UPDATED: Nov 28, 2021

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Written By: Chris TepedinoReviewed By: Daniel WalkerUPDATED: Nov 28, 2021Fact Checked

Keep in Mind

  • It is against the law to drive without car insurance in nearly every state
  • In most states, drivers must have at least have bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage
  • If you’re looking to save money on liability coverage or have multiple vehicles, you should consider broad form car insurance

Have you ever wondered, “is it bad to just carry minimum coverage car insurance required by law in your state?”

Not all drivers have the same coverage needs. However, most will be more financially secure and have more peace of mind with coverage options that go beyond the bare minimum.

Read on to find out how much car insurance coverage your state requires. See what you actually get with those minimum plans, and find out how much protection you want to have in the event of an accident.

After you’ve weighed the pros and cons of just carrying minimum car insurance coverage, compare rates with our free online quote tool to find an affordable insurance plan that’s right for you.

Is car insurance required by law?

In most states, there is a law requiring some level of car insurance. The minimum amount of automobile insurance coverage required by law is different depending on what state you’re in.

The Insurance Information Institute lists the minimum car insurance requirements in all 50 states. Take a look at this overview (note that state names are abbreviated):

  • By law in AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, GA, ID, IN, IA, LA, MS, MT, NV, NM, OH, OK, RI, TN, WA, and WY all drivers must have at least bodily injury liability and property damage liability coverage
  • In CT, DC, IL, KY, ME, MD, MN, MO, NE, NJ, NY, NC, ND, OR, SC, SD, VT, VA, WV, and WI all drivers must have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in addition to bodily injury and property damage liability coverage
  • To meet requirements in AR, DE, HI, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, NJ, NY, ND, OR, PA, TX, and UT all drivers must have personal injury protection in addition to bodily injury and property damage liability coverage
  • In Florida, drivers must have personal injury protection and property damage liability coverage but not bodily injury coverage
  • In New Hampshire, minimum car insurance coverage is not mandatory, but the state still recommends that drivers purchase insurance

What does minimum coverage car insurance actually cover?

Before addressing this question, it’s important to note that what qualifies as “minimum coverage” varies from state to state. Refer back to the previous section if you want to know what you need to have minimum car insurance coverage in your state.

While there are some outliers, most states’ requirements are actually quite similar. Here’s a breakdown of what the coverage options mentioned in the previous section mean in practice:

  • Bodily injury liability: When you’re at fault for an accident, this helps pay for the other driver’s medical expenses
  • Property damage liability: When you’re at fault for an accident that damaged someone else’s property (including their car), this helps pay for the costs of repairs or replacement
  • Uninsured motorist coverage: When you’re in an accident, and the other driver is at fault but doesn’t have liability coverage, this will cover your medical and property expenses
  • Underinsured motorist coverage: Similar to uninsured motorist coverage, this will cover the remainder of your medical and property expenses if the at-fault driver is unable to pay for all of these costs with their own liability insurance
  • Personal injury protection: This form of insurance covers medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault for an accident

What is recommended for car insurance coverage?

Ask any insurance professional and they’ll recommend that you have more than the bare minimum coverage for your car insurance. The Insurance Information Institute, for instance, points out that with minimum liability coverage, if you’re found responsible for a bill that exceeds your coverage limits, the costs “could wipe you out!”

In other words, driving with minimal car insurance is risky. But that doesn’t mean everyone should purchase the absolute maximum amount of coverage either.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Select more than the minimum amount of liability coverage if you want to ensure you won’t have to pay out of pocket for damages in a serious car accident
  • Buy underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage even if not required by the state to guarantee that all your medical costs are paid for if someone else causes an accident and can’t cover your expenses
  • Choose collision insurance to cover repair/replacement due to accidents on the road and comprehensive insurance to cover any damage or loss other than a collision
  • Consider purchasing other forms of car insurance such as personal injury protection, roadside assistance coverage, and rental reimbursement insurance, depending on your needs
  • If you’re looking to save money on liability coverage or have multiple vehicles, you may want to see if broad form car insurance is a good fit for you

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What to Consider Before Deciding if Minimum Coverage Car Insurance Is Enough

Ask yourself these questions before you decide on your insurance coverage.

  • Would you be able to pay for someone else’s medical expenses out of pocket if you are found responsible for a collision and the costs exceeded your liability coverage?
  • Are you willing to pay the full cost of repairing or replacing your car by driving without collision/comprehensive insurance?
  • Are coverage options (like broad form auto insurance) that could save you money while providing more protection than your state’s minimum coverage requirements?

Before deciding what amount of coverage is right for you, try our free online quote tool to find affordable car insurance in your area.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance-related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and Cinncinati....

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years (BBB A+). He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com and Safeco. He reviews content, ensuring that ex...

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Car Insurance Agent for 15 Years Daniel Walker