What you need to know about driving in the Land of 10,000 Lakes
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Like the majority of states, Minnesota requires drivers to purchase auto insurance. On average, Minnesotans spend $881 each year on auto insurance. The good news is, that’s about 16 percent less than the national average. If you’re one of Minnesota’s 3.4 million licensed drivers, read on to learn more about driving and insurance requirements.
These are the required limits to meet the minimum coverage in Minnesota:
Bodily injury, property damage, UIM, and PIP coverage are a good foundation, but you’ll probably want to add supplemental coverage like comprehensive coverage and collision coverage.
About 78 percent of drivers purchase comprehensive coverage, which reimburses you for events like theft, vandalism, fire, and extreme weather.1 In some cases, it also pays for broken windshields, though it never covers regular wear and tear.
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. Unless you can afford to buy another vehicle with cash in the event of an accident, we recommend purchasing this type of coverage.
For both collision and comprehensive coverage, the limit is your car’s actual market value.
On average, the cost of car insurance in Minnesota is $881 annually: $487 for liability coverage, $269 for collision coverage, and $217 for comprehensive coverage.2
That said, we’ve seen estimated annual rates from $319 to $6,277 for young drivers. The cost will depend on coverage levels for liability insurance and beyond. Be sure to get a car insurance quote from multiple providers before choosing one.
The following companies offer auto insurance in Minnesota:
If you’re looking to save on car insurance, here are some ways you can lower your costs:
To drive in Minnesota legally, you need proof of auto insurance, either physical or digital. Some insurers provide digital proof of insurance on their mobile apps, which you can add to a smartphone wallet for convenience. Your provider may also offer a downloadable PDF.
If you’re caught driving without insurance, you’ll face a fine of at least $200, license and registration suspension until you provide proof of insurance, and possibly jail time, community service, and vehicle impoundment. The penalties increase after the first two offenses.3
|Offense||Fine||Imprisonment||License suspension||Registration suspension||Community service||Vehicle impoundment|
|First and second||$200-$1,000||Maximum of 90 days||Until proof of insurance is provided — 30 days to 12 months||Until proof of insurance is provided — up to 12 months||Possible in lieu of a fine for low-income individuals (at court’s discretion)||At court’s discretion|
|Third and subsequent||$200-$3,000||Maximum of 1 year (gross misdemeanor charge for third conviction within 10 years of first)||Until proof of insurance is provided — 30 days to 12 months||Until proof of insurance is provided — maximum of 12 months||Possible in lieu of a fine for low-income individuals (at court’s discretion)||At court’s discretion|
Never drive without proof of insurance. Your insurer may provide digital proof that you can add to your smartphone wallet.
In addition to auto insurance requirements, it’s good to familiarize yourself with state driving laws. That way, you avoid penalties, fines, and license suspensions and revocations.
Minnesota is a no-fault state, meaning that if you cause an accident, you are responsible for the other party’s property damage but not their medical costs. You and the other party each pay your own medical costs.
If the victim sues the perpetrator, the defendant’s liability is reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s fault, so long as the plaintiff’s fault is less than the defendant’s. If the plaintiff is 50 percent at fault, and there are multiple defendants, each less than 50 percent liable, the plaintiff can’t recover money in a civil suit.4
Minnesota requires all drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. That said, only 1 in 10 drivers in Minnesota are uninsured, which is 26 percent below the national average.5 UIM coverage in Minnesota isn’t stacked, meaning you can’t combine your UIM coverage across multiple cars on a policy.
In Minnesota, a DUI stays on your record for 10 years. After your first offense, you will face a 90-day license suspension, though you may receive driving privileges after 15 days. The court can use its discretion to require the installation of an ignition interlock device.
Minnesota’s seat belt law is under primary enforcement, meaning the police can pull you over solely for being unbuckled (as opposed to needing another reason, like speeding). The state requires seat belts for the driver and all passengers. Drivers receive tickets for unbuckled passengers 14 and younger; individuals 15 and older will receive tickets directly. A seat belt ticket is $25, but with fees, it can cost up to $100.
Distracted driving includes texting and driving, talking on the phone while driving, and even changing the music while driving. Since 2016, distracted driving has caused 1 in 9 crashes in Minnesota, resulting in 960 serious injuries and 155 deaths.6 Not only is distracted driving extremely dangerous, but it can also result in fines and other consequences.
Since 2016, distracted driving has resulted in nearly 1,000 serious injuries and over 150 deaths in Minnesota.
Minnesota’s hands-free law makes it illegal for drivers to read, send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. It’s illegal for drivers under 18 to use a cell phone, even hands free, except in emergency situations.
The minimum fine for a first ticket is $120. Subsequent offenses start at $300. You may also face increased insurance rates. If you injure or kill someone while driving distracted, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.
For the first six months they have their licenses, teen drivers cannot drive between midnight and 5 a.m., except in the following circumstances:
During the first six months, Minnesota law also limits teen drivers to one passenger under age 20. For the second six months of licensure, the limit is three passengers under age 20. The limit does not apply if a parent or guardian is present, or if the teen passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family.
In Minnesota, you have six years following an incident to file property damage claims and two years for personal injury claims. If you wait longer, your insurance company isn’t obligated to pay for your claim.
If your insurance provider wants to cancel your insurance policy midterm, it has 59 days to notify you prior to the effective date, regardless of whether the cancellation is due to nonpayment of premiums. If the company decides not to renew your policy at the end of its term, it must give you 60 days’ notice prior to the policy’s expiration date.
