Why do auto insurance minimums vary so much per state?

Whether a state is fault is the biggest factor in what auto insurance minimums are. The minimums for bodily injury range from $10,000 to $50,000 per person.

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insuranc...

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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 Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Oct 19, 2021

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Things to Remember...

  • A state being no-fault or tort is the biggest difference in relation to auto insurance
  • Even though all states require liability insurance, some states also require uninsured motorist coverage
  • There are additional coverage options in case you need more depending on your vehicle usage and number of drivers

Every state has an agency that handles auto insurance requirements. For most states, this agency is known as the department of motor vehicles. The regulations and minimums are set on a state level and vary based on:

  • State auto insurance laws
  • Population density, etc.

The biggest variation with auto insurance is between states that are considered no-fault states and tort states. A no-fault state is one in which the driver of the vehicle is responsible for injury to everyone in their vehicle regardless of who is at fault.

If you’re looking for better coverage despite minimum requirements, enter your ZIP code above and compare at least three to four policies today!

How do no-fault and tort states impact the auto insurance minimums?

All states that are no-fault states require motorists to carry personal injury protection (PIP). PIP will protect you and your passengers in the event of an accident that causes bodily injury.

Since there is no fault determined in the car accident, your insurance policy needs to cover your injuries. In other states, the insurance policy of the driver who is at fault will be required to pay the bill.

Some states require motorists to carry uninsured motorist coverage, which further protects you in the event that you sustain injuries from an accident caused by an uninsured driver.

An uninsured driver would be in breach of the law for not having the minimum required amount of liability insurance. Therefore, uninsured motorist coverage still ensures that drivers are protected from the negligence of other motorists.

All states require a minimum of liability insurance which includes:

  • Bodily injury
  • Property damage liability

The minimum amount of liability insurance can vary by state.

The minimums for bodily injury range from $10,000 to $50,000 per person based on the state in which you live. The minimums for all injuries range from $20,000 to $100,000 based on the state.

The minimums for property damage range from $5,000 to $25,000 based on state.


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Why are there minimum requirements for auto insurance?

The purpose of the minimum coverage is to protect all motorists and pedestrians regarding bodily injury that is sustained from an accident.

Not all states require you to purchase insurance to protect yourself in the event of an accident, but almost all require you to buy insurance to pay for medical expenses from injuries sustained by other motorists involved in the accident.

In an at-fault state, a person that is in an accident that sustains injuries needs to have proper medical care. Having that driver’s own insurance pay ensures that somebody injured in an accident will receive medical care and not be turned away for not having insurance.

Having medical needs covered also helps prevent a large medical bill from going unpaid or damaging a person’s credit.

Should I only carry the minimum coverage?

Don’t get just the minimum auto insurance coverage on your vehicle. The minimums are primarily in place to protect other drivers if you were to cause an accident that incurs property damage or bodily injury to the other driver.

There are different recommendations for your auto insurance coverage depending on the usage of your vehicle and how many people have access to the vehicle.

If you are frequently going on family trips with three or more people in your vehicle, you will want to look closely at the personal injury protection to ensure your family is protected in the event of an accident.

If you have more than one vehicle, you may wish to carry the minimum coverage on one of your automobiles, depending on how often you drive the car. Anytime you drive, there is a risk of being in an accident.

If you are not carrying collision insurance on your vehicle, you may have to pay the repair costs out of pocket.

Insurance exists to prevent you from having a financial strain if an accident occurs.

You may initially save by opting for the minimum coverage, which is true. Although, if you are involved in an accident, the minimum coverage will not ensure that your vehicle is repaired.

If you want to carry collision and comprehensive insurance, determine whether the savings on your premium will be worth the risk. If you have one automobile that you rely on to get to work, then you cannot afford to go without a vehicle for any length of time.

If you don’t have the money saved up to repair your vehicle or purchase a new one in the event of an accident, you should seriously consider opting for full coverage.

Looking to fully cover your vehicle? Start comparison shopping today for better auto insurance by entering your ZIP code below!


  1. https://www.thebalance.com/understanding-minimum-car-insurance-requirements-2645473
  2. https://wallethub.com/edu/bodily-injury-liability/8607/
  3. https://guides.wsj.com/personal-finance/insurance/how-much-car-insurance-do-you-need/
  4. https://wallethub.com/edu/collision-insurance/7292/
  5. https://www.iii.org/article/what-auto-insurance

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