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.

StateType of Coverage RequiredMinimum Liability Limits
AlabamaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
AlaskaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability50/100/25
ArizonaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability15/30/10
ArkansasBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
CaliforniaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability15/30/5
ColoradoBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/15
ConnecticutBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability20/40/10
Washington DCBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/10
DelawareBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability15/30/10
FloridaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability10/20/10
Washington, DCBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/10
GeorgiaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
HawaiiBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection20/40/10
IdahoBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/15
IllinoisBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist20/40/15
IndianaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/10
IowaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum20/40/15
KansasBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/50/10
KentuckyBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury25/50/10
LouisianaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability15/30/25
MaineBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist50/100/25
MarylandBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist20/40/15
MassachusettsBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist20/40/5
MichiganBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection20/40/10
MinnesotaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured/Uninsured Motorist30/60/10
MississippiBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
MissouriBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/50/10
MontanaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum Requirements25/50/10
NebraskaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability Minimum Requirements25/50/25
NevadaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability15/30/10
New HampshireFinancial Responsibility Only, Uninsured Motorist25/50/25
New JerseyBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (Standard Limits Shown), Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist15/30/5
New MexicoBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/10
New YorkBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist25/50/10
North CarolinaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability30/60/25
North DakotaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist25/50/25
OhioBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability12.5/25/7.5
OklahomaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
OregonBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured Motorist25/50/10
PennsylvaniaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Personal Injury Protection15/30/5
Rhode IslandBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/50/25
South CarolinaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability and Uninsured Motorist Minimum Requirements: 25/50/2525/50/25
South DakotaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/50/25
TennesseeBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/15
TexasBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/25
UtahBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/65/15
VermontBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist25/50/10
VirginiaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/50/20
WashingtonBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/10
West VirginiaBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability, Uninsured Motorist25/40/10
WisconsinFinancial Responsibility Only, Uninsured Motorist50/100/15
WyomingBodily Injury and Property Damage Liability25/50/20

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.

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