Compulsory Car Insurance: Car Insurance Requirements by State

We break down required, or compulsory, car insurance requirements state-by-state to help you understand regulations and maximum limits.

The most commonly required types of auto insurance coverage are Liability Insurance, Personal Injury Protection, and Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Insurance.
If you fail to get the necessary insurance, you may end up owing a substantial fee, having your license or registration suspended or revoked, or even facing criminal charges and potential jail time.

What Types of Car Insurance are Required?

Every state in the U.S. (and the District of Columbia) requires its drivers to have some minimum form of auto insurance.  How this requirement is enforced and what specifically it mandates varies from state to state.  In other words, whether specific types of car insurance are compulsory and the minimum auto coverage requirements all depend on what state you live in.

In almost every state, Bodily Injury (BI) and Property Damage (PD) Liability insurance is a requirement. Each state has set different minimum requirements on what pay out limits make a liability insurance policy acceptable.

In California, for example, the minimum acceptable liability insurance is as follows: $15,000 limit on injury or death to one person (BI), $30,000 limit on injury or death to multiple people (BI), and $5,000 to damage on property (PD).  This requirement is usually expressed as (15000/30000/5000).

What this means is, if a driver in California with the minimum possible liability insurance were to hit a car full of people, his or her insurance could cover up to $15,000 of the medical costs for any one person, but could only cover up to $30,000 total for the resulting medical expenses for all of the people in the car.  Furthermore, that driver’s insurance could cover up to $5,000 of the property damages done in the accident.  If the damages and expenses to the other drivers totaled more than his liability insurance policy could pay, that driver could be held financially responsible to pay for the excess.

There are some other types of auto coverage which are required by law in some states.  For example, in the no-fault states, Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is compulsory in addition to minimum liability insurance.  Some states also require Uninsured Motorist (UM) and/or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage.

Penalties for Driving Without Minimum Coverage

The possible penalties for driving without meeting the minimum coverage requirements vary from state to state.  Common penalties include substantial fees and suspension or revocation of uninsured drivers license or vehicle registration.  In some states, such as New Jersey, it is illegal to operate or knowingly allow another person to operate any automobile not adequately covered by liability insurance; violators of this law can even receive jail time.

Required Coverage For Financing Vehicles

If you are financing a vehicle purchase on credit through a bank or credit union, your state may require you to have a Full Coverage policy with Collision and Comprehensive insurance coverage.  Even if this is not a legal requirement of the state, the institution financing your purchase will likely require you to have such coverage on the vehicle.

Basic Auto Insurance Requirements by State

The following table, assembled by the Insurance Research Council and published by the Insurance Information Institute, displays a simplified summary of the car insurance required of drivers in each state, the minimum limits on liability insurance, and how the state verifies insurance information with insurance agencies.


Automobile Financial Responsibility Limits and Enforcement by State (as of Feb 15th, 2015)

State Insurance Required Minimum Liability Limits Insurer Verification of Insurance
AL BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 c, d
AK BI & PD Liab 50/100/25 a
AZ BI & PD Liab 15/30/10 a, b
AR BI & PD Liab, PIP 25/50/25 b, d
CA BI & PD Liab 15/30/5 (4) a, b, d
CO BI & PD Liab 25/50/15 a, d
CT BI & PD Liab 20/40/10 a
DE BI & PD Liab, PIP 15/30/10 a, b, c, d
DC BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM 25/50/10 a, c, d
FL PD Liab, PIP 10/20/10 (5) a, d
GA BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 a, d
HI BI & PD Liab, PIP 20/40/10 a
ID BI & PD Liab 25/50/15 none
IL BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM 25/50/20 a, b, c
IN BI & PD Liab 25/50/10 a
IA BI & PD Liab 20/40/15 a
KS BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM 25/50/10 a,c, d
KY BI & PD Liab, PIP 25/50/10 (5) a, d
LA BI & PD Liab 15/30/25 a, d
ME BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM  50/100/25 (6) b
MD BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 30/60/15 a, d
MA BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 20/40/5 a, d
MI BI & PD Liab, PIP 20/40/10 a
MN BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 30/60/10 a, c
MS BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 a, d
MO BI & PD Liab, UM 25/50/10 a, c, d
MT BI & PD Liab 25/50/10 d
NE BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM 25/50/25 a, b, d
NV BI & PD Liab 15/30/10 a, d
NH FR only, UM, UIM 25/50/25 (6) a
NJ BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 15/30/5 (7) a, d
NM BI & PD Liab 25/50/10 a, c
NY BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM 25/50/10 (8) a, d
NC BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM (9) 30/60/25 a, d
ND BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 25/50/25 c
OH BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 a, c
OK BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 a, c, d
OR BI & PD Liab, PIP, UM, UIM 25/50/20 a, c, d
PA BI & PD Liab, PIP 15/30/5 a
RI BI & PD Liab 25/50/25 (5) d
SC BI & PD Liab, UM 25/50/25 a, d
SD BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM 25/50/25 a
TN BI & PD Liab 25/50/15 (5) a, d
TX BI & PD Liab 30/60/25 a, d
UT BI & PD Liab, PIP 25/65/15 (5) d
VT BI & PD Liab, UM, UIM 25/50/10 c
VA BI & PD Liab (10), UM, UIM 25/50/20 a, b, c, d
WA BI & PD Liab 25/50/10 a
WV BI & PD Liab, UM 25/40/10 a, d
WI BI & PD Liab, UM 25/50/10 a
WY BI & PD Liab 25/50/20 c, d
(1) Compulsory Coverages:      BI Liab=Bodily injury liability      PD Liab=Property damage liability      UM=Uninsured motorist      PD=Physical damage      Med=First party (policyholder) medical expenses      UIM=Underinsured motorist      PIP=Personal Injury Protection. Mandatory in no-fault states. Includes medical, rehabilitation, loss of earnings and funeral expenses. In some states PIP includes essential services such as child care.      FR=Financial responsibility only. Insurance not compulsory.(2) The first two numbers refer to bodily injury liability limits and the third number to property liability. For example, 20/40/10 means coverage up to $40,000 for all persons injured in an accident, subject to a limit of $20,000 for one individual, and $10,000 coverage for property damage.(3) a. Insurer must notify Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agency of cancellation or nonrenewal.      b. Insurer must verify financial responsibility or insurance after an accident or arrest.      c.Insurer must verify randomly selected insurance policies upon request.      d. Insurers must submit entire list of insurance in effect, which may be compared with registrations at a state agency. Also known as a computer data law or online verification system. Also includes cases where insurers are required to report new issues and/or renewals.(4) Low-cost policy limits for low-income drivers in the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan are 10/20/3.(5) Instead of policy limits, policyholders can satisfy the requirement with a combined single limit policy. Amounts vary by state.(6) In addition, policyholders must also have coverage for medical payments. Amounts vary by state.(7) Basic policy (optional) limits are 10/10/5. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage not available under the basic policy but uninsured motorist coverage is required under the standard policy.(8) In addition, policyholders must have 50/100 for wrongful death coverage.(9) Mandatory in policies with UM limits exceeding 30/60.(10) Compulsory to buy insurance or pay an Uninsured Motorists Vehicle (UMV) fee to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.Source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America; state departments of insurance and motor vehicles.Source: Property Casualty Insurer’s Association of America and the State Departments of the Insurance and Motor Vehicles.  Information assembled by the Insurance Information Institute.