Most states require drivers to carry some amount of liability insurance to cover injuries and property damage from accidents they cause. Each state has different minimum requirements for liability insurance, though, so knowing how much liability insurance you will need depends on where you live. Of course, the minimum levels of liability insurance may not always be enough to fully cover the cost of a vehicle accident, so you may want to consider a policy with limits well above the state-ordered minimum since you’ll be personally liable for whatever your insurance doesn’t cover.
What Is Liability Insurance?
Liability insurance helps pay for injuries and damages that result from an accident you caused. Generally, liability coverage is broken into three categories:
- Bodily injury per person
- Bodily injury per accident
- Property damage per accident
You will often see the maximum payouts per category written out as three dollar amounts separated by slashes. For instance, a $25,000/$50,000/$25,000 (also shown as 25/50/25) liability policy will pay up up $25,000 per person for bodily injuries, a maximum of $50,000 total for all bodily injuries from an accident, and up to $25,000 for property damage.
It’s important to note that liability insurance does not cover your own expenses. Liability insurance helps you meet your obligation to reimburse other parties for bodily injury or property damage that you caused. For help paying your own repair or medical bills, you should invest in comprehensive or collision coverage.
Minimum Liability Insurance Requirements by State
Almost every state requires drivers to carry liability insurance. Virginia and New Hampshire are the two exceptions. However, in these states, you are still liable for damages.
Your state’s minimum insurance requirements will be some combination of the following:
- Bodily injury and property damage liability (BI & PDL)
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)
- First party medical expenses (Medpay)
- Personal injury protection (PIP)
Below is a list of the minimum car insurance requirements by state. The amounts are in thousands of dollars and follow the pattern outlined in the previous section: BI per person/BI per accident/PDL per accident. Amounts for PIP, UM/UIM, and Med coverage are not listed but also vary by state.
- Alabama: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Alaska: BI & PDL 50/100/25
- Arizona: BI & PDL 25/50/15
- Arkansas: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus PIP
- California: BI & PDL 15/30/5
- Colorado: BI & PDL 25/50/15
- Connecticut: BI & PDL 25/50/20, plus UM/UIM
- Delaware: BI & PDL 25/50/10, plus PIP
- Florida: PDL only 0/0/10, plus $10,000 PIP
- Georgia: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Hawaii: BI & PDL 20/40/10
- Idaho: BI & PDL 25/50/15
- Illinois: BI & PDL 25/50/20, plus UM/UIM
- Indiana: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Iowa: BI & PDL 20/40/15
- Kansas: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus PIP
- Kentucky: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- Louisiana: BI & PDL 15/30/25
- Maine: BI & PDL 50/100/25, plus UM/UIM and Medpay
- Maryland: BI & PDL 30/60/15, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- Massachusetts: BI & PDL 20/40/5, plus PIP
- Michigan: BI & PDL 20/40/10, plus PIP
- Minnesota: BI & PDL 30/60/10, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- Mississippi: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Missouri: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus UM
- Montana: BI & PDL 25/50/20
- Nebraska: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus UM/UIM
- Nevada: BI & PDL 25/50/20
- New Hampshire: proof of financial responsibility (FR)
- New Jersey: BI & PDL 15/30/5, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- New Mexico: BI & PDL 25/50/10
- New York: BI & PDL 25/50/10, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- North Carolina: BI & PDL 30/60/25, plus UM/UIM
- North Dakota: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- Ohio: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Oklahoma: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- Oregon: BI & PDL 25/50/20, plus PIP and UM/UIM
- Pennsylvania: BI & PDL 15/30/5, plus PIP
- Rhode Island: BI & PDL 25/50/25
- South Carolina: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus UM/UIM
- South Dakota: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus Um/UIM
- Tennessee: BI & PDL 25/50/15
- Texas: BI & PDL 30/60/25, plus PIP
- Utah: BI & PDL 25/65/15, plus PIP
- Vermont: BI & PDL 25/50/10, plus UM/UIM
- Virginia: BI & PDL 30/60/20 or proof of FR
- Washington: BI & PDL 25/50/10
- West Virginia: BI & PDL 25/50/25, plus UM/UIM
- Wisconsin: BI & PDL 25/50/10, plus UM and Medpay
- Wyoming: BI & PDL 25/50/20
Note that some states provide alternative methods of proving your financial responsibility. For instance, you may be able to self-insure by making a cash deposit or purchasing a bond. California also offers a low-cost insurance program for those unable to afford liability insurance.
In addition to the policies listed above, New York requires drivers to carry wrongful death coverage. New Hampshire and Virginia are not listed because drivers do not have to carry liability insurance. However, Virginia does have minimum requirements that drivers must meet if they choose to carry insurance rather than paying the $500 uninsured motor vehicle fee or applying for a self-insurance certificate.
Additional Coverage To Consider
Beyond your state’s minimum insurance requirements, you may want to consider the following:
- Higher liability limits: If you are not worried about being able to pay your own expenses, you can simply opt for more liability coverage.
- Collision coverage: Collision coverage will help you repair or replace your vehicle after an accident, regardless of whether you collide with another vehicle, a tree, a fence, or some other object.
- Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive coverage will help you repair or replace your vehicle after any type of damage, including theft, vandalism, or a natural disaster.
- Personal injury protection: PIP insurance helps cover your medical expenses after an accident, as well as the medical expenses of any passengers. It may also cover other documented expenses such as lost income, child care, and funeral costs.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: This type of coverage kicks in if the other driver is at fault but does not have enough insurance to cover your costs.
- Gap insurance: Gap insurance pays the difference between what you still owe on a vehicle and its actual cash value (ACV).
Legally speaking, you only need to meet the minimum liability insurance requirements set by your state. However, minimum coverage may not be meet all of your financial obligations after an accident that you caused, and liability insurance will not help you pay your own medical bills and repair or replace your car. If you can afford to pay for higher liability limits or additional types of insurance, you will be better protected from the financial consequences of an accident.
At FIXD, our mission is to make car ownership as simple, easy, and affordable as possible. Our research team utilizes the latest automotive data and insights to create tools and resources that help drivers get peace of mind and save money over the life of their car.