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Do You Have to Have Car Insurance?

Updated
Kailey Hagen
By: Kailey Hagen

Our Insurance Expert

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Car insurance can be expensive, but nearly all states require its drivers to carry at least some liability coverage. Skipping it could result in costly fines, license suspension, and more. Here's what you need to know about mandatory car insurance coverage in each state.

Is car insurance required in the United States?

The federal government doesn't require drivers to carry car insurance but all states have laws in place outlining what coverage its drivers must have to legally operate a motor vehicle. Insurers aren't allowed to sell policies with liability coverage options below the state minimum.

Understanding the required protections is the first step in getting car insurance. The most commonly mandated types of insurance are:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: If the policyholder causes an accident, this pays for any injuries victims sustain in the crash. Most states require drivers to carry a certain amount of bodily injury liability coverage per person and double that amount per accident.
  • Property damage liability coverage: Property damage liability pays to repair or replace any property the policyholder damages in an accident.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: This coverage pays policyholders for their own medical costs if they're injured by a driver who doesn't have insurance. Not all states mandate this, but those that do usually require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage in the same quantities as the bodily injury liability coverage limits.
  • Underinsured motorist coverage: Underinsured motorist coverage is very similar to uninsured motorist coverage, except it applies when a policyholder is hit by a driver who lacks adequate insurance to cover the full costs of the damages.
  • Personal injury protection: Some no-fault auto insurance states require personal injury protection. Policyholders rely upon this coverage to help them cover their medical bills following an accident.

Why do you need car insurance?

Mandatory car insurance is there to protect other drivers on the road. If a driver causes an accident that injures another person or damages property, their liability coverage can help pay for the damages.

It's also a legal requirement, and skipping car insurance can lead to unwanted consequences if drivers are caught.

What happens if you don't have car insurance?

The punishment for driving without insurance varies by state. But in most states, drivers face a combination of the following:

  • Fines
  • Driver's license suspension
  • Vehicle registration suspension
  • Jail time
  • Requirement to file for SR-22 insurance

Drivers looking to keep their costs down would do better to compare car insurance rates than to skip coverage altogether.

Is there a minimum requirement for car insurance?

Car insurance requirements vary by state. The minimum coverage needed to drive legally in each state is listed in the table below.

Minimum car insurance coverage requirements by state

State Minimum Coverage Requirements
Alabama $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Alaska $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$100,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Arizona $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Arkansas $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
California $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$5,000 of property damage liability coverage
Colorado $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Connecticut $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident
Delaware $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
$15,000 of personal injury protection per person
$30,000 of personal injury protection per accident
Florida $10,000 of property damage liability coverage
$10,000 of personal injury protection
Georgia $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Hawaii $20,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$40,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
$10,000 of personal injury protection
Idaho $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Illinois $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
Indiana $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Iowa $20,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$40,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Kansas $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident
$4,500 of personal injury protection
Kentucky $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Louisiana $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Maine $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$100,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$2,000 of medical payments coverage
Maryland $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Massachusetts $20,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$40,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$5,000 of property damage liability coverage
$20,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$40,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
$8,000 of personal injury protection
Michigan $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$100,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
Minnesota $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident
$40,000 of personal injury protection
Mississippi $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Missouri $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
Montana $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
Nebraska $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Nevada $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
New Hampshire $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
New Jersey $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person (Standard Policy option)
$30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident (Standard Policy option)
$5,000 of property damage liability coverage (Standard and Basic Policy options)
$15,000 of personal injury protection (Standard and Basic Policy options)
New Mexico $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
New York $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
North Carolina $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
North Dakota $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Ohio $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Oklahoma $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Oregon $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
$15,000 of personal injury protection
Pennsylvania $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$5,000 of property damage liability coverage
Rhode Island $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
South Carolina $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
South Dakota $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage per accident
Tennessee $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Texas $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
Utah $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$65,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$15,000 of property damage liability coverage
Vermont $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
Virginia $30,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$60,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
Washington $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
Washington D.C. $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
$5,000 of uninsured motorist property damage coverage
West Virginia $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$25,000 of property damage liability coverage
$25,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per person
$50,000 of uninsured motorist coverage per accident
$25,000 of uninsured motorist property damage coverage
Wisconsin $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$10,000 of property damage liability coverage
Wyoming $25,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person
$50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per accident
$20,000 of property damage liability coverage
Data source: Compiled by author from state department of transportation websites.

How much car insurance coverage do I need?

All drivers need at least state minimum car insurance coverage to hit the road, but it's usually best to go beyond this cheap car insurance whenever possible. State minimum coverage may not be enough to pay for all the damages in a severe accident. If the damages exceed the policy limits, the driver will have to pay for the remaining damages out of their own pocket.

In addition, state minimum coverage doesn't offer any protection to the driver's vehicle. Motorists will need to add collision and comprehensive coverage if they don't want to pay for their vehicle repairs on their own. Those with a lease or loan on their car may have to purchase this coverage as part of their agreement with their lender, though no state law requires it.

RELATED: Can you get car insurance without a license? See your options in this guide by The Ascent.

FAQs

  • It is illegal to drive without state minimum insurance, though requirements vary by state. Check with the state's department of transportation to learn about its mandatory car insurance.

  • Insurance companies don't go after uninsured drivers, but police may cite drivers found to not have adequate insurance coverage. Insurers may also charge these drivers a higher rate when they apply for a new policy.

  • It's possible to get car insurance on the same day. All a driver needs is their license number, personal information, vehicle information, and the details of any recent accidents or traffic violations.

  • It often makes sense for a driver to change car insurance when they move out of state, and they may have to if their current insurer isn't licensed in their new state. Check with the new state's department of transportation to learn what its rules are.

Our Insurance Expert