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Car insurance requirements by state

As drivers, we want to be protected when we’re on the road, but we also want cheap car insurance. However, not all our auto insurance options are in our hands.

While you do—ultimately—have a choice whether to carry auto insurance, each state has its own minimum requirements when it comes to car insurance. In general, those who own or drive a vehicle need to have:

  • Bodily injury liability: This applies when you’re at-fault while operating your automobile. The coverage pays for bodily injury to another person.
  • Property damage liability: This applies when you’re at-fault while operating your automobile. The coverage pays for damage to another person’s property.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection: If you’re injured in an accident involving an at-fault driver who doesn’t have insurance or enough insurance to pay for your loss, this coverage can help pay for your bodily injury. Many states require this coverage to be offered, but allow the insured to opt out or reject the coverage in writing.

Yes, there is a reason you need to have these state minimum insurance requirements. They’re in place so there’s some measure of financial responsibility for drivers. Each state has its own requirements as to the minimum limits for the coverages listed above. For example, one state might have a $15,000 minimum limit for bodily injury liability and another might have a minimum of $25,000 for the same coverage.

To learn more, view each state’s minimum car insurance requirements below.

Keep in mind that if you’re traveling from one state to another with different minimum requirements and get into an accident, as long as you’re carrying auto insurance at the time of the accident, the minimum limits will automatically adjust.

Remember, these are just the minimum requirements. There are other auto coverages available to protect you further.

Understanding the numbers

You get a lot of numbers thrown at you when getting a car insurance quote. Somewhere along the way, you’ve no doubt seen the slash line from your insurance company that looks something like this on your insurance documents: 25/50/10 or $25,000/$50,000/$10,000. Do you know what they mean?

These numbers reflect the limits in your car or auto insurance policy. The first number is the amount covered per person for bodily injury. The second number is the amount covered per accident for bodily injury, and the third number reflects the amount per accident for property damage. In essence, those numbers could be interpreted like this:

  • Bodily injury per person/bodily injury per accident/property damage per accident

One thing to keep in mind: While states have a minimum coverage limit, they might not cover all the costs of an incident. Be sure to understand the risks of your coverage limits, and choose an amount that is best suited to your situation.

Go over your entire auto insurance policy with your insurance agent, and ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Have questions about your policy? Give us a call at 509-248-2100, and we’ll work to get the best coverage for you.