Ohio Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $30,000
Oklahoma Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $100,000
Oregon Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles and are a public body or federal agency $185,000 in liability insurance

 

Earnings of:

 

$100,000 for 26-100 vehicles

 

$190,000 for 101-250 vehicles

 

$295,000 for 251-500 vehicles, etc.

Pennsylvania Yes $50,000 for the first vehicle

 

$10,000 for each additional vehicle

 

Maximum of $1,000,000

Rhode Island Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles, but only for property damage and bodily injury coverage $100,000
South Carolina Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles and have a minimum net worth of $20,000,000 $3,000
South Dakota Yes $175,000
Tennessee Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles At the discretion of the TN Department of Commerce & Insurance
Texas Yes $115,000
Utah Yes, if you own more than 24 vehicles $200,000, plus $100 for each vehicle up to the first 1,000 vehicles, then $50 for each additional vehicle
Vermont Yes $115,000
Virginia Yes, if you own more than 21 vehicles $95,000
Washington Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $60,000 certificate of deposit or liability bond
West Virginia Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $100,000 in total assets
Wisconsin Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $110,000
Wyoming Yes, if you own more than 25 vehicles $200,000, plus $100 for each vehicle after the 25th

Should I Get Minimum or Full Auto Insurance Coverage?

Usually, it’s better to buy full coverage if you can afford it. Full-coverage car insurance means your state’s minimum, collision, and comprehensive coverage, and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage or medical payments coverage, if it’s not already mandated.

When you have full coverage, your assets are protected in the event that you’re in a serious accident. If you’re in a serious accident and you have low insurance limits, the other party or parties can sue you for your savings, future earnings, and property to recover the difference. Consider that the average hospital stay after a car accident is over $60,000, which is more than some states’ minimum coverage limits. This doesn’t include lost wages and other expenses.5

Drivers who cannot afford policies with higher limits, or who have fewer assets, might opt for minimum coverage.

Do I Need Insurance to Register My Vehicle?

In most states, you need to provide proof of auto insurance in order to register your vehicle. There are a few exceptions. You don’t need auto insurance to register a vehicle in these states:

  • Arizona
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin6

However, if you plan on driving the vehicle after you register it, you need insurance in any state except New Hampshire and Virginia. Keep in mind, those two states have financial responsibility laws for individuals who do not purchase insurance.

What Are the Consequences of Driving Without Insurance?

The penalties of driving without insurance vary by state and include fines, license suspension, jail time, mandatory SR-22 filing, community service, and vehicle impoundment. If you cause an accident while driving without insurance, you will be financially responsible for all damages.

You can find your state’s penalties for driving without insurance in the chart below.

State Fine for first offense Additional penalties
Alabama $500 Suspended registration
Alaska $500 Suspended license
Arizona $500 License and registration suspension
Arkansas $50 Suspended registration
California $100 None
Colorado $500 Suspended license
Connecticut $100 License and registration suspension
Delaware $1,500 Suspended license
District of Columbia $150 Suspended license
Florida $150 Suspended license
Georgia $200 License and registration suspension
Hawaii $500 Suspended license
Idaho $75 None
Illinois $500 Suspended license
Indiana $250 Suspended license
Iowa $250 None
Kansas $300 License and registration suspension
Kentucky $500 Suspended registration
Louisiana $500 None
Maine $100 License and registration suspension
Maryland $1,000 None
Massachusetts $500 License and registration suspension
Michigan $200 Suspended license
Minnesota $200 License and registration suspension
Mississippi $500 Suspended license
Missouri $20 Suspended license
Montana $250 None
Nebraska $100 Suspended license
Nevada $250 Suspended license
New Hampshire $125 License and registration suspension
New Jersey $300 Licenses suspension
New Mexico $300 License and registration suspension
New York $150 License and registration suspension
North Carolina $50 Suspended license
North Dakota $300 Suspended license
Ohio $100 Suspended license
Oklahoma $250 Suspended license
Oregon $130 License and registration suspension
Pennsylvania $300 License and registration suspension
Rhode Island $100 License and registration suspension
South Carolina $550 Suspended license
South Dakota $100 Suspended license
Tennessee $300 Suspended license
Texas $175 None
Utah $400 Suspended license
Vermont $250 Suspended license
Virginia $600 Suspended license
Washington $550 None
West Virginia $200 Suspended license
Wisconsin $500 None
Wyoming $250 Suspended license

Additionally, allowing your auto insurance to lapse will classify you as a high-risk driver, which will make buying auto insurance more expensive in the future.

Recap

Minimum auto insurance coverage requirements vary by state, but most require some form of liability insurance. It’s a good idea to purchase full auto insurance, rather than the bare minimum, to protect your assets in case of an accident. To learn more about the ins and outs of insuring your vehicle, check out our other auto insurance articles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Read on to learn more about minimum auto insurance coverage.

How much auto insurance coverage is recommended?

If you can afford it, it’s best to buy full auto insurance coverage. When you buy full coverage, your assets are protected if you’re involved in a serious accident. Minimum coverage may not pay for all of the losses if you’re found at fault in an accident.

What does a full coverage policy include?

A full coverage policy includes the state minimum, personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments coverage if it’s not already required, and comprehensive and collision coverage. You might opt for additional coverages, like gap insurance or new car replacement, depending on your needs.

How much does auto insurance cost?

The cost of auto insurance depends on your state and the amount of coverage you buy. In 2019, the average annual spending on auto insurance was $1,070.47, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The average annual cost of liability coverage was $650.35, collision coverage was $381.43, and comprehensive coverage was $171.87.

Do I have to notify the DMV if I cancel my auto insurance?

Yes, you must notify the DMV if you cancel your auto insurance. If you don’t, the DMV may consider it a lapse in coverage and classify you as a high-risk driver. If you’re switching auto insurance providers, your new provider will usually notify the DMV for you. If you sold your car, you will have to provide paperwork to the DMV verifying that you no longer own a vehicle.

Citations

  1. What is covered by a basic auto insurance policy? III. (2022).
    https://www.iii.org/article/what-covered-basic-auto-insurance-policy

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

  3. Uninsured Motor Vehicle Fee. Virginia DMV. (2022).
    https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/commercial/#insurance/umvfee.asp

  4. 2018/2019 Auto Insurance Database Report. NAIC. (2022).
    https://content.naic.org/sites/default/files/publication-aut-pb-auto-insurance-database.pdf

  5. Average Cost Of Car Accident Medical Bills & Who Pays Them. Dugan & Associates. (2021, Mar).
    https://www.dugan-associates.com/average-cost-of-car-accident-medical-bills-who-pays-them/

  6. Can You Register a Car Without Insurance? Kelley Blue Book. (2021, Oct).
    https://www.dugan-associates.com/average-cost-of-car-accident-medical-bills-who-pays-them/