What Is the Minimum Amount of Insurance Coverage a Driver Must Carry?

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In most states it is illegal to drive without auto insurance.
In most states it is illegal to drive without auto insurance. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Although the amount of insurance coverage a driver must carry on a motor vehicle varies by state, drivers generally must carry bodily injury and property liability insurance on their vehicles. Meeting the mandatory state auto insurance coverage levels is required in order to register and operate the vehicle on state roadways. State minimum insurance coverage levels, however, do not provide sufficient coverage for all cars and trucks.

Bodily Injury Liability Auto Insurance

State insurance and motor vehicle departments require you to carry bodily injury liability insurance on your motor vehicle to cover injuries to and/or death of another person as a result of your actions. The amount of bodily injury liability insurance you are required to carry ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 per vehicle as of April 2011. The majority of states require that you have at least $25,000 in bodily injury liability insurance to cover injuries or death that you cause to another person. To cover the costs of injuries or death that you cause to two or more people, states require you to carry between $20,000 and $100,000. Liability insurance does not cover injuries that you sustain if you are injured in an accident that you caused. The Insurance Information Institute recommends that you carry at least $100,000 of bodily injury insurance for each vehicles. That way, if you cause an accident and you or another person is injured and the medical bills exceed the state’s minimum requirements your insurance will cover the total costs of the medical expenses, rather than you having to pay the additional money out of your own pocket.

Property Liability Auto Insurance

Property liability auto insurance covers the cost to repair damages you cause to another motor vehicle or to property. For example, if your car skids across the road and hits a fence, property liability auto insurance will pay the cost to repair or replace the fence. State mandatory property liability auto insurance levels ranged from $5,000 to $25,000 as of April 2011.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Although comprehensive and collision coverage auto insurance are not required by most states, if you own luxury, classic or other vehicles that are valued above the state minimum insurance levels, you might consider getting comprehensive and/or collision coverage. The minimum amount of insurance you get should cover the cost to replace your vehicle. Collision covers the cost to repair or replace your motor vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. Comprehensive covers the cost to repair or replace your motor vehicle if it is damaged during a natural disaster or a human-caused event. For example, comprehensive covers the cost to replace your vehicle if it is stolen.

Leasing Motor Vehicles

According an MSN Money’s article titled “Cost of Insuring Your Leased Vehicle,” if you lease a motor vehicle you will generally have to buy about $100,000 in bodily injury insurance to cover injuries or death caused to one person in an auto accident, and $300,000 to cover injuries or death you cause to two or more people. The minimum amount of property liability insurance that most leasing companies ask you to purchase is $50,000.

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