If you’ve ever called in sick, or taken a day off of work or school, you’ve undoubtedly seen the TV commercials that run during the day touting “state minimum car insurance” at rock bottom rates. You know, the ones advertised during The Price is Right, sandwiched between the hemorrhoid commercials.
Typically, they make claims like, “monthly payments as low as $29!” or some other eye-catching title like, “cheapest car insurance available.”
While it may sound like the “deal of a lifetime,” there’s a pretty major catch (or two).
But first a little background on why minimum car insurance came to be.
Why State Minimum Coverage?
Auto insurance is required in nearly every state across the nation. This means if you drive a car on a public roadway, you must have AT LEAST a certain amount of car insurance coverage to pay for any bodily injury or property damage YOU cause in an accident.
Let’s face it; driving a car is dangerous. Accidents happen all of the time. And usually it’s pretty obvious who is at fault for an accident. Whoever is at fault must reimburse the injured party for their medical bills and the costs to repair or replace their cars.
But guess what? The average American doesn’t have enough money on hand to pay for those bills. The reality is if you are struggling to pay a monthly insurance premium, you probably don’t have $25,000 in your checking account to pay other people’s medical bills.
Enter state minimum car insurance, which put simply, is the lowest amount of liability car insurance you can buy to meet legal requirements.
Without minimum car insurance in place, many of those injured in a car accident would need to seek free medical care, which winds up being paid by a state government agency.
State government agencies don’t want to pay millions of dollars in medical costs and don’t want their courts tied up with hundreds of thousands of lawsuits for people trying to get reimbursed for their losses, from a driver with no car insurance and no cash.
So our government decided that it was a good idea that we have at least state minimum liability car insurance in order to pay for these inevitable situations.
Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right – part of this privilege is being able to responsibly deal with the unfortunate results that occur while exercising it.
What Is State Minimum Car Insurance?
As noted, state minimum car insurance policies ONLY cover your liability for financial damages you cause to others.
So there’s no coverage for your own vehicle here, just the damages and injuries you cause to other people. Pretty significant catch, right?
But the real meat and potatoes of this coverage is that the liability limits offered are the lowest allowed in your state. This, theoretically, should be the cheapest car insurance you can buy in your state.
Each state decides what their minimum liability limits will be. Not every state is the same, so use the graph below to see your state’s requirements (and note that they can change from time to time).
TIP: You can purchase a liability-only car insurance policy with much higher limits than your state requires. Perhaps you want significant coverage in case you cause a particularly nasty accident, but still don’t want physical damage coverage for your car…You would simply purchase a liability only policy with higher limits.
Who Needs State Minimum Car Insurance?
State minimum auto insurance may be a perfect fit for you if you do not require physical damage coverage for your car, don’t have a lot of financial assets to protect, and don’t have a big monthly insurance budget.
So if you’ve got an old car that basically has zero value aside from getting you from point A to point B, and very little in the piggy bank, this coverage could work.
If you don’t fit the profile above, it’s probably not a good idea to purchase state minimum car insurance just to save a few bucks.
Remember, you can be sued for much more money than your car insurance company will pay, and if you have money lying around, it may be awarded to someone you injured in a court case.
You would be responsible for paying these damages.
Who Sells State Minimum Car Insurance?
State minimum car insurance coverage is typically sold by non-standard auto insurance companies.
These types of insurers specialize in insuring drivers who only want the mandatory minimum car insurance to be legal. Nothing more.
These companies may include The General, Safe Auto and dozens and dozens of others across the nation who sell only mandatory minimum state coverage.
You may also fit the non-standard insurance market if your insurance score is on the lower end of the scale. Many non-standard insurance companies do not even review your credit history as part of their insurance quote process.
Below is a list of minimum mandatory auto insurance requirements by state:
||Minimum Limits||No Fault State||Uninsured Motorist (UM)||Personal Injury Protection (PIP)|
|Dist. of Columbia||25/50/10||NO||YES||NO|
California: Offers an Assigned Risk Plan. This means if you do not “qualify” for insurance, due to various reasons including not being able to afford it, the state will place you with an insurance company who must insure you.
Florida: Combined Single Limit insurance is available to satisfy the State Minimum Insurance requirement.
Maine: Maine requires you to have a minimum of $1,000 Medical Payment (Med Pay) insurance.
Maryland: You are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) for the passengers in your car, but can waive it for yourself as a policy holder.
New York: You must carry 50/100 limit Wrongful Death coverage.
Rhode Island: Combined Single Limit insurance is available to satisfy the State Minimum Insurance requirement.
Tennessee: Combined Single Limit insurance is available to satisfy the State Minimum Insurance requirement.
Utah: Combined Single Limit insurance is available to satisfy the State Minimum Insurance requirement.
Note: This table isn’t updated frequently, so the numbers may have changed in your state. Verify with your insurance provider when inquiring about coverage.