Auto insurance companies cannot cancel policies that have been in force for over 60 days, except in the following circumstances:
In contrast to cancellation, non-renewal means that either you or your insurance provider has decided not to renew the policy once it expires. Insurance companies must give you notice and explanation in order to drop your policy. A provider might not renew your policy because it no longer offers that type of insurance, it doesn’t want to write so many policies in your area, or you have a drunk driving conviction.
Minnesota allows individuals who own more than 25 vehicles to self-insure their vehicles. To do so, they will need to provide proof that their current net worth (or equivalent) is at least $5 million.
Minnesota does not require yearly inspections for personal vehicles. That said, it’s still important to keep up with your vehicle’s maintenance.
An SR-22 is a financial responsibility insurance certificate — proof of minimum insurance. In many states, you must carry an SR-22 after certain convictions, such as drunk driving. However, Minnesota is one of six states that do not require this form.
Defensive driving is an approach to driving that uses specific strategies to avoid hazards on the road. Taking a defensive driving course may lower your insurance costs. After a traffic violation, the court may require you to take a defensive driving course. In Minnesota, defensive driving courses are four to eight hours long and available both in person and online.
Because Minnesota is a no-fault state, you have a limited right to sue for injuries and other noneconomic damages after an accident. In order to sue, you’ll need to reach either a monetary threshold of $4,000 (meaning you lost at least that amount) or a serious injury threshold of 60 days of disability, permanent injury, or permanent disfigurement. If you don’t meet these thresholds, you won’t be able to file a civil suit against the other party.
In Minnesota, you must report an accident to the police if it involved injury or property damage worth over $1,000, or if someone died in the accident. You have up to 10 days after the accident to report it. If you don’t, the state could suspend your license.
Unfortunately, like most states, Minnesota allows insurance companies to discriminate based on credit score when determining your premiums. The state also allows companies to discriminate on the basis of gender, so men pay more for car insurance in Minnesota.
A total loss means a vehicle’s repairs will cost more than the state’s threshold. In Minnesota, if the repairs cost more than 70 percent of the car’s actual market value, it’s declared a total loss.
For example, if your vehicle’s actual market value is $10,000, and the repairs cost $7,000 or more, it’s a total loss. Your insurance company will pay out the car’s market value unless you have gap insurance or new car replacement coverage, which accounts for depreciation and helps you purchase another vehicle.
We hope the following contact information will make it easier to navigate auto-related bureaucracies in Minnesota.
If you’re a new resident in Minnesota, you have 60 days to register your vehicle. You can apply in person at the DMV or by mail. To register your vehicle, you need the following:
Here is the contact information for the Minnesota DMV:
|DMV in Minnesota||Contact information|
|Office locations||Online at https://onlineservices.dps.mn.gov/EServices/_/ or by phone at 651-297-2005|
|Address to mail title and registration applications||Department of Vehicle Services
445 Minnesota St.
St. Paul, MN 55101-5160
To request a copy of your vehicle’s title, follow these steps:
You can find additional information on fees at https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/dvs/Pages/title-transfer-fees.aspx.
If you have questions about auto insurance in Minnesota that we didn’t cover, use the following information to contact the state’s insurance department.
|Contact method||Minnesota Insurance Department|
|85 Seventh Place E., Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101
At $371.31, the cost of car repairs in Minnesota is on par with the national average. This includes $149.82 for labor and $221.49 for parts.
Because insurance companies consider crime a risk factor, local crime will affect insurance rates. Areas with more crime, along with more traffic fatalities, have higher average costs of auto insurance.
In 2020, there were 250 vehicle thefts per 100,000 Minnesotans, which is just 2 percent higher than the national average. Usually, auto theft and accidents happen more often in cities, which can raise the cost of insurance. You can find vehicle thefts by city in the chart below.
|Metropolitan statistical area||Number of motor vehicle thefts per 100,000 inhabitants in 2020|
|Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN||376|
|St. Cloud, MN||203|
|La Crosse-Onalaska, WI||134|
|Grand Forks, ND||110|
In 2019, Minnesota saw 364 vehicle crash fatalities for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled. That’s about half the national average.
You’re ready to hit the road in Minnesota! If you want to learn more about driving elsewhere, check out our state driving guide, which covers the same ground in other states.
If you have further questions about driving in Minnesota, read on.
Minnesota does not offer low-income car insurance. Only three states — California, New Jersey, and Hawaii — provide government-sponsored insurance programs to help low-income people afford auto insurance. In Minnesota and elsewhere, the best way to find cheap auto insurance is to get quotes from at least three companies and take advantage of any available discounts and bundles.
Auto insurance is cheaper in Minnesota than the national average. Check out the breakdown from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners:
|Average annual cost in 2020||Cost compared to national average||Cost of liability coverage||Cost of collision coverage||Cost of comprehensive coverage|
These are the requirements for auto insurance in Minnesota:
When you purchase a new vehicle in Minnesota, you typically have between two and 30 days to purchase auto insurance. That said, it’s best to have auto insurance before you drive the car off the lot. That way, you’re covered if something happens.
Facts + Statistics: Auto insurance. Insurance Information Institute. (2022).
2019/2020 Auto Insurance Database Report. National Association of Insurance Commissioners. (2023, Jan).
Penalties for Driving without Auto Insurance by State. Consumer Federation of America. (2014, Jan).
CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE/COMPARATIVE FAULT LAWS IN ALL 5O STATES. Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer, S.C. (2022).
One in Eight Drivers Uninsured. Insurance Research Council. (2021, Mar).
DISTRACTED DRIVING. Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
NICB ‘Hot Spots’: Auto Thefts Up Significantly Across the Country. National Insurance Crime Bureau. (2021, Aug 31).