What is liability only auto insurance?

Nearly every state requires a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage for someone to legally drive a vehicle on their roads. Most states allow drivers to purchase liability only auto insurance coverage, which is typically the most basic level of auto insurance available. You’ll likely find the lowest rates on this type of insurance for your state’s minimum requirements.

Organizations that Offer Discounts on Auto Insurance

There are two different types of liability car insurance, each covering different areas of damage.

  • Bodily Injury Liability

    Bodily Injury Liability (BI) pays for any damages due to the bodily injuries of others when the insured person is considered to be “at-fault” in an accident (or considered to have caused the accident).

  • Property Damage Liability

    Property Damage Liability (PD) covers damage to another party’s property sustained during an accident caused by the insured person.

Generally, three amounts will be quoted in a liability only coverage policy, such as ’20/30/10.’ The first two amounts refer to bodily injury (BI) liability limits, while the last number refers to the property damage (PD) liability limit. To clarify, the number 20 means that $20,000 will be paid for each person injured in the accident, while 30 indicates that $30,000 is the maximum which will be covered for the entire accident overall, and 10 means that $10,000 will be paid for any property damage caused by the accident.

  • For instance, if you were to accidentally run into a parked car while trying to parallel park your own car, hitting the other car and causing it to roll into the side of a building, you would be considered “at-fault.”
  • Injuries to any person sitting in the parked car or standing/walking nearby (including medical, lost wages, and pain and suffering) would be paid up to the amounts specified in the bodily injury, or “BI”, portion of your liability policy.
  • Damages to the parked car and the building would also be paid up to the amounts specified in the “PD” or property damage portion of your policy. Any damages to your own vehicle or injuries you sustained yourself, however, would not be covered.

Are there other types of coverage required in addition to liability only auto insurance?

States vary considerably in their required minimum amount of liability coverage. In addition to basic liability coverage, some states may also require uninsured motorist insurance and/or no-fault insurance (also known as PIP, or personal injury protection).

No-fault/PIP assists with the payment of certain hospital, medical, funeral or other types of expenses you incur as the result of an accident. It also covers any other passengers in your vehicle at the time of the accident as well as anyone outside the vehicle, such as pedestrians, who may have been injured.

Uninsured motorist coverage helps cover damages when the person at-fault for the accident is either uninsured or cannot be identified. In these cases, uninsured motorist coverage helps pay for bodily injury costs and possible property damage sustained by yourself or others in your vehicle during an accident. It may also help pay for expenses when the person at-fault has insufficient insurance to cover your claim completely.

You should check with your state to find out what exactly is required before you decide on a policy.

Should I purchase more insurance than required?

It may be better for you to purchase more insurance than required by your state. If the cost of damages caused during an accident for which you are at-fault exceeds the financial limits specified in your policy, you could still be held responsible for the remaining amount.

“If you exceed the financial limits of your policy, you could still be held responsible for remainder”

Minor accidents may be easily covered with liability, while major accidents involving more serious injuries, damages, and sometimes even fatalities, are not. Additional coverage might help reduce the remaining amount you’re required to pay, depending upon the policy.

With that in mind, if you can afford additional coverage, it’s not a bad idea to get it.

Cancellation and/or Non-Renewal Restrictions

States vary on cancellation and non-renewal restrictions as well. In some states, insurance companies must adhere to certain guidelines in order to cancel or non-renew an insurance policy.

For example, in Indiana, if your insurance policy has already been in effect for 60 days, the insurance company cannot cancel it outside of a few specific reasons (including failure to pay your premium or losing your license to drive).

Once you reach the end of your policy, the insurance company may refuse to renew it, but they must give you at least 20 days advance notice.

Varying Insurance Rates

The rates of automobile insurance can vary according to several factors. If you can, compare costs between insurance agencies. Make sure they are giving you quotes based on the same factors and information, too. Keep in mind, first and foremost, that the cheapest is not always the best choice when it comes to automobile insurance. Here are some of the rating factors considered by insurance companies when giving you a quote:

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Marital Status

  • Driving Record

  • Use of the Vehicle (i.e. Is it being used to commute to and from work, etc?)

  • City of Residence

  • Limits of Policy

  • Type of Car

  • Credit Score

  • Claims History

  • Driver Training

State-by-state Minimum Liability Requirements

As previously stated, states vary on their minimum liability insurance coverage requirements. Below are the minimum liability limits per state based on the most current information available at the time of this writing. You should contact local insurance agencies to confirm these are accurate before purchasing your policy.

State Type of Coverage Required Minimum Liability Limits
Alabama Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
Alaska Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 50/100/25
Arizona Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 15/30/10
Arkansas Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
California Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 15/30/5
Colorado Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/15
Connecticut Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 20/40/10
Washington DC Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/10
Delaware Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 15/30/10
Florida Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 10/20/10
Washington, DC Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/10
Georgia Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
Hawaii Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection 20/40/10
Idaho Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/15
Illinois Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 20/40/15
Indiana Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/10
Iowa Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum 20/40/15
Kansas Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/10
Kentucky Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury 25/50/10
Louisiana Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 15/30/25
Maine Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist 50/100/25
Maryland Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist 20/40/15
Massachusetts Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 20/40/5
Michigan Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection 20/40/10
Minnesota Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured/Uninsured Motorist 30/60/10
Mississippi Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
Missouri Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/10
Montana Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum Requirements 25/50/10
Nebraska Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum Requirements 25/50/25
Nevada Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 15/30/10
New Hampshire Financial Responsibility Only, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/25
New Jersey Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (Standard Limits Shown), Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist 15/30/5
New Mexico Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/10
New York Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/10
North Carolina Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 30/60/25
North Dakota Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/25
Ohio Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 12.5/25/7.5
Oklahoma Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
Oregon Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/10
Pennsylvania Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection 15/30/5
Rhode Island Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/25
South Carolina Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability and Uninsured Motorist Minimum Requirements: 25/50/25 25/50/25
South Dakota Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/25
Tennessee Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/15
Texas Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/25
Utah Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/65/15
Vermont Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist 25/50/10
Virginia Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/50/20
Washington Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/10
West Virginia Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist 25/40/10
Wisconsin Financial Responsibility Only, Uninsured Motorist 50/100/15
Wyoming Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability 25/50/20

Liability insurance is the bare minimum required to cover damages if you are at fault in an accident. Often, it is not much more each month to get more comprehensive coverage, which may be worth it for peace of mind, financial responsibility and other reasons.