What is the Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Required?
I guess you just found out that you need car insurance to drive in this country (unless you’re from New Hampshire, where it’s not required but still exceedingly popular to have). Many people opt for minimum required coverage when they have no major assets at risk, although higher limits are always recommended. Here’s what you absolutely must have to drive your car in any state.
The Essentials for Car Insurance
Minimum insurance requirements always include liability coverage for both bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD). Every state sets its own minimum limits, but generally they are about $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident (25/50) for BI and around $15,000 for PD. You’ll typically see that represented on your policy as 25/50/15. Liability, or “third party” coverage, pays for injuries or damage to others when you are at fault.
You’ll also be required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage in some states. This insurance is for injuries to people in your car, pedestrians and cyclists. It only applies in “no-fault” states, where insurance must cover injuries in and around your car whether you are at fault or not. Many states are “fault” states with the option of “no-fault” coverage. One of the primary characteristics of this insurance is that you can only sue for damages once your medical bills, treatment or injuries reach a specific threshold, such as $2,000 in medical bills, the need for surgery or having broken bones. PIP coverage exists to reduce the number of personal injury lawsuits (a debatable result in many states). Each state handles PIP so differently that I could write an entire book on the subject. For now, suffice it to say that PIP, where required, pays for medical bills, lost wages, replacement services, funeral expenses and the like. If you live in New Hampshire and choose to carry insurance, or if you live in Maine, you will need Medical Payments coverage instead. As the name implies, MedPay only covers medical expenses.
There is also Uninsured / Underinsured Motorists / Property Damage coverage. As the names suggest, they cover injuries and damages when you are injured or suffer property damage at the hands of an uninsured or underinsured driver. Uninsured means the other driver has no insurance. Underinsured means the other driver did not have enough coverage to fully cover your losses. Finally, there is one more oddball form of required coverage in New York. If you live there, you must carry a minimum death benefit. How much is required for each type of coverage depends on which state you live in. The chart below summarizes the required limits in each state. Note: All figures in the table below were originally published here by the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).
|State||Required Liability Limits (in thousands)||Required for Medical Bills||Required for Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists|
|DC||25/50/10||PIP 25/50||UM/UIM 25/50, UMPD 5k with $200 deductible|
|HI||20/40/10||PIP 10k||UM/UIM 20/40|
|KS||25/50/10||PIP Various Limits*||UM/UIM 25/50|
|ME||50/100/25||MP 2k||UM/UIM 50/100|
|MD||30/60/15||PIP 2.5k||UM/UIM 30/60|
|MA||20/40/5||PIP 8k||UM/UIM 20/40|
|MN||30/60/10||PIP 20/40||UM/UIM 25/50|
|NH||25/50/25 (If insurance carried)||MP 1k||UM/UIM/UMPD 25/50/25|
|NJ||Null/Null/5k (BI not req’d)||PIP 15k|
|NY||25/50/10||PIP 50k**||UM/UIM 25/50|
|ND||25/50/25||PIP 30k||UM/UIM 25/50|
|OR||25/50/20||PIP 15k||UM/UIM 25/50|
|WI||25/50/10||UM 25/50, can reject UIM 50/100 in writing|
*Minimum PIP amount required by law in Kansas:
- $4,500 per person for medical expenses
- $900 a month for up to one year’s disability or loss of income
- $25 a day for up to a year of in-home services
- $2,000 for funeral expenses
- $4,500 for rehabilitation costs
** New York also requires 50/100 death benefits coverage *** Virginia drivers can opt out of all car insurance by paying a $500 fee
Minimum Car Insurance Isn’t Enough
Remember, these minimum coverage limits are set to strike a balance between affordability and protection, because not everyone can afford enough car insurance. Your limits should be always be higher than minimum requirements if you can afford it. Shoot for at least 100/300 Bodily Injury limits or higher, $50,000 Property Damage, additional PIP or Medical Payments coverage if you do not have good health insurance, and 100/300 or higher Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. In states that offer Uninsured Motorists Property Damage, it’s a good idea to buy as much as you would need to replace your car. You should also carry comprehensive and collision coverage if you can’t afford to replace your car on your own.