Auto Liability Insurance: Requirements by State
Auto liability insurance requirements vary by state. As a vehicle owner and driver, it’s important to know what the laws are where you live.
In many cases, the mandatory auto liability insurance requirements are not sufficient. These are low limits almost across the board, and if it’s a bad accident, you’ll eat up the coverage quickly. Hopefully, you will not find yourself in such a situation.
Please note that the below table only makes respect to bodily injury and property damage liability. Your state may also require other coverages, like uninsured motorist protection, medical payments, and personal injury protection. Please consult with your insurance agent or broker for more details.
Auto Liability Insurance: Before We Start
First we need to explain the chart you will see below. Bodily injury liability is coverage for injury caused to a third-party as a result of an automobile accident. For example, if a pedestrian were to be injured in this incident, that’s “BI.” There are two limits on the dollar amount paid: per person and per accident. The former is the maximum amount payable to a specific person, while the latter is the maximum the insurance company pays for the accident among all the injured third-parties.
Below, you will see some low limits, if they are required. We recommend higher limits of coverage than your state’s minimum; please review this with your insurance agent or broker for recommendations.
As for property damage liability, it’s exactly what it sounds like. An example of this is if a fence were damaged by an auto accident. Here is what it is NOT: collision. When you have collision coverage on your car, that is for damage to YOUR vehicle only. Liability coverage picks up bodily injury or property damage suffered by others.
Finally, we explore more on the question of “how much auto coverage is enough” in another piece.
Auto Liability Insurance State Requirements
(NR: Not Required)
|State||Liability Mandatory?||BI Per Person||BI Per Accident||PD|
|District of Columbia||Yes||$25,000||$50,000||$10,000|
|New Hampshire||No 5||$25,000||$50,000||$25,000|
|New Jersey||Yes 6||NR||NR||$5,000|
|New York||Yes 7||$25,000||$50,000||$10,000|
|South Dakota||No 9||$25,000||$50,000||$25,000|
1: Arizona requires either liability insurance in the amounts shown above or “proof of financial responsibility.” The latter takes the form of a $40,000 certificate of deposit to the state treasurer.
2: California offers several options for proving financial responsibility. One way is by obtaining liability insurance with the above minimum compulsory limits. California also gives drivers the options of obtaining a certificate of self-insurance, obtaining a $35,000 surety bond, and making a $35,000 cash deposit with the California DMV.
3: You do not have to have liability insurance in Iowa, but if you must show proof of financial responsibility. This can be done in several different ways. There are no compulsory minimum insurance limits.
4: In Missouri, liability insurance is a means of proving financial responsibility, but insurance itself is not mandatory. If, however, you have insurance, there are certain minimum limits to be met. Other ways personal lines drivers can prove financial responsibility include real estate or surety bonds, or a cash deposit.
5: New Hampshire does not require you to have car insurance. However, if you do have liability insurance, it must meet the above limits. Further, NH has a financial responsibility law, meaning that you are financially liable for any incidents for which you are at fault. Failure to comply will result in a license suspension.
6: New Jersey has both basic and standard personal car insurance policies. Only property damage is required in the basic (mandatory minimum) policy.
7: New York has another liability category for death(s) per person/per accident. Those minimum limits are $50,000/$100,000.
8: As with several other states, Ohio doesn’t mandate car insurance per se, but if you do buy it, the liability must meet certain minimum limits. Getting a bond or posting collateral are the other ways to prove financial responsibility.
9: One can prove financial responsibility in South Dakota through getting insurance (with the above mandatory minimums), obtain a surety bond, or leave a $50,000 cash deposit with the state treasurer.
10: Texas requires financial responsibility for at-fault accidents. If you don’t get liability insurance (meeting certain minimums), you can make a $55,000 deposit with your county’s judge or state comptroller or purchase a surety bond.
11: In Utah, you can substitute the above split auto liability insurance limits for a minimum liability combined single limit of $80,000.
12: Virginia requires that you either (a) purchase minimum liability insurance or (b) pay a $500 annual fee to the Virginia DMV.