Do You Need Insurance to Drive?

Virtually every state has minimum auto insurance requirements you must comply with before you can legally drive on public roads. Normally, this entails buying liability coverage to pay for damages and injuries you may cause to other people. No-fault states mandate Personal Injury Protection, which pays for your and your family’s injuries regardless of who was at fault. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is included in a few states too as part of the minimum required. Otherwise, PIP and UMC are optional.

The only state that doesn’t mandate car insurance is New Hampshire. Even then, drivers who prefer not to buy a policy in NH must prove they have sufficient funds to meet the state’s financial responsibility requirements.

Virginia requires minimum coverage like all the other states but automobile owners can pay an Uninsured Motor Vehicle fee of $500 for 12 months in VA in place of insurance. However, they are still financially responsible for any damages if they cause an accident. The minimum state required coverage in Virginia is $494 a year on average that makes it pointless to want to pay a $500 fee for most people, considering purchasing a policy provides protection too.

In all the other states, you must at least buy liability car insurance and other coverages required by your state. Compliance is checked when you are stopped by law enforcement officers and many states check electronically as well by matching policies sold to vehicles registered. You may have to pay fines, your license and registration can be suspended, your vehicle can be impounded and you may even go to jail for repeat offenses and if you cause injuries when you drive uninsured.

Liability vehicle insurance comes in two parts;

  • Bodily Injury Liability coverage pays for injuries you may cause to other people in an accident you are at-fault.
  • Property Damage Liability coverage pays for damages you caused to other people’s vehicles and property.

The liability limits are usually displayed in 25/50/20 format, which means; $25,000 limit for one injured person, $50,000 is maximum payable for all injuries you cause and $20,000 for all the physical damages you may cause. These limits are set as minimum and as you can see they can easily be exhausted, leaving you to pay for the rest of the damages out of pocket. That is why motorists are advised to increase their liability auto insurance limits.

As mentioned above, you need to buy Personal Injury Protection in no-fault states and Uninsured Motorist Coverage may be required in over twenty states as part of their minimum requirements.

You have to have the minimum required vehicle insurance in your state if you want to drive an automobile regardless of who owns it. You will face the penalties as a driver if you get caught driving without insurance and are financially responsible for the damages you may cause too. If you don’t have coverage, you will have to pay the damages out of pocket.

Usually, it is fairly affordable to buy liability only car insurance in the US as the national average is $622. The average is a lot cheaper in many states as some of the expensive states push the average up. For example, you only pay £223 on average in Iowa but it can be as high as $1,371 on average in New York.

Driving without insurance is far too risky in many ways that motorists should shop around hard to find the lowest priced insurer and get coverage, even if they live within a tight budget and they may have to save money on other spending to pay for the premiums. Otherwise, they may have to face severe consequences of fines and having to pay for the damages out of pocket that they should not drive if they aren’t insured.

Automobile ownership comes with responsibilities. One of them is to make sure your car and any driver you allow is insured at least for Liability. Every state in the US enforces a certain level of minimum coverage to protect third parties against injuries and losses a vehicle may cause. So, you need to be insured before you can drive any car on public roads, regardless of owning it or not.