Is it a bad idea to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance?

If you want to buy auto insurance, is it bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance? Carrying the minimum required coverage doesn't adequately protect you or your vehicle. Is it bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance? In a word, yes. You should buy comprehensive coverage to make sure that you are adequately protected whenever you're on the road.

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Chris Tepedino is a feature writer that has written extensively about auto insurance for numerous websites. He has a college degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and has experience reporting, researching investigative pieces, and crafting detailed, data-driven features. His works have been featured on CB Blog Nation, Flow Words, Healing Law, WIBW Kansas, and ...

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Written by Chris Tepedino
Insurance Feature Writer Chris Tepedino

Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Reviewed by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

UPDATED: Aug 30, 2021

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Can't-Miss Facts

  • Carrying minimum coverage auto insurance is rarely adequate to protect your or your vehicle
  • All drivers must have at least minimum coverage before driving on the roads
  • Minimum coverage requirements will vary from state to state

Auto insurance laws by state will vary, but drivers everywhere are legally required to have minimum liability insurance coverage when driving on the road.

If you’ve just spent a lot of money on a new car, is it bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance despite affordable auto insurance being your main concern?

It may seem counterintuitive, but if you’ve just spent a large sum of money on your dream car, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and your vehicle is to buy adequate automobile insurance coverage.

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What is minimum coverage auto insurance?

Typically, minimum coverage consists of these types of coverage:

  • Bodily Injury (BI)
  • Property damage (PD)
  • Uninsured/underinsured (UIM)
  • Personal injury protection (PIP)

Now if you were to cause an accident and hurt someone, your BI coverage would help cover any medical expense they incurred or wages lost due to their injuries.

Let’s say you also damaged this person’s vehicle quite a bit in this hypothetical accident, and you also damaged someone’s front fence. Your PD coverage would kick in to cover the repairs not only to the vehicle but to the fence as well.

Of course, if you were hurt in an accident by a driver who didn’t have enough insurance or who simply didn’t have insurance at all, your UIM would cover any medical bills and lost wages that you incurred as a result of your injuries.

PIP, on the other hand, will cover your medical expenses no matter who caused the accident. This type of coverage is not required in every state so you’ll need to check if PIP comes with your policy automatically or if you can add it on.

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How much does minimum coverage auto insurance cost?

Many drivers looking to save a buck here or there are intrigued by the idea of minimum coverage as it is relatively inexpensive. You can see below the average rates for minimum coverage in different states:

Average Sample Liability Coverage Rates by State
StateLiability Coverage Yearly RatesLiability Coverage Monthly Rates
District of Columbia$628.82$52.40
South Dakota$300.22$25.02
New Hampshire$400.56$33.38
New Jersey$869.57$72.46
New Mexico$488.03$40.67
New York$804.51$67.04
North Carolina$359.42$29.95
North Dakota$298.18$24.85
Rhode Island$759.80$63.32
South Carolina$527.09$43.92
West Virginia$491.83$40.99

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Despite these low prices, it is still not recommended that anyone drive with minimum coverage since it could be detrimental to you in the future.

For example, if you were to be in an accident, having the bare minimum in auto insurance could mean that you’ll spend quite a bit of money out of pocket on medical expenses and vehicle repairs.

Minimum coverage, also known as liability coverage, only offers financial assistance to those you may injure in an accident; it doesn’t offer you a financial cushion to help get your car fixed or pay your medical bills.

Is it legal for drivers to drive with minimum coverage?

It’s perfectly legal for drives to have only the bare minimum coverage, and while the minimum amount of automobile insurance required by law is different in every state, you must be compliant with your state’s rules when it comes to auto insurance.

However, even if you want lower auto insurance rates, it is bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance? Having only the minimum car insurance coverage could hurt you in the long run. To avoid any future headaches, you should buy comprehensive coverage.

Why should drivers invest in comprehensive coverage?

If you’re about to sign with a new auto insurance company, is it bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance?

While comprehensive auto insurance is more expensive than the minimum coverage option, it is the recommended auto insurance coverage, consumer reports indicate.

It is also incredibly popular with modern drivers. Comprehensive coverage pays for damages caused from things from hail to riots. Take a look at how all-encompassing comprehensive coverage can be. It can act as protection against:

  • Car theft
  • Weather damage
  • Collision with an animal
  • Fire damage
  • Vandalism
  • Riots

Drivers with leased vehicles are required to have comprehensive coverage, but as you can see, even if you aren’t required to get it, you certainly should have it, especially if you’ve just bought a new vehicle.

If you’re looking for great prices, you can always compare auto insurance companies online by seeing how their free quotes match up and reading reviews.

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Carrying Minimum Coverage Auto Insurance: The Bottom Line

While you may be meeting your state’s standards for auto insurance requirements by driving with minimum coverage, you could be doing yourself and your vehicle a disservice.

If you were to be hurt in an accident, you may not have enough coverage to cover your medical expenses, let alone cover your lost wages. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to buy comprehensive coverage. Such coverage provides much more protection for you and your vehicle.

You can always shop online to find an insurance company that won’t break your bank while providing you with excellent coverage too.

Now that you know it is bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance, enter your ZIP code to receive free insurance quotes now that you know it is bad to just carry minimum coverage auto insurance.

